Bitten Again By The Travel Bug (But Harder By The Sandflies)

I don't know if you've ever had a sandfly bite, but they're unbearable. They're vastly more unbearable, of course, when one is absolutely covered in them, from collarbone to ankle, so that one's body resembles a walking Braille map. In fact, I wish I could show you just how covered in sandfly bites I am, but I think there may actually be some sort of law against posting a picture of one's bare thigh on the Internet---a law of human decency, perhaps---and I'm rather certain this law is particularly in effect when the bare thigh in question has not been exercised for the last month, and has been fed steak and ice cream for three out of the last four days. (Today I ate a profiterole that was the size of my head.)

I don't want you to miss out on my misery, though, so allow me, please, to tell you all about sandfly bites. (For corresponding visuals---although maybe not if you're eating your lunch---you should definitely look here, at this man's very hairy leg. His bites are worse than mine, but you'll certainly get the picture. So to speak.) They start out small, like mosquito bites---you slap your leg and think "ouch, what was that?" and then you forget about it, until a small white lump appears, which you itch and itch and itch and itch. Later that evening, you discover you are covered in quite a few of these small white lumps, quite a few indeed, because sandflies bites just KEEP SHOWING UP, sort of like Tara Reid. The next morning, the lumps have turned into welts, welts the size of a quarter, which are red and itchy, ITCHY LIKE HELL. And then, guess what? The welts, they pus! And then they perform their final parlor trick: they turn into lesions. And they still itch---itch and itch and itch and itch---and you can't scratch them because they'll turn into scabs and then scars, but of course you do, because they're SO BLOODY ITCHY. And this is how you come to be half covered in lesions, half covered in scabs, a whole three days after you were feasted upon by sandflies on a beach in Indonesia.

Oh, did I forget to tell you? We went to Indonesia!


It had, of course, been at least a month since we'd been on vacation, so something needed to be done! We went to Bintan---which is actually an Indonesian island about 45 minutes by high-speed catamaran from Singapore---and we left our backpacks at home this time, mostly because we would have retched at the sight of them, but also because we were being treated to two days at this place---an early Christmas present from my parents---and if they'd seen our backpacks there, they probably would have assumed we were the help and asked us to get in the kitchen and start washing dishes.

We read books, ate steak, and lazed around on the beach, and you can't really get better than that---unless you're a vegetarian of course, or maybe a cow, or maybe you don't like books (in which case, what is wrong with you?) but still, whatever, it was great---and we raised our draughts of Bintan beer to our One Last Hurrah before having to resume normal lives in January. Which, by the way, I am feeling a whole lot better about, thanks to all your kind and wonderful comments and e-mails. I am totally getting in touch with all your friends of friends of friends, so be prepared to get plenty of phone calls and emails from them in the coming weeks, asking who the crazy British girl who turned up on their doorstep is. And why she's all covered in scabs.

(And by the way, if you're going to make fun of my middle name, now that you've seen it on my visa, at least pronounce it right. It's An-GAY-lika, not An-jel-ika or Anjel-eee-ka. It was my great grandmother's name. I think. Well, it was the name of someone old and German, anyway.)

Dec 11, 2006

story: i went to australia for a month this summer. we went to the most beautiful beach in the world, to see the most beautiful sunset in the world.

of a group of eight, only one person got bitten by sand flies (it was not me, fortunately). or, what we thought were sand flies.

until our aboriginal guide looked at the welts and the oozing, and said, "not sand flies, sand fleas. and they don't bite you. they wee on you."

maybe be greatful you got bitten, and not subjected to the perverse sexual fetishes of tiny, indiscriminate australian insects.

Dec 11, 2006

wow... what an awesome gift from your folks! i'm available for a quick trip to almost anywhere they might want to send me. ;)

Dec 11, 2006

" . . .because sandflies bites just KEEP SHOWING UP, sort of like Tara Reid."

That works on SO MANY levels.

Dec 11, 2006

I've been plagued by sandflies, sand fleas, whatever, myself, on a trip to Eleuthera. The little bastards succeeded in pretty much ruining my trip. I looked like I had the measles when I returned. And the comment above about them not biting everyone is so true. My best friend with whom I shared a room had nary a bite, which she mentioned several times as I writhed and scratched. It made ME want to bite her.

Dec 11, 2006

Holy sweet mother of judas, those pictures of sandfly bites are scary. Now MY legs are itching.

Oh, and now I know what I'll be asking my parents for this Christmas... And they will have a good laugh at my expense and give me another gift card to Target, which is *almost* as good as steak and books on an Indonesian island.

Dec 11, 2006

Every time I go to a beach, anywhere in the world, I get a pernicious rash. It may be sand flies or it may be sea lice (ever encountered those?) or it may be a sun allergy, but in any event, it always affects me and only me, and everyone else I'm with lays there all happy and tan while I scream and gnash my teeth and beg strangers to rub me all over with Brillo pads to make it stop. And for an added bonuses, it is terribly unsightly and makes me appear to be afflicted with The Pox (pick a pox, any pox). The horror!

Dec 11, 2006

What Susan said.

Dec 11, 2006

Okay, I'm jealous now. I've been missing Singapore so much these days, and seeing that you were on Bintan Island only makes it worse. Whenever we needed a couple days away we took the ferry over to Bintan. Isn't it lovely? I never did get bitten by sandflies though. But we spent most of the time hanging out by the pool and the pool side bar.

Sarah Marie
Dec 11, 2006

Having a passport filled with stamps and pretty shiny visas is so satisfying, isn't it?

Dec 11, 2006

First: I love your middle name. It's so exotic. And maybe, now, I'll name my first child after you(r middle name). Assuming my first child is a girl, of course. No son of mine will be named Angelika.

Second: I gasped and my heartbeat quickened when I clicked through the website for Bintan Lagoon Resort. I am utterly jealous of you. Jealous and wanting to hop on a flight right now, because I must go there. It looks beautiful, and has taken its rightful place on my List of Places I Must Visit Before I Die, right behind the Maldives.

Dec 11, 2006

I was a bit embarassed to comment on the last post, mainly because I don't know SF, but also because, since I don't know it, I can't really suggest any cute coffe house, or even a great bookstore where you'll end up spending so much time you'll actually be called by your first name (or your second if you prefer so...) - that said, if you ever come to Brazil, I might be able to help you out.

Anyways, the reason I brought up the last post is that I have a crucial question: why are you moving in december 29th? What's wrong with january?

By the way, scabs nonwithstanding, I'm dead jealous of all your travelling.

Dec 11, 2006

Perhaps you should try self-medicating with Frangelico. Not Franjel-eee-ko, not Fran-GAY-liko, just Fran-GEL-i-ko. If you drink enough of it, you'll probably forget all about the itching and perhaps you will even start bustin' out rhymes (or should I say NON-rhymes?) with your name. And then I'd like you to blog about it, please.

Dec 11, 2006

"PIZZA STAGE"....I may have cured myself of my addiction to pizza. Forever. Am always bit v. v. badly by...any/everything while on vacation myself, so sympathize deeply with you. Take care and best of luck with finding a place in S.F.

Dec 11, 2006

So British people celebrate Christmas? But not Thanksgiving. Got it.

Dec 11, 2006

If you are ever feeling un-hip in San Francisco, show people your lesions. San Franciscans love lesions!

Dec 11, 2006

I swear, I would like to live in your purse and go where you go.

That sounded way less weird in my head.

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 12, 2006

The totally boring reason that I'm moving to San Francisco on December 29th is that I arrived in Singapore on June 29th, and you can only stay 6 months without the ticket price going up to eight billion dollars and your first-born child. So I'm leaving on the last possible day of my six-month ticket, which happens to be December 29th.

I really wanted to try and invent a more interesting reason than that, one that had to do with monsters and zombies, but I haven't had my coffee yet. Apologies.

Dec 12, 2006

I went to the Bahamas earlier this year for a work event and proceeded to be breakfast, lunch and dinner for the sand flies. I was covered in the lovely lesions and almost went mad with the itching. I discovered that if you scrub your legs with soap and water, then spray the lesions with bug spray it helps. The alcohol in the spray stings (which is so much better than the itching - let me tell you) but it speeds the healing.

I would love to give suggestions on SF but being a Canadian I am at a loss. However, I do know from numerous visits that the food is fantastic and the hills are great for exercise. Good luck at finding a wonderful abode for you, Cute Sean, the cats and the pink Kitchen Aid.

Dec 12, 2006

Many years ago, when I was returning from a year in Africa, my parents offered to put me up in a swanky London hotel on my way home. I, of course, took them up on it. So, I arrived at the Stafford after an overnight flight from Nairobi, wearing my backpack and a pair of tie-dyed pants and flip-flops. I went up to the desk to check in, and in the course of the process the very polite, very British desk clerk said, "Where are you coming from?" "Nairobi," I said. "I see," she said. "Did you walk?"

Horrible Warning
Dec 13, 2006

Oh my. Those lesions are even worse than my cellulitis (from a spider bite, I think). I went to work with a swollen face for days...I'm thinking oozing lesions would have been harder to explain. But only a little.

I know you must be dying of curiosity, so here is where I posted pictures (because I am a total masochist):

But I'm sure you'll be better before hitting SF.

Seriously, I am totally expecting a stalker email. It will make my year.

Feel better!

Dec 13, 2006

I still have a mark from a sandfly bite I got this summer. In July. It's small, but dark, and it freaking pisses me off.

Dec 13, 2006

I'm all set. With the lesions, scabs, and whatnot.

More about beer and steak. (insert caveman grunt)