A bug's life

by Willis Lambertson

This story is part of our 'Funniest hotel experiences' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition. Photo by Whappen.


The flight and subsequent taxi ride to Montezuma, Costa Rica were uneventful enough. No major delays. No lost luggage. No scary airline food. I had been looking forward to this trip to Costa Rica's Pacific coast for a while and planned on spending every day on the beach sipping frozen tropical rum concoctions to cure my winters blues.

February is a dastardly time in my hometown of Chicago as the snow falls frequently and the temperatures stay well-below freezing. It was an easy decision to spend my hard earned money in Costa Rica. Before making reservations I had pulled out a map of Central America, closed my eyes and laid my finger down. Montezuma. My choice of lodging was the environmentally friendly Hotel Luna Llena, an earnestly operated establishment within walking distance of the sea, sun and sand. The grounds were kept in a natural state and various critters were said to roam freely nearby. I thought it would be quaint. How wrong.

I had a late night encounter with a spotted skunk. Monkeys hurled partially devoured fruit and feces at me as I came and left the hotel almost everyday. Large iguana-like lizards kept me awake as they scampered across my roof. The common kitchen areas were plagued by rats and agoutis. Fortunately, these small animals were terribly shy and would run off at the sound of my approach.

Then, there were the insects. Termites. Ants. Mosquitos. More biting and stinging six-legged creepy crawlies than I could ever want. The netting over my bed only protected me marginally. I was being eaten alive. The shared bathrooms consisted of spider infested toilets that did not accept paper products. There was a single shower with warm water and it was haunted by butterflies, preying mantis and geckos. The rooms were tastefully decorated although small and there were no air conditioners. I had traded the frozen confines of Illinois for a literal steam bath in the tropics.

My choice of hotel was naive. Environmentally friendly accommodations seemed to mean a lack of amenities. I started craving the in-room mini-fridge, personal coffee makers and trial sized shampoo bottles that are found in even basic hotels. I wanted room service. I wanted cable television. I had stayed in hostels in Germany, yurts in Colorado and bungalows in Asia but this eco-resort was a challenge unlike the rest. I contemplated leaving early. Most other guests stayed for only an evening or two before checking out. Time moved slowly. I lost track of the days.

My endless vacation was a futile battle with Mother Nature. Everytime I escaped one denizen, another would appear. The animals had the upper hand. With one day remaining, I felt exhausted and cried from fatigue. The hotel had taken my money, the living forest had taken my sanity and the climate had drained me of rest and relaxation. I guess it could have been worse - there could have been snakes.

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