Written during my training period in Las Cañas, San Vicente, El Salvador. (September 2003)
One thing to get used to in the Salvadoran campo is the large variety of scary, biting, stinging, spitting, urinating, and defecating insects, arachnids and other larger animals. With just cause, one of the first things issued to us as Peace Corps trainees is a mosquito net (and a handsome tote bag to go with it). And one of the first things the training staff tells us is to put up our nets above and around our beds.
The darn net is such a cumbersome thing to put up. It also takes some getting used to. At first it makes one feel a bit claustrophobic. A forgetful person is apt to end up in a wrestling match with the mosquito net in an emergency midnight venture to the latrine, or when one gets up late and in a hurried frenzy to get ready and catch a bus to San Vicente.
Despite the mosquito net annoyances, one soon learns of its blessings. During the first night (and nights thereafter) one hears strange noises close by. Those that have flashlights ready whip them out to see wings fluttering and creepy legs climbing the walls of the net. “Can they get in?” one wonders. But the realization soon sets in that a well arranged and tucked mosquito net is a safe haven, impenetrable to almost any kind of night-flying and night-crawling animals. The dominating thought the following morning is , “I’m so glad I get to sleep under a mosquito net here in El Salvador.”