There was a massacre in room no. 4 at Safari Garden last night. I have been most assiduous in ingesting and anointing both body and bedroom in anti-mosquito measures but two gin and tonics and a late night debate on the merits of using marabous (local witch doctors) led me to be a bit careless with the mosquito net.
I knew I should’ve stuck to my usual bottle of JulBrew (the local beer), but at least tonic water has quinine.
So, I fell into bed at midnight to find two of the little devils dive-bombing the net from the outside. Armed with my imported can of PifPaf (I already have my eye on a mega can of the Gambian equivalent, Bop, when stocks run low) it was a case of quickest on the draw wins. Once they are dazed and confused with the fumes then it’s a quick vicious hand swat against the whitewashed wall – sorry Housekeeping – and job done.
It was only 20 minutes later as I dropped off that the whining started up again. One more mozzie had made its way under the net – or was it silently lying in wait? – and was on a revenge mission to avenge its fallen brethren. This time it was a handy flip-flop that saved my hide.
But joking aside, malaria is no joke here. Most of the expats I’ve met who have spent any length of time in the country have all had a bout of malaria at some point, even when taking prophylactics. And apart from the high incidence in small children, Gambians who travel overseas and then return home often succumb to a dose before readjusting.
Achy joints, headaches and flu-like symptoms are often a precursor and the advice is to go get a blood test if you even remotely think it’s malarial. The symptoms occur in repeating eight-hour cycles and if diagnosed early it just takes a course of antibiotics to return to full health but if untreated it can be extremely serious, or even fatal.