I don’t know what was more alarming; that the lady we met was friends with Rob’s ex girlfriend from college, or that the entire family was just recovering from dengue fever. Or while we were visiting their little family of four we experienced a 5.2 earthquake (definitely looking for the one story house now). Or the call from the expat phone tree requesting anyone with O positive blood please depart on the five o’clock plane to Medan to take part in a blood transfusion. It seems someone from an International Red Cross agency was loosing her fight with dengue (latest phone reports say she is doing better).
It seems dengue fever is transmitted by daytime mosquitoes (great! I was busy worrying about the night time ones, you know, the ones that carry malaria!) It is an illness that starts with a high temperature (this lady’s husband had a temperature of 105) and has flu like symptoms. While it is not usually a problem, it can be for older people or those with compromised immune system. There is no cure. There is also no vaccine. All that is available is just a good smattering of insect repellent to keep the striped, daytime mosquitoes at bay.
The mosquito isn’t actually the bad guy – they are simply the unassuming host of a bad bug received when sucking the blood of an infected person. A person can transmit dengue for six days after their first symptoms.
So, as I sat sipping water on the back porch watching this nice lady’s 18 month girl scratch a fresh bite into a bloody heap, I tried desperately not to run screaming from the house to bathe my children in a vat of DEET.
While it was nice to find other bules, or foreigners as we are called, it certainly is a mixed bag.
It is always interesting to find other expats in a foreign country. One thing that amazes me is for the most part, other expats could really care less about the new western faces in town. I am always amazed we ignore each other as we do. It’s a weird sort of dance; in fact it seems we go out of our way to pretend the other doesn’t exist.
Being the new person in town, I tend to wait and see how the other person responds. Unless, of course, I am totally desperate which is most of the time. I’m a social person. Then I find myself tackling anyone who looks remotely interesting, such as they have children, look like they come from a western country, or are breathing.
Which is how I found this nice family, dengue fever and all.