The parasites of August


I got bit August summer of ‘68 in Litchfield, Maine. In my early 20s, I had four weeks to engage the church youth in summer camps attended by teenyboppers from up and down Maine to Connecticut. It was a pleasant summer save the buzzing mosquitoes.

I grew up in the Cagayan Valley where the anopheles carried malaria around. I never got the shakes, staying faithful within the standard mosquito net canopy. In Nigeria, I guarded the intake of training participants by Lagoon Lagos but I was lax with my prophylactics. The plasmodium got me climbing the walls.

The local Maine story was that the government sprayed DDT to eradicate the pesky pests until the authorities realized that not only was the compound detrimental to humans, it also evolved mosquitoes into bigger and stronger breeds.

It was not until the late 70s when I heard a similar story but with a more prominent role given the mosquitoes. For their size, they were labeled as the provincial birds of Manitoba, no longer just swatted but systematically eradicated with chemicals! The result was predictable.

After a weekend in July last month in the pleasant surroundings of Alberta’s Banff and Lake Louise, by magnificent Lake Moraine, and the bouncy rapids of the Bow River flowing from Jaspers where the head streams of the Saskatchewan river began at the Athabasca glaciers of the Canadian Rockies, my lungs had its fill of clean air and fresh winds compared to the haze of Calgary that was in the middle of its annual dust-filled Stampede. The iced mineral water was tastier than the cold bottled one that dispensed for a dollar in the Plains.

It was not yet August on the tail end of the chuckwagon races and the rodeo-riding cowboys when one slender long-legged bloodsucking female capable of passing on the dreaded Egyptian encephalitis alighted on my brazzo. I quickly gave it the swat.

It is its cousins that buzz around the plains of Manchuria where Shenyang is nestled by the Liaohe, the river that gives the province its name. Given the swampy areas along the Bohai shores, there are many stagnant waters where the aquatic larvae of the mosquito thrive and multiply.

Males among DCHS’59ers (Davao City High School) in the Banff tour related jokes during the bus ride. I added my mosquito cowboy shoot-out story setting it on an old West Texas bar transported to a lower Alberta ranch town. It went:

A mosquito buzzed by while three cowboys nursed their spirited quaffs in a Calgary bar. So the wide-brim-hatted gringo drew his six-shooter and a buzzer was a dot on the wall. With no shortage of pride, the cowboy blew the smoke off his gun nozzle.

Another buzzer came by and the Canadien ranch hand took his aim, clipped the mosquito’s wings, making the buzzer zigzag dizzily down to its ignominy. The bartender shrugged his shoulders. No word was exchanged.

Then another mosquito ventured into the bar space, and a Chinoy pulled his trigger. The fly kept on flying. Usually short of words, the gringo and the Canadien gave the Chinoy a surly look. They said, “You missed.” The Chinoy replied: “Mayhap, but he ain’t havin’ no more babies no more!”

Buzzers were not funny in Oleai and CK as they flew into Saipan’s Beach Road when favorably nurtured by the rain and the sun. The mosquitoes were my antagonists for occupancy in the old San Jose Motel before the place was consigned to disrepair. Non-humans in this planet, particularly creatures nice and small, are faring well.

Even the Ebola virus is winning in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and West Africa! Already, the infection has become pandemic with the world on red alert over the local health structures inability to deal with the epidemic. A call for assistance from partner countries had been issued. Experimental medication was just approved for use to indicate the severity and desperation of the situation. Nigeria just added to the death count.

Meanwhile, humanoids around the world grow bigger brains and larger butts, multi-layered bellies and paunchier girths, spending lives at the altar of consumer goods longing for comfort but ever anxious over health and personal security.

This reflection is about “me and mosquitoes,” not about English (the proper form is “mosquitoes and I” but “me and mosquitoes” sounds better). It is about sharing the same space without elbowing each other out of existence. Change the phrase in quote to “Palestinian and Jew, Chinese and Japanese, Iraqi and Irani, Kiev Ukrainian and Donets’k Ukrainian, SoKor and NoKor, etc.,” and you get my drift.

My neighbor’s yard smells of all kinds of sprays in the morning as he controls the pests in his home garden. His sunflowers bloom well. Meanwhile, the incidence of youth’s neural disorders in my neighborhood has multiplied. Chemotherapy before the cancer is just as lethal and deadly.

Stay away from the spray. The mosquito and Ebola are here to stay. So will I, BTW, with the parasites and viruses of August.

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at

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