How to Get Stung by a Scorpion — Costa Rica Part 1

Can I just preface this by saying that I spent ten days in 97 degree heat with 90% humidity and was absolutely fine (you know, besides frying the top five layers of my skin off) and then I come back to SEATTLE where I sit in the sun for 45 minutes on my lunch break and I’m dizzy and dry-heaving from heat stroke for the rest of the day, and then subjected to a nice little three-day migraine.

My life.

Playa Dominical

Playa Dominical

So where do I even start with this vacation?

Costa Rica is…mind-blowing. Basically. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better accommodation, and the people there are absolute gems. I miss them. Of course I didn’t want to come back, and yes I’m going through a mild situational depression. I would’ve stayed there forever, but since I technically had to come home, there were two things I was quite looking forward to.

1) Having EVERY food at my disposal, because I’m a greedy American. And hangry.

2) A legitimately HOT shower which, after ten days of cold water and doing circus-act back bends while washing my hair so as to not have it splash on me, is honestly better than sex. Let me rephrase that. It’s better than sex with most people.

I think what I loved most about Costa Rica is how absolutely wild the place is. Not wild as in, “Foam party with 21-year-old trust fund babies and a guaranteed STD,” but wild as in, “I am literally sleeping in the middle of the jungle, there are crabs and scorpions crawling up through my shower drain, this screen door is barely not saving me from six thousand huge mosquitos/beetles/spiders/other unidentifiable flying monstrosities, the macaws and toucans are bouncing around the branches in the trees right in front of me, and a family of howler monkeys is traipsing across my roof.”

Wild.

And amazing.

I’ve been struggling to figure out how to condense a trip like this into one or two blog posts, but that also might just be the scorpion venom eating away at my brain matter. Either way, I decided to post some of my very favorite pictures from my trip, and add little blurbs along the way.

Disclaimer: As you probably could tell from my last post, I am not a professional photographer and these were taken on my iPhone. I didn’t feel like packing around a super expensive and heavy camera everywhere because I didn’t want it to get stolen I was lazy. And also because I have neck issues. But mostly because I was lazy.


 

photo

In order to get to the remote area of southwest Costa Rica that’d I’d be staying in, I took a tiny 12 seater plane from the capital, San Jose. I was stoked because I love flying and I also love amusement parks and I had a feeling this would be the best of both worlds. I felt like I was in an old black and white cartoon as it swerved and bounced down the runway. Once we were in the air, the turbulence was severe, and when I closed my eyes It felt like Space Mountain. PERFECT. I was hoping the captain would stall the engine and let us free fall for awhile, like when I did aerobatics in a WWII fighter jet in New Zealand, because I knew the two Jersey girls in the back would have seriously lost their shit. And their stupid Gucci sunglasses. When we became enveloped in clouds and a mini thunderstorm, unable to see past the rain assaulting the windows, all of the girls on the plane freaked out and grabbed their men. I grabbed my camera.


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I’m a morning person. I know. Annoying. Costa Rica’s weather during the green season varies immensely depending on the time of day, and I loved how cool and quiet it was at 6am, with everything around me seemingly still sleeping. I spent my mornings like this, and obviously with plenty of Almond Joy coffee creamer that I had smuggled into my purse. It’s really humbling to be so far away from everything you’re used to, in an environment that is powerful, beautiful, dangerous, and healing, all at the same time.

It was incredibly peaceful and I had so many “zen” moments, like when I gently rocked in my hammock, staring in awe at a howler monkey lounging in the tree in front of me. A good ten minutes went by before I realized that the howler monkey was actually just a darker piece of tree.

You can’t tell from the pictures, but the ocean was also in my view, just past the trees, and you could hear it early in the mornings, before the rest of the jungle awakened. You probably can tell from the picture that my legs are covered in bug bites, and by the end of the trip I literally looked like I had been put in front of a BB gun firing squad. Costa Rica is not a sexy place.

image-6

The air in Costa Rica was thick and heavy, smelling of fresh rain and leaves and salt water and spices and bug spray. The bug spray part may have been me. The sounds were never ending, and many of them so foreign to my ears. There was a constant buzz in the air, always. It never went away. It was as if the entire world’s population of insects got together and were playing a symphony, just for me. It was totally awesome and soothing until the buzzing started to sound like it was actually inside your ear canal at which point you make up some fun ballet-dancer-on-crack moves to get away from a giant wasp/moth/mosquito/preying mantis/jumping spider/other unknown creature. Some sounds were low and guttural, like the howler monkeys, and some were really melodic, like the toucans, with other animals singing back in reply…and then sometimes it sounded like coconuts were being hurled at my bedroom window, but that only ever happened at 3 in the morning when I was half-asleep and too delirious to understand that I probably don’t need to break into a full-on sweat that soaks my sheets because you’re already sweating enough in this humidity darling, and that I also don’t need to grab my fork from the bedside table that I used to finish off my dessert in bed the night before, (go ahead, judge me. I know you’re lying on your couch covered in Girl Scout cookie crumbs right now) and tiptoe up to my window with a fair amount of certainty that I was about to be face to face with the Costa Rican version of a Sasquatch.

What I learned about bugs, and the wisdom I want to pass onto you is this: If your kitchenette is located outside on your balcony, and you must get into the fridge when it’s pitch black out to grab something hydrating, wrap yourself up head to toe in a sarong as tightly as you can until you resemble a racist Halloween costume. The bugs are in full force at night, and they do not give a single fuck about you, your life, your sanity, or the fact that your hair is not an appropriate breeding ground for them. I also recommend humming a tune while you do it to warn any creatures and creepy crawlies that you’re coming. I chose this little diddy about tight pants (dance moves included) because it was literally running non-stop through my head since the day I left for Costa Rica. It makes no sense, which makes complete sense, and if you know me at all you know that I WAS actually doing this.

Toucan

The first morning I was there, I walked down a steep and winding path to a river nearby, and hung out for awhile before a thunderstorm with raindrops the size of grapes had me scampering back up the trail. Later that day, I ran into the owner of my villa who said, “I hope you have such a blast here, but make sure you don’t go down to the river! It’s croc season, and they’re all back now that the river’s high. Oh, and someone spotted a 12 foot boa constrictor down there a couple days ago.” Lovely.

At one point I was innocently drinking my can of Cuba Libre Rum & Coke on my balcony when all of the sudden I was in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. My gorgeous view of jungle and ocean and sky had turned into a dark swarm of flying devil mutants. They’re seemingly coming from under my balcony which is really reassuring. I peeked over the railing (with my sarong securely fastened over my upper half so that only my eyeballs are exposed), assuming the queen bug is going to be staring me in the face, and I realize they’re spilling out, in hoards, from the wood that’s holding up my bungalow. Even better. I don’t see any holes at that point, but they certainly found one. I don’t know how they’re oozing out in those kinds of numbers, but they are and there’s no sign of them stopping and they’re all up in my grill and it’s gross. When I look closer, I see larva. Is this a fucking hatching happening right now? Am I living on top of a hatchery? Are those even real words? What’s going ON right now? Do I need to roll up a piece of paper like a tube and insert it into my mouth so I’ll have a way to breathe when they swarm me, like in that horror film that traumatized me as a child? I knew that movie would come in handy one day. These are real survival tactics, people, and I would’ve used them if I hadn’t gotten the heck outta dodge and gone to find tacos and pizza and cookies instead. Because watching thousands of insects flying recklessly around you makes you really hungry.

I took a video of the hatching/swarm/reaping, but I threw up in my mouth a little bit when I watched it back, so I decided not to post it. You’re welcome.


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 I took a private boat tour down the Sierpe (Snake) River, through the dense mangrove forests to look for wild animals. It was surreal, and reminded me of the movie “Anaconda,” except I look nothing like J-Lo, and thank god my tour guide wasn’t Ice Cube because he’s really annoying…and also he died and I don’t know how to drive a boat.

My guide was so sweet, and spent way more time than he probably wanted to in making sure he found me a sloth on our adventure. The green iguana’s were his favorite, and he wanted to tell me all about them, including their mating habits. I, of course, am really good at unintentionally turning normal conversations into inappropriate ones, and this was no different. It went something like this:

Guide: Iguana males has over thirty of females, but he only has the sex one time in a week.
Me: Ha, well that iguana’s doin’ better than me.
Guide: (pause…)

Guide: (puzzled) Your boyfriend no want the sex?

Me: Haha, he’s not my boyfriend anymore.

Guide: Oooh. you get reeeed of him?
Me: Yes.
Guide: (still puzzled) But he no wanted the sex?? With YOU?
Me: Well apparently he preferred OkCupid.
Guide: Who es Ok Coopid?
Me: Um…she’s cheap and easy. …Is that a howler monkey???

Long story short, we bonded in agreement that once a week is not enough sex, that never is also not enough sex, and also that we both like green iguana’s.

Baby Cayman

Baby Cayman

White-Faced Capuchin, who gave zero fucks.

White-Faced Capuchin, who gave zero fucks.

DSC02070

American Crocodile

I knew my guide was a good one when he said, “Hey, since it’s just you on this tour today, let’s pull the boat over to these mangroves and wander around the mud flats looking for crocodiles and caymans (even though I’m pretty that’s super illegal and also moderate to severely life-threatening).” …Okay, let’s!

I was even more excited when he told me the story about the previous week, when a drunk Nicaraguan had jumped off one of the bridges a little further up the river, and six crocodiles swarmed him immediately and all that they found was his head. I told him, Honey, you should be careful of who you tell that story to. I am a what you would call disturbed, and a weirdo, so I love that I’m staring at this crocodile who may have just eaten a human and who may want to eat me next. Not everyone is going to love that. His English comprehension wasn’t the best ever though, so I’m not sure what the old couple who took the tour after me was in for.


image-8

I got a massage on my balcony while I was there because I’m old and my back was hating me from the plane seats basically being 90 degree wood planks and also becasue of course I’m going to get a massage on my balcony. It was balmy with the slightest breeze and there was no need for music because the birds and critters were providing us with their own soundtrack. The whole thing was dreamy, obviously, and as she scooched my towel so far down that nearly my entire bum was exposed, I thought to myself, Self, I’m sure glad this isn’t a sexy male massage therapist doing this right now because that’d be REALLY upsetting. Mm hmm. Really upsetting….yea….um….like, really…Fifty Shades of…huh? What was I saying? 


 

Black Scorpion

Black Scorpion

I decided to actually unpack my clothes and hang/fold them nicely like a normal human being for the first time ever on a trip. I was quickly proven that you should NOT waste your time doing this and you should just keep your luggage zipped up tightly with all of your clothes crumpled up inside, like I usually do. One of the first mornings I was there, I put one of my shirts on. Big deal. I kid you not, I was wearing this goddamn shirt for at least ten seconds before a black scorpion FALLS OUT OF IT. Just falls right out of it, making a clicky-clacky noise as it hit the groundI had been wearing a scorpion for way longer than anyone should have to wear a scorpion. How I did not get stung is beyond me, really. After I got down from the bed that I ninja-leapt onto, I grabbed the only thing that seemed like a weapon at the time, a red toilet brush. What are you gonna do with that, genius? Scratch his back? I started poking at him with my toilet sword but I soon turned from freaked-out to fascinated as he kept rearing his tail to strike. Then I felt really mean, so I put a wine glass over him and left him there to die. Because that’s not mean.

I’m obviously a badass for fighting off scorpion venom with common household items, but even the strongest of superheroes are faced with their kryptonite.

As I was drying off from my shower on my last full day in Costa Rica, I felt a searing pain in my side. I dropped my towel and saw that a large, red welt with a hole in the middle was forming. I was a bit perplexed, since there were (oddly enough) no creepy crawlies within view. This red thing on my abdomen was definitely happening, though. When I finally got enough braves gathered up to pick up that towel, I noticed the scorpion that was attached to it. Oh okay, so what just happened is that I rubbed a SCORPION onto my body. Okay great. I had forgotten to research what to do if I accidentally rubbed a venomous creature on myself, so I did what any normal person would do. I put that piece of shit under (another) wine glass, and ran away.

Lesson: Always do a towel check, and always dry off important body parts last.

And always have a wine glass handy.

 —

More Costa Rica ridiculousness to come, so stay tuned!

If you have any questions about my trip (serious, inappropriate, or otherwise), write them in the comment section and I’d be more than happy to answer them in my Part 2 post!…Right after I binge-watch Seinfeld re-runs and down a box of Cheez-Its.

Until next time, lovers!

 

Love,

M.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Stung by a Scorpion — Costa Rica Part 1

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