What’s white, juicy, and covered in tiny little black spikes and looks like a tunnel driller machine?
It’s the parasite I got in Colombia!
Colombia has many things…tropical beaches, amazon jungles, big cities, coffee, and…
If all the locals are telling you to wear long sleeves…You should probably listen to them.
What is a Bot fly you ask? Oh, it’s just this disgusting, painful, and thankfully harmless parasite I got while working in El Tigre. The flies look like bees and they lay larvae on your skin, which then tunnel into your skin, and grow subcutaneously. Eventually the larvae will come out on their own, but if you don’t squeeze them out first, they will lay more larvae under your skin before they emerge.
Note: If all the locals are telling you to wear long sleeves, don’t be all, “But its hot. Whatever. I’ll be fine”. You should probably listen to them, and not wear a little tank top.
Bot Flies are gross.
I learned about these flies the night I was looking up the name of the poison dart frog we saw on the porch. Google search led me to a page with lots of awesomely disgusting Colombian fauna. It just happened that the next day, I got to see a full-grown Bot Fly larva get pulled out of the dog’s back. Totally disgusting. The larva was about as big and thick as my thumb. No joke. Oh, sometimes they explode when you are squeezing them of your skin.
And sometimes they explode when you are squeezing them out of your skin.
So, of course, I’m thinking about these disgusting white wormy things the whole time I’m in the Colombian countryside, thinking how gross these things are, and gagging as Octavio daily squeezes them out of the dog’s back AND THEN FEEDS THE LARVAE TO THE DOG!
So the last full day I’m in El Tigre, I wake up to Diego rubbing the weird bump on my back. A bump that was not there last night, and hurts like a bitch when he touches it.
“Let me look at it”, he says, both of us thinking it’s just a zit or something, and he starts poking at it. I’m yelling and wriggling in pain, then turn around to see a half-laughing/half-ummmmm, look on Diego’s face.
“Oh god, please don’t tell me its one of those worm thingies”, I say.
He just says he’s not sure, but “the hole is perfectly round and it looks like there’s a tunnel”, and proceeds to keep laughing at me all day.
So in the few hours we wait until Octavio (the farm owner) returns from the field, the bump has grown, and is becoming more and more painful. Octavio turns me around, squeezes at the bump, and starts laughing at me.
There’s 30 people on the crew and the gringa gets the parasite.
YUP, it’s a Bot Fly! And it’s right-smack in the middle of my lower back, IN my tattoo, right in the small space between where my tank top ended and my pants began.
Good job gringa. There’s 30 people on the crew and the gringa gets the parasite.
Oh, did I mention, that the larvae are so small that it’s almost impossible to remove them for the first couple days UNTIL THEY GET BIGGER!!!! Oh, yea. Now I have to wait, because after about 10 minutes of trying, no one can get the stupid spiked worm thing out of my back. All that is coming out is clear lymph, due to my body trying to attack this foreign creature. Fun times.
It turns out later on, that another worker, Javier, also got a bot fly in him. So at least I’m not the only one anymore. And like me, he has to wait to get it out; but there is a fix.
To keep the larvae from growing more, you get to put this paste made of poison and rubbing alcohol into the tunnel the larvae makes in your back (yes, it tunnels under your skin to find a ‘good place to make home’ then just sits there and grows).
Oh, and you have to buy the poison at the pet store. Cause getting a tunneling, spiky worm in your back isn’t humiliating enough. No, you need to put on medication that has a photo of a horse and a dog on the label.
Octavio’s daughter put the paste on my parasitic wormhole, taped it over, and sends me to bed.
I dreamt of worms.
The next morning, Octavio, after pushing and squeezing on my spine (cause that’s where the Bot Fly decided it wanted to be), FINALLY got the larvae out. It was barely as long as the head of a Q-tip and about as thin as this line:
Yup, that was about the size of what’s in my back. I’d hate to see how big and painful the bump gets when the thing grows to the size of your thumb!
So turns out, I got the El Tigre package deal:
migrant work, poisonous animals, raw cacao, moths as big as your face,
AND A PARASITE IN MY BACK!
You can’t say Colombia is boring! That’s for sure!
P.S. The bump is gone (took about 2 weeks to heal) and no damage to the tattoo occurred. It’s still wicked gross to think about.