A long with the summer solstice, there comes another season in Ajijic. The fly season. You can tell it has arrived because everywhere you look people are doing the Australian salute—swishing flies away from their faces. So far, I haven’t seen anybody with wine corks dangling from his hat brim, but it’s still early in the season.
I have heard that for every fly you kill in early spring, there will be 10,000 fewer flies at the end of summer. Surely, if Noah had known this statistic, he would never have issued boarding passes to those first two flies. Oh well, what’s done is done. And even if he hadn’t allowed them aboard, there would probably have been stowaways hiding in a pile of horse manure.
Which brings us back to why I suspect we are plagued by flies here in Ajijic. Everywhere you look there is evidence of equine incontinence. And nobody is out collecting this bonanza to spread upon the roses. Instead, it just lies in the street, fostering generation after generation of flies. I guess that is just the price we pay for the rustic charm of hearing the clippity-clop of horses’ hooves on cobblestone streets.
For me, the biggest problem of fly season occurs in outdoor restaurants. It is very difficult to deal with flies while you are eating. Typically, both hands are full and if a fly tries to land on your pastrami sandwich, your clumsy effort to fend him off can knock over your vino tinto.
Many restaurants try various methods to keep them at bay. For example, some use the Internet suggestion of hanging plastic bags of water around the premises. Supposedly, the light refracted through the water overwhelms the thousand eyes of the fly. I’m skeptical. The flies at my table show no reluctance to land on the rim of my water glass. In fact, they sometimes dive in for a swim.
Restaurants often have oscillating fans set around the patio. But the flies have synchronized their watches so they can attack when the artillery is pointing in a different direction. Besides, when the fan is pointing at you, the blast of air is almost as irritating as the flies.
In my opinion, the biggest problem is the other customers who are reluctant to harm a fly. I’m willing to clobber my share of flies. Admittedly, I feel a little guilty using the menu to do that. But when the other customers merely swish them away, I suddenly have to deal with their share as well.
I’ve seen some customers bring in a little tabletop whirligig device that spins a horizontal propeller so they don’t have to swish the flies themselves. Unfortunately, it doesn’t spin fast enough to whack the flies.
Then there is the aroma therapy approach. Some customers bring purse-sized spray bottles of water infused with lime juice and spearmint. I don’t know how effective that is. I suspect the flies just think it is happy hour for Mojito cocktails.
Sometimes, in desperation, I place a morsel of food at the far end of the table. This is kind of like the South American cowboys who sacrifice one cow so the rest of the herd can cross the piranha-infested river. Unfortunately, you have to watch the feeding frenzy across the table while you eat. Worse yet, some of the flies are sexually cavorting—right there—in front of God and everybody. “Get a room, for crying out loud.”
I’ve seen some customers bring an electric tennis racquet with which to zap any flies that come to their table. I applaud the fact that they are terminating their share of the fly population. But, I must admit, the crackle of the electrocution and the smell of the sizzling corpse can be a little off-putting. Plus, there is always the risk you will zap yourself if you forgot to turn it off when putting it in your backpack.
After watching a recent episode of the “Nature Channel,” I have come up with a totally natural, 100% organic, gluten-free solution to our problem. Instead of restaurants having those dainty little bud vases with a cut flower on the table, they should have potted plants. Specifically, they should have Dionaea muscipula, the Venus Flytrap, on every table. Their spike-rimmed clamshell flowers snap shut on any hapless fly that lands on them. The plant then digests its victim, thereby obtaining all the nutrients it needs to thrive. They require no batteries. They would do the job quietly, with no messy menus to wipe off, no electric crackle, no odor, and they won’t knock over your wine glass. As an added benefit, they would provide endless hours of entertainment for the customers.
By the way, if there are any flies reading this article and feel that carnivorous plants would be cruel and unusual punishment, I have a solution to your problem as well. You could move to India. You’ll love it. I don’t know about horses, but they have cows all over the place, and their manure is considered holy. For each pilgrimage you make from one cow pie to the next, you can earn karma toward your next incarnation. They have a religious sect there called the Jains who have taken the concept of “wouldn’t harm a fly” to the extreme. They wear cotton masks over their faces to prevent accidentally inhaling small insects. They also gently sweep the path ahead, so they won’t step on any ants. They are definitely your kind of people.
I would gladly pay your passage. The cost of air freight would be minuscule. If you flies would just promise to keep flapping your wings throughout the whole trip, you wouldn’t weigh anything at all. You may even earn double frequent flyer miles. Just promise me one thing. Don’t use them to come back here.
Author’s Note—No flies were harmed during the writing of this article.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com