Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Life in Guatemala A to Z: Spiders, Squirrels, and Sand Flies

At this moment there's a squirrel busy on our roof, banging about and looking for a way to get in. He shows up every morning. We can hear him pattering about. One time he did get in, until our property manager climbed the roof and closed the entryway.

Spiders are all around, occasionally finding their way in and building webs in the high corners. I don't like killing spiders. When I find one, I like to put him back outside.

The worst of the insect life in my opinion are the sand flies. They are so small you hardly see them, like gnats, and you don't know you've been bitten until later when the area begins to itch. And itch. And itch. And swell.

One time I was in our garden at dusk and got bitten really bad, (dusk and dawn are when the sand flies are out feeding) but I didn't realize how much until the next day when both my feet swelled up and itched so intensely I wanted to cut them off. Calamine lotion, campho phenic, anti-itch cream, lavendar essential oil-- none of it helped. I was up all night in misery.

The next day I called my daughter who gave me a remedy that worked like magic. Put ice packs on the affected areas until the skin goes numb. Then dry and apply cortisone cream. Take Benadryl or some other antihistime. The ice, the cortisone cream and the antihistime pills together knocked it. I had 3 or 4 hours peace until they started itching again, at which time I did another treatment. It only took 3 treatments that day and the next day I was feeling human again.

So you see, despite all my lovely photos and happy experiences, it isn't quite the Garden of Eden it may appear to be. And I haven't even told you about the termites.


  1. Hi Karen - yugh .. sand flies are horrors aren't they; your bites sound pretty unpleasant .. cover up I suppose .. but they're difficult to keep out ... and at night - do you have a mosquito net or similar? Cheers Hilary

    1. Hilary, They don't bother us inside, only out during dusk or dawn. That's when shoes and socks are a necessity. At night it's the random mosquito that slips inside. I used to think mosquito bites were bad, but they're nothing compared to this!

  2. Those sand flies sound horrible. We only have to cope with midges and gnats in the UK and I'm lucky that they tend not to like me.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

  3. Black Flies here and they are nasty little things. Come in the spring and leave mid summer. Not soon enough for me. They lay eggs on the rushing St. Croix River, but then we have lots of beautiful Dragon Flies that just happen to love Black Flies. Don't know that I would want the sand fly bites - wear high boots n socks. ha,ha Have a wonderful day :)

  4. Spiders freak me out and those sand flies sound very nasty.

  5. The warmer the weather, the more the insect rule. I do hate bugs and spiders. The best part of winter is their demise.

  6. That entry reminds me of yesterday. I was standing in my daughter's room listening to a noise on the roof that sounded like someone sawing wood. When I poked my head out a window, I saw a squirrel in the gutter. What was he doing? Gnawing on the roof? The gutter? Crazy squirrels. And since spiders eat bugs, I too let them go.

  7. Sorry about the termites, sand flies and spiders! I wish I could make them go away for you. Bugs scare me; I always freak out when I see one.

  8. Sand fleas sound awful. I'd invest in a case of OFF.
    I catch and release spiders as well. Not their fault they ended up in my house.

  9. Actually, I always assumed the garden of Eden had spiders and well, we know about the snake...

  10. Tropical climates are haven for insect life. The flipside of living in a garden is having weird neighbors as you have described so matter-of-factly Karen.
    -Fellow A-Zer

  11. I don't like to kill spiders either but I don't like them in my house so, they have a choice: don't be seen or move outside!

  12. I am not into spiders at all. I understand how wonderful they are for the earth and beautiful webs but I freak. The sandflies do not sound like fun. It sounds so similar to what happened to my hubby last summer. His feet were so badly bitten, I took a photo and showed it to the pharmacist and he showed me the cream and benedryl and that helped

  13. I was going to suggest Benadryl. I could probably tolerate the squirrels, but the spiders and sand fleas would have to go. Definitely.

    Hope you have a good week Karen.

  14. Great post! I love your blog--sorry I haven't found time to get back to it in a while. I always carry spiders out of the house too, although I imagine yours are a lot bigger than mine. And I LOVE squirrels. I'd miss them if I moved to a place without them.

    Sandflies? Based on your description, I can give them a miss.

  15. My adventure to the snowy north is over in June at least for the summer. Friends say don't you wish you were going to be there for the summer? Nope! Blackflies, mosquitoes, stouts (a very mean sort of horsefly)! I'll take snow and ice thanks! Aren't we so smart to be adventuring despite any discomforts?

  16. Good luck with those insects! I'm enjoying all the posts (and pics!) about Guatemala.

  17. I agree with you about the sand fleas, they're the worst! Their bites are so itchy but you can't scratch them because they'll just get worse. I'm glad that your daughter was able to give you a remedy for it.