I fear I’ve become a bit of a hypochondriac since I’ve been here. I mean, if it’s not one thing, it’s another, am I right?
The first weekend we went to Playa Jacó and I returned with the worst sunburn I’ve ever gotten. Last weekend we journeyed to Santa Maria and San Gerardo de la Dota to fully immerse ourselves in Costa Rican coffee and nature. Although we did get to see a wealth of the famed little bird-men in green waistcoats that they call quetzales, the majority of the group also saw a plethora of bathrooms. That which does not kill you makes you stronger, or so they tell me. At very least, we all came back refreshed and cleaned out.
And then we went to Tamarindo, (here, I’ll throw in a little local slang to hint at how impressively cultured and accultured I’ve become) or Tamagringo as they call it here. Though, I will forever call it Tamarind-ow (man I’m funny). I initially brushed off the smirks of my teachers and host families at the mention of the name. “Oh. Tamarindo. It’s beautiful but… touristy there.” When we rolled into a town plastered with signs in English and more hotels and hostels than could have accommodated the entire tourist industry of Costa Rica, I realized how right they were. And the fact that we rolled 13 deep didn’t allow us to blend even with the other tourists.
But it was still fun. The hostel was one of those classic hostels with that funky “travel-kid” vibe. There common room was literally a giant tent with two walls, one permanent and one fabric. Hammocks and hammock chairs hung off almost every possible pole, and there were even some poles erected for the sole purpose of hanging hammocks. It was all about the bold colors and bohemian ambience. The thirteen of us split up into each of the 8 available rooms, parceled out to groups of Norwegians, Swedes (two separate groups), Israelis, Argentineans, a couple U.S. natives and a Spaniard. It became abundantly clear that if I ever want to stay in a hostel in Costa Rica ever again, I’ll have to get in shape, fast. Travelers are beautiful people in many ways.
We spent our days on the beach, soaking up the sun, failing to do homework, cooling off in the water and watching the surfers in the waves, or as they strutted up and down the beach. Actually, my friends spent the day soaking up the sun, failing to do homework, and cooling off in the water. I spent the day watching the surfers in the waves and strutting up and down the beach through the lens of my camera, watched with a mixture of artistic ecstasy, wild envy and uncontrollable admiration. In fact, in taking pictures, I did everything I could, save maybe a flying tackle, to interact and make friends. In case there was any doubt in your mind, let me inform you that I failed.
We spent our nights pulling teeth, I mean we spend our nights gathering the entire group of 13 together to hit one of the 3 bars/clubs that we could find. If someone could explain to me how a town has close to 20 hostels and only 3 bars, I’d be much obliged. We also spent our nights slapping away mosquitoes.
That’s right. We come to the third plague: mosquitoes. When a few of our group started to complain the first night, my lack of bites became conspicuous and I determinedly kept my mouth shut. If I didn’t say out loud that I had no bug bites, they wouldn’t hear and attempt to over-correct for their error. I failed again, offhandedly mentioning it the next day. And oh the next night…
Heavily perfumed in mosquito repellant, we trouped out again the next night. It wasn’t so bad inside the club. Even when they started to play house music (or techno?) that would last until the end of the night and I started dividing my time between the smoky, muggy balcony and the over-air-conditioned inundation of electronica and flashing lights, never quite able to decide which was the lesser of the evils, I had few problems with mosquitoes.
Eventually the rest of the group gave into the musical frustration that I’d been experiencing all night and we stalked out. After a quick stop at Subway we were waylaid in my quest to return to my bed by our Israeli roommates. As pleasantries and stories were exchanged, I sat on the edge of a planter box and laid back to look up at the stars. I sat up suddenly and turned to search for the cause of the sudden pricking on the back of my hands. Pointy grass? I felt panic rising. They were itching. My hands were itching. Oh my God. Haven’t I already had enough itching this trip? Dermatitis, sunburn, mosquito bites. What now? Oh my God I must be allergic to something. Oh my God they’re forming bumps. There are bumps on my hands that itch. They’re hives! They must be! They’re going to spread all the way up my arms! Ohmygodohmygodoh… I glanced back at the planter box and caught sight of an ant making his way through the grass. Ants. As calmly as I could I went over to one of our group. “Hey, Dominique, do I have any ants on my back?” I asked while frantically combing my fingers through my hair. “No.” Good. “Cuz my hands itch like crazy and I think they bit me.” One of the other girls looked over. “You should probably go wash them. Did you already have those mosquito bites?”
“Those aren’t mosquito bites!” I wailed.
Long story short, 10 minutes later, it was like the whole thing didn’t happen, except for this new found terror of tiny creatures. I’m not afraid of bugs that can’t bite me. Cockroaches are gross, but they aren’t going to kill me. But unknown tiny crawling creatures now scare the shit out of me. I mean I was in the shower this morning and what turned out to be my toothpaste dropped from the shower shelf and I literally jumped about two inches to the right. I mean I think both my feel left the ground.
And wouldn’t you know it, just as I was writing this, a giant ant crawled along the edge of the bed. And although I hate killing bugs, as of late I’ve become a regular hardened murderer. I killed one yesterday, a tiny one earlier today and mercilessly beat at this one. He escaped with his life, and I won’t be able to get to sleep tonight. How can I with that behemoth on the loose?
I guess this Pura Vida life has gotten to me. I can’t stress about being on time or school (not that I really did before), so to the fill the void I’ve started stressing about bugs. Productive.