‘If you thought the Amazon had some scary parts, just wait till you hear about Borneo’
Yeah, yeah, I know I’m dating myself when I use terms like “sock it to me” in my stories. But hey, I’m a Woman of a Certain Age with a Certain Television History, which includes not only Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (of “sock it to me” fame) but Hullabaloo and That Was The Week That Was.
But this isn’t a piece about TV. (Though in a sec or two you’ll probably wish it was). I referenced those shows to explain my title and to admit to the fact that I have, as they say, been around the block a time or two.
I’ve also been to Guyana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, to the Amazon (twice) and to Panama (five times, but who’s counting — besides me?)
But never — ever — while reading the materials one is sent in preparation for said trips have I stumbled upon a passage like this one:
“Beware of loose netting in sleeves, backs, pockets, or pant legs that could allow leeches to crawl in. You may want to bring a pair of leech socks or buy some in Borneo.”
“Leech socks”?!? “My stars and garters!” she exclaimed, continuing her Geezer-phrase sock-theme, “what’s this about leeches?!?” (BTW, the socks in the photo at the top of this post are most definitely not leech socks. They are parakeet socks.)
See, my experience with leeches has never been an up-close-and-personal one. I’m more of an “I remember them from that scene in The African Queen” kind of person.
And what I remember about leeches from that movie isn’t good. But our trusty trip materials went on to say that leeches “most commonly crawl through loosely-woven material, like socks” and that “leech socks are worn over one’s regular socks and tied at the calf or knee”, that they “keep leeches from penetrating, thus causing them to crawl up instead onto your pants, where you can see them.”
Oh. Okay. Then what?
“You can usually feel them inching along; they can be rolled into a ball and flicked off before they can really attach.”
Um. May I ask who will be doing this “rolling” and “flicking” — of leeches?
Oh, wait. There is an alternative: “Touching their bodies with a bar of repellent will cause them to loosen and drop off.” (I’m so buying a “bar of repellent” — at any price.)
Let me take a small Leech Break to show you what, up until now, has been the scariest thing I’ve encountered on one of these trips. I didn’t have to roll anything “into a ball and flick it”, but I did kind of roll myself into a ball while clutching my armrests for dear life:
The Leech Section of our trip materials concluded by stating that “all in all, their repulsive reputation has been exaggerated.” (Not by me!) And by saying that “if you do get bitten, however, their anticoagulant can cause persistent bleeding. You may want to carry a styptic pencil to curtail the bleeding; a small supply of Band-Aids can protect your clothing.”
Oh. Right, I feel so much better now. I wonder if it’s too late to get back on that seaplane.
New York City. (Not Borneo. Not yet, anyway.) January 2020