Remember that trip to Goa? And that “rustic” hotel I talked about? Yeah, so here’s your update on that.
Whenever I travel, I bring my trusted pillow. It is probably as old as my mother, is 100% down, and ratty. But clean. And comfy. I am picky about pillows. I do not like sleeping on a wedge of foam, a sack stuffed with cornhusks, or just a crappy too-firm pillow. I also secretly think it is a magical barrier that will protect me from any icky things. Apparently, I was wrong. (Yes. It happens. Sometimes.)
Shortly after returning from the beach, my head started itching. I had just switched shampoos, so I’m thinking allergic reaction. I talked to Dr. L at the HU and he confirmed that it looked like it. Recommended I avoid the local shampoos, even those manufactured by Clairol, Dove, or other trusted international brands. A few days after that, it seemed to calm down, so I figured that was it. But then, it never really went totally away. And then last night, I went in to check on DiploBoy2 while he was asleep.
So tiny it was. Black. On his face. It looked like it might be a flea. It’s flea and tick season, and my friend, B, had just had to practically firebomb her house to get rid of a tick infestation. So I reached out and grabbed it with my fingernail and realized it was TWO of whatever it was. Killed one. Flipped DB2 over and found another on the back of his neck. Killed it. Took the other one into the living room to DiploDad. We’d been watching a movie and had taken a stretch break. Seemed as good a time as any for insect identification.
“Hey – look what I found on DB2. What do you think it is?”
(Squinting) “No idea.”
So I leave the room and head back to DB1’s room. Strangely enough, an hour and half after I told him to turn the bloody light out and go to bed, the light was still on. Pokémon can be riveting, I suppose. Or induce insomnia. I’m betting the latter.
“Still up? Awesome.” I grabbed his microscope off his desk. “Find me a slide and slide cover. Now.”
“As you’re up, you may as well come and see why. Just get it and meet me in the living room.”
I returned to the living room with DB1 on my heels. He got out a slide, handed it to me, and I popped into the powder room to put a drop of water on my finger. Unidentified bug placed on top, slide cover trapping the nasty little sucker underneath. It would suffocate. Bonus.
“How do you adjust this thing?”
“Let me do it, Mom.”
After a few minutes, DB1 had it adjusted. We looked at it. Weren’t sure. Sent DB1 back to bed. Surfed the Internet. And found IT. The lifecycle of the bedbug. Back and forth, we glanced at the photograph and the evil bloodsucking creature. Looked like a nymph.
“Well, I guess we need to check this block in “Foreign Service Experiences”.
“Could have been worse. It could have been an evacuation.”
We both rushed to knock wood.
As it was practically midnight, we knew we could do nothing until the morning. So we crawled into bed to spend one last night as prime rib for the bedbugs. But not before I threw my precious pillow away. Bagged it tightly. Cuddled it one last time. And threw that sucker into the garbage hallway.
I spent a horrible night. Every hour or so, I woke up and checked DB2 again, finding at least 3 more of those nasty creatures crawling across his sweet sleeping face. I felt like things were crawling all over me. I got up and took a scalding hot bath. (Note to self: Water heater in ceiling over bathtub leaking again. Cracks in plaster look worse. Call GSO for repairs ASAP before it comes crashing through the ceiling.) I slept for a few minutes. Repeat until morning.
We rose early and began Operation Bedbug in earnest. Laundry. Heat stuffed animals in dryer for 30 minutes. Bag it all up. Store stuff until after July. Vacuum the crap out of everything in the area. V took to the project like it was her religion, which is saying something because she is the most devout Catholic I know. We dispatched D to go buy some spray that V swears will exorcise them forever and ever amen. I was scared to use it, but I was scared not to use it.
Right before DiploDad took the slide with the critter to the Health Unit, V called out to us.
“It’s not a bedbug, mam. It’s a lice.” Holy RID shampoo, Batman.
But lice are marginally better. First off, unlike bedbugs, it cannot survive more than two weeks without what medical websites lovingly term “a blood meal” (That’s you). Second, we’ve done this before in Africa, so it’s not unchartered waters and is slightly less scary. The protocol is pretty much the same, so we kept moving forward, with a slight change in plans.
DD went to the Consulate to talk to the HU and so some other mundane errands. Like buying foggers. We are nuking this apartment. V kept digging through the DB’s heads. And mine. Oh, Lord, mine too. In spite of being practically eaten alive, I only had one critter. A very fat, dumb and happy one. V was only too happy to kill it. Afterwards, she went down to the pharmacy to get some lice-killing shampoo.
V came back with two bottles of Kill Them All Let God Sort Them Out Shampoo and a nit comb. She got to DB2 first. Ick, ick, ick! She passed him off to me, and I plunked him into my tub and shampooed the Hell out of him. Rinsed him within an inch of his life. Dried him with a clean towel and then went back to the living room to pick up DB1 after his comb-out. When the DBs were in the living room, sitting on the floor in their underwear, it was my turn. Sweet Baby Jesus, if V had known that her job would entail this, she would never have taken it. EVER. Half an hour later, I got out of the shower to see that DiploDad had arrived. I ordered him under the nit comb. Three minutes later he was positively gloating.
“Nada. No critters.” Smirk.
“WHAT???!! How? You slept right next to me. In the same bed, on the same sheet. You borrowed my pillow!!!”
“Nope. Just like the mosquitos. They don’t like me.”
“Well, I don’t like you much right now either. Get in the shower and shampoo up anyway.” Sulk, sulk, sulk.
An hour and a half later, we were about two-thirds finished with the laundry, the house was totally vacuumed, stuff was sealed in plastic bags, the dog bathed and banished to the neighbors’ and the entire family was scrubbed and smelling vaguely like disinfectant. L had shown up for her shift in the meantime and was helping with the chaos. We set up foggers throughout the house, cracked doors and drawers and set them off before heading downstairs. V was upset that she couldn’t finish the laundry.
“Don’t do any of it, mam. It’s my work!”
“You know it will drive me nuts if I don’t help vanquish them as soon as I can, right?”
“I trust you not to do my work, mam.”
“Yeah, that was your first mistake.” Snickers from L and DiploDad.
After four and a half hours out of the house, we came back home and began to set up for the night. Threw in a few more loads of laundry. Brought the dog back for the night.
After we put the kids in bed, we ran around the house, packing suitcases, getting sand toys, and packing sunscreen. I also threw in a few of these:
Because we’re going back to Goa tomorrow, and I’m bombing the crap out of the room before we set foot in it. No souvenirs for me this time.