Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite
My thighs rubbed together as sweat seeped from every pore. The Mexican heat was overwhelming after a month of Californian springtime – which, I will have you know, does not live up to spring temperatures in Queensland, something I was unaware of prior to the visit. My sticky hands grasped the handle of my pack as I warily stumbled down the hill.
Back in Kathmandu (the store not the city), I had gone with the wheel-backpack hybrid, which essentially meant I had a pack identical to that of all other backpackers but could pop the handle up and wheel it whenever I felt so inclined, which was basically always. This was often much to the annoyance of those around me as 13kg of belongings on two small wheels makes quite a lot of noise when being dragged over gravel, cobblestones, or generally just any uneven ground that you are likely to find in developing countries. Oh, and flights of stairs of course.
Anyway, I was dragging my wheely-pack down the windy path from the main road of Puerto Escondido to the beach strip of Zicatella, about to commence the hunt for accommodation. My mate Stu was with me, and he had opted for the back-only style pack, and was sweating even more profusely than I was. We were keen to find a quick solution so we could dump our shit and relax. The first place (literally) we saw was cheap (60 pesos per night) for Zicatella and there was a bar with a pool table and drink specials right next door. We took it on the spot.
The man led us to our ‘cabin’, which in retrospect I would be more inclined to call ‘prison cell’, and we were welcomed with the overpowering scent of mildew mixed with a faint trace of urine. The two bunks had mattresses as thin as the cheese on your Big Mac and there were no cases on those yellow pillows. What we did have, though, was a lovely roomie who explained to us in his thick hillbilly drawl that he was on the run from not only the police but also two separate gangs back in the states. They were trying to kill him apparently. He was an extremely overweight version of Russel Crowe in Romper Stomper with a Nazi Swastika tattooed on his chest.
I didn’t really want my things to touch, well, anything, so we just sat our bags upright on the concrete floor and got the hell out of there. I had been really looking forward to a shower but when I located the bathroom – a tasteful outdoor set up with just a rusty pipe protruding from the wall and not even a scrappy curtain in sight – I decided I would prefer a swim.
We spent the afternoon wandering around town in search for a room to rent for the next month or so as we definitely weren’t planning on asking our current landlord to extend our stay in the cesspit. We found a great place directly in front of the beach for 150 Aussie dollars a month. In the evening we headed back to the bar next door and took them up on the offer of five cerveza for 50 pesos in the hope to not have to lie awake for too long in those delightful beds. We played a few games of pool, but by 11pm when no other people had arrived we assumed the sign outside claiming ‘best party in town’ was a lie and went to bed.
The high spirits we were in from finding our new home were quelled as we cringingly settled into our beds. We did manage to fall asleep, but at approximately 1am were woken up by extremely loud Rhianna hits being played repetitively next-door. The party had arrived, it seemed. We hadn’t noticed this earlier, but our room actually had a fairly substantial gap running around the perimeter where most walls would usually join the ceiling. This meant that not only were we sharing building materials with the bar next door but also air. We were hearing the music just as loudly as those who were dancing to it.
A few seconds after waking, I realised it was not only the noise that had disturbed me. I was being brutally attacked by mosquitoes. I reached down beside my bed for my citronella spray (so organic) and Stu, noticing I was awake, whispered through the darkness from the bunk over,
“Are you being bitten too?”
“Yes,” I replied. Needless to say, this was a low point for us. We were (not) sleeping on bedding that felt as though it hadn’t been changed since 1984, terrible music was thumping in our ears, we had no water and to top it off I was scratching myself red raw.
In fact, the scratching was quite unbearable. The only thing that seemed to be going for us was that there was no sign of America’s Most Wanted, although there was someone outside our door forcing themselves to cough up what seemed like all the tar from every cigarette they had ever smoked, and I would wager it was probably our guy – he didn’t seem the epitome of health.
“Stu, I’m really itchy,” I whimpered. He claimed that his bed wasn’t so bad, and invited me to join him. We plugged in an ear each of the ipod in attempt to drown out the third rendition of Umbrella and tried to fall asleep.
What seemed like an eternity later, after not a wink of sleep achieved, the itching had reached a crescendo. I asked Stu if he thought we could maybe go and jump in the ocean, but he reminded me that the beach is full of rapists in the night (we had been given this helpful tip by a know-it-all expat earlier in the day*) and that we must wait until daybreak. My citronella was doing nothing for these ferocious mozzies, and I damned it to hell.
When first light broke through the bars in the A4 sized window, I was immediately up and into my swimmers. I stepped outside into the dim morning light and looked down at my itchy body. I was covered in what seemed like a pattern of Minesweep. Dots ran in all directions, long lines up my legs arms and stomach. My stomach dropped when I realized it was not mosquitoes that had been drinking my blood, but BEDBUGS. The travellers arch nemesis (cue ominous music). I ran back into the room and alerted Stu. We grabbed our packs and left.
On the way out the guy on reception asked how we enjoyed our stay, I indicated my pockmarked body and gave a friendly explanation that I think they may have a slight bug problem on their hands, and perhaps should deal with that before taking any more guests off the street. Although to be honest, old white-supremacy didn’t seem to mind, but I don’t think he actually ever got into bed, he was currently sitting in the bathroom/courtyard topping up his nicotine addiction. The staffmember seemed less than shocked at our situation but due to my visible dissatisfaction he did replenish us with 10 of the 60 pesos we had each paid for the room. So in the end, it was totally worth it.
Cover by PhotoSolutons