Letters from the Field, Part 2
My Dearest Friend, I had some extra time waiting while my daughter is mucking out a stall and feeding the animals so I thought I would drop you a line to let you know I was thinking of you. I am so sorry to hear that you are still in the midst of your trial of pain and suffering. It is the sheer length of a trial that is difficult, isn't it? Well, I have a great story for you today in hopes it will give you something else to think about. Let's call the story: "It's a Jungle Out There." We had been in Costa Rica for about 2 months and my husband was talking with a couple of guys at the language school about fishing. Apparently Costa Rica is renown for fishing, (who knew?) and they were all hankering for a trip. They planned a weekend getaway to the eastern coast near the town Puerto Limon. There is a river called the Rio Tortuga and it has great fishing. A van was rented, our bags were packed and we (5 guys, a girl, and me, the only wife) met in San Jose on a Friday. I don't remember being involved in any of the planning or any of the details for the trip - and I guess you can say ignorance is bliss. Well, we started our trip in happy spirits. We all had been working pretty hard at language learning and we needed a mental break. It was 2 hours to the coast and we had never been to the east coast before. It is really different than where we had been because of the Caribbean influence. The Spanish spoken is very different, more pidgin and very difficult for us learners to understand. Unbeknownst to our group, there was some sort of event that had packed out the town. No hotel to be had - nor did we have any type of reservations. It was about 7-8 in the evening and we had no food, no bed and we were tired. So, we hunted for options. There were none. Well, except for the basketball court at the local park. So, that is what we took. I mean, a cement slab that smelled like urine and just off the main road. It was a sight. For whatever reason, we decided to brave the outdoors and so lined up our sleeping bags and bunked down for the night. No dinner, no water, no bathrooms. One guy played guard all night. After a very fitful night of sleep, we gathered our things and headed over to meet our guide for our boat ride down the Rio Tortuga. We had to wait quite a but for our guide, so we used this time to freshen up. We found a spicket and brushed our teeth and washed our faces. The other girl did not want to brave that, so she brushed her teeth with Orange Crush! (Don't try this at home folks.). Our guide finally came and we headed out in our boat. If you have ever been on the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland you will have in mind what our trip was like. It was a jungle out there.
It was amazing. Our guide knew every animal call, so would call out to them. We saw sloths, monkeys, alligators and the like. The sounds were deafening. After about 2 hours we landed at a place that was to be our hotel. I use that term lightly. The hostess prepared us lunch and then took us to our rooms - or I should say shacks. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is romantic. These shacks were rat and flea infested and just plain disgusting. It was here that I realized that the planner of our trip needed some serious help. I had a very serious discussion with John and mentioned that I would NEVER sleep here, and he agreed, along with 2 of our good friends Darrin and Dave. We royally offended our hostess and got the rest of the team mad at us, but I was not sleeping there. We talked our guide into taking us elsewhere and he knew of a place just down the river. It was a sad send off to be sure, but hey, we were going to greener pastures right? We stopped at a little spot on the way down and got out an walked around. The flora and fauna was just amazing. So beautiful, so striking in its beauty. I had never seen anything like it in my life. Tropical, hot, luscious. Our guide coaxed us back into the boat with promises of even better sights. So, we got in and took off. As we rounded the corner we saw our destination. A cute little house/hotel right on the river, very picturesque. Sure enough they had room for us. John, being the romantic that he is, thought it would be great fun to sleep in the little houseboat at anchor just in front of the hotel. So, off we trekked with our stuff. The guide then took all the team on further down the river where we got out and took a stroll through the jungle. Literally. Vines hanging down in front of us, monkeys screaming, hot and sticky, fern leaves the size of a small car, and really no path to speak of. It was breath-taking in more ways than one. We then headed over to a spot where sea turtles lay their eggs. There are only 2 places in the world and this is one of them. It was a full moon and gorgeous. We had to hike a ways through some beach brush, but we finally made our way to the sand.
We looked for a bit, but then we found a turtle! Only one on this whole stretch of beach. We were fascinated and in awe. It was a moment. But then, wait, something was biting us. Sand fleas! We could only handle watching her lay her eggs for about 2-3 minutes before we had to make a bee-line to the water to cool our heels. Then we would race back to watch the turtle some more. I remember yelling out at the top of my lungs "This is amazing!" After a while we climbed back the way we came and headed to our special romantic bungalow on water - Darrin, Dave, John and me. The bungalow/houseboat had 2 sets of bunk beds. I picked a top one and got settled in. It was late and we were tired so we all slept pretty soundly. I was the first one up and out of bed the next morning. I felt a little funny around my face and was pretty itchy. I crawled out of bed and made my way to the one mirror over the sink. Boy, whatever was staring back at me was not me! In the night I had gotten attacked by mosquitos and had over 20 bites on my face. And I'm the kind that swell with one bite. You can imagine my horror at these welts the size of golf balls all over my face! I did not scream the scream I had in my throat, I instead went to John and woke him up. "Look at me!!" Boy, he looked all right. And can I tell you that my husband is so sweet. While he had compassion for me, he managed to keep his giggles somewhat to himself. In time the boys woke up and they had a hard time figuring out why I looked so different. They were very polite and tried not to stare, it was funny watching them in their awkwardness. I let the cat out of the bag, or mosquito out of his net, and we had a good laugh. It was painful to laugh, so they tried to keep it to a minimum. What John is quick to point out in this story is that none of the go got one single bite. I was the gourmet feast for those Costa Rican mosquitos. I'm sure they talked about their meal, me, for months. We made our way to the restaurant for breakfast where we breakfasted with a monkey trying to eat with us. Quite entertaining. The part that was so funny about all this, and I really can laugh about this now, is when the others came to pick us up. They were still nursing a grudge over our new digs and they were not talking to us. I am not sure what they thought when they saw this distorted girl-face coming to the boat, because they never said a word. All the way back up the river, 2 hours. Oh, I am sure they were thinking, "She got what she deserved, abandoning us, going on their own, not following the plan, etc.." Aside from a very swollen face with lumps like marshmallows I did enjoy the trip back upriver because our guide pointed out so many animals. Another part of the poor planning became evident as we were driving back into San Jose. All the other guys needed to get back to their homes and did not plan on taking the van back, so, John being the nice guy that he is, volunteered to take it back. That meant me too. This part I vividly remember because we had to wait forever for our bus to take us back to our little house. We waited for a very long time and I was miserable. Just plain miserable. We eventually made it back. I went to bed and then school on Monday. People were polite and tried not to stare, but I did see a few snickers. I mean, who wouldn't stare at the monstrosity in your midst. I ended up getting pretty sick and needed medical attention, but I got that squared away, and I am alive to tell about it. So, why would I share such a long, drawn out story? Because sometimes we do really need to think about something else other than our own plight. I think that is why Paul says: Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Philippians 4:8 In typing out this verse I did a mental check on my story. While it is not about God it is a true story in which God showed Himself mighty on my behalf. How? He got me out of the jungle alive. P.S. Check out my version of the typical plate in Costa Rica. It really does taste like it, however they would dowse it in Lisano sauce. Go to the recipe page to find it and give it a try.