Chance Encounters

Having lived in Australia and Vietnam I am well used to insects in there very many guises and have managed to find ways of keeping the house reasonably free of them with various spray etc.

But if you don’t keep your wits about you they are there feasting on you. We had a really rude awakening in Moin where we spent 36 hours recovering before the final part of our journey.

I put the fact that we got caught down to tiredness.

If you have read Reprieve in Moin you will know how tired we were when we arrived and our collapse into bed the first night was in the words of Julia Roberts character in Pretty Woman;

“Big mistake. Big. Huge”

Lurking in some hidden corner was either one very greedy mosquito who after his feast could probably be found slumped in a corner too heavy to fly or a battalion of the little devils who had a right feast on My Love and me.

Arms and legs were covered and for some peculiar reason the area around my elbows had 16 bites, one very nasty pinful and itchy lesson at the start of our stay. What made it more annoying was we had anti mozzie cream and spray in our bags. One of the bites on my arm took nearly a month to heal it became this vile lump that turned yellow and left a crater in my arm. This has finally gone but I am left with a huge purple scar.

We continued the fight against mozzies during our stay in the hotel room and always had insect spray for the room and cream for ourselves. Each evening when we went over to the restaurant for dinner I would spray the room ready for when we came back to sleep. It seemed to work as we were pretty much bite free.

ML because he is outside a lot probably gets more bites than me but we are being careful as there are a couple of nasty disease that the mozzies in Costa Rica carry. There is Dengue fever, symptoms usually appear between 4 to 7 days after the bite. The symptoms include a high fever, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint, pain, severe headache, swelling in the lymphatic glands and a skin rash characterized by bright red spots.

The second is called Chikungunya, a virus that originated in Africa, the the symptoms of the disease are very similar to Dengue with a sudden fever, headache, severe joint and muscle pain heat rash and nausea,  both diseases are treated similarly. Then over the last few days the news has been full of the Zika virus also carried by mosquitos but which can cause birth defects. In the local newspaper today the first case of the virus in Costa Rica was confirmed but it appears as if he caught it on a visit to Colombia.

The battle against the mozzie is ongoing as is the attempt to keep the house reasonably ant free. We would often see the odd one now and again walking across the floor without a care in the world, and for some reason in the bathroom. When we found them walking down the walls we came to the conclusion that they are coming in through the steam vent in the ceiling.

We also have at the side of the house a huge ant nest. ML and I have tried to find some form of ant poison for it but no luck. So we are ignoring it at the moment. Now it must have been there when the owners were here as we moved in the day after they left but they don’t seemed to have done anything about it neither has Boris who walks past it every time he comes to pick the Noni fruit.

There are 84 varieties of ants in Costa Rica and there is no getting away from them but I would prefer that they stay outside which belongs to them and inside that belongs to me should be ant free.


We have recently picked up a spray that we used in Australia called Mortein, it automatically sprays throughout the day. It works really well, in fact there are dead bodies scattered across the tiles, mainly ants when we get up each morning, so I am having to whiz around with the Hoover every day but that’s a small price to pay.

IMG_5864 (1024x768)Moving the furniture around has unearthed one or two long term resident in the first couple of days of moving in I met up with a giant spider walking along the edge of the ceiling, it wasn’t how I wanted to start my day. ML had naffed off to work and I either had to ignore it – in its dreams or I would have to deal with it myself.

The house came equipped with a fly swatter but the lack of a pair of step ladders and me being short of leg and arm I couldn’t reach to whack it even stood on a chair. Therefore my only course of action was the can of insect spray. Suffice to say I used enough to suffocate it and me. Insect spray doesn’t take effect immediately so I had two choices, either sit and wait or get on with my day and check back every now and again.

I went off for my shower and then came back to check, of course I couldn’t find the damn thing, so then I had to play ‘hunt the spider’ and check whether it was either dead or in the process of dying. After wandering around looking for it and scared that I would I finally tracked it behind the huge piece of furniture with all the shelves on. It was on its back with its legs in the air and I decided it was safe to leave it where it was and Hoover it up later.

The other three large spiders in the house have made their presence known when ML was there and he dealt with them with the fly swatter.

scorpionA scorpion nearly cornered me in the bathroom, I wandered in still half asleep to see this black thing waggling its tail at me. Now I was desperate to use the loo which may account for my rash behaviour, I threw a small plastic bag over it, picked up the scorpion and threw it in the loo and flushed it away all in a matter of seconds.

Reactions of a Ninja.

The following morning I realised what I had done and panicked that it would crawl back up the system – for the next few days I made sure to check before I sat down. We have since been visited by two more but ML again was here so he flushed the baby scorpion and flattened another big one with the swatter.

IMG_7803 (1024x681)Other chance encounters have been with a beautiful grasshopper; I was working at the glass dining table and saw a flash of green moving on the chrome leg. When I had a look I saw what it was and had to find a way to get it back outside. I encouraged it to go onto the underside of the table top, then covered it with a plastic box and slid it to the edge when I put the lid on. At this point the poor grasshopper went loopy so I rushed outside and let it go. It launched itself towards the garden and disappeared.

The other chance encounters are with the house geckos that inhabit the house, not sure how many we have but I think there are three of them. We coexist quite well most of the time but one of the little devils hid behind the towel hanging on a rod, as I pulled the towel of it raced up the wall. Not sure who was more surprised. Having had this happen more than once in Vietnam I was soon over the shock.

IMG_5865 (1024x719)

Yesterday’s encounter though made my heart race as it was so unexpected, I went into the cupboard to get out a box of freezer bags, I grabbed the edge of the bag and pulled it free from the box. Something came flying out of the box with the bag and landed on the work surface, turned out to be a gecko, who as he found his feet, turned and looked at me, glared and then scuttled off to find a new home.

I am sure there will be many more encounters and I will keep you informed.

Living in Costa Rica

Blog Expat: living abroad

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