When we first arrived in the Bahamas in December we decide to celebrate our first official stop. We had just arrived after a long trip and were tired. Once we cleared customs and did our arrival chores It was getting late in the day. The sun had already set but we had just enough energy left to hike over to a restaurant for dinner. We heard there was a beach restaurant less than half a mile away. We thought it would be a great place to celebrate.
The rain was pouring over our umbrellas as we walked over the tiny hill top. The narrow path was pitch dark but for a few footpath lights along the way. As I ran my hand across my hair it felt rough. I suddenly realized it was rough with mosquitoes. We had been swatting our arms as we walked in the darkness but had no idea how many mosquitoes were on us. Once we were in the light of the restaurant I looked over at Mark who had the same stunned look on his face as I had. We were surprised to see the shear number of mosquitoes all over our bodies. Hundreds of them all over us. The bartender reached behind the bar and without a word handed us a bottle of insect repellant. Every café and restaurant we have visited thus far has the following, rum drinks and mosquito repellant. All you have to do is ask. Welcome to the islands.
It took three coats of spray to get the pests to leave us alone. There were several diehards buzzing around us the entire evening. I have to say, I was not thrilled with the idea of walking back to the boat that evening. Maybe I was slightly traumatized by the vast number of mosquitoes that swarmed us. Or maybe it just caught us off guard. I knew I would be fine on the walk back with the multilayers of repellant. Unfortunately, my head was arguing with itself on the strength the repellant had against the swarms waiting outside. The thought of sleeping under one of the tables until morning did cross my mind.
While swatting mosquitoes with one hand and searching on the internet with the other, I learned a lot about Deet. I learned just what percentage would work best and what products to use. I learned the mosquitoes in the Bahamas scoff at anything under 30% Deet. We are talking the types of repellant with the phrase “Deep Woods” in their titles. Not the friendly little 7% like the bottles we used back home. Mosquitoes here view 7% deet as an annoyance they have to slog through before biting you. Use 30% and you have their attention, or rather lack of attention. 50%–even better. I read on the internet a person recommended wearing loose clothing. I am here to say they don’t mind clothing. Just another small challenge the mosquitoes seem to overcome. Fortunately, I packed a few bottles of 30% deet and higher. I have decided to name Off! Insect Repellent the unofficial perfume of the Bahamas.
We soon fell back on our old experiences from living in places like Florida. During our time in Florida we would be on the dock chatting with neighbors and all of a sudden the leg and arm smacking started. Dusk had snuck up on us. The general rule was after three smacks it was a dash for the boat to hide in the air conditioning until morning. Everyone jokes about older people in Florida going out to restaurants for an early dinner. I have decided that it is not an age or money thing after all. It is the mosquitoes. Eat early, get home, hide. Don’t venture out again until after dawn. Way after dawn. We give the pests time to eat breakfast before venturing out else we are the breakfast. With age comes wisdom. The only difference is when you are in the Bahamas, the noseeums are out all day. If there is a nice wind, no mosquitoes. If there is low or no wind, there are mosquitoes.
By now you are thinking, “These people sure have a number of blog posts about bugs. Have they never been exposed to bugs before?” Sure, but in a much different manner. We knew to be in before dusk or have bug spray at hand. We could go inside, shut the doors and be protected from the bugs. Sure they were out there lurking just beyond the windows and air conditioning but we were inside and safe. We don’t have that option as much now. The majority of our chores and activities take us outside. We walk rather than drive. The restaurants we visit are mainly open to the outdoors. All of our social activities are outdoors. Most of the time our air conditioning comes from open hatches, open port holes and fans. When we are traveling from place to place we are in an open cockpit on the boat rather than an enclosed car. We are simply open to the elements more than in our land lives. The good news–we came prepared. We have screens for our hatches and port holes and we packed a stock of bug spray. But still, we have to be vigilant, none of it is totally bug proof.
Before we left Florida we purchased materials to make mosquito netting and new canvas for the cockpit. Mark wrote a post about the new canvas we made while in St Augustine. The netting project made it to the top of the list. A bunch of bugs are not going to spoil our time in this beautiful area. We spent a week making mosquito netting for the boat. We can now leave the companion way door open after dusk and we can sit in the cockpit without a lot of bug spray. Life is good. 🙂