Costa Rica :: Part 7

This story is being told as a series. Here’s a link to Part 1

Part 7

From Poas we went on to the cloud forest. On a tram ride up into the forest, birds and butterflies without number danced among trees of every shape and variety. They say that Costa Rica has more species of butterflies than the entire continent of Africa. We may well have seen them all.

Back on the ground, local guides called us to attention for a hike in the forest.

“Stay on the trail. Do not venture off the trail. Do not go ahead of me. If I stop, you stop with me. This is for your safety, as I will be checking for dangers ahead on the trail. If you stop for pictures here in the open area, do not venture too close to that plant (gesturing in the direction of a bright orange bloom across the way) because that type of tree is the preferred home of a deadly viper.” At this point I was wondering why I was even considering this activity, but our guide continued, “Watch out for the ants you see here (gesturing all around us at the enormous ants) as these are bullet ants. They get their name not because of their size, but because if you get bit by one, you will feel like you’ve been shot. OK, then. I will point out anything of interest we find along the trail. Follow me.”

After that kind of beginning, I seriously thought about staying behind, but — after all — I had come to Costa Rica. I fully intended to see it. I pushed past the anxiety the monologue of instructions had started to inspire, and dutifully followed the group.

We had come just far enough along the trail that I wouldn’t have wanted to turn back alone, when the guide asked us to all pull to the right of the trail to allow another guide group to pass us coming the other way. After his earlier admonitions, even stepping close to the edge of the path seemed potentially dangerous to me.

The guides stopped to talk quickly in Spanish, the other group passed us, and then our guide let us know that we might be in luck… the other group had seen a particular viper ahead on the trail. He described it as being very poisonous, gray with triangles on its back. If we paid close attention, we might get to see it. Some of my fellow travelers murmured with excitement at the idea. My reaction was considerably less enthusiastic: I didn’t want to look for it; I wouldn’t consider myself “lucky” to see it; I wanted it to disappear into the jungle, far away from me. I muttered softly to this effect, to the amusement of the young girls behind me.

Did I mention that I have an irrational fear of snakes? I do. Though in this case, they were talking about something poisonous. To my mind, that made my fear ever-so-slightly less irrational.

As we walked further along in the jungle, I stopped looking around, other than to glance furtively around for potential danger. I realized I was missing the point of the activity, but I was focused only on where my feet would go next and getting to the other end of this trek as quickly as possible. My nerves were stretched taut as we emerged back in the main clearing from which we had left, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Copyright © 2010

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~ by lorakceel on May 4, 2010.

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