Friday, December 9, 2011

D-Day: The War on Dengue Fever

Dateline: December 09, 2011

               Government Qtr. #37, Talguw, Rull Municipality, Yap State

DSCN2200Today Yap went to war.

After over 600 reported cases of Dengue Fever, the government declared a state of emergency, and organized an island-wide cleanup effort to destroy the breeding grounds of Dengue spreading mosquitoes . Each community across the island was instructed to form cleaning parties to remove trash, fill in pits of standing water, and trim back shady jungle growth from around their homes. Schools were shut down so students and teachers could participate, and government offices were closed. It was war, against an enemy so small, but with vastly greater numbers and on its home turf.

Miranda and I mobilized at 09:00 hours. Completely lathered in mosquito repellant, iPods fully charged, and machete and lawnmower locked and loaded, we surveyed the battlefield: our front yard. Untouched by human hands for nearly a month, the yard had begun its inevitable return to the jungle. Vines slithered up the remains of a once proud fence, and snaked across the ground towards patches of tall weeds. A perfect breeding areas for mosquitoes. It had to go.

Over the next several hours (cue action scene montage, preferably to “Eye of the Tiger”), we mowed and chopped and hacked away at foliage so tough and resistant it must have been some new form of superplant.

DSCN2207Peanut supervised from a safe distance, curious but wary of the strange machine we were walking up and down the yard. Even with a relatively new push-mower, it was a slow and tiring process to carve away at a small section of ground, and then to go over that same section several times to cut weeds that refused to go down. Then again, the mower was designed for cutting grass, on an actual lawn, not overgrown jungle scattered with coconut husks, termite infested tree branches, and jagged chunks of coral. Miranda also filled bucket after bucket full of rocks of various sizes. She used these to fill in a rather muddy spot in our yard.

Miranda and I switched off with the raking and mowing. After gathering up a huge mound of cut vegetation, I shoveled it in back into the jungle, fueling the fire of growth at least away from the front yard. At one point, I raked so furiously that the handle broke in two. This was highly amusing for several neighbors who were intently watching my every move from the comfort of hammocks stretched as close to the property line as possible. Peanut ran to the edge of the yard, intermittently barking a warning of “back off”. They stood their ground, finding Peanut’s attempt at bravery also pretty amusing. With half a rake, I went back to my labors under the critical gaze of a nine-year old in a thuw.

After a little while, I noticed that my neighbor had ordered his family to clean up their yard, which they did in record time due to their rather large workforce.

DSCN2196Eventually, the yard began to retake its usual shape. It wasn’t perfect, but we made a good faith effort. Near the end, Miranda and I were both drenched in sweat and thoroughly exhausted. We retreated back inside, and drank as much water as we could. The shower, with its temperature varying between chilly and arctic, actually felt good.

Resting for a moment on the couch, we heard the telltale plinking of raindrops hitting the roof. It got steadily louder until everything was drowned out by the sound of rushing water. As it often happens here, the rain continued for several hours, sometimes in a downpour hard enough you can’t see more than a few feet in front of you. The kind of rain that hurts when it hits you. It’s still raining as a write this, and it doesn’t appear to be letting up any time soon.

DSCN2199Even though D-day may have been affected by the weather, that’s just the way it goes sometimes. Now we can rest guilt-free inside for the rest of the day, getting a little down time out of this D-day. Let’s just hope the enemy mosquitoes aren’t using this as an opportunity to increase their numbers in the fresh rain water. We did our best to fight the good fight.


  1. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favour:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Micronesia? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Micronesia in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and a original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
    28902 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog, where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

  2. Hola Emilio,

    Your blog seems very interesting! Best of luck with finding stamps from around the world.

    I'll send you a letter. I think you'd like the stamps in Micronesia, they're very colorful and unique.

    All the best,


  3. Mogethin Mike! I was googling for some canoefest pictures and I stumbled into your blog...I must say that I spent a good half hour reading about your adventures in Yap. Hope all is well...