Did you know living in Paradise has a downside?

Tourists tend to focus on having fun. If they move to Paradise permanently, reality will smack them in the face or other body parts with gleeful gusto. Disillusionment often follows, which can become an expensive shock.

Visiting a place rarely gives the full picture of the daily nitty-gritty of life the locals deal with behind the entertainment veneer. Tourists focus on enjoying the food, fun, and exotic side of a place. They rarely notice the folks who make pleasant experience possible. The background drama only comes to light when you try to put down roots.

Even fun-seeking tourists will quickly feel the vicious bite of the tiniest natives, the insatiable insects. It may be our imagination, but the rainy season seems to make the little buggers bolder. They strike fast and often, licking their chops in anticipation as they attack.

Many experiences here are multilayered. For example, one would assume a walk on the beach is an elemental communion with the waves, the mountains in the distance, and the sand beneath our feet while our thoughts meander through the labyrinths of our minds.

Fact is walking on the beach requires adaptability to the uneven terrain. It takes practice to successfully navigate over the sand, rocks, and crunchy combination of crushed rocks and shells. It is easy to runway model walk or power walk on hard-packed sand, but large rocks call for a different gait. Step with caution or you may step on a buried Pochote thorn or stub a toe.

The trickiest to navigate is the crushed seashell and tiny rock combination. Following the example of some locals, duck walking is the most effective method. It is neither aesthetically pleasing nor comfortable. The discomfort stems from the fact that all those tiny pieces get in the sandals and hurt this gringa’s tender tootsies.

Are you wondering why she does not kick off the sandals and walk barefoot? The answer is twofold. The first being she has tender feet and does not want to hop along the beach, screaming like a little girl. The second has to do with parasites. Walking barefoot invites unwanted organisms that become unpleasant post-vacation companions. Parasite treatments are probably in the future of many barefooting tourists.

Getting back to the ever-present chomping insects, a consequence of this writer’s daily beach walks are huge bites on the back of the legs, arms and any other exposed body part. Bare areas attract the sand flies like exposed necks do at a vampire convention.

The backs of this lady’s legs are a canvas of bloody bite. Not only are the bites unsightly, they itch. Thanks to a kind fellow bite sufferer, we learned of a three-pronged approach which makes the bug-inflicted battle scars tolerable.

Step one is a roll-on temporary itch relief. The downside of the roll-on is the smell which can be problematic when one gets a bug bite behind the ear. We call it Eau de Insect Repellant. Dabbing this scent behind the ears is not recommended before a big date.

Step two is an allergy cream consisting of, among other ingredients, calamine lotion and antihistamine. Step three is an antibiotic ointment. All of the steps are a temporary fix because each walk results in more and fresher bites. Until this body returns home and the bites have a chance to heal, bug battle scars are our new norm.

Living in Costa Rica seems idyllic but presents unique challenges. If something breaks, you cannot drive to a nearby big box store for supplies. In other words, convenience, haste, and nearby are unknown terms here.

Road conditions in many places include two, three or more feet deep crevasses and generally a rough terrain of lumpy bedrock and mini boulders. This lady nicknamed the roads Cha Cha

Cha Roads. Your vehicle and your body execute a shimmy shuffle during any given drive. At other times, hold on for dear life and endure.

Unless you want the bottom ripped out, do not bring your BMW sports car. Four-wheel drive works best.                  

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