Mexico – it’s just down the road from the roach motel

California, Day Two

I feel roach motels get a bad rap, internationally. Sure, nobody LOVES roaches, but while they’re creepy looking, they’re actually clean, and they don’t bite you. Bed bugs, on the other hand, suck your blood. I know a lot about bed bugs now. For instance: the male impregnates the female by simply spearing her body and shooting his wad straight into her womb. No courtship here… and they didn’t sparkle, look tormented or glamour me before sticking it into my skin and covering me with oozing sores, either.

The Days Inn in Main Street S, Anaheim, Orange, California seems to be more welcoming to bed bugs than to guests. They refunded me after a bit of a fight, but weren’t terribly nice about it, and still charged me for the first night. They also showed no interest in debugging the room, or my luggage. In fact, they wanted to simply move me, together with the infestation, to a new room. Let’s just say I will never stay there again.
Here’s a photo of me with The Plague… – I’d embed it but it’s kinda gross.

So I needed to hot-launder and hot-dry all my clothes at temperatures above 50 Centigrade. I figured the most likely place to get that done would probably be Mexico, so I headed South down South Main and pronto, I arrived. Signs began to pop up offering modifications to cars, the cars got cooler and cooler, the food started to look like it might actually taste of something other than trans fats. And I found a coin-op, next door to this Chinese dry cleaners.

Everything in the mexican areas around Santa Ana seemed old. In the laundry there were arcade games I recognised from the 80s. No idea why these posters were up there, or what they are about. Can anyone tell me? The owner-lady had no idea that a sign outside the dry cleaners advertised the cleaning of sleeping bags. I had to show it to her. She then said yes, she would do my sleeping bag, but wasn't sure how much it would cost... "About $15 or maybe much more?" She said.

Everyone in the Laundry was staring at me as I loaded my clothes. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was the only whitey in the place, or because I was laundering 5 loads of clean, folded clothes, or because I had the plague… I guess I guess it was all three. Everyone was very friendly, though, and an old man looked up from the toweling granny panties he was folding, frowned with concern at my bite-spattered neck and said softly “Ah no, chica… que se pasa?” I didn’t know how to explain in Spanish, so I just shook my head ruefully, as if that said it all.

notice board in santa ana

I felt more comfortable in Santa Ana than any part of Orange I've seen so far. I have started looking for an apartment in the area.

The shop next door sold things I needed, like detergent, and black bags to replace my newly purchased, bug-infested luggage. They also had a butchery decorated with a beautiful mural of happy cows, and a donations can on the counter for their kid, who apparently needed money for operations. I felt it would be rude to take pictures of either of those, even with my cell camera.

catholic saints candles for sale in santa ana, california

I wanted to buy my mom the whole set. She loves catholic kitsch like this with a un-ironic love, even though she is not catholic. I think perhaps the nuns at her high school beat it into her.

Santa Ana was a welcoming and welcome relief after the manicured, disposable, new-ness-is-goodness vibe of the richer areas of Orange. It’s not that I think poverty is cute, but I do find flaunted wealth and wastefulness nauseating, and the first-world of malls and motorways where nobody walks is weird for me, as a South African. I would have spent longer there and grabbed some food, but I needed to find a hotel, so I carted my ropas out of the laundry to my un-cool rental car. About six men offered to help me, despite my disheveled, sweaty, red-eyed and diseased appearance. So kind, just really, so kind.

food stamps aceptamos food stamps

Signs of survival-level living: "We accept food stamps"

Funny… when you’re new in a place, a disaster is just another word for adventure, and the funny side of things is a means of survival. And this is going to make a great, great story.

UPDATE – It didn’t work. Read about my ongoing War on Bedbugs in a later post.

10 Responses to “Mexico – it’s just down the road from the roach motel”

  1. Sam Says:

    Jesus, look at your bites! Still, sounds like things are looking up. X

  2. Tweets that mention Mexico – it’s just down the road from the bughouse « Jean Barker's Sign Language -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jean Barker, Lihle Z Mtshali. Lihle Z Mtshali said: RT @JeanBarker: California, day two. The story of my trip to Mexico in search of cleanliness. #blogpost with pics. […]

  3. jeanbarker Says:

    Yep, they are. I’m off to the beach for the afternoon, plague and all. Hoping the salt water will help a bit.

  4. Caro Says:

    tanya directed me to your blog and i’ve become an avid follower. loving your posts. and glad you’re past your movie-like bedbug experience.

  5. Ashlin Says:

    I am absolutely loving your posts.

  6. jeanbarker Says:

    Ha ha. Glad… send me your blog links? I’m a bit of a novice at this wordpress stuff but I would like to add them somewhere when I figure out how.

  7. jintyjackson Says:

    I had to get off the link of you with the plague quickly. You looked wierdly beautiful with the plague, but then I was reminded of my own brush with the bugs…long story, it was in London. One does become very knowledgable about them very fast. It is always some awful hotel’s fault but then you become the bearer..
    An adventure no doubt and you are in fine spirits. I much relieved. Hang in there. I hope the adventure ends for a bit and you can hang up your socks properly

    • jeanbarker Says:

      I promise I’m not the bearer anymore. AT least, I hope not. I do remember that story of yours. I think you told me when I got all paranoid in Barcelona at some point – remember I had those bites, but had hung my luggage and only stayed one night and laundered stuff? I think I escaped in time that time. This time, new luggage, which I’ve now tossed, I got descimated. Still, things looking up, I guess, from a very low base. I look worse, but the itching is fading, and no signs of the infestion continuing further… although I keep getting tempted to ring all the existing bites to check for new ones. Ya, no, actually? It’s awful. Fuckit.

  8. Hi. I’m The Beach, Huntington Beach « Jean Barker's Sign Language Says:

    […] in the USA. – Day 1: Kaffa coffee, Tom Cruise, Cats and Dogs. It’s all unfamiliar. – Day 2: Mexico – Just down the road from the Roach Motel – Day 3: Buena Park – California’s […]

  9. The war on bed bugs « Jean Barker's Sign Language Says:

    […] blogged about this before, and after this, I hope never to again. But here’s hoping you’ll find my experiences […]

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