Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Costa Rica - Touched by a lobster-sized flying scorpion

Saturday, November 03, 2001

Hola Amigos y Familia, 

The electricity was out again and I needed to use the bathroom.  I am unwilling to use the two windowless bathrooms on the first floor when the lights are out since that was the scene of my first scorpion encounter.  I went upstairs to use the bathroom in one of the empty guest rooms. When I opened the door, something fell from above me and brushed my arm.  A scorpion the size of a small lobster had landed by my feet. 

The primal scream escaping my mouth must have propelled me backwards fifteen feet since I don't recall actually moving my feet.  Jim heard my yell over the roar of the Jose's chopeadora (weed whackers to us Americans) and came running.  I was still hyperventilating in the hall when he arrived.  I told Jim there was a big scorpion in the room with the open door.  He went to get the scorpion-fighting equipment: a broom, a long stick and a flashlight.   

Jim shined the flashlight on a scorpion hiding in the closet, then drug it out at the end of the long stick.  The legs and stinger of this angry insect waved about madly in protest.  I thought this would be a good time to grab my camera, but by the time I got back, Jim was standing triumphant above the scorpion's twisted and still body.  I wasn't sure he found the right one since he looked awfully small and defenseless in this position.  A careful search of the room assured me this was indeed my attacker.  Okay, so he was smaller than a lobster.

Jim quickly tired of the photographer in me trying to find the right angle to photograph the scorpion and left me with the broom to dispose of the scorpion myself when I finished the photo shoot.  I put the broom near its body and took a picture.  When I started to sweep away the flattened scorpion, he puffed up his legs and stinger and moved them as if he was running, but he didn't advance an inch.  Although Jim didn't kill him, he had incapacitated him.  I took a quick look to see if there was anyone below me, and then flung him off the deck.   

By this time the employees had gathered to watch the excitement.  I could tell by the looks on their faces they were thinking, "You would think that gringo had never been touched by a lobster-sized flying scorpion before."

I went to Monica's gallery to do some Christmas shopping.  When I told Monica about my latest scorpion encounter, she got goose bumps.  In the six weeks we have been here, we have seen five scorpions.  Monica has been here four years and has only seen two.   

It's always amusing to me to find someone who's had more trouble with the Spanish language than I have.  Willy told us about an encounter he had when he first moved to Costa Rica.  He was in a small restaurant and asked a waitress where the bathroom was.   A group of people was laughing when he returned.

"What are you laughing at?" Willy asked. 

"You," responded one of the men.

"Why?" 

"What did you ask that young lady?"

Willy said, "I asked her where the bathroom was." 

"No, you didn't, you asked her if she would like to take a bath with you."

Learning a new language provides so many opportunities to embarrass oneself. 

Un abrazo y un beso (A hug and a kiss),
Mary

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