The Tarantula Incident

Arachnophobic friends – beware.

Rob and I went to bed in the guest house at Finca Lluvias de Gloria de Ermida (Gloria of Ermida’s Cloudfarm) with food in our bellies and excitement for the next day of adventuring.

Early in the morning, however, I awoke to a strange sensation on my chest, which could only be described as creepy-crawly-eahhhhhhh.

I quickly sprung out of bed and swept whatever it was off of me while rushing toward the light switch. Rob, having no idea what was going on, just kept saying “what?! – what?!” I stood up, turned on the lights, and there it was: a tarantula, just chillin’ on top of the covers of our bed, where Rob was still laying.

He quickly took over the “sh*t-losing”, using the covers to fling the tarantula off the bed and onto the ground.

Mr. Tarantula, realizing that his cozy spot on my body was no longer available but apparently unaware that we were terrified of him, proceeded to slowly wander around the guest house looking for a new resting place. Now wide awake with no chance of ever sleeping again, we watched him saunter about, moving to the opposite side of the room with each change in position. We took turns keeping watch while one of us went to the bathroom or got something from the refrigerator.

In our newly alert state, we began to see the guest house in a new light: the large gaps between the doors and the floor, the thin openings in the ceiling, the proximity to heavy forest and creature-housing plants, and the isolation of being in pitch darkness with no real ability to leave.

What once seemed romantic and exotic now seemed vulnerable and ominous, and our two-night stay quickly was cut short. I drafted an apologetic and explanatory letter to our gracious host as we prepared to leave the finca at sunrise, Google-translating words like “freaked out” as I attempted to explain our Minnesotan unfamiliarity with giant spiders.

When I tell this story to fellow foreigners, they react with a similar “WHAT?!” to what Rob and I experienced in the moment. When explained to Ticos, however, I got an underwhelmed and familiar “ah, si.” In Costa Rica, tarantulas are known as gentle, harmless, and fuzzy creatures who would only hurt you “if you sit on them or something.” Very reassuring.

I guess when you live in a place as bio-diverse as Costa Rica, your tolerance for creepy-crawliness goes way up since you have to watch out for creatures way more likely to kill you than tarantulas (case in point: the Fer-de-Lance snake, which is known for attacking first). Part of me wishes I was born with this type of thick skin, but it’s kind of nice to be able to put my shoes on every day without first looking inside them, ya know?