I swear in the US there are some songs in which a recording artist accidentally didn’t silence his default Verizon ring tone…which goes off ringing in the background halfway through the song. These songs always make me look like a fool when I’m running because I start looking around for my phone, which is sitting safely on the table at home (or lost somewhere on campus), wondering why I can hear it ringing from so far away. (This confusion might make sense if I further explained that my “runs” don’t usually take me more than half a mile from 17RFR…and that it could be possible to hear a ringtone from that far?)
Even though these phantom ringtones still exist in the same songs, I am happy to report that I am unfazed by them in Rwanda. My cell phone with its default Verizon ringtone is stowed away in a safe place that I will never find. (But I can still listen to your voicemails! And I love when I get them – thank you for all the birthday ones!)
But I definitely rejoiced too soon, because it seems that, in Rwanda, phantom ringtones have been replaced with phantom MOSQUITO BUZZES!
1979 by Smashing Pumpkins. Listen to it. I swear to God there were mosquitoes stuck BUZZing in the recording equipment throughout the whole song.
Phantom mosquito BUZZes are much, much worse than phantom phone rings. One symbolizes a happy, exciting moment (omg did he call me back!?)…the other symbolizes itching, sleepless nights, and malaria.*And since I am a proactive mosquito killer, every time 1979 comes on (which is often because my selection of non-country music is quite limited), I find myself slapping my body and the walls before I realize that it’s just the damned phantom mosquito BUZZ again.
There’s no easy transition to this, but I just realized I’ve been here 2 months and have not yet explained: once a week, mosquitoes are the bane of my sleepless existence. They don’t come around frequently enough to justify using my mosquito net for preventive measures, or to force me to learn how exactly to use my mosquito net. The itching isn’t even that bad, it’s the BUZZING in the ears during my sweet dreams of swanky apartments in NYC that destroy my sleep. I try to ignore them. I try to cover my head with my pillow. I try as hard and as long as possible to not have to use my mosquito net, because I will inevitably knot it tighter when I first try to undo it, and then I will have to get out of bed and turn on the light to figure how to undo the knot, and then I’ll be fully awake and unable to get back to my sweet dreams. And once I finally do (this time to nightmares of human-sized mosquito attacks), I will toss and turn and get all wrapped up in my mosquito net. And then my 5:30am alarm will go off and I will be off to start just another day in Africa.
*According to all the old-timers here, it’s easier to just get malaria and live with the symptoms until it goes dormant than to take malaria pills. The choices of pills are: expensive ones, ones that give you psychedelic nightmares, and ones that don’t work because the strains around here are resistant to it. I, of course, have the useless one…but I still take them because they supposedly also cure acne (maybe my acne is resistant as well?). But malaria is an actual fear; just today, a Peace Corps girl in my area was evaced to the capital for her malaria to be treated.
Getting hit by a car is another real fear; just today, I saw the evidence of a biker being hit by a car. The fourth such incident since my time here.