Oh, oh,…TIA…”This is Africa”…I’ve been bit!!!…Photos below…

Norman and a young Big Daddy are vying for dominance in the garden.

Yesterday morning around 11:00, I headed out to the outdoor laundry room, and while I was loading the first of two loads into the washer, I felt a sharp pain in my left upper arm. I was wearing a lightweight shirt with sleeves rolled up to my elbows. The sharp bite I felt was under my sleeve. I had applied repellent only a few hours earlier from my fingertips to my shoulders. I slapped the intruder and went about my laundry task.

A few minutes later, pain from the bite started shooting through my arm. I gently rubbed my hand over my sleeve, again not giving it much of a thought. I didn’t think much about the bite, figuring it was a hungry mosquito or a tiny spider that may have walked up my arm from the opening in my shirt sleeve.

Marigold was looking for her little one, who hadn’t yet learned to jump the fence.

About 30 minutes later, with the escalating pain and outrageous itching, I went to the bathroom (during load shedding when I couldn’t see very well in the mirror) to check it out. It looked red and swollen, about the size of an egg. Immediately, I put ice on it using the frozen ice pack we keep for such occasions. I kept it on the bite for about 20 minutes and then covered the area with cortisone cream.

Marigold takes a sip from the bird bath, to which Tom adds fresh water daily.

As the day progressed, it worsened, and by 3:00 pm, 1500 hours, it looked as it was when we took the first photo. After dinner, as the swelling, pain, and itching continued, I took the second photo. At this point, since it was worsening, I texted Louise, and she contacted Field Security here in Marloth Park to have a paramedic stop by and check it out in case it was a venomous spider or insect that may require medical attention for injection of some type of antivenom.

I wouldn’t have gone this route if it wasn’t looking more and more swollen and red by the hour. But, there are many dangerous insects, including spiders, and scorpions, whose bites may require medical attention. I wanted to rule out those possibilities by having a local paramedic check it out. No doctor’s offices were open on Saturday at 7:00 pm, 1900 hrs., and there’s no such thing as Urgent Care anywhere in the area.

The first photo I took of my arm about 90 minutes after being bit.

The paramedic arrived about 30 minutes later since he had trouble finding the house in the dark. My concern was if it worsened overnight, we wouldn’t be able to head to the closest hospital emergency room in Nelspruit since it’s highly dangerous to make the 75-minute drive on the N4 at night. Plus, the houses in Marloth Park have inconsistent and non-sequential numbers that make no sense.

The paramedic looked at my arm and knew it was a bee or wasp sting. The type of bee or wasp was one I was less allergic to than others since I had no systemic response other than the pain, itching, and swelling at the site. Tom and I are allergic to bees and wasps, and we always carry an EpiPen with us. I would have used the EpiPen if I’d noticed any throat or face swelling.

The second photo of my arm, six hours after being bit. The redness and swelling now extend from my shoulder to my elbow.

The paramedic rubbed ice cubes on my arm, applied two types of creams, and told me to let them know if it got worse overnight, and they’d take me to a hospital via ambulance if necessary. No thanks. I didn’t feel it was necessary to go to that extreme.

I barely slept all night due to the itching. I took Paracetamol (Tylenol0 for the pain and an antihistamine for the itching. There was no relief whatsoever, even with the addition of cortisone cream during the night. Finally, this morning after applying gobs of calamine lotion, I could sleep for two hours after Tom woke.

This morning, it looks the same as it did last night. Now, I am on a two-hour schedule of icing it and adding calamine lotion, the only means of relief that holds me for a few hours. I’ll follow the same protocol tonight since I think this will continue for at least a few more days.

At any given time, we have numerous male impalas in the garden. Two male impalas in the garden.

I will spend the day in the bedroom today with the fan on. I am wearing my insect-shield safari shirt, which repels insects to a degree. I certainly didn’t want to have to cover my painful, itchy arm with repellent to be able to sit outdoors, although I used it to cover the rest of my exposed skin.

At least this morning, Tom and I prepared everything for tonight’s dinner, which will be easy when it’s time to eat. I chopped all the vegetables, and Tom made the meat (which I seasoned) for tonight’s taco salads. All we’ll have to do later is reheat the seasoned meat on the stovetop (during load shedding), and we’ll be good to go.

A male impala in the garden is wondering what’s on the menu!

On Tuesday, the school holiday season officially ends, and we expect to see more of our favorite animals return to our garden. We look forward to this and also heading into Kruger for a much anticipated self-drive safari.

Anyway, TIA, “This is Africa,” which is the price certain allergic types like me have to pay to enjoy the wonders of the bush.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 8, 2022:

We’ve named this warthog Little Imposter. He responds when I call him since he’s heard me call Little often. But, he won’t come close to the veranda as Little does. He’s very skittish. For more photos, please click here.

Hesitated to write about this…More of what?…

dust mite medical 3d illustration - typical dust mite dust mite stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images
Yikes! This is a dust mite, un-seeable by the naked eye.. (Not our photo).

I hesitated to write this story today. Genetic health issues, primarily from my mother’s side of the family, left me with a variety of medical problems which I’ve struggled with most of my life. As a child, I had severe asthma beginning at about three years old. As I got older, I developed hay fever, which only exacerbated the situation.

In my 20s, I started taking cortisone tablets daily, which continued for 14 years, wreaking havoc with my health and well-being, but at least I could breathe.

In my 30’s I went through all those allergy tests and subsequent weekly injections to reduce my symptoms while at the same time tapering off the cortisone tablets, which took two years. Finally, the injections were completed, and I was truly free of symptoms for many years.

On top of that, as mentioned in the past, I suffered from metabolic syndrome causing high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and constant battles in attempting to maintain my weight at a healthy level. These issues have only recently been entirely resolved when I once again changed my diet, becoming more strict in a low-carb way of eating while in that hotel room in India. I no longer have high blood pressure (off all medication), and I am no longer pre-diabetic.

As I continue to learn about metabolic syndrome, I have realized that constant high blood sugar and high blood pressure caused me to develop cardiovascular heart disease, often a high-risk factor in diabetes and hypertension. Also, after 40 years have passed since I had those allergy injections, the positive effects have worn off. The allergies have returned and manifested in different ways.

Kudu, named Bossy, was surrounded by mongooses and didn’t seem to mind a bit as long as there were pellets around. The mongooses don’t care for the pellets.

Yes, after all my posts about my health over the years, I hesitated to write about it again today. But, over the past few months, I’ve thought that if perhaps my writing about this could provide one of our readers with a morsel of curiosity about their conditions, resulting in their pursuit of answers, it was well worth any potential retribution or criticism. I can only imagine many of our readers thinking and saying, “Here we go again.”

So here is my most recent allergy dilemma. I am suffering from severe hives (or what appears to be insect bites) from dust mites. When I had the allergy tests 40 years ago, dust mites were the number one allergen I responded to, number two being grasses.

This house we’re in is impeccably clean. You’d have a hard time finding a speck of dust anywhere. Each day Vusi and Zef clean every inch of space. But the harsh reality regarding dust mites is that they live unseen in mattresses, pillows, stuffed furniture, and clothing. Dust mites, per se, don’t bite their victims. See below from this site:

Tom mixed ups yet another batch of raw scrambled eggs.

“What Are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like pests that generate some of the most common indoor substances—or allergens—that can trigger allergic reactions and asthma in many people. Hundreds of thousands of dust mites can live in the bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets, or curtains in your home. They feed on the dead human skin cells found in dust.

Dust mites are not parasites; they don’t bite, sting, or burrow into our bodies. The harmful allergen that they create comes from their fecal pellets and body fragments. Dust mites are nearly everywhere; roughly four out of five homes in the United States have detectable levels of dust mite allergen in at least one bed.”

Here is information on rashes caused by exposure to dust mites, which I appear to be suffering from over the past few months. I do not see new rashes during the day or evening while outdoors. But, at night, when I go to bed, I start itching like crazy and discover new rashes all over my body in the morning, particularly areas that touch the mattress and pillows.

Utilizing extreme caution and the frequent use of DEET repellent several times a day, I no longer am getting many mosquito bites. For a while, I thought the rash might be a result of the harsh laundry soap. Louise had Vusi and Zef start using baby-friendly chemical-free laundry soap.

We rarely feed the impalas. There are so many of them, and we’d draw even more if we did so. Occasionally, they visit when there are already pellets on the ground. There is plenty of green vegetation for them to graze at this time.

We purchased the same type of laundry soap for our laundry, clothing, and towels.  Although there was a slight improvement, I’d still awaken in the morning with new outrageously itchy spots all over my body, particularly any exposed skin. A few nights, I wore winter pajamas with long tight pants and long sleeves. This helped, but it’s tough to wear these hot clothes to bed when temperatures are in the 100Fs, 40Cs, during the day. The air con in the bedroom couldn’t keep me cool enough to be able to sleep.

My arms are the worst, covered in inflamed, red bite-like spots that continue to itch for no less than three weeks once I have a new batch. My neck and face have been covered at times with the rash. When old patches recover, new ones occur. I try not to complain. My Fitbit shows how poor my sleep has been, often around four or five hours intermittently. I take antihistamines daily and use prescription cortisone cream several times a day and night. Nothing helps.

Last week, Vusi and Zef cleaned and sprayed all sides of the mattress and pillows with anti-dust mite spray. It lasted only two nights and then was back with a vengeance.

Yesterday, in dire frustration, I threw my arms in the air. I asked Louise to find a professional exterminator to come and fog the entire house, hopefully ridding us of this problem. We insisted we pay for this service. As it turned out, the only professional in this area is gone for two weeks. Instead, he told Louise and Danie how to fumigate the house and what products to use that will hopefully provide some relief until he returns and does the full-professional treatment.  I feel bad that they have to do this. But, that is how they are, always concerned for our well-being and the well-being of all their clientele.

Bossy always stares at me for more pellets. She has us both well trained.

Monday, we have to move out of the house for 24 hours while they come in the morning and do the temporary fumigation job. They insisted we stay at their wonderful current home while staying in another of their fabulous properties with family joining them for a few weeks’ visit. Monday morning, we’ll pack up an overnight bag and head to their beautiful house, only minutes away.

So there it is, another of my recent dilemmas. This same thing happened to me last time we were here in 2018 and when we stayed in a hotel in Minneapolis during a six-week family visit in 2017. There were no such issues during those ten months in India. Thank goodness.

Last night our friend Alan came to visit, and we had an enjoyable evening. Tonight, we’re going to Jabula for dinner. Soon, we’ll visit Kruger National Park once we wrap up this situation and complete a few looming tasks.

Happy day. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 13, 2020:

“Buffaloes are believed to have domesticated around 5000 years ago in the Indus Valley and thrive best in the areas of moderate rainfall as they require plenty of water for their daily bath.   Indian buffaloes are considered to be an important source of milk today. They yield nearly three times milk like cows. Interestingly, 47.22 million milch buffaloes produce 55 percent of milk, which is more than half of the total milk produced in the country. Whereas, 57 million cows contribute only 45 percent of the total milk yield.” This is from the post one year ago, when we knew we had to end our 54-night private tour of India prematurely due to Covid-19. Please click here for more.

Are we back in Belize or Kenya?…What’s going on?…

In between parts of the souk, there are outdoor areas where many locals may be offering their wares. We’ve seen boxes of products arriving from Bangladesh and China. Shopping tourists often assume that all of the offered products are made locally. Some are, but not all.

When we arrived in Belize over a year ago, our first week spent in the little cottage on the beach, (until we moved out a week later), I suffered from over 100 bites from what is referred to as “no-see-ums” commonly known as sandflies. 

Once we moved to the fabulous LaruBeya we’d only have to go indoors at dusk to avoid being bitten and wear repellent when outside at night. Later, in Italy, with no screens on the windows or AC, the flies dined on me day and night, eventually requiring me to wear the BugsAway clothing, leaving me hot as I was overly dressed in the heat of summer.

Shop owners and workers often play with their smartphones as they await the next customer.

In Kenya, it was mosquitoes, making it necessary for me to wear insect repellent 24 hours a day. In South Africa, it was mosquitoes, referred to as “mozzies,” again requiring me to wear repellent at all times that buzzed around my head but not nearly as bad as they had in Kenya.

When we arrived in Morocco two months ago, it was cool, mostly in the 60Fs during the day, cooler at night.  Without a bug in sight, I thought that for a while I was home free with no biting insects. I was kidding myself.

As spring arrived this past month, almost on queue with the weather warming more and more each day, I awoke 10 days ago with no less than 25 bites on my right arm and hand.

This appears to be an abandoned construction site.

I sleep on my left side with my right arm draped over an extra pillow placed perpendicular to my body. This pillow provides relief for my bad right shoulder. As a result, my right arm is outside the covers most of the night. I didn’t see a single insect fly by the screen of my phone as I’d read a book each night. What was biting me?

Itching like crazy with neither repellent nor itch relief on hand from when we’d lightened our load, I searched online for the source of my dismay…the lowly sandfly, aka “no-see-ums” commonly called the phlebotomine sandflies. Nasty little invisible buggers!

These are no simple bites. These are vicious bites leaving raised hot, red, swollen nodules that itch beyond belief, eventually to ooze if rubbed or scratched even in the slightest. Oh, good grief. Here we go again as I wondered, why me and not Tom?

Hundreds of years of wear and tear is evident in certain areas.

In finding this article from the Smithsonian Institute, the answer is clear. I am a Type-0 blood type, twice as likely as Tom’s Type-A. Plus, I must have a genetic factor. My two sisters suffer from the same tendency to be bitten.

After reading through the above article I feel confident the answer to the dilemma lies therein explaining my propensity to being bit in general, let alone attracting biters away from Tom. He often explains that when I leave the room, they flock around him in my absence until I return.

Unable to find repellent at the pharmacy we tried in the Medina, I’ve resorted to being totally covered in clothing around the clock. Sandflies, invisible to the eye are too small to bite through clothing or blankets. As a result, I’ve been wearing one of Tom’s white long-sleeved BugsAway shirts to bed at night with my arms well covered and during the day wearing my own BugsAway shirt, jeans, and socks.

This shop sells attractive tiles sinks and basins.

Now, completely covered they’ve resorted to biting my hands during the day and again during the night. A few days ago Adil brought a plug-in device for the bedroom that continually emits a repellent. We keep the drapes covering the doorway to the bedroom closed at all times, as I’ve instructed Madame and Oumaima to do the same each day after cleaning our bedroom.

These combined measures appear to have improved the situation. But, I’m still getting bites on my hands and fingers. Nothing is more itchy and annoying than bites on one’s knuckles or between the fingers. As I sit here in the salon at this moment, I can’t see them but they surely hover around me avoiding my bug repellent shirt instead, feasting on my hands. I no longer scratch after reading that scratching exacerbates the length of time the bites remain “active.” I knew this. I needed to be reminded.

After 10 days, the original bites continue to itch and the newer ones are revving up for days to come. In reading information about these nasty critters, the itching may last for weeks or months.

Off the beaten path, second-hand items are offered for sale on the ground as the local seller hunches on the ground, hoping for a sale.

Today, if necessary we’ll stop at every pharmacy in the Medina to find repellent and anti-itch cream. If we find the repellent I’ll wear it around the clock, reloading it on my hands each time I wash. Perhaps, if the repellent works well I’ll be able to stop wearing hot, bulky clothing as the weather is now into the scorching 90F degrees (32.3C) almost every day.

In the realm of things…no big deal!  But, for those prone to being bit, one must be prepared when traveling. How did we end up unprepared? When packing to leave South Africa, my tube of Cortisone cream was almost empty and expired so I tossed it, thinking I could easily buy another. When I used the last drop of repellent on the last day, again, I thought replacing it would be no issue.

Also, after reading about insects in Marrakech nothing was mentioned about these pesky critters. Once we arrived, not seeing a fly or bee anyway in the riad with the center courtyard open to the sky, I thought there would be no issue. Little did I know.

A few nights ago, my entire right arm was hot and swollen from all the bites. Using antibiotic ointment, I dabbed at each of the bites before putting on Tom’s shirt for bed.  In the morning it was better. These types of bites may become infected making it important to stay mindful as to their condition. Initially scratching them, even gently over my clothing, proved to result in further damage.

Caught up in the discomfort of itching results in losing valuable time better spent enjoying our surroundings and time together. I’ve learned my lesson to always have anti-itch cream and repellent on hand wherever we may go.

Is it any wonder that there would be sandflies in the desert…duh…the sand? Good thing I didn’t ride a camel on the desert sands as originally planned! Our change of plans turned out better than we’d expected!


Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2013. With no photos taken that particular day, below is a photo from the prior day:

A tourist boat made to look like an old pirate ship passed by our ship, the Norwegian Epic as we watched from our balcony. For details of the story posted on April 30, 2013, please click here.