Four a.m. is early, even for me, but that’s the time my body chooses to be awake in the tropics. If there’s a good reason – hiking, turtle nesting or avoiding San Jose traffic for examples – Sue will get up too, but otherwise I’m on my own.
My favorite thing to do when there’s a big moon or a wide beach is to walk around in the dark for an hour or so until the first hint of light breaks appears on the horizon around five and the sun comes up half an hour later.
If it’s too dark I sometimes use a headlamp, but otherwise I start the coffee and review photos and videos from the previous days travel or write and edit for a couple of hours until the normal people start waking up and breakfast is served.
This morning I’m at a house in Ojochal high on a ridge above the Terraba estuary. It’s four thirty and that first hint of light is only a few minutes away. When I started to make the coffee half an hour ago it was pitch black dark so I took advantage of the modern convenience of electricity and turned on a light.
The kitchen is open to the surrounding rainforest and almost immediately a bee the size of a kumquat bee flew in. It was alternately battering itself senseless against the light and angrily cruising around the terrace looking for something to take it’s frustration out on.
After ducking and dodging a few times while getting the coffee into the filter and water into the receptacle I switched off the light. I’m pretty comfortable with bugs, even the stinging ones, but this was a really big bee so I was happy to release it from the lure of the light back into the trees.
Unfortunately I misjudged the bug’s persistence and when I settled into my chair with a big cup of coffee and flipped open my laptop it made a beeline (as bees will sometimes do) straight for the led back-lit screen.
I made a run for cover madly waving my arms around my head figuring I had a fifty-fifty chance to bat the thing in the face instead of the stinger end.
I had to wait for the sun to brighten the scene enough that the bee gave up bashing against the computer screen and I could recover it and the coffee cup from the planter where I’d dropped them when I ran for cover.
Note to self
When designing a super chic open air, poolside kitchen on the terrace with a sunset view over the Pacific don’t forget about the flying insects…
The bee was a bit bigger than a headlight bug in the video. Headlight bugs are way more fun – common in southern Costa Rica and often attracted to dim lights at campsites. They’re harmless and easy to catch. When Ryan presses it against his wrist and says “umm-hmm” he’s feeling the popping that the beetle makes by arcing its body quickly to try to flip itself away from predators.