The damage one leech can do if it happens upon your face. I couldn't wear contacts for four days.
It's my birthday and I can cry if I want to, cry if I want, cry if I want to. You would cry, too, if it happened to you!!! July 16, 1986, brand new baby me came into this world. 21 years later I am in the middle of a high altitude, tropical rainforest in a developing African nation. Not exactly what I was envisioning, but that's what you get for having a summer birthday...
Two days ago on Saturday, I had started to feel ill. By Monday (my day of birth), I was hanging on by a thread. This combination of nausea, achy shoulders and neck, fatigue, and headache/dizziness are reminiscent of the flu, but like nothing I have experienced before. If I hadn't been so stringent about my malarial medication I would swear that I had come down with the disease (to compliment my mosquito-bitten body). Hopefully it will be gone by Wednesday, so I don't have to hike back feeling like I am dying.
After a lovely birthday and a fitful birthday night's sleep, I decide to spend Tuesday doped up on Ibuprofen, which improves life considerably. It was pouring rain this morning, but we had to get the plots done. As is customary when you don't want something to happen, it stops as soon as you are done. I finally get my birthday surprise: my first sighting of the Black and White Ruffed Lemurs!!! My favorite species is the Red Ruffed, but they are far north and are not on my itinerary. This is why I came, tho. All that plant stuff is just an excuse!
Wednesday, I'm back! I still can't laugh, because my shoulder aches too much, but I am feeling loads better. The 2 hour hike back was brutal in pouring rain. I also had the great fortune to experience my second leech-in-the-eye and first actual bite as they come falling from the sky when it rains. I GOT MY LOST LUGGAGE BACK!!! Besides the bag being destroyed and my laundry detergent exploded, nothing is in terrible shape...except my phone, which is gone! ACK!
On Friday I made my first voyage to Fianarantsoa, the closest big city. I checked my email and was extatic to see all the wonderful Facebook happy birthday posts! It's really not a very exciting city, but it was nice after ten days in the middle of the forest.
Madagascar's Leeches - Malagobdella spp. Terrestrial by nature, these suckers are most prevalent during and after rainfall. They attach to their unsuspecting victim by a combination of mucus and suction (thank you Wikipedia) and begin to feed. One would never suspect the places these little annelids end up and how they manage to sneak through boots and socks to find your skin. They produce an anisthetic substance so you don't feel the bite (althoug the sliming slithering is unmistakable) and anti-clotting enzyme so you can't stop bleeding! All in all, you come to love these tiny little blobs of mush!
-That's All Folks!