Mosquito Net 101

I’m self-taught. I’ve used them in hotels and a guest house in Kenya, in Nairobi, Nakuru and Eldoret, and in hotels in Juba and Bor, South Sudan. and managed the claustrophic nets somehow. 

On my first five visits to Duk Payuel – in 2007, 2010, and three visits in 2011, I lived in a tent of one sort or another, which are giant mosquito nets, if they remain zipped. In March, I stayed in my first tukul, adobe thatched roof hut, but it was the dry season, so there was few mosquitos to fear.

Now, this bed is a full-sized four poster–the long posts are almost suitable for a canopy. It was placed with the net hung from the ceiling near what Daruka used as the head of the bed, but I like facing the door, not the rear of the hut, so I switched the pillows.

The first night I thought surely the net must go over the posts, but alas, the net was not nearly long enough for that. I fit it over the first two posts, and then stretched it toward the foot of the bed to tuck it in under the mattress. It wasn’t long enough, and the swollen red bumps on my ankles testify to the lack of efficacy of that method. Over the last few days, I’ve tried various tucking methods, some more effective than others. At the head and the foot the mattress is tight to the frame. Not so for the sides. And then there’s the illusion of being trapped. I’m restless at night.

Worse, I’m a nighttime reader, and the only way to escape the mosquitos in the night is to be under the net, but the angle of the net forced me to the bed’s center where the lack of support for my back and the inflexibility of my knees and hips made reading in any position but fully supine with bent neck extremely uncomfortable. Not that fully supine with bent neck is my idea of comfort.

I showed Dau this morning and asked if perhaps the net was too small for this bed, and he told me this type of bed needed a boxed net. I’ve seen them in hotel rooms. They dangle from the ceiling like a loose fixture and the four-cornered shape allows for draping over a large bed with posts. We don’t have any nets like that here at ASAH.

I sat on my plastic armchair and pondered the layout. Elected to switch my position so my back now faces the door, the way Daruka had it. But I moved the bed toward the back of the room a foot, enabling the net to hang almost directly over my head. In the process I discovered that termites had been dragging soil in and mounding it around the bottom of one of the poles. I whisked them and their soil into a cloth and shook them outside my door. And then I followed the example of Abul, our ten-year-old. I had observed her methodical tucking method as she prepared her bed the previous night. First I tried to drape it over the posts at the head. No go –  but by pulling it tight and tucking it in at the head, I was able to leave enough space so that I can sit up in bed, the netting angled like a ski hill down toward my feet, and I tucked it all around.

Now nestled in naked (it’s sizzling here) but for the green filmy draping, the sheet balled at my feet, I turn on my IPad which attracts the bugs tiny enough to slip through the net, and squish them onto the screen, one by one. Content.

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