Sand flies

Trip Start Nov 06, 2003
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42
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Trip End Jan 24, 2004


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Saturday, December 13, 2003

Our whirlwind tour of the west coast continues south after a quick stop for a late-afternoon lunch in the town of Franz Josef. We drive a back road a few kilometers for a nice glimpse of Fox Glacier, but we don't stop to walk the lake; my spotty advance research on the south island results in many opportunities lost, stuff we simply don't know about.

One thing we have heard of is sandflies. Dorothy's remarks about these carnivores of the west coast made a great impression on Emma, who constantly queries "Where are the sandflies?" "How hard do they bite?" "Is that a sandfly?" An hour later on the shores of Lake Paringa I am able to answer all these questions.

We arrive at the lovely (and free) DOC campsite in the full light of a late spring evening. Julie is disinclined to stay despite the view; the baby's previous night in the tent foretells another long noisy one, and other campers nestle flap to flap over a grassy area with nothing to muffle Lucy's crying. As well, there's no drinking water. While debating our next move and looking at the various edifying nature signs, an inconsequential bug flits by and settles on my foot. Youch! I notice more of its brethren, another of whom nips me before I jump back into the car.

The cabin we backtrack to for the night has many sandflies, inside and outside the bottom of the glass doors. As I'm sadistically killing every one, I get a good chance at observation, and I'd have to say that visually the sandfly looks harmless. In size comparable to the aphids that eat Julie's roses, they are as easily squished. But in numbers and appetite I'd rate them as noseeums with better teeth.

Despite a tiny, non-receiving television and a beckoning lake, we spend the evening firmly ensconced in our meager dwelling. Emma and I flip a coin when something's needed from the car. Occasionally I spot another sandfly and go berserk for a second. By the end of the evening, little black smudges mark the sandfly graves on the walls and ceiling.
The only non-murderous activity of the night is for Lucy. There's no bath and a paltry sink, so she gets her first shower in a wheelchair-accessible rig complete with a fold-down seat.
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