Mites are microscopic creepy crawlies that tunnel underneath the skin. Sometimes, you can see a thin, gray line on the surface of the skin where female mites have burrowed. The most uncomfortable symptom is the itchy mosquito-bite-like bumps you get all over your body. I should know because I’ve caught scabies — an infestation of mites — over five different times here in Peru.You can get scabies from prolonged, direct skin contact, but mites can live off of their host for up to three days. People who have a weak immune system can get crusted scabies, which is especially contagious. Although they say it’s uncommon, I suspect that I’ve picked up mites during the classic Peruvian greeting of a kiss on the cheek, from sitting on a chair of someone infected or through giving a warm hug. Doctors tell me that the infection is more likely to happen in crowded places and in the rural communities around Huancayo where people have weaker immune systems from malnutrition.
Roy and I have become experts when it comes to scabies treatment. To begin with, we both need to put on permethrin lotion, which is an insecticide. As the permethrin is working its effects, we set the apartment up for fumigation and pull the tab on the can of Raid that will thoroughly clean out our small home. We then take Fénix the kitty out for the afternoon, until the apartment has finished fumigating.I’m no hypochondriac, but it’s annoying to get itchy bumps all over my body; when I have scabies, I’ve had over 20 bumps appear in one night. I probably shouldn’t be using such a strong insecticide on my body so often because permethrin is known to be a carcinogen in high doses, but the weaker cream I tried didn’t work. It’s also a hassle to fumigate the apartment and I’m down to the last Raid can I brought here from Canada.
I’m no Mother Theresa, but I consider myself a warm and caring person. I learned early that touch is one of most powerful ways humans can communicate with each other and that a single hug, handshake, hand on the shoulder and linking of the fingers can often mean so much more than what can be expressed by words. I believe that the world lacks the warmth of touch between people and one of the reasons I love the lifestyle here in Peru is because people are less afraid to show affection through touch.
Some friends and family have advised me to stop hugging people.
Have you ever hugged someone that others wouldn’t expect you to? Maybe a homeless person? What do you value more — health or warmth?