Temperatures had been rising and so had the number of mosquitoes, ever since we hit mainland Mexico. We had two options: roast in the van with the windows up protected from the little disease carrying pests or offer ourselves up to them on a sweaty platter in an effort to catch a breeze and pray we don’t get dengue, or zika, or chikungunya… or malaria. Penny’s legs were covered in bites and despite our efforts with coils and spray, she couldn’t keep them off her. So, we bought a roll of mesh netting as defense. Not sure what to do with it at first, we used clothes pins to secure it to the rear of the van and sandwiched some smaller pieces into the front doors so we could roll down the front windows. Finally air could move through the van and we could sleep soundly instead of waking up to massacre mosquitoes in the middle of each night.
This is what we were doing when we met that legend in that little surf town who had built the wicked surf rig. Remember him? He had drawn us one of the best damn maps we’d seen in a long time and given us the name of a few trusted hands. Speedy Eric was one of them. He’s an upholster located in the working part of Puerto Escondido, you won’t find many surfers here. This is the area where the real work gets done, where the locals shop and catch up over street side licuadas and cold cervezas.
We met Eric on a Monday and explained to him what we hoped to have done: built in mosquito nets at the rear and slip on covers for the front. He told us to come back on Wednesday at 9am for him to start the work. Obviously we were on time, eagerly anticipating how sound we will sleep with such a high level of defense. Four hours and 500 pesos later (that’s about $45), we were fully set up to endure even the largest swarm of skeeters! We couldn’t thank Eric enough.
Details on our install.
The rear net has a vinyl bottom which works as a weighted seal at the bumper and keeps our storage under our bed out of sight. There is a zipper between the net and the vinyl for easy access to our stuff without breaching the seal. The net and vinyl are secured permanently to the van on the left side with staples and glue, then there is a velcro seal along the top and down right-hand side. This system works like a charm and we sleep so much better because of it.
The front nets slip over the doors so that the net is on the inside. We pull strings at the bottom on either side to make them tight to the inside of the door. They’re not a perfect fit this way and require some clever blocking techniques to provide a good seal but they do the trick. We plan on doing one of the following:
1) Buy a strip of magnets so we can have the net hang on the outside of the door where the magnets can provide a tight seal.
2) Purchase a heavy weight fabric to provide a “skirt” seal on the inside of the door over the door panel where the controls and handles are.
3) Just keep up with the clever blocking technique and buy beer instead. It’s easier to find.
If you are planning an overland trip and fitting out your own rig, this is one upgrade we would seriously recommend. Or, you can always stop by Escondido and see Speedy Eric. He’ll get you fixed up in no time!