05 December 2009

IT LIVES!! (in the tall grass)

I’m not really very fond of bugs. Apart from Fluffy, my pet tarantula, I wouldn’t miss the entire class of critters that bite, sting or chew up the wooden shelves in my garage.

I do enjoy the Spanish word for them: bichos [beach’ ohs]. It just pops off the lips like an English homophone that is usually combined with a tone of venom and the words, “son of a …” Saying their name in Spanish, with the correct tone of voice, helps me get through the day. “Damn bichos!”


Then again, the little nasties sometimes get to pay me back for not showing them “the love.”

On our way back to Atenas from two wonderful days in the Valley of the Quetzals, we were seized with our obsession to look for tiny boxes of hidden trinkets, worth less than a penny, using millions of dollars of Global Positioning System technology, aka, geocashing.

“Oh, look! There’s a cache showing on my GPS, right down there in that little valley! Turn down this road!” said my co-pilot.

“Aarrrrrgh!” sez I.

After 15 minutes of dropping like a rock, down into this verdant valley, my co-pilot again said, “Turn here.”

“That’s a cow path.”

“No it isn’t. There was some gravel there once and there are a few rocks here and there right now,” she retorted. Then she set the hook. “Besides, do you want to log a Did Not Find on the website?” We turned up the cow path road.

Forty-five minutes of bone-jarring single-track later, following her GPS needle, we came to a bridge over the beautiful crashing cataract of the Rio Blanco de Copey. Boy what I would have given for an ultra-light fishing rig and some trout bait.
But we were after a different quarry now – the elusive Tupperware box full of trinkets.

The online hints said that the box was hidden in a “cave near the bridge” and the GPS’s kept dragging us towards a big ol’ rock about 20 feet off the road, sitting in meter-high grass. Having planned ahead, I was wearing shorts, crocs with no socks and no Deet. Ah, but it will just take a second.

It took about 10 minutes. You have to locate the cache, get it out of the cave, open it, look through the trinkets to see if there is one you want to take, leave one of our trinkets behind and sign the log book. Through all of that time, I never felt the little monsters striking into my flesh and injecting their venom.

Pat says they’re called no-see-ums. I think in the Midwest we called them chiggers. Either way, the domestic variety is a poor excuse for their genus, considering the strength of whatever the hell it is those horrid Costa Rican cousins leave behind in your skin. The Costa Rican branch of the chigger species are the Black Mambas of chigger-dom.

Our glee at logging another cache find was soon supplanted with a need to scratch. Our legs had been attacked and we both had numerous little red “pimples” raising up and itching. It’s overwhelming. And, I’ve learned my lesson: no matter how hot and steamy it is in the jungle [hoon’ glay] thou shalt always bathe in Deet and wear long pants.

Today is 4 days later and the only way to ignore the itching is to get my mind off of it by writing dreck like this for you to suffer through. See? I like to share.

1 comment:

  1. Oof, I learned about chiggers from a friend who lives in North Carolina. According to wikipedia "They do not actually "bite," but instead form a hole in the skin called a stylostome and chew up tiny parts of the inner skin." GROSS.