Monday, March 8, 2010
Chapters 12, 13 and 14 of An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel
CHAPTER 12 – A MOSQUITO NET! OH, NO, WHY?
That’s because one wall of the shower is open to the tropical garden outside, and tropical gardens mean…tropical insects!
Picture a luxurious mountain lodge in the jungle of Costa Rica, with a view that just doesn’t quit. You open the door to your picturesque jungle hut and see an expansive room containing two beds with mosquito nets hanging above them. Let’s hope you aren’t traveling alone, because getting into a bed and then having to drape a mosquito net above yourself to keep out flying (or even crawling) wildlife, can be a trifle difficult.
Therefore, be sure to have your spouse or traveling partner arrange your net carefully over you with no cracks, visible or invisible, so as to allow no insects, visible or invisible, into your bed or into the air above you. That leaves your spouse or traveling companion free to arrange him- or herself under the mosquito net on the other bed in whatever way he or she can. Every woman for herself, and every man for his spouse!
As Dick was arranging himself into his bed and net, I only screamed at him once, and I still say it was a fair call. There was a cucaracha on the wall near the door, so I insisted Dick get up to escort it out. On his way back to bed, he pointed out to me, ever so nicely, the fact that none of the walls reached the thatched roof/ceiling, and declared himself unwilling to rise up to meet the challenge of whatever other insects might climb or fly over the walls.
All was well and, when my terror of creepy-crawly critters finally subsided enough to let me sleep, all remained well, until a herd of howling banshees set me to howling as well. I almost ripped the mosquito netting right off the ceiling in my terror. “Rich-arrrrrrrrrrrrrddd! Wake UP! Those are the loudest mosquitos I've ever heard!”
“What? Mmm? Huh? Oh, those. Those are howler monkeys. Go to sleep.”
Easy for him to say. He’d been tromping through the bushes with our guide for almost two weeks, and had learned all about jungle warfare, while I, reading novels in hotel lobbies while watching brightly-colored birds eat bananas outside the windows, knew nothing at all.
Which brings me to the next question…
CHAPTER 13 – WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Now, supposing all my infirmities descend upon me at once, and I find myself unable to do anything without screaming pain.
Supposing I have survived the ignominy of a 9-hour flight in the center seat of a cigar tube, only to find afterward I can’t leave the hotel, or the ship, train or whatever (I should be so lucky, a train) because of said screaming pain.
What, really, is the worst that could happen?
At the worst, I might have to spend my vacation in a hotel room with room service, or in a ship’s cabin with a balcony (and room service), reading a book.
I stop at my local library before a holiday, to buy what I call airplane books: lightweight (in every sense of the word) paperback books someone else has donated to the library, and which the librarian sells for a pittance. I might buy one book for every day of the trip but, as I finish one, I leave it behind for the next guest or passenger.
It sure beats staying at home, reading books while other people travel.
CHAPTER 14 – WHAT COULD BE WORSE THAN THAT?
Oh, okay, if you insist…being in that same screaming pain for two weeks in a bus in Costa Rica might be worse.
The problem on our trip was neither the driver, who was great, nor the bus, which was a brand new, bright orange, made-in-China-with-insect-ear-mirrors kind of bus, but the roads in Costa Rica, which are are unimaginably bumpy, with several huge potholes for every ten or twelve feet of narrow unpaved road. That’s Costa Rica’s back country, and sometimes even its towns.
Fortunately, we never had to sleep in the bus, so my evening and night-time survival training was mostly of the hotel-with-room-service variety, as no tents were pitched during the making of our adventure vacation.
Speaking of ‘worse’ – do you remember slide projectors and color slides? And neighbors who invited you over to watch ‘our summer vacation pictures’ in grim and gleaming color? And how many times did the neighbors say, “And this is us in front of the bus…” while showing you completely unidentifiable, completely interchangeable pictures of their two selves grinning happily (and interchangeably) in front of a tour bus?