Last month I went to Costa Rica and Nicaragua with a dear friend of mine, and had the most amazing time. There’s so much to tell, so many amazing things happened, so many adventures and misadventures! There was the chocolate factory in Grenada, the monkeys on islands in Lake Nicaragua, the stalker-ish bellboy (that’s a tale for another day…actually, I’m pretty sure there’s a novel coming out of that one!) But the beginning of the story is probably the funniest part, so that’s what I’ll tell here.
Firstly, a month before we were due to go, my horse stepped on my foot and broke it. it was somewhat healed, but I still had the dreaded boot, Ace bandages, and a cane. Not the ideal situation for a trip that was going to involve a great deal of walking and hiking and yoga on the beach.
The good thing about lurching around an airport with a broken foot is that you get to pre-board (on Southwest Airlines that means you get the best seat). I got to the airport early, sailed through the lines, and plop myself down into the very front seat of the plane. The only problem is that I don’t see my friend anywhere.
So, here I am, with a broken foot, sitting on the plane, which is about to take off…and I’m by myself (well, excepting for all of the other people who are also on the plane, of course. But they are all going to Costa Rica with each other, not with me, which is an important distinction).
This was not the plan; not at all. I was not supposed to go to Costa Rica by myself. I was supposed to go with my friend, my travel buddy, my adventuresome kindred spirit who doesn’t care where in the world I suggest we go…she just says, “ok, when are we leaving?” She is awesome.
And she has missed the plane. The next plane isn’t for another two days. Which means that I am going to Costa Rica…alone.
Now, I am resourceful. Really, I’m pretty ballsy, if you ask me. I’ve traveled alone before (on purpose though, usually…it’s a different sort of trip when you’re by yourself versus with someone else). I tend to view the world as a place full of friends I haven’t met yet. So the plane pushes off, and we start to taxi towards the runway, and I’m a little nervous but mostly I’m just excited. I’ve got this. I can roll with it.
We land. I chose a cab at the airport that looks the least likely to contain a molestering cabbie, and I’m off on the hour-and-a-half drive to the hotel. This is where things start to break down. He insists, “No anglais! Solo espagnol!” Now, I’ve been learning Dutch (my fiancé is Dutch and I want to be able to speak Dutch with his family and it seems that all the new Dutch words have pushed whatever Spanish words I used to know right out of my head. The Dutch and the Spanish and the English got all jumbled up, and I ended up speaking a very bizarre combination of the three. Even I didn’t understand myself. Dommage. Which is French for “too bad”.)
Weirdly, the words I do remember all seem to have something to do with farm animals, so we spent the next 90 minutes marveling over the cows and horses and chickens that we saw. Scintillating stuff.
Eventually we get to the hotel, where I meet the truly intrusively “friendly” bellhop (really, there WILL BE a book involving this pester-some kid). Once I’m settled I also try to reschedule the excursion to the rainforest we had planned for the next day. No luck. It’s too late to cancel. Either go alone or lose the money.
Anyone who knows me will know my answer to that: Ima go to the rainforest.
And this is where everything started to bite me. Literally. Like, for real.
First there was a dog in a little town where we stopped for a snack. I pet the dog, the dog jumped up, and we had a nice moment. Then he bit me. (It wasn’t a nasty bite, it was a playful sort of thing, but still.)
Then we get to the rainforest itself, and start hiking (or, in my case, hobbling with my foot all wrapped up and two walking sticks to help me get along). I see a trail of very large red ants, doing something that seems, to them, Very Important. I get excited. I step right up to the trail and bend over to observe them more closely.
“These are fire ants,” says the guide. “They are carnivores.”
“Oh,” I say. “And what are they doing now? Are they moving their nest?” Really, there are thousands of them, and they’re all running along in the same direction. They’ve even formed a little groove in the dirt where they’re passing, like the ant version of a one-way road.
Except it’s not a one-way road. It’s a two-way, which I’m about to find out.
“They’re hunting,” replies the guide. “They’re bringing food back to the nest.”
“So they must come back, then?” I ask. “Ow.” Feeling a pinch, I brush at my toe, which is exposed because of the ace bandages on the broken foot.
“Yes, they go out and hunt things like spiders and caterpillars and bring it back…” says the guide.
“Ow,” I say. “Ow. Ow. Owwwww!”
You see, the whole time I’ve been standing right smack in the middle of the line of ants heading in the other direction. I’m blocking one whole lane of their road, really. And let me just say that fire ants don’t like it when you block their road. Indeed, they get rather nasty about it.
So now I’m hopping about, with fire ants all over my broken foot, biting me in a million places at once (those little suckers have some sharp whatever-they-use-to-bite-people-with!). The ants are in my bandages, and they’re mad about that, too, but I can’t get them out of there so it’s not really my fault.
What was my fault, though, was that I stood right on top of their little lane, which was terribly rude of me, so I’m trying to brush the little buggers off my foot, yelping all the while, and apologizing to the ants who are furiously trying to rebuild the road I so carelessly trampled.
“Lo siento, little ants,” I say. “Ow.” The guide is nearly falling over, he’s laughing so hard.
Luckily for me, that was the last day that anything (other than a few giant mosquitos, that is!) bit me in Costa Rica. It was enough biting for one vacation, I think. And it is enough for one gruelingly long blog post.
Next post: Nicaragua and the Miraculous Foot Scrub!