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Detar: Best Insect Repellent of the Trip

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To build upon the great Benjamin Franklin, three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and the desire of insects to suck your blood out of your skin. In some countries, biting fiends actually constitute a mortal risk, through malaria or dengue fever. In all countries, they're an annoyance. [1] If you travel around the world, you'll get to observe the methods used by locals to prevent bug bites, be they hippie-approved all-organic tomato-based sprays, incense coils that smoke up a room, or the ubiquitous Off!

The most effective thing we've come across, however, is Detar, a mosquito-repelling lotion that we picked up on our first night in Ecuador. In the war against mosquitos, this stuff is the equivalent of nuclear weaponry: we've saved what's in the bottle, using it sparingly, and bringing it out only in locations with the worst of the worst bugs.

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This stuff is uncompromising. It doesn't smell good. It doesn't contain small amounts of sunscreen, like other repellents often do. Mosquitos, however, feel about this spray like Superman does about kryptonite, Jamie Oliver about fattening fast food, or Charles Rangel about IRS audits. I've actually seen little blood-sucking beasts fly near to Pallavi while she was wearing Detar, hover for a moment, and then dash away like they'd smelled the coming of the devil himself.

The bottle's a bit scary, though, especially if you look at the back of the one we're carrying. The concoction has actually stripped the paint off of the back label, leaving only a handful of partially-intelligible warning signs. Although it's hopefully safe to use on humans, I think these mean that you don't want to pour it in the water or use it on animals that might be used for food. This is probably just one more reason for Greenpeace to disapprove of me.

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 [1] Far in the future, I suppose an insect might evolve who not only bites the victim, but injects some substance that provides a pleasant, soothing effect. Anti-drug zealots will then ban being bitten by these insects, probably imposing strict liability.

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