Jun 16

On the Effects of Toughness, Derision, and Arrogance of Nonos

Tag: Uncategorizedmattholmes @ 10:42 am


(written 5/27)

The guidebooks say to beware of getting bitten up by “nono” bugs on some of these beaches.  The guidebook for this anchorage states “The clear water provides excellent diving and shelling although the beach has many nonos.”  These nonos were a frequent topic of conversation among some of the puddle-jumpers before reaching the Marquesas–people were choosing or avoiding a destination based on whether nonos were reported to be present.  I was dismissively skeptical.  Inside my brain, I laughed at them for being sheltered little white babies afraid of bugs.  I pictured these types as the same ones who won’t go outside because of mosquitoes, or the ones who hike with one of those dorky hot uncomfortable mosquito-netting face bubbles because they don’t want a single bug bite.  Bugs were not going to dissuade me from visiting a place, let me tell you what.  Please, people, are we going to cross an ocean and then be afraid of getting a few bug bites?  

My arrogance on this matter is being revisited on me ten-fold.  Karen and I visited the beach both yesterday and the day before yesterday, and although we were unaware of it, apparently we encountered nonos.  Millions of them, potentially.  Last night hundreds, perhaps thousands of bites materialized across our backs and arms and legs, little red welts that itch furiously.  My back looks like some sort of chickenpox redux.  I am desperate to itch; it is difficult to concentrate on anything with the itch distraction;  I am barely containing the urge to scratch my entire back right off.  

These nonos are legit, my friend.  They are little ninja biters, is what they are.  You can’t see them, you don’t know when they’re attacking you, you don’t know when to run, you’ll just sit there getting eaten up, oblivious to the danger.  Invisible flying minions of the devil.  I felt nothing.  Then at night I have a bite-ridden body.  How do you avoid them when you can’t see them or feel them?  Henceforth, I will go to the beach defensively armored for battle.  T-shirt and shorts minimum, with a prophylactic misting of deet juice.

It makes me think: surely one must develop an immunity to these bugs over time.  If I was a native living on this beach, it would only take a week worth of this hellish itching before I got my ass out of here.  It would be unbearable to live on this beach permanently if it meant always being a pincushion of itchy welts.  I was only exposed for an hour or so–hell if you were out there all the time it would be an ugly sight.  So maybe after a while the bites don’t raise itchy welts–that would make sense to me.  But if there’s no immunity to develop, how the hell did the original Marquesans live on these beaches?  A) they didn’t live directly on the beach B) one develops immunity over time C) they got bitten and ignored it because they are 2 orders of magnitude tougher than me.  Now, no doubt they were tougher than me, so the answer could be C, but I’ll bet you three pamplemousse that the answer is B.  Smarties out there, can you enlighten?

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