As you all know, this Summer was filled with Caribbean flavor. From Barbados to Trinidad to Guyana, I consciously ignored the travel warnings about Zika floating throughout the tropical region. I never thought I would contract the disease and imagined dousing myself in mosquito repellent. I knew there was still a probability of extracting the disease, but considered the risk minimal.
Lesson #1: You are not immune.
So many of us think that we are invincible; that things can not touch us. So we are reckless. We allow ourselves to be reckless. To do reckless things. To give in to our inner desire for danger, and adventure.
I loved Trinidad most, of the places I visited in the Caribbean. It felt like home. A place that seemed to fit in places you didn't know could heal you, love you, and feed you (and boy, could they feed you!). Trinidad was magical like that. I stayed at Pearl's Guesthouse. It's a beautiful Victorian home with hospitable hosts and kind, enlightening travelers. There I met a friend who showed me around Port of Spain, took me to eat Bake and Shark, and introduced me to how Trinidadians live.
After some time, I left Pearl's Guesthouse and began my first Couchsurfing adventure (read here) with Phyllis. Phyllis showed me a whole new world. We explored a good part of Trinidad and she introduced me to the warmest of her friends. In the weeks I stayed with Phyllis, I heard of 2 individuals who had contracted Zika: my friend from Pearl's Guesthouse, and a friend of Phyllis'. This got me thinking heavily about my chances of getting Zika.
Was I being careful? Was I using the right mosquito repellent? Had I even been wearing repellent? Sometimes, but not consistently enough.
Thankfully, neither of the individuals who contracted Zika were women of child bearing age. But I am. I had researched and found the best mosquito repellent spray before embarking on this adventure to the Caribbean, I had just been failing to apply it regularly. It seems that I planned to have this amazing repellent, but never put it on. Lazy girl issues.
Lesson #2: When you adequately prepare, make sure you follow through with your plan, especially if it's life or death
So I started to regularly wear this repellent, dousing myself in it every morning after my shower. It lasted me all day, was never sticky or oily, and had no foul smell. Deet was the best! It saved my life. As it turns out, I DIDN'T get Zika, but that doesn't mean that I couldn't have. I put myself in a risky situation that could have permanently altered my life or my future child's. Which leads me to lesson number three.
Lesson #3: The universe always has your back.
Sometimes you make dumb decisions, take a big risk and regret it after the fact. Sometimes you have unprotected sex and you end up pregnant, other times you don't. Sometimes you make an illegal U-turn and no cop catches you, other times they do. Sometimes you fly to a Zika infested region, don't use mosquito repellent and still don't contract Zika, but other times you do.
No matter where you end up, there is a reason you are there. I was blessed, but others weren't as fortunate as I. There is always a time to take into consideration the risks and benefits before making careless decisions. It wasn't till recently that I've noticed the long-term effects Zika can have on people, and it's particularly difficult when the individuals suffering are people you have grown close to. So spray that Deet!
What risky behavior have you participated in? Did it work out? Did the risk outweigh the benefits? Let me know in the comments below!