Peter and I have returned from seven nights in Costa Rica in celebration of my 40th birthday year. This was a coordinated trip with five of my friends from university and their husbands. We started planning this trip just over a year ago because we wanted to “go big”.
We rented a dope mansion on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, complete with a private chef, a private beach, infinity pool, and escorpiones, or scorpions for English speakers.
You can see our dope casa in the photo below. It’s the far-right house on the upper ridge.
My 10 friends traveling from Minnesota arrived at la casa a few hours before Peter and me (it took us nearly 2.5 hours to get through immigration because of the shortage (only 4 and, at times, only 2!) agents working a queue of 800+ visitors).
During their introductory walk-through of the mansion, they were warned to always wear shoes in the grass and to pay close attention as they walked through the grass because scorpions sometimes creep around on the grassy knolls.
This was one of two grassy knolls:
The Minnesota crew warned Peter and me of the dangers lurking in the grassy knolls, and we nodded our heads and said 10-4. We then got our drink on and started what would be seven of the most fun days we’ve ever had on vacation.
This vacation was a total blast. I smile, thinking about it. I never want my memories of this holiday to fade.
A few days went by, and then it happened. A scorpion entered our “territory”. It scurried into the bathroom located off the pool deck, crawled up the bathroom wall, and snuggled in on the backside of the hand towel hanging by the sink. Though almost all of us were either lounging on the pool deck or in the pool, no one saw the scorpion, which looked like this:
At some point that day, I needed to use the loo so I stepped into the bathroom, did my business, and washed my hands. Nothing out of the ordinary… until I grabbed the hand towel and made hand contact with Mr. Scorpion.
Boom! He stung me on the pinky finger of my right hand. I thought it was an electrical shock but then 1 nanosecond later, boom! He stung me again on my left hand’s middle finger. It was like a screw you to a screw you… or something.
I was frozen in place, dazed and confused. I realized there were no electrical outlets in the bathroom, so the theory of getting electrocuted was out. My next thought was that somehow cactus needles got meshed in with the hand towel, but that irrational theory only lasted a few seconds because I’d already used that hand towel half-a-dozen times that day with no problems.
And then the light bulb went off – there was a scorpion hiding in the towel. I ran out of the bathroom to see that the pool and deck had cleared of all humans. I was alone. Most of the crew had left the pool because their excursion transport had arrived. I ran into the house, and the first person I saw was my friend’s husband, Ryan. I muttered some gibberish and just kept saying, “Scorpion! Bathroom! Towel!”
These were very unclear instructions, given the mansion had 8 bathrooms, most with multiple towels. Ryan stumbled around, and I realized how unclear I was, so I yelled, “Scorpion! Bathroom! Pool! Towel!”
At that point, I was still unsure if the culprit was, in fact, a scorpion because I had only made hand contact with it. About three minutes after the “meet-and-greet” was when the pain really kicked in.
I started crying and panicking on top of my dazed and surprised state. People started to file into the living room. There was a lot of commotion from my perspective. They found me standing there in my Athleta with tears rolling down my face behind my sunglasses. I am sure they were wondering what the hell had happened because they had only left me alone for 15 seconds!
I sat down. I stood up. I ran water over the stings. I applied pressure (I don’t know why?). I blew on the stings (again, why?). I sat down. I paced. I walked outside. I walked back inside. I got word from Ryan that Mr. Scorpion had died. I smiled. And then I cried some more.
Peter said, “Well, the good news is that scorpions in Costa Rica are not poisonous.”
Poisonous? That thought had not even crossed my mind.
Then he said, “The bad news is that it’s going to take a couple of hours for the pain to subside.”
And it did. It took about 90 minutes for the pain to come down enough that I could remove the ice pack. The general rule is 10 minutes of ice, 10 minutes off, etc. The truth is that I could not bear the pain without ice. Ice saved the day because it 100 percent removed the pain and also gave me a cold bloody mary.
It took almost 24 hours for the “feeling” to dissipate. There were hours of numbness followed by hours of numbness/tingling followed by more hours of numbness followed by hours of feeling like I slammed my finger in a door.
Now for the fun part: Would you rather? (answers are in bold)
- get stung by a scorpion or bang your head on an open cabinet door
- get stung by a scorpion or have an eyelash caught under your contact lens for five hours
- get stung by a scorpion or fall off your bike and skin your knee
- get stung by a scorpion or break your toe by walking into your steel coffee table
- get stung by a scorpion or have a side stitch/side ache whilst running a 5k
- get stung by a scorpion or have to renew your driver’s license at the DMV
- get stung by a scorpion or have an ingrown toenail
- get stung by a scorpion or have a full-day hangover
- get stung by a scorpion or trip up a curb and fall on the sidewalk in front of four strangers whilst sober
Next: the differences between riding a camel and riding a horse.