What’s It Like To Get Parasites?

Well, let me answer your question with another question. What do you think it’s like?

I mean, would you enjoy having another living creature burrow into your skin and take up residence in your flesh? Because let me tell you, gentle reader, it’s no picnic. Unless of course, we’re talking from the perspective of the aforementioned parasite, in which case it very much is a picnic - an all-you-can-eat buffet of blood-based minerals and nutrients. Like Pizza Hut but with significantly less garlic bread.

I got parasites in Colombia whilst visiting a humanitarian zone with an organization called Justice and Peace. A humanitarian zone is a patch of land protected from local militia and paramilitaries for people who have had their land seized and their crops destroyed. I was walking through some long grass and when I came out the other side I had picked up some new pals. A number of parasitic organisms had booked a viewing of my legs and had liked them so much that they just HAD to move in immediately. A cursory inspection revealed between 20 and 30 raised red lumps on my ankles and calves. They looked like mosquito bites. But they were not mosquito bites; oh no, each fleshy mound was now home to a tiny creature smaller than a grain of rice. I was being squatted.

Getting rid of parasites is not as easy as picking them up. You have to asphyxiate them. I spent the next five days with toothpaste and vaseline smeared over the entire surface area of my lower legs in the hope it would maintain an airtight seal. I looked ridiculous. I felt awful. I smelled minty fresh. Eventually, the parasites died and their rotting bodies were expelled from my skin as my immune system understandably panicked and rushed to evict the intruders.

Why do I tell you all this? Do I want you to feel sorry for me? No, it was an awful experience but, ultimately one I could walk away from. At the end of the week, I got on a plane and flew back home. Poor me, a few scars and an exciting story to tell.

The real parasites are those that took the land in the first place, who even now sit and grow fat consuming resources that don’t belong to them. Massive multinational companies, corrupt government officials and violent paramilitaries.

It’s going to take more than toothpaste to stop them...