My first night in Noh Poe I slept really well, which was amazing considering my situation. The main thing on my mind was the Dengue outbreak in camp. Dengue is a virus carried by mosquitos and I had no intentions of getting it. In severe cases it causes hemorrhage and bleeding form every orifice of the body. So, that first night, I was concerned about the mosquitoes and, because I was in open-air housing, I slept with a double layer of clothing over the mosquito repellant I had doused myself with, then covered every other inch of exposed skin with a blanket. The only thing left uncovered was my nose and that was throughly layered in deet. I was sweating like crazy but was armored against all mosquitoes.
After traveling an area for awhile, I begin to relax and give in to what ever will be. I form a system that seems to work and doesn’t take much thought. Now, I have a simple system that keeps mosquitos away. Then, I didn’t, so I was worried.
The next day, after being bitten twice on my lower legs, I hunted around commerce street and found a man making pants, from which I promptly got a pair that went down to my ankles.
Then I found out that mosquitoes carrying dengue only bite during the day. The mosquitoes that bite at night are the ones that carry malaria. I didn’t bundle quite so tight at night after that because I was taking a malaria preventative. I also had a mosquito net, which was a comfort unless a mosquito was inside it with you. Then it felt more like a trap.
Every morning the students would bring me really great breakfast. Most the time I had food left over to pack for lunch. I always made sure to throw the left overs in an outside trash can by evening though, so critters wouldn’t critter in my house.
(For more on the food of Noh Poe look at the food page.)
One day Eh Poe gave me a crepe filled with coconut. Yummy as it was, I couldn’t finish it all and put the rest in my pack until later.
That night I woke up to the sound of tiny foot falls. In the shadows I saw a mouse scurrying around the room. Seeing as my bed was basically a thin mat on the floor, this did not make me happy. I was surprised because this was my fourth night to stay in the house, but only the first appearance of the mouse.
I tried to recall if mice ate people.
The only story I could remember was one about rats eating babies in Florida years ago. That made me squirm. This was a big mouse though, and not a rat. So, I figured it would probably be ok. Besides, I had the mosquito net around me. I drifted into a fitful sleep dreaming of mice and mosquitoes trapped in my mosquito net. It was a terrible dream.
Sometime in the night I woke up suddenly, grabbed my flashlight and flicked it on. There, his nose to my nose, his face to my face and INSIDE the mosquito net, was the mouse with a big piece of Eh Poe’s coconut pancake hanging from his mouth. I had forgotten and left the pancake in my pack! The mouse and I, both of us stunned by the sudden illumination of each other, silently screamed. He made a dash under my pillow and I leapt to the safety of my thin floor mat. In the two seconds it took me to realize the center of my floor mat offered no safety at all, the mouse, in my mind, had become rabid and was going to bite my toes off. No, he was going to bite my face off. Actually, he was going to bite my pumping heart clean out of my body and laugh with evil glee as he did it.
I could not. get. out. of that mosquito net fast enough.
The mouse felt the same way and for a few moments there was a mad scramble as we both raced to get free.
He won. I sat in the middle of my mat, breathing hard, watching him go.
Then I spent the next hour making sure I had gotten all the food out of the house, killing all the mosquitoes who had managed to sneak into my mosquito net during the scuffle and setting up a spot light in my bed because I was spooked. I doused myself with another layer of insect repellent just in case and lay down to try to sleep. But when I started replaying the story in my mind, it started to seem just so funny. I laughed and laughed and could not stop, for a long time.