BITES OF PASSAGE: DAINTREE MOSQUITOS

What do you think of when you hear the words “Queensland rainforest”? Birds chirping on lush green plants next to cascading waterfalls? Yeah sure, it has that. But it also has hordes of bugs.

Visitors to Australia worry about spiders and snakes, but you know what really causes the pain and discomfort in the land down under? The freaking mosquitoes. They are everywhere and they are lethal, as I discovered after a friend and I decided to take a tour of the Daintree Rainforest.

Trekking through the jungle we saw trees bigger than buildings, bats the size of rugby balls, and a range of amazing birds. I felt amazed, awe-inspired, until I couldn’t kick that niggling feeling that I needed to go to the loo.

My loyal friend and I left our group and tried to find a secluded spot. As I pulled down my pants, one of those pesky little critters decided to bite me right on my juicy cheek. I didn’t think too much about it and we found our group, continued our trek and then returned to Cairns.

The next day I was having trouble sitting down because a sharp pain would curse through my butt. Finally, I took a squiz and to my horror, the harmless little bite had somehow become infected and had swollen up to the size of a small cherry.

And it was black. Yes, black. Oh the horror. It was one of the most hideous things I had ever seen. My friend noticed my change of mood and I told her what had happened.

“I guess this rules out my chances of a summer fling,” I said. “Let me see,” she said.
“What? No way! It’s too embarrassing.”
“Come on,” she pleaded. She was studying to be a nurse and had that morbid fascination that doctors and nurses get with anything gory. And so with nothing to lose, I showed her. She burst out laughing. “I think it’s time for you to see a doctor.”

The two of us found a local medical centre. “Maybe you’ll need your bum cheek amputated,” my friend said to me in the waiting room. “Well, if that’s the case, I hope they do the other one too to even it out. This could be a blessing in disguise.” The two of us got the giggles and a few seconds later a male doctor announced my name. His face was stern and uncompromising and reminded me of a scary school principal. He ushered me in, and I dragged my friend in with me.

“I have this massive jet black bulge on my ars… bottom,” I said. “It’s really, really painful.”
“Open up,” he said and pointed to the stretcher bed. My friend bit her lip, suppressing laughter as I mouthed “open up?” I’m guessing this guy was sick the day they taught bedside manner at med school.

I took off my sarong skirt, pulled off my knickers and lay face down on the bed in shame. After he prodded and poked he told me to get dressed. “It’s fine,” he said. “Nothing to worry about.”

As we left the doctor’s room I hurried into the bathroom. What did he mean, it’s fine? I checked my behind, only to discover that my infected bulge had been replaced with the tiniest pink mark and my sarong skirt had a bloodstain. I found my friend.

“Thank God,” I said throwing my arms around my friend. “It turns out my cherry has been popped.”

Published in TNT Downunder Magazine online and in print on May 16, 2011

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