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Monday, 03 May 2010

A Lesson in Culture Shock: Getting Used to the Wildlife in and Around the House - Page 3

Written by Mateo Amaral
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“There are no words to describe that paradise.” This is what my friend Jeff (who lives in San Jose, Costa Rica) told me when I asked him about Playa Samara. It is a beach town five hours west of San Jose on the Pacific Coast. It is one of the last and best pure beach towns left whose coastline hasn’t become an advertisement for hotel chains. “You’re going to love it.”

When I see a cockroach, the first thing I do is act natural and make sure not to tell my wife. The first couple of them were pretty well hidden, so when Alisa wasn’t looking I stomped my foot at them, hoping they’d get the picture. They didn’t. When Alisa finally did see one it was like watching a horror film in slow motion, you know, the one where the girl opens her locker and the severed head of her quarterback boyfriend comes tumbling out, and her eyes get wide, her body tenses, her hands go to her face, and the scream doesn’t come out for what seems like five seconds, and when it does the windows all break.

It took an hour to convince Alisa to stop packing up. She kept saying, “I’ll just camp on the beach!”

“But honey, there’s even more roaches out there next to Snowball and Napoleon, and those are feral roaches, not domesticated like the ones in the house!”

Then there are the crabs in our bedroom. Our shower is two feet from our bed. When we get out of bed all we have to do is stand up, take one step, and we are in the shower. There are these little crabs in and around the shower. They are about an inch or two long and seem to be harmless.

Then night fell.

The bugs aren’t bad during the day, but at night it’s like they all start drinking. I guess the only difference between the insects and the students at our language school is we drink alcohol, they drink human blood. And after an overwhelming first day of meeting the family and getting settled in, it was a rough night for Alisa and I with all the bugs. You see, our reactions to a bug landing on us were both surprising and violent. We whirl and slap with the quickness and reflexes of a goalie in the NHL. So all that first night we whirled and slapped ourselves, and each other, and didn’t sleep a wink.

And then, at about four in the morning, when we were just beginning to nod off from exhaustion, it began.

It started with a low rumble. A gurgle even. Then it began to crescendo into a deep cacophony of wailing so deep and loud the walls began to shake.

“What the hell is that!” Alisa screamed.

We were both sitting straight up in bed, eyes wide open. And the wailing continued. The sound made me think of my childhood on the farm in Hayward, when we used to neuter the male sheep. How you neuter a male sheep, or ram I guess you call them, is you take a rubber band and keep twisting it around its balls until it cuts off all circulation. Then you leave it there for a week and wait for them to fall off. And for that entire week the rams walk around groaning a deep, low grumble, as if they have the worst stomach-ache in the world, which they pretty much do.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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