Invasive Species

Legends and guidebooks warn about large predators and deadly snakes.  But people who live and work in the jungle know what most to watch out for.  They tend to be these three following species.  Note that none of them are native to Costa Rica

By far, the most dangerous animal in the jungle is the tourist with a machete.  Machetes are very common here, and most people grow up with a long knife practically growing out of their arm.  Everyone from little kids to veteran trailblazers can open a coconut and sever a tree with a good chop.  Foreigners come, and see this as people playing with swords.  Give a tourist a machete, and all of a sudden in his mind he becomes Indiana Fucking Jones or something and will proceed to cut everything tensile in sight.  He is now a menace to himself and those around him.  Prevention is key.  Deal with this early by keeping machetes in the hands of professionals.  Once an idiot has the machete, you have lost all bargaining power.

One of the most aggravating animals is the elderly expat hippie.  This is someone, usually American, who traveled down in college to have a tropical vacation and woke up one day to find he was still there and the 70’s were over.  For the last forty-odd years he has been surfing, smoking grass, and bumming around coastal bars, making just enough money to stay buzzed and under the radar of immigration law.  He may even run his own hostel or restaurant that caters to English speaking Spring-breaker types.  Avoid these places at all cost.  Population density is highest along the Caribbean coast.  Preferred prey is female college graduate.  Easily recognizable by characteristic dreadlocks.  Similar species: native Tico beach bum (harmless).

But the animal the local guides fear the most is the professional photographer.  A single one of these in a group has the potential to ruin the tour for everybody.  This is the one who holds everybody up to get the perfect picture, switching cameras out of bags and swapping lenses.  He may wait to get the light just…right.  Sometimes he has to set up and balance a tripod, or change batteries mid-tour.  God help you all if the animal runs away before he gets a shot.  Should this happen, make sure the guide insists that no, the bird will not be returning to the perch and we should keep moving rather than sit and wait for it to do so.  If he wants to take—heaven forbid—a video of a trail of leafcutter ants, tell him that he can probably do so outside his hotel room, the ants are common, they will be here tomorrow, now would he please get his ass in gear we’re losing daylight.

Forget venomous snakes.  That’s the travel advice people need.

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