Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Costa Rica Really Tried to Kill Me

I recently took some advice from my doctor and went down to Costa Rica to visit my friend Carmen who lives near the beach town of Manuel Antonio. She lives in a small community of about 3,000 called Barrio Inmaculada. Barrio in Spanish means neighborhood, not ghetto as we know it to mean in the U.S.

Nevertheless, Carmen was good enough to room and board me for about a month and I hadn't seen her in nine years, so it seemed like a no-brainer to visit, especially since I had a free ticket.

All was good and well for the first few days. Carmen didn't have a car as they are expensive for locals down there, but she did have a moto scooter. I had never been on a motorcycle or scooter before in my life, so to say I was apprehensive about riding with her was an understatement. However, after a ride or two, I realized I loved it. My fears of dying in spectacular wreck vanished overnight.

As most people know, Costa Rica is a rainforest. It rains almost everyday. This makes driving on a scooter rather difficult, but that's what these people have to do to live their lives.

I had been in Costa Rica about a week when Carmen was driving me back to her house on a rainy day. The roads in her neighborhood had just been paved with fresh asphalt. It had just started raining, and we approached a curve that had not been engineered to bank properly. Even though she slowed down quite a bit, the scooter slipped out from under us on this curve, which I have since named "la curva de los muertos."

We both went flying hands and head first onto the opposite side of the street. Luckily, as we flew through the air there was no oncoming traffic. As Carmen was in front of me because she was driving, she landed first, and I partially landed on top of her, breaking my fall. I was wearing jeans as well because the mosquitos eating the flesh off my legs and ankles when I only had shorts on. The jeans prevented my legs and knees from being torn up. I was also holding a thick plastic bag in my hand from a little shopping I had done in town. As I fell, the plastic bag acted as a glove under my hands protecting the palms of my hands from being ripped up from the road. I also had a helmet on so when my head banged against the ground, I got a little more than a tinge of whiplash, mostly just a sore neck.

The knuckles on both my hands were the one part of my body that got roughed up a bit, with the skin mostly ripped off on about 3 fingers, with the others bleeding slightly.

All in all, I was in a scooter wreck and walked out with just some bloody knuckles and a aching neck.   Talk about lucky.

However, Costa Rica was not done with me yet. The mosquitos I mentioned were not the enormous type as in the East Coast of the U.S. These mosquitos are small and move so fast, if you can clap your hands and smush then, you're about as lucky as Danielson catching flies with chopsticks like in the original Karate Kid.

I was not worried so much about the irritation the mosquitos caused, but I was concerned about Zika and Dengue. Zika is not prevalent where I was staying, however in the neighborhood which Carmen lives, there have been over 150 cases of Dengue already this year.

You can Google Dengue fever on your own, but all you have to know is that the virus turn your organs to liquid shit and can be fatal for the elderly. As Carmen was taking me to a local food store she showed me an area of standing water that made the Ganges look like a crystal clear body of water. Immediately I asked, why the hell are we walking next to the Dengue epicenter? Carmen informed me because the other food store was a bit of a farther walk and partially uphill.

Despite having been bit on the walk to the food store, and everyday during my trip as well, I somehow escaped Dengue.

Mosquitos are not the only insect that tried to kill me. Costa Rica also has some pretty ridiculous fire ants the size of quarters. As Carmen and I were returning home from the hospital for a visit to help her scooter injuries, she saw a beautiful flower growing off a tree branch. She couldn't quite reach the branch so she asked me to help grab the branch so she could pick the flower. I grabbed the branch and pulled it towards Carmen. Within 5 seconds, maybe less, about ten fire ants were racing up and down my left arm. I brushed them off with my right hand as fast as I could, but that didn't stop me from being bitten 3 times, all in almost the same spot.

The venom felt like knives going through my arm. What more, the venom was so potent I could literally feel it traveling through my body. Only 3 bites caused my arm to turn black and blue as if I had been hit by a hammer. A few more bites and I'd have had to walk right back into the hospital. At least medical treatment was near.

And finally, I was attacked by Carmen's parrot. Yes, a parrot flew out of his tree, through the door of Carmen's house and tried to eat my leg. Again, I had jeans on to prevent mosquitos from tearing up my legs, so the strong jaws of Louie couldn't latch on to me.

There were lots of great parts of the trip other than different forms of potential death or dismemberment, but that's another story.



  1. Sounds like a Wild Ride! Kudos for having the get up and go to get up and go on this trip - almost always we are thankful we took the opportunity!

  2. Sounds like a Wild Ride! Kudos for having the get up and go to get up and go on this trip - almost always we are thankful we took the opportunity!

  3. Drew! I never saw this post until now! Keep rockin' it! I always knew you'd be successful! P.S. I'm going for my MBA and know we could probably do something cool together at some point. - BMA