A few years ago I visited the Carribean on a business trip and stayed in an all-inclusive resort. Though not enjoyable, the food was edible. Or as I discovered later, inedible. Over 80% of conference delegates were ill. Diacalm became a precious commodity, traded in meetings for chocolate, branded gin and other luxuries smuggled through customs. A rota with two hour slots was drawn up for the mosquito repelling plug-in.
The top topic of conversation at the bar was pest control. Everyone rallied together and pooled their advice, “don’t open any windows. Ever. Especially not the patio door.” “Leave the air-con on full-blast which will freeze the blighters,” offered someone else.
People were dropping like flies. The open-sided exhibition hall was silent apart from the urgent hiss of anti-mosquito spray and the slap of skin.
However it was when darkness fell that the nightmare began.
Shivering beneath my wafer thin blanket in my sub-arctic room I heard something run across the floor. I flicked the lights on. A herd of cockroaches scampered into the bathroom. Grabbing a flip flop I pursued them but they were quick, vanishing into a hole beneath the sink.
I snapped the light off and nestled back beneath the covers.
Zzzzzzzzz. Mosquito! From experience I knew that unless that mossie leaves the room by the sole of my flip flop I will wake up tomorrow looking like a plague victim. Lights back on, I pursued the mossie around the room screaming like a mad woman. I caught sight of myself in the mirror. In the tropical humidity my hair was on end. I looked like I hadn’t eaten or slept for a week, which was close to the truth. Next door I could hear the thud of something repeatedly hitting the wall. Down the corridor someone was shrieking about rats.
The next day in the bar we plotted an escape. There wasn’t another flight off the island for a week but someone had heard about a restaurant close-by which served food you could enjoy eating. We ordered a cab and cheered as we drove through the gate topped with barbed wire, joking as to why anyone would ever want to break into such a terrible resort. “Cockroach enthusiast,” someone quipped.
The restaurant was half open to the elements and located in a wind tunnel. This served as an effective mosquito deterrent as the biting beasties can’t fly in windy conditions. The downside was that my hair was whipped into something which should be served on a stick. People were asking to take photographs, but at least there weren’t any rats or cockroaches.
I know I probably sound like a pathetic tourist. In hot, tropical climates roaches and mosquitoes are very common. But because they breed rapidly both pests are very difficult to control. Locals might be used to the sight of them but I don’t want to see cockroaches and mosquitoes on a paradise island.