Monday, September 12, 2011

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite...

So our last night at Hotel Holiday was definitely a winner… turns out the hotel DOES have a bed bug infestation. Yeah, I said it: Bed. Bug. Infestation. Two rooms on the first floor (including mine… naturally, given my bad luck), had bed bugs probably the entire time we were there. Dru got bit a few times, but we just thought they were mosquito bites—and apparently I have a delayed reaction to the bites, because no bites showed up on me until the last day in the hotel. Dru and Jessica (who was in the other room with the critters) told Ricci and Danielle about their suspicions, and the hotel ended up fumigating both of our rooms as a “precaution”, which is supposed to kill all live bugs.

To say the least, when I woke up at 2 AM to see a little friend chillin’ on my pillow 2 inches away from my head, I freaked. I saw one more little tiny one scuttling beneath the pillow, and Dru saw one in her bed, too. We immediately stripped down naked and began doing the ohmygodohmygodohmygodthisisdisgusting dance, shaking out our clothes and feeling totally gross. Then we ran down to the reception desk, where the lady explained that they’d had an infestation in room 103 (we were in 102) in July, but that they thought they’d taken care of the problem... yeah that worked perfectly, you idiots apparently not. She proceeded to give us the key to room 101 to sleep the rest of the night. There was no way anyone was going to get Dru and I to climb into another bed in that hotel, so we proceeded to sleep on the tile floor using laundered bathroom towels as blankets and pillows. I also made constant trips to the bathroom, where the entire contents of my stomach ended up in the toilet. I was literally sick to my stomach, and that’s never happened before.

All in all, I’m glad we saw the bugs before we moved into our respective apartments. After all, it’s better to detect them and take care of things instead of unknowingly bringing them with you to your apartment, which I’m still convinced that I’ve done… even though I’ve washed every single piece of clothing at boiling temperature,  used up 2 bottles of bug killing spray on my suitcase and backpack (yes, I realize ½ of a bottle would’ve been good enough, but I’m paranoid, people!), and wiped every other non-clothing item down with pure rubbing alcohol. I’m still so convinced that they’re lurking somewhere, ready to jump into my bed at any moment. Honestly, I think this whole “situation” (and I’m not talking about Mike) has been more mentally traumatizing than physically, although waking up with new bites on your arms and seeing more materialize throughout the day is certainly not fun, especially when they itch. This convinced me even more than I had them, but now I’m 99% sure I had a delayed reaction to the bites, mostly because the bites kept on showing up throughout the day and my little friends only bite at night… and also because the internet said it was common in many people to not show signs until up to 14 days after being bitten. Want to spend a Friday night in? Search “bed bugs” in Google and enjoy what you find… you’ll be convinced you have them, not matter what.

In other less creepy-crawly news, I have officially moved into my apartment… but not my room. My roommate, Sara, is an opera singer from Puglia who travels a lot to sing, and she is scheduled to be in New York for the next month (so talented). So I moved into Sara’s room, while a med student from Naples, whose name is Giuliano, is currently staying in “my” room until the end of September. Both Sara and Giuliano seem very cool. Sara is super glamorous and talented, while Giuliano is smart as heck and likes to put Nutella on everything. While Sara speaks English fluently, Giuliano just speaks the language of “fast.” Most of the time I’m not even sure it’s Italian… sometimes he throws French words in the mix or will bring his Southern dialect out to play. In the end, however, we all understand one another pretty well.  Or at least I think we do… in any case, he shares his nutella with me, and sharing one’s nutella is an interntional sign of friendship (or maybe pity…).

As each passing day goes by, I find myself the victim of culture shock. I never expected that Italy would be so different than the United States—and it’s usually the little things that get you the most. For example, in the produce section of the supermarket, you must wear plastic gloves when selecting any produce and once you’ve selected something, you need to bring it over to the digital scale, select the product’s “ID code” on a touch screen, and then wait for the machine to weigh your stuff before it prints out a sticker with a barcode and the exact price you’ll pay for whatever you’re buying. If you don’t do this, the old lady waiting behind you in line will yell at you for holding things up, realize you are foreign, and then proceed to try and set you up with her grandson (not that this has happened…). You will then make a fool out of yourself by putting the basket on the conveyer belt, where it ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT GO. You hold the basket awkwardly, and proceed to unload every single item onto the conveyer belt, walk the basket over to the original pile, then go back and pay for your groceries. Oh, and bags? Yep, they’re 10 cents a piece, AND you have to bag your own groceries. I’m sure that you could get someone to bag them for you, but they’d likely charge you 2 Euro and proceed to take 20 minutes to bag 2 things. Nothing in Italy is free, and no one understands the meaning of “quickly.”

The excitement of being in a new country is beginning to wear off, and the exhaustion and panic of the past week has certainly taken its toll on me. I can barely even sleep anymore, and I love to sleep! Unless I’m sleeping on a perfectly clean tile floor with freshly laundered towels as my pillow, I’m convinced bed bugs are everywhere. .. even after the 1000 precautions I took to NOT bring them with me to my apartment. Ughhhh, so gross! Until these itchy bites stop appearing (again, this is very likely a delayed reaction to those at the hotel and not the result of actually having bed bugs in my apartment) and go away completely, I will remain convinced that Bob the Bed Bug is trying to eat me in my sleep.

I’ll keep you posted, those of you who made it to the end of this blog post. How many times did you shiver during it? How many times did you suddenly feel totally itchy? Oh, the power of words on the mind…

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