Posted June 2 ’13

Sand Fly

I didn’t see you.  You didn’t buzz in my ear or land on my sunburned thigh where I could slap you and kill you like your cousin the mosquito.   Were you on the dive boat out at the Blue Hole?  Down below the surface at 130 feet?  Was that you at Glover’s Reef?  Turneffe Island?  Or do you live in the drinking water of Belize?  Are you something I ingested?  Because I arrived in your country and 48 hours later you had covered me from head to toe with bites, hundreds of bites.

I’ve tangle with sea lice, bot flies, fire ants, wasps,  malarial mosquitoes, Portuguese man o’ war, horse flies, kissing bugs.  You name the stinging animal or blood-sucking insect and I’ve got a story for you.  But never have I suffered this kind of dermal hell.

First there was just that innocent pink circle with the blood-red pinprick in the center.  You covered my legs and back and arms; you managed to get my chest and my stomach too.  I did not see you, not once, nor did I feel your assault.   Initially there was no itch, no pain, and I was not concerned.   Most of my fellow divers were also covered.  We helped each other count bites during our surface intervals between dives.  We bonded over our polka-dotted hides.

The next day I awoke to find that your venom had gathered there, just beneath my skin, and pushed up into hard little blistery balls of misery.  Don’t scratch, don’t touch, leave it alone, you’ll just make it worse.  Cortisone, Benadryl, Afterbite, ammonia, rubbing alcohol, gasoline.  Nothing could quiet the burning, itching torture.

I’m home now.  Two weeks later and your bites are still speaking to me.  Here’s the thing: when I think about Belize, it’s you that I will remember.  Not the beautiful people, nice diving, lovely islands.  No.  I will think of you.   You and your evil bites.  Are you happy?  Well listen to me, insect face: If I return to your country I will come covered in 100% deet.   Game on, dude.  This will never happen again.