We bought our tickets for Colombia last summer, long before the word Zika entered the daily headlines. By last winter, when it became clear that Colombia had the second-greatest number of cases (after Brazil), I began joking about our upcoming trip to Zikalandia. I don’t think any of us seriously considered not going — but we did get serious about trying to avoid exposure. We bought large bottles of permethrin at REI and sprayed several sets of clothing with it.
We stocked up on various forms of bug repellant, plus Steve and I got anti-malarial medication to help protect us from that danger during our stay in the jungle.
I was more consistent than I’ve ever been about spraying myself with picaridin or smearing on DEET (or both). And when I saw the mosquito netting over our bedroom in the cabana at Rio Claro, it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
And yet…we were aware of very few mosquitoes — indeed few bugs of any kind — anywhere during the trip, even in Cartagena and the river valley. None of us ever heard that creepy high-pitched whine, and none acquired any itchy welts. I noted a few tiny suspicious bumps, and Steve had one obvious red splotchy spot that looked like a bite. But from what? A spider? A mite? Something else?
Now that we’re home, we have 4 more nights of the anti-malarial medication to down. I guess it will take a few weeks to see if any final souvenirs of our travels in Zikalandia develop.