Growing up, just before I went to sleep my Dad would often whisper “don’t let the bed bugs bite.” At some point along the way I started to silently wonder about this. A once soothing reassurance suddenly kept me up at night. Was he being silly? What would actually happen if a bed bug DID bite me and…how exactly does one know which beds have bugs?
After a day in San Jose, Costa Rica, we were picked up by our guide, Maria, and began our journey towards Arenal. Our ultimate destination was the Hotel Montana de Fuego and Volcano. However, it’s a long drive on Costa Rican highways from the La Paz Waterfall so our tour company booked us a stop at a local eco-friendly resort named Sueño Azul for the night.
Getting to Sueño Azul is bit of an adventure all on its own. After lots of highway miles, it turned into a scene out of a bad Hollywood horror movie. As in any of these plots, it starts out all well and good. Then before you know it, the roads narrow and begin winding like a snake. Just when you think you’re safe, your van crosses a “bridge” that consists of two twelve-foot planks suspended across a river. We were sure the planks would snap under the weight of the vehicle, but made it to land.
We dropped off our things in a clean room that I’d describe as minimalist meets muted. We then spent the afternoon taking yoga with an instructor who seemed to me could have been hallucinating on some seriously mind-altering substances. I can’t recall if the class was any good, but it was memorable. After yoga, we showered and changed for dinner with the other guests that was served in front of a massive fire. After some chit-chat we headed to bed. The Yooner was in bed already nodding off when I emerged from the bathroom, so I grabbed a magazine.
As I was about to jump in, I thought: “Wouldn’t it suck if my bed was infested bugs?” I’m not kidding. That exact thought went through my head. Then as I turned down the blanket I just happened to see a small bug. When I turned the blanket down more I saw, in the middle of the bed, a swarming colony of shiny, squirmy bugs. All over my bed.
I’m not one to scream. In this instance though, my brain decided to make an exception. After politely awaking Yooner by my cursing, we quickly surmised after running around each other in circles that the rooms didn’t have telephones. On our walk to the front desk for bug spray, we calmed ourselves down, took deep breaths and did our best to shake it off and find our backbones. No big deal.
What seemed like the most logical, and least embarrassing course of action in fact turned into a three-hour odyssey. First, woman at the front desk had no idea what I was requesting (yet again, I should have paid more attention in my high school Spanish class). We all agreed there were bugs in my bed. But after that, the only phrase I knew that seemed to fit the situation was, “Oy, Dios Mio!” After an hour of this, the night guard passed by. He came to investigate the room and after significant pleading, agreed to spray bomb our sleeping arrangements.
He mentioned it might smell. If I had known just how bad it would be, I would have opted to just sleep outside on our patio. The smoke was everywhere and so thick. On top of that was this horrible chemical smell. As you inhaled, you could almost feel the crap searing your esophagus. It took an hour for him to spray the room and another two hours for the smell to dissipate enough that we felt like we wouldn’t choke to death while sleeping.
Fast forward to the next morning and Yooner, of course, thought the entire thing was hilarious. Somewhat odd, considering the nightmarish horror she considers butterflies to be. But bugs in a bed made her laugh hard enough to spill coffee all over while retelling our adventures to Maria. She giggled and smiled as if knowing something we did not.
Later in the day we stopped at La Selva Biology Station for a walk. There, Maria’s all knowing smile reappeared as she identified what was really in the bed.
Although termites aren’t the bed bugs my Dad was referring to, the fact is beds must be bug free. Since this adventure I always fold my blanket ALL THE WAY down to check for bugs when I’m traveling. Maybe it’s a good habit. Maybe it’s deep emotional scarring. Either way, I also check under my pillow because after this experience, I never want it to happen again.