It was a dark, blustery night in Monteverde. Rebecca, Megan and I were snuggled up in our bright Costa Rican comforters talking and reminiscing quietly as we listened to the menacing mountain wind whip around our small cabin. Warm and content, our girlish chatter distracted us from the ominous weather outside.
In the middle of describing a particularly rosy memory, Megan suddenly squealed in pain. "Something bit me! Something bit me twice!" She jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom to nurse her throbbing, but barely visible wound. Rebecca and I laid rather unfazed in bed. I, for one, was convinced it was nothing more than a small jungle spider.
Megan walked out of the bathroom and began peeling back the blankets on her bed, searching for the guilty insect. "Hmmm. That thing looks like a squished raisin." She pointed at a bug lying still on her sheet and leaned in for a closer look. "Um, actually I think that is a scorpion" Megan stated calmly, as she watched it crawl toward her pillow.
"Impossible." I replied in my most confident, know-it-all voice. "No scorpion could survive in this climate." Right? Aren't scorpions notorious for hanging out in the desert? Has anyone ever seen National Geographic feature a mountain/jungle scorpion? I think not.
While Megan tried to get a better look at the feisty jungle creature, I laid in bed, calm and confident, my years of watching Oregon Public Broadcasting giving me unwavering peace of mind.
"It is a scorpion," Megan said quietly, interrupting the video I was playing in my head of a large orange scorpion scuttling across a sandy desert. Instinctively, Rebecca and I jumped up on the bed. Speechless,we stared in dismay at the little culprit.
I stood there waiting for my mind to kick into emergency situation mode and hastily form a plan of attack. Instead, I felt my lips forming a string of monosyllabic gibberish. "Ooooh. Uuuummmm. Ahhhh." I desperately looked at Rebecca, and then back at the "squashed raisin" as it pranced across Megan's bed, its venomous tail swaying arrogantly.
Megan picked up a very small drinking glass, apparently with valiant intentions of using it to capture the dangerous creature. Her movement interrupted my train of nonsensical babbling and my body snapped into action, with my mind trailing far behind as I tried to figure out what was my body was doing.
I jumped off my bed, ran out the door into the torrential downpour and heard myself shout, "Don't touch the scorpion. Just leave it!" As I sprinted down the slippery, wet stone walkway toward the main lodge, I tried to block visions of Megan's poor body going into shock from the scorpion's deadly sting.
Breathless, I burst through the front door of the lobby and began pounding on the office door. "Hello?!!! Hello?!!!" No answer. I ran up the stairs to the darkened cafeteria. No one was in sight. I ran back outside and began turning in circles, surveying the cabins surrounding the main lodge.
My eyes rested on a large, lit cabin to the left of the main lodge. Perhaps the lodge owners lived in this cabin. I ran up and knocked on the door. A wiry older man answered the door and looked at me expectantly. Skipping all formalities I burst out, "My friend got bit by a scorpion and I don't know what to do. It's still in her bed. Do you know where I could find a security guard?" He stared at me blankly. I immediately recognized the look in his eyes. He didn't have a clue what I was saying. I switched over to Spanish but his blank look persisted. Then he interrupted me with broken Spanish. "El Senor," he said, motioning to the back of the house.
He walked to the base of the stairs and began yelling in French. A young man in his late twenties came running down the stairs, a mop of longish dark hair spilling over his forehead. Wide-eyed, he rushed to the door and with a thick French accent asked, "What is zee problem?".
To be continued in part II of The Valiant French Canadian.