Biodiversity Bites- JAN 31, 2017
Your Lead Paragrpah goes here
“Nature red in tooth and claw.” Tennyson
If you’re a nature lover, you know that in Costa Rica the numbers are impressive. It is cool living in a country that has 4% of the world’s biodiversity crammed into .03% of the available land area. That is, until you find it in bed with you.
OK, I’ll admit, my personal encounters with biodiversity between the sheets have been few and mostly decades in the past. But there are still occasions, usually at night, when my cabina in the forest feels like a scene out of “Where the Wild Things Are.”
The wild rumpus really gets going in the kitchen. For a solid year there was some kind of feline that was getting in and helping itself to whatever was left on the stove. I never actually saw it, just a blur in the corner as it went straight up a wall, under some loose roofing, over the balcony and back into the darkness of the forest.
Less dramatic is the nightly feasting on Purina Cat Chow by a group of toads who’ve effectively zeroed in on the neighborhood smorgasbord. Friends face a similar nightly routine with a couple of skunks that find the kitty door is hardly a hindrance.
It goes without saying that flying creatures have a slight advantage, i.e wings, which sometimes seem more suited to entries than exits. Since I live sort of ‘al fresco’, doors and windows open most of the time, ‘catch and release’ is the order of the day with birds, colorful butterflies, beetles and moths. For some reason bats seem able to radar their way in and out with nary a navigational glitch. The downside is that the furry little critters have settled on a certain spot high up in my bedroom for their mid-day siestas in the dry season. It would come as no surprise to know that any number of visitors to my forest bungalow have walked away muttering “bats in the belfry,” in the fullest sense of the expression.
Most likely, living in a 5th floor condo, surrounded by glass and with the air conditioning humming day and night would probably filter out most of the unwanted guests. But seriously, for those whose dwellings are ground floor or near any natural areas with a minimum of vegetation, you might as well get used to things that go bump in the night.
One friend insisted that real estate sales should come with a disclaimer: “Not responsible for close encounters of the biodiverse kind.” (Genera and species to be included in fine print.)
Fine print was in scarce supply last year when headlines blared out the story of crocodile attacks near the estuary or featured videos of them crossing the road. In Paraiso, a friend Jesenia has them lolling in her yard as soon as the river starts running steadily. There’s a world of difference between admiring animals on National Geographic and waking up to find your watchdog missing without a trace.
My heart goes out to those who simply bit off more than they can chew in moving here. Seriously now, I’ve seen people throw out their backs when an unidentified flying object gets too close for comfort. Heard the high pitched whine of an industrial vacuum at midnight trying to suck up the endless numbers of army ants stoically marching into a house with the determination of a horde of kamikazes. One family started packing the minute they found ants in the sugar bowl for the umpteenth time.
As I said above, the numbers paint the picture. Along with the other critters, we’re sharing the country with more than ten thousand species of beetles alone. The fact of the matter is, if you’re gonna’ live in the land of Pura Vida, might as well get used to there being a lot of ‘Vida.’