Since I began my travels, back in August 2015, I have run into a wide variety of living things I might not have had the pleasure of meeting if I hadn’t left home.
While I had been introduced to bark scorpions in Arizona, by waking up with one just six inches from my face, I hadn’t ever seen the huge black variety until I found one in my shower in Costa Rica and two in my kitchen in Guatemala. Hands down, scorpions are the scariest creatures I’ve run into – up close and personal at least.
I have had resident geckos several times – first the ones in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, who lived on the walls of the downstairs restaurant. In Siem Reap – again Cambodia – I had a very noisy one I named Gary, who got very pissed off when I turned the lights on at night. Now I have Ernesto and Benito (thanks, Beth, for the names), two friendly rather flat geckos that chase each other around my shower mostly.
Last week, my landlord and her handyman had to beat ten bats to death. They were establishing a colony in the upstairs outdoor living space and had to be eliminated. To her credit, Rosie tried to get animal control come out and relocate them, but no go. I had been sleeping with my window open (no screen) at night and was a bit freaked out, but I recovered my composure and am now back to open air sleeping. I researched the sound brown bats make and am on alert for that chittering sound should they try again to make our “arriba” their home.
I have been through two stages of spider fright – paralysis and acceptance. Paralysis occurred when I spotted this horrific thing with suction cups for feet on a wall in Bali. It was outside, so not much I need to do about it, except to return to breathing eventually.
For some reason, I was fine with a biggish (about the size of a quarter) spider in Guatemala because it crawled on me but didn’t bite me. I screamed and shook my leg and it went flying. Later, I frequently spotted it but couldn’t bring myself to kill it and it was way too fast to trap. I have forgotten the name I gave him – it might have been Frank – but one day I found him lifeless and removed him to the outdoors.
I enjoy iguanas and they are everywhere in Costa Rica and I’ve even recently spotted one here in Manzanillo. They’re basically friendly and everyone knows they eat bugs, so … okay.
Finally, my absolute favorite critters – howler monkeys. I can’t remember if I’ve already told this story on the blog, but a re-telling won’t hurt. Vanessa (my daughter) and I were in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, and I was trying to build a client base on Upwork so I was writing outside by the pool at 4:30 a.m. when I heard the most ferocious growl. I froze and it came again. I knew it wasn’t very close but it was extremely loud and my first thought was that it was a jaguar. I decided it probably wasn’t going to eat me and went on writing after a short exploration at the gates to our hotel. The next morning the owner laughingly told me it was a howler monkey and it was only about a foot tall. What?! I came to love their sounds and would wake most mornings in Potrero, where I stayed for a month. I tried hard to get a picture couldn’t manage a decent one, so I’m adding the one above plus here’s my own attempt.
In Potrero, Costa Rica, I also frequently ran into lovely gentle creatures, cattle. I was always a bit thrilled to walk alongside them.
I’ve rather enjoyed my encounters – even the scary ones – because they add a little flavor to life. I will however pass on sharks, gators and such.