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Kayaks and Spider Bites

Destination: Drake Bay

Today was a fairly mellow day. I woke up with sore calves from all the hiking I had done in the past week, but had plans to push through the pain. I was going to kayak up the Agujitas River and around Drake Bay, and then hike the trail behind Aguila de Osa Inn.

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The dock manager chose a suitable single kayak, and let me know that another couple had left just a half an hour earlier -- if I hurried, I could probably catch up with them.

As I paddled out, the large crocodile from yesterday surfaced a mere 20 feet away. Hesitantly, I paddled back to the dock where a number of teenage boys were playing and jumping into the river. "Don't worry about him," they said, "He's just a baby. The big ones live along the Rio Claro. You want to stay away from there." I told them if that was a small crocodile, then I don't ever want to see a big one. A little more than half convinced that I wouldn't be devoured whole, I continued along the river looking for the other kayakers. If they had made it, I could as well.

About ten minutes later, a branch fell into the water a few yards ahead, and I looked up to find a family of friendly squirrel monkeys socializing in the treetops. Two red kayaks were beached along a steep cliff, but the occupants were nowhere in sight. The rocks were too steep to climb, so the kayakers must have lost their minds and gone for a swim in the murky, brackish waters. Preparing myself for a rescue mission, I rounded the next bend and heard talking and laughing. There was the newlywed couple in a double kayak, splashing about underneath a small waterfall. Together, we returned to the hotel.

After putting away my kayak, I saw an animal out of the corner of my eye at the trail head to Cocalito beach. Coco, the hotel's dog, saw it as well -- and the two of us raced to have a look. Not surprisingly, Coco arrived first, consequently scaring the mysterious animal away.

I was fairly confident that it was a monkey or a coatimundi. Still barefoot, I turned around to return to the inn. Just then, I felt a sharp pain in my left foot that lingered longer than a normal mosquito bite. I tried to walk it off, but when I looked down, the second toe from the right had become inflamed and swollen. I went back to the room to apply Neosporin, and there I saw the two red dots indicating a spider bite.

My toe would no longer fit in my shoe, so I took a Benadryl. I managed to stumble through one quarter of the hotel's hiking trail in sandals before giving up and returning to the room for a nap. I had seen a frog, a beautiful old shed, and some stunning orchids -- but that was about it. By the time I awoke, the swelling had gone down, leaving a nice set of red fang marks. At dinner I was able to show off my new battle scars, and the other guests were highly impressed.

I played a round of cards with my kayaking buddies, and introduced myself to the newest guests at the inn. Interestingly enough, five out of six couples were newlyweds; four of them had been married on the exact same day but in different locations. All were honeymooning at the same little lodge in Costa Rica. I traded email addresses with my new friends and went to bed, groggy from the allergy medication and ready to depart for Puerto Jimenez in the morning -- or so I thought.

Kayaks and Spider Bites in Pictures

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