Tag Archives: critters

Kamikaze Cockbox

In my previous post I’d mentioned how the bungalow Anna and I chose to stay in on the island of Koh Phi Phi Don had a few unwanted guests…  It was in fact our first night there that “the event” occurred that made us question staying there any longer…  Personally, I can handle a cockroach or two with no bother.  However, Anna fears them like I fear spiders and in understanding that, I can’t simply brush her fear aside but rather must respect it.

After returning from the beach and exploring the town of Phi Phi Don, we arrived after dark to our bungalow in the jungle.  Knowing that there may be “beasties” as Anna calls them, I approached the bungalow first turning on all lights to check for any critters (hopefully not seeing any spiders in the process as well!!).  With no cockroaches in sight, I called the all clear for Anna to come on in.

As I sat on the porch with my tablet (the bungalow was very hot inside and had yet to cool off from the days heat despite the fan blowing) Anna, who just came out from a shower and was in the bungalow changing, let out a yelp and ran on the porch in her towel announcing that she’d spotted a cockroach on the churning fan.  The fan in the bungalow was mounted on the ceiling and gently rotated around the room at varying angles.  As Anna remained on the porch in fear, I went in to investigate…

At first I didn’t see anything on the fan as it gently rotated about.  I thought perhaps she’d just seen an odd shadow that appeared to look like a cockroach, but nothing else.  I kept watching as Anna persisted that she’d seen one.  Nothing… I still didn’t see a thing.  I persuaded her to go back in the room and get changed as there was no cockroach there.  But as she started to go in and I was going out, once again she spotted it.

Sure enough, a cockroach just over an inch in size became visible on the INSIDE of the fan between the churning blades and the wire mesh across the front of the fan.  Now there was an issue… The fear essentially was that at some point as the cockroach skittered along the wires of the fan, it would be catapulted out somewhere in the room at a great speed from the force of the fan…  What to do, what to do…???

As Anna paced on the porch, I turned the fan off hoping that when the blades stopped the roach would figure out a way off the fan.  It perfectly contentedly stayed on the fan however changing course here and there making its way along the wires and rim of the fan, showing absolutely no signs of going anywhere.  I tried hitting the fan with items to knock the roach off but the fan was mounted too high on the ceiling for me to get anywhere near reaching it.  I waited as the roach made its way to the edge of the fan where the gaps between the wires were greatest and in that instant turned the fan on full blast to try to force it out with the wind from the blades to absolutely no avail… Seemingly we were at a complete standstill.  There wasn’t anything to be done.  All the while that I was inside trying to get the roach, Anna started referring to it as a kamikaze cockroach since she was sure it would come flying out of the fan at any second…

However, with no other feasible options in sight to get the roach out, I coaxed Anna to come back into the bungalow to at least get her clothes so she could change in the bathroom.  I agreed of course to stay in the room with her while she got her clothes together in case the roach suddenly did make a ground floor appearance.  I positioned myself directly under the fan with my open tablet in hand going about things I wanted to look up while Anna gathered her clothes.  She kept making references to the kamikaze cockroach and how it would surely get her.  Staring at my tablet I started to chuckle at Anna and how dramatic she was being when within a split second, the roach suddenly dropped directly on my tablet!!!

I let out a scream just from the surprise and shock of the catapulted cockroach suddenly being on my tablet and subsequently flung my tablet to get the roach off of it.  Anna, having heard my scream and then seeing the roach being flung off my tablet in (ironically and unfortunately) her direction went absolutely ballistic!!!  She started letting out a series of long and loud scream as she tried in vain to get away from the roach as it skittered across the floor directly to her and toward the bathroom.  All the while I was furiously trying to brush the roach away from running toward her, but it just kept on trying to get past her to the bathroom!

Finally, it managed to make it to the bathroom and went between the floor tiles to the outside and after a few seconds of calming herself, Anna and I both started to laugh hysterically!!  What made the whole thing worse is we were both now standing inside the bungalow in full view of the front door, Anna still in her towel, laughing our rears off as the man from reception came tearing up the path to our doorstep asking if everything was ok!  Bless his heart for coming!!  He seriously must have thought we were being murdered by the initial look on his face, which turned disinterested rather quickly as we tried in vain to explain that it was “just a cockroach” that we were screaming at and then laughing at hysterically!  He wasn’t amused…

Luckily that was the end of our odd entertainment for the evening and after that night, we didn’t have any further cockroach events so we stayed in those bungalows for the next 3 nights of our trip to Phi Phi.  However we did rename our bungalow the “kamikaze cockbox” from that night on.  It was a combination of the words ‘kamikaze cockroach’ for the above event and ‘hotbox’ since that first night was absolutely boiling inside despite the fan!  The kamikaze cockroach prediction came true after all!

On to The Quiet Sides of Phi Phi

Back to Thailand

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Smack First, Ask Questions Later

I’ve noticed recently that I’ve been practicing what I’ve now coined as the “smack first, ask questions later” action… It really has nothing to do with the recent Muay Thai training I’ve been doing (just finished session 5 today and it’s a real rear-kicker!!).  And when I think back I’ve been “smacking first and asking later” since arriving in Thailand last December.

So what am I referring to exactly?  Well, you see, not every place has a mosquito net covering the beds.  And even if they did, they don’t prevent 100% of whatever night critters decide to come out and join you bedside… And since I’m arachnophobic, I would rather not actually see what it is that’s crawling on me, because if I ever visually found it to be a spider I would absolutely lose my mind.

Enter the “smack first, ask questions later” motto.  It’s a simple concept that I use more often than not.  Whenever I feel something on my skin while in bed or hanging about, without looking to see what it is, I simply smack the area where I feel the unknown critter.  Sometimes that’s the end of it.  But sometimes I do feel a body beneath my hand in the area I’ve just smacked so just as quickly as I’ve hit the unknown creature I swiftly grab the body and chuck it as far away as possible from where I am.  It’s become such a common movement that I don’t even notice I’ve done it sometimes.  And yet I wonder where that bruise came from the next day, lol!!

Thankfully I’ve never come across the body of whatever I’ve hit and thrown off me the next day, which really means one of two things: either the creature was just stunned by the hit and limped away after recovering OR its body was eaten by another critter during the night.  Neither of those scenarios are very comforting really, but that’s jungle living for ya!  All part of the joys:)

Back to Thailand

Monteverde Night Tour

Ok, here we go… There were pit vipers that were hanging out around the base of the trees, which we were told was a rather lucky sight as they are ususally much higher up during the time of year I was there.  There were tarantulas; one female that was nestled in her burrow on the side of a little hill whom the tour guide tried to coax out with a stick (I had to use extra zoom to get a close-up picture without actually getting in close, hence why the photo is a little fuzzy) and one male who walked across my path and decided to halt directly in front of me!!  Now, of course I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of everyone else because of my fear but then again I was so paralyzed that I couldn’t actually move.  Luckily one of the other girls on my tour stopped with me to lend some moral support even though she too was terrified of the critter.  Even more lucky was that another tour guide and group was coming by so the guide wedged the tarantula between his feet (not actually touching it but rather providing a barrier between it and me)  allowing me to make a literal run for it!

Now one thing I did learn about tarantulas that made me feel quite sorry for the little buggers had to do with their worst predator… No, not humans in this case but rather wasps!!  Wasps apparently will land on the back of a tarantula and inject it with a tranquilizer of sorts thus paralyzing the arachnid but not killing it.  The wasp will then lay eggs on the back of the tarantula and as the eggs hatch, the newborn wasps will feed off the tarantula, eventually killing it after 8 whole days!!  Being eaten alive… now that’s just NO way for any creature to have to die!!  Poor little buggers!!

Moving on however, another spectacular sight was the mama sloth and her baby!  The mother looked absolutely HUGE but apparently only weighed like 20lbs!!  These sloths (2-toed) are all fur and have the look of being humongous but really aren’t.  Her baby was really hard to see as unlike its mom, the baby was a dark brown color that blended in perfectly with the dark night.  What really suprised me the most about this pair however was how active the mom and baby were!  Sloths are named as such because of their slow movement and the fact that they sleep a lot.  But apparently at night they do become more active as we saw as there was a ton of grooming and movement, especially by the baby!

The tour guides were amazing and were able to spot the tinniest of critters from great distances!!  One such example was spotting a foot long walking stick!!  We were all huddled looking at this dense forest and the guide kept going “look, there is a giant walking stick”… We were like “where?!?!?!”   It blended in perfectly with the tree it was on and was only about 4 feet in front of us, yet it took a good 10 minutes for everyone on the tour to actually see what the rest were looking at!!  Quite impressive!

Another area we visited was the nest of a colony of army ants.  We were not able to walk on certain areas as putting too much weight on the ground had the potential for collapsing the Earth under us, plunging us into the depths of a million angry ants!!  If I recall my stats correctly, scientists have estimated about 2 billion ants in this one colony alone!!  What was most impressive about this spot was when the tour guide went to catch a soldier ant.  These ants guard the entrances to the nest and are the most fierce of all.  He picked it up by the body making sure to have a good grip on its head so it couldn’t bite him.  Then he picked up a stick that was about 4 feet long… He put the tip of the stick to the pinchers of the soldier ant and it immediately clasped on!  The ant was so strong and had such a good grip that it was able to hold on to the stick entirely on its own!!  Even more interesting, the ants were used by Indigenous people as stitches!  If someone got a cut that needed stiches, they would use soldier ants by making them bite on their skin to bring each side of the wound together and then they would pinch off the heads.  The head of the ant would not fall off for 8 days!!  Once they did fall off the wound was healed!  Quite impressive of the indigenous tribes!!  But also quite painful!

Perhaps the most interesting of all the things we saw on this tour was what we couldn’t see with out lights on… The tour guide picked up an old moldy piece of wood and stared at it with awe and fascination.  He said it was the most beautiful part of the forest!  We were all confused and wondered why an old piece of wood was so interesting, until we turned our lights off… Right before our eyes the wood began to glow!!  It was covered in rare bioluminescent algae!!!  We all stared in wonder and as we began to look around us in the dark, you could see all of the forest lit up in different areas by this spectacular algae!  We also spent part of our time chasing after a rare cat who, like most nocturnal critters, hunts at night but is very fast and therefore hard to see!  Even though we didn’t get to see it ultimately, the chase was rather fun!

Now for each tour it is never guarenteed of course that you will see a large diversity of animals, but again I would definately recommend it!

On to Monteverde Horseback Riding Tour

Back to Costa Rica

La Fortuna

I arrived in La Fortuna the next afternoon and headed to the hostel I found on the internet called “Sleepers Sleep Cheap”.  The word ‘cheap’ of course caught my eye immediately when searching for somewhere and the reviews seemed good enough.

About 100 meters south of the bus terminal, I arrived at the hostel which was set back a little from town than most of the others.  For $10 a night, I got a private room with a private bath, hot water and breakfast!  I paid for 2 nights and proceeded to get settled in.  Honestly I don’t have any negative words for the hostel.  It was a very basic set-up and nothing fancy by any means, but it was cheap, my room was clean, the staff were very friendly and accommodating, and the breakfast area had one of the best views in my opinion… I will later divulge what that view was;)

Now, I wanted to state my opinion about the hostel before writing about this bit: interestingly enough, weeks later when I was in Bocas Town (Bocas del Toro), Panama, I met a couple who just happened to stay at the hostel at the same time that I was staying there!  But they had a very different opinion of the place… Though they did agree it was cheap, they said they believed they had bed bugs and that their door wouldn’t close all the way so all sorts of critters would come in during the day and night.  Their room wasn’t clean and they weren’t that thrilled with what was served for breakfast (toast, eggs, fruit and coffee).  So, I guess it just goes to show you that not everyone’s experiences are the same!

In any event, after getting settled in it was about time to eat something, so I found a local soda that was recommended and that was just down the street from my hostel and had a fantastic fillet de pollo casado!  I absolutely love those casados!!!

Waiting for my meal to arrive, two guys whom I had met on the bus showed up so we dined together.  I spent that evening wandering the streets of La Fortuna with them, drinking beer in the central park. Since we had all arrived in the late evening, there really wasn’t much time to get our barring of the area, so at this point none of us really knew where the famed volcano was.  Sitting in the park drinking, it became a little bit of a game trying to figure out where the volcano actually was.  If the volcano had been active, it would have been quite obvious, but alas the volcano was dormant while I was there.  And mind you, it had been dark since before dinner, so there wasn’t any way to see around us…

The next morning I rose early determined to check several things off my list.  First off, I wanted to do a tour of the volcano and perhaps the hot springs and second I wanted to go to the famed La Fortuna waterfall and finally, I wanted to get a plan in place on where my next destination would be.  Even though the purpose of my trip to Costa Rica was not to be a tourist, one really can’t help but do a tour or two once here!  They can be pricey, that’s for sure but I did a lot of tour “office hopping” prior to settling on the final place to book at.  And since it was the off-season, there were more deals available than not.

Red Lava, a tour office located at the bus terminal offered the best prices and most unique tours.  Through them I booked a tour of the Arenal volcano that was 5 hours long, including a nature hike to a waterfall (not the La Fortuna waterfall but another one), a history of the Arenal volcano and finishing off with a night dip in a natural hot spring.  I also booked for a Jeep-Boat-Jeep package that would get me from La Fortuna to my next destination of Monteverde via, well you guessed it: a jeep, a boat and a jeep:)

It was mid-morning by the time I got all my bookings complete and since my volcano tour wasn’t going to start until 2pm, I opted to spend my time in between by going to the famous La Fortuna waterfall.  Since my motto on spending money was “the less you spend now, the more you will have later” I decided to walk to the waterfall, located inside a National Park, instead of taking a bus directly to the entrance of the National Park… I really should have just paid the darn $8 for the bus!!!!!  But oh no, I decided to keep that money and hike there myself instead!  Afterall, it was a paved road to the park so I figured a little exercise would do me some good!  I have no idea what the temperature was outside, but the sun was shining and it was definitely humid!  I had my little personal bag with me so I could bring my camera for the trip and take plenty of pictures.  And I was off for my hike…

About 8 kilometers (about 3 of which were straight uphill- the end 3 of course) later I arrived to the park entrance red-faced and completely dripping in sweat.  In fact I was so saturated with sweat that both my t-shirt and breathable pants were completely soaked through!!  My bag, supposedly waterproof, even began to soak in some of my sweat so that the inside contents became damp!  The very first thing I did when I got to the park entrance was go to the bathroom and practically bathe myself in the sink with my clothes still on!  Thankfully I did have along with me my vapur water bottle and therefore was hydrated the entire way, but I still had to refill it twice before ever leaving the bathroom because of my extreme thirst!!  People were looking at me like I was crazy, but all I cared about at that point was that I had made it!!

But then, I glanced at my watch… it was noon… there was NO way I was going to be able to actually get to the waterfall and back down to town by 2:00 for my volcano tour:(  You see, I had made it to the park ENTRANCE but the waterfall itself was still about a kilometer deep into the park.  And tack on the fact that if I wanted to even try to see the waterfall I would have had to pay the $10 entrance fee, well, it just didn’t make much sense at that point to even try for it.  So I decided to simply head back down to the town, perhaps get a bite to eat and make it in time for my tour.

The walk back to town was much nicer!!  All downhill with a little breeze to boot!  The little breeze did wonders to dry my clothing on the walk down and by the time I made it back (about 1) I had just enough time to grab a bite to eat at the soda where I had dinner and get ready to meet my tour.

Oh and I promised I would divulge the breakfast view from my hostel… It was indeed the volcano!!!  I had been staring at it all morning during the first morning while enjoying breakfast yet never realized I what I was looking at, lol!!!

On to Volcan Arenal Tour

Back to Costa Rica