Where I Hang My Mosquito Net
A remote, coastal village in Mexico is where I’ve been hanging my mosquito net for many years. Life there has its own set of survivor rules which revolve around living closely with nature. My hut has no enclosed walls.It is situated on the edge of a hill at the end of a foot path where the sub-tropical terrain invades civilization. Stray humming birds are frequent visitors, as are opossums, iguanas, skunks and scorpions.
When I first started living in this village, we had no electricity and that taught us how to maneuver in the darkness safely with our flashlights. I learned that no object could be touched without shining a light on it first as a scorpion could be lurking under or on it. It was essential that pants legs and shirt sleeves needed careful shaking away from your body before dressing. I obeyed these rules and was only stung once when I had first moved there. The sting was mild and it didn’t cause me too much discomfort.
This winter I was airing out some clothing on hangers that had a musty smell after spending the rainy season boxed up. After a few days I began to fold up the clothing and felt the inimitable sensation of the sting of a scorpion on the tip of my index finger. Without a doubt, I knew that a scorpion had just stung me. It felt like a long, sharp needle was slowing entering my system. I tossed the blouse on the floor and ran to the sink to apply running water on it.
I could feel the venom slowly traveling up my arm. I also knew that this sting was much more serious than my first one had been so many years before. A neighbor came by to visit and sat with me as the venom spread. On the previous occasion the venom went from my wrist to my elbow and stopped there. I could feel the poison tingling from the tips of my toes to my throat. Eventually it reached my face. My nose went numb. Fortunately my breathing remained normal and so did my vision. My neighbor asked if I had killed the culprit. I explained that I never saw it and was completely focused on the pain. She looked around and found it curled up on a mat on the floor. She found an old discarded glass wine bottle and smashed it dead. We both felt some satisfaction as the pain intensified.
In our village we have lost many children to these scorpion stings. Within a few days the symptoms that were effecting my entire body subsided but my finger remained completely numb for one month! Sometimes it itched horribly. It was such an unusual sensation to have an itch on a numb appendage. If I scratched it, I felt nothing. I learned how to do just about everything without that finger. For one month my index finger stood upright and erect whether I liked it or not.
It is astonishing how such a small creature can inflict such pain and cause so much damage. With all the perils that are intrinsic with life in this small and remote village, I eagerly look forward to my return. I honor nature in all her majesty and know that I must tread carefully where I hang my mosquito net.