Chances are you’ve seen the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook series, and chuckled your way through explanations of how to pry yourself free from the jaws of an angry alligator, or what to do if you find yourself free~falling down an elevator shaft. In DC, I found those books amusing, but now, I sure wish I had ponied up at Borders and bought myself a copy. Three times last week, I found myself in situations where I wished I had a heck of a lot more MacGyver in me.
It’s hard to describe how much water there is in the rainforest during rainy season. Let’s just say that there’s more than MUCHO. It rained so much last week that the river that runs alongside our main road overflowed a bridge and blocked our way home. Having spent the day on a road trip and being in no mood to wait patiently until the water receded, we (my mom and I) back~tracked and took the long way around the flooded portion. When we finally arrived in our little pueblo, we faced another small bridge that was on the brink of being submerged by fast~moving water. With night falling and wanting desperately to get home, I took a deep breath and gunned the car across the bridge. Only after we were across did I admit to my mom that I had visions of the old bridge collapsing and being swept down river. When Patrick asked if we had at least opened the windows before driving across, I had to sheepishly admit that it hadn’t even occurred to me. Oh, the hours I wasted watching Rescue 911!
I feel somewhat prouder of my performance during the second~most precarious situation of the week, which found us (my poor mom and me again) on a treacherous dirt road winding up the side and over the top of a steep mountain toward the Boruca Indian Reserve. We were on a quest for indigenous art ~ including painted wooden masks, woven materials and carved gourds. The 8 km drive to the reserve was about as precarious as they get, but we were urged on by a hitch hiker who kept convincing us the worst was behind us. “Pura Vida” was his mantra, the Costa Rican version of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. “Pura Vida, my ass!” I thought, as I clutched the steering wheel for dear life.
Once we arrived, the drive proved to be worth it. The artwork was beautiful, and I came away with lots of interesting decorating ideas for our project. I cut our visit short, however, when I felt the wind pick up and smelled the clouds rolling in. As I had driven over the deep ravines carved into the middle of the road on the way up, I at least had the sense to know that we needed to make our way down before the rain came ~ which we did with only seconds to spare. Not that I could have told you this then, but if you should ever find yourself in a car hanging over the edge of a cliff, you should 1) pull the emergency brake, 2) open the windows, 3) turn off the engine, and 4) all move in unison toward the safest exit (unless, of course, movement upsets the balance of the car, in which case you should just sit tight and bank on the good karma you’ve amassed by picking up all those haggard hitch hikers!).
The last event occurred in the comfort of our home. Perhaps because the rain had flooded the ground, or perhaps because it was a particularly cold evening, a family of very large spiders decided to walk in under the door and join us in the living room. Now, here in Costa Rica, tarantulas are not uncommon, and I had visions of finding a fury friend in bed that night. As a matter of fact, just recently, Patrick had stopped to watch a tarantula cross the road. Do you know how BIG a thing has to be for a driver in a pick~up truck to notice it crossing the road?!
Well, for all you potential house guests, it turns out that a tarantula bite is usually no worse than a bee sting for humans, and there have been no reported tarantula~related deaths. Maybe we should stop worrying and just be happy after all!