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Life Under a Mosquito Net

Life under a mosquito net is anything but ordinary; it’s extraordinary. You may think of it as simply an encased existence for the sole purpose of rest without interruption from animals (I would say insects, but that doesn’t include reptiles) that have the potential to disturb your sleep or pass along potential ailments…but it’s so much more than that.

A Life of Royalty

First, let’s consider the preparation that goes into constructing this life. After purchasing a (hopefully) sizeable net, it should then be hung - perhaps from four corners or from one loop at the top - in a manner that provides enough space for you to fit inside (notice that I didn’t say comfortably). Is there a nail, wire, TV stand, fan, curtain rod, etc. that are already installed within your room to make this possible? Maybe. If not, how will you overcome this issue (/what random items did you happen to pack before you departed on this trip to achieve this goal)?

Once your net is hung in some manner (which could include using a combination of instruments such as string, duct tape, a jump rope, a bandana, bungee cords, rubber bands, a shoelace or simply one nail), the second step is fitting yourself inside. How that accomplished is dependent on your flexibility. Are you to sleep curled on your side, diagonal on the bed, on your back with legs in Supta Baddha Konasana or plainly as straight as a log? Your head or feet may touch the net regardless of your position, so you must also consider wearing a hood and/or socks - regardless of the room temperature - as insects are extremely determined and indiscriminate creatures.


The third step would be to judiciously tuck your mosquito net into your mattress. (This may sound like an unnecessary precaution, but from someone that has shared her pillow with a cockroach, I recommend taking great care when completing this task.) This step is the most important of them all to ensure that your net was not purchased for naught. Unfortunately, this step may need to be repeated…every night…for as long as you are living under the net…because sometimes you need to get up in the middle of the night and may partly trip out of your net…and sometimes you have dreams where you flail uncontrollably and get wrapped up in your net…and sometimes your host/hostess decides to change your sheets even if you protest that you’d rather sleep on the same sheet for 30 days instead of facing the potential of missing a tuck during your routine bed check.

Next is number four, which is to prepare your belongings to bring into the net before resting. These could include but are not limited to earplugs or an iPod (to silence the early morning speakerphone prayers), a tissue (to blow your running nose or wipe your sweaty brow depending on the temperature of the room), a retainer (in case you grind your teeth or think you might from thinking about what lies outside the net), a flashlight (as power will most likely be unreliable), a facemask (since your net could be pre-treated with chemicals), a battery operated fan (if you are a genius, unlike myself), an eye mask (curtains are a luxury in most rooms), a cell phone or alarm (in case you have not yet perfected the art of reading the sun) and/or flip flops (because if not, you could step into a not so pleasant surprise - for myself, a spider - should you leave these on the floor). This preparation is necessary so as to ensure entering and existing the net occurs as little as possible. For each time that you open the net, you expose yourself and thereby defeat the purpose of the net! That being said, you should also use the bathroom as much as possible before completing this second to last step (though in a foreign country, this may be easier said than done).

Safety Never Takes a Day Off

This brings us to our final step and hopeful resting place: your life under a mosquito net. Welcome! Given the various steps above, you have now prepared yourself accordingly. Congratulations! (It takes a special person to choose a nightlife of confinement.) How you choose to live this life, however, is completely up to you. Unfortunately, I won't be able to prepare you for the dreams that may result from your weekly Mefloquine pills…

About the author

Shannon Kossick

Shannon was born and raised in California with a youth spent in Roseville, college years lived in Los Angeles and adult life continuing to blossom in San Francisco. She has a double major in Accounting and Business Law, her CPA (though inactive) in California, experience serving on the Suicide Prevention Hotline and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in San Francisco, and is about to conclude almost three years working as a recruiter for accounting and finance professionals in the Bay Area. Shannon’s international experience ranges from studying abroad in Madrid, to serving in the Peace Corps in Honduras, to traveling to a new location every two years for pleasure with her mother. Her passion is service, and she therefore cannot tell you how stoked she is to be serving as a Fellow for an organization that promotes what she has experienced to be the most sustainable development activity abroad: microfinance.