Monday, August 26, 2013

Mosquito Hell

26 August 2013

These are the continuing misadventures of Phebe and Richard.

We left Apia on Sunday and took the ferry to Savaii, with minimal luggage (daypacks), arriving in the early afternoon.  The ferry arrives at the southeast corner of Savaii, in a lagoon that is like a lake, it is so still.

Most businesses are closed on Sundays in Samoa, so we knew we probably couldn't find a rental car.  We took a taxi to a hotel owned by the niece of our landlady in Apia, figuring since we liked her place we'd like the niece's hotel.  Turned out that there was some school function and everything was booked solid, not a room at the inn.  The niece was quite nice and called around, finding a place with reasonable rates that she thought was nicer than the other option - and off we went in another taxi.

The place we ended up has various facilities - we went with the individual fale in the garden area.  This wasn't really a traditional thatched fale, but more of a little plywood fale - and windows, but no screens.  (No did the doors line up with the building, but that's another story.)  Anyway, we settled in for a quiet afternoon, after a bite of lunch.  (There was a very friendly restaurant kitty who decided to steal my fries - seriously, he leapt onto my lap and grabbed a fry and jumped off - so what could I do, my fries had kitty germs, so of course I proceeded to feed him the rest of the fries.  He then jumped back onto my lap, curled up, and started purring.  Wonderful cat!  You know I loved this!)

Well, it turned out that the mosquitoes were just as friendly (and pushy) as that cat.  They followed us into our fale.  The attacked us despite the temperature drop as it started raining, that heavy pounding tropical torrential rain that only seems to happen on small islands.  Hammering on the corregated metal roof.  We climbed under the mosquito nets, fan on, and it wasn't too bad.  Eventually the rain let up a bit, we had dinner, we settled in for the night - and the mosquitoes attacked.  In droves and squadrons.  Every time one of us got up to go to the bathroom, mosquitoes swarmed into the netting.  Or they found holes and came in.  Or they managed to multiply while in the netting.

I don't know exactly what happened - I finally pulled a cloth over my face - but I woke up with a forehead like a Neanderthal, it was so swollen with bites.  Richard has bites all up and down his arms.  Both of us are covered in bites, itching and making us crazy as we try so hard not to scratch.  

Turns out that we both forgot our insect repellant in our large rolling luggage in Apia.  And apparently, this place says to bring your own insect repellant.  Live and learn.

After breakfast, we headed out to find a rental car.  Finally found something we liked that was in our budget, but the car wasn't back quite yet.  We went and obtained the temporary Samoan permit.  Went to the bank.  Walked around for a total of four miles.  And the car still wasn't back.  We had lunch.  Made some phone calls.  Car still not back.  By the time the car arrived, it was late afternoon and there wasn't really time to head much of anywhere - so we found that the hotel with the rental car company was only 30 tala (about $14 US) more than the place we stayed last night.  With AC, TV, hot shower (did I mention the mosquito place only has cold showers in the shared bathroom?), and all the mod cons, including a kitchen downstairs.  Yes, a two-level hotel suite.  So we did the reasonable thing and checked into the hotel.  With a pool.  And lovely landscaping.  We'll pick up the car tomorrow morning, and head out after a good (mosquito-free) night's sleep.

Turns out tonight is karaoke night at our hotel's restaurant - you haven't lived til you hear people singing in a language they aren't too familiar with, singing songs they know but don't really quite understand.  The timing was interesting.  We chatted with an older couple from New Zealand - the man braved the tough audience and got up to sing too!  (No, we didn't sing, beyond a little singing to each other at our seats!  We don't need to have an audience to crack ourselves up.)

Despite the fact that we both enjoy being off-the-beaten-track and taking the path less travelled, well, let's face it - no one enjoys being an all-night buffet for blood-sucking insects.  Or pillows that feel like bags of sand.  Especially when another option with all the comforts one might enjoy is available for almost the same cost.

We may try a fale or two on a beach.  But not in a tropical garden.  And not without a can of Off or Deet or something.

The best news of all?  Samoa doesn't have malaria, and it isn't dengue fever season.

And my forehead no longer looks like a Neanderthal's.

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