It’s a Jungle Out There
We got a chance to do a little unexpected yard work this past weekend as part of our new adventure. It’s a little different from Seattle…and we weren’t really prepared.
The whole adventure started simply enough with Deb and I practicing our soccer (futbol) juggling skills in the back yard. We have a nice big wall along the back of our backyard. Still, I managed to flip the ball over the wall L Now, we knew there was an open lot and field behind there, but we never took a close look. We were not expecting to see this:
It may not look like it from the photo, but the plants were 3-4 feet tall and dense. The ball was somewhere in the middle of it. It was kind of like a challenge on the Amazing Race – at least that’s how my mind was working. It was the new Seattle Sounders soccer ball that I brought with me so I had to get it. I expected that this would be a long, hot, exhausting hunt.
Of course, this isn’t Seattle, it is Costa Rica, home to many critters. One type of critter in abundance here is snakes.
[If you are like Indiana Jones, you should probably stop reading here].
One of the snakes here is the fer-de-lance (or terciapelo in Espanol), a viper:
This infamous viper’s large size, long fangs, and high venom production and toxicity are paired with an active and edgy disposition, making it one of the most dangerous creatures one can encounter in Costa Rica.
I knew about the all the spiders, scorpions, and snakes, including this one, but I hadn’t read the article above. And yes, according to the article (one of many I read afterward), you can find them in the lowland region we live in.
We had seen a few gardeners clearing vegetation on the side of the road or in empty lots since we have been here and I noticed that they wore snake guards. They look something like this:
Deb suggested, smartly, that we could find someone to clear the area who had the proper equipment. It wasn’t our lot though and I was a bit worried about whether we could do that. I also really did not want to lose my ball. Some might call me stubborn. So, since I did not have the “proper” equipment, I improvised.
I put on my one pair of heavy jeans and hiking shoes. Then I took some thick towels and wrapped them around my ankles, securing them with straps. I had no machete here (though they are in abundance in the hardware stores). Instead, I found the longest kitchen knife we had – one with a nice, long, sturdy rectangular blade. I also got out a flat broom since didn’t have a proper snake stick. And finally, I grabbed our long pool cleaning net, in case I could see the ball and reach it with that. Sadly, I had no gloves.
I then went to work. It was incredibly hot and I was dripping with sweat the whole time. I started hacking my way into the “jungle,” being very careful to watch, cut, and clear. I discovered a wonderful little plant along the way with long and intensely sharp thorns. I was pretty sure the snakes didn’t like those either.
About 10 yards (or meters) in, I realized that I didn’t even know what he emergency number was in Costa Rica. It turns out that Deb knew (911 also), but I didn’t. We also didn’t have a car. Moose was in the shop. The nearest clinic was 10 minutes by car, assuming it was open and assuming it had anti-venom in case I got bit. You would think that that this should turn me back, but I am stubborn and, well, “in for a penny, in for a pound.”
I finally found the ball. Fortunately, it was only about 25 yards in and I actually found it.
I had my doubts. And, of course, no snakes at all. No scorpions, spiders, or other nasty critters. And no dreaded fer-de-lance. It turned out to be relatively easy and painless in the end. Maybe the snakes have pura vida here too!