Why would anyone want to donate blood in a paradise like Cozumel? The answer is very simple: We HAVE TO! There is a toll booth on the bridge to Paradise that is manned by a posse of voracious mosquitoes. Everyone must pay the “mordida” at some point and donate their fair share of blood, whether they want to or not. (“Mordida” literally means “bite” in Spanish but is also a Mexican euphemism for “bribe.” Quite fitting in this context, too.)
Unfortunately, mosquitoes are way more than just a nuisance. It is well known that mosquitoes can transmit some very dangerous diseases such as Dengue Fever, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Chikungunya and West Nile Virus just to name a few. Mosquitoes just plain suck (literally).
If you ask 50 people how they avoid mosquito bites, you will get 110 different answers.
I do not ever question why people go to great lengths to avoid the blood toll in Mosquito-land. But I DO question some of their techniques!
Over the last couple of years, I have dedicated a lot of my time to talking with “locals” about the best methods for avoiding the dreaded mosquito bite without using DEET spray. I must say, I have received a ton of interesting vacation advice. Some I’ve tried; some I’ve avoided; some are all-natural; some are simply eye-popping.
But when you’re facing the 8th gate of Hell and being rapidly escorted in by The Swarm, all are worth considering.
So I asked many of my new Central American friends how they coped with these pests. Below are the Top 10 most creative responses, as well as my thoughts (most of which I DID NOT verbalize)!
“Without using DEET, how do you and your family avoid being devoured by mosquitoes?”
- “Use a light when you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night! The under-seat butt-biters are the worst!” –Utila, Honduras (Yikes! I think I’d rather pee in the bed!)
- “Grow a repellent garden with citronella, lavender, rosemary & catnip.” — Merida, Mexico (Yeah. That’s easy to do while on vacation.)
- “Just attract bats to your house.” –Atenas, Costa Rica (Hmmmmm –umm, OK!)
- “Carry a fabric softener sheet in your pocket.” — Chetumal, Mexico (At least you’ll smell fresh while scratching. I could not even find a fabric softener sheet while living in Belize.)
- “Smear Vick’s Vapor Rub all over your body.” –Willemstad, Curacao (While that sounds ‘tingley and refreshing’ – no thanks!’)
- “Bathe yourself in apple cider vinegar and crushed parsley.” –Quepos, Costa Rica (Wow! I bet you smell amazing by sundown.)
- “Build mosquito traps with whiskey & cola bottles.” –Cozumel, Mexico (We’re still perfecting this one. After dozens and dozens of bottles, we evidently have not found the right kind of whiskey; I’ll let you know how – and if – it works.)
- “Rub aloe gel on your body. But it has to be straight from the plant; none of that commercial stuff.” –Willemstad, Curacao (Other than looking like I have jaundice, I would need to be in a very specific climate for this one.)
- “Stay inside during morning, late afternoon & evening.” –Panama City, Panama (Uh… OK, if I never want to see another sunset in my life!)
- “Avoid sweating; they are attracted to your sweat.” –San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize (Yep! That’s easy to do in the tropics!)
- This one’s an unadvertised BONUS (we’re generous that way) straight from the internet! “Slice a lime in two and stick a bunch of cloves into it.” –Internet (If it’s on the Internet, it MUST be true.)
However, hands down, my all-time favorite advice came from a local shopkeeper in Roatan, Honduras. When I saw a “Roatan Mosquito Sports Band,” I simply had to inquire.
I asked him whether or not these relatively simple contraptions worked well. He looked me up and down, and then looked at my precious baby girls in tow. After a thoughtful moment, he finally responded with the most honest answer I have ever heard.
He said, “Hmmm, well… really, they all work about the same. I suggest you just use something and stand next to someone who’s not using anything!!
And that, my friends, is how you effectively avoid mosquito bites! And might I add – this is the most sincere and best advice I’ve received since leaving the United States in 2011 with my family!
What are some strange ways you’ve heard to keep them at bay? Have you tried something that actually works? Leave your comments below!!!