From The Publisher

December 28, 2015 Edition

I’m Baaaaack! Did you miss me? Well, I missed you. I took a break from writing this column because I just got tired. What can I say. I ran out of ideas, ran out of steam, I ran out of  motivation and I just abandoned ship. I’m soooo sorry. I won’t say it won’t happen again, let’s just plough on from here and see how long I can hang.

I was inspired by our book report this issue. To me they will always be book reports, not book reviews, because, well, didn’t we call them book reports back when we had to read a book and write about it? Did your 5th grade teacher call your gems you cribbed out of Cliff Notes your review? No, she called it your report. So reports they will always be to me. Our book report girl, Jeanine Perez, owns a book store in Loreto, so she just grabs a book off her shelves, and reads and writes about it while she’s waiting for book buyers. This issue she sent us a book report on reptiles, not everyone’s cup of tea.

Reptiles and I have always had a bit of a dicey relationship. Growing up in Oregon we had our share of snakes, no lizards, but plenty of slugs. I mean plenty of those ghastly creepies. I just looked up slug and it seems they are actually  “terrestrial mollusks”.  Well, they should be kept in the same sealed up bucket as reptiles, because they are equally distasteful as far as I’m concerned.

As a little girl, it was my job to go out at dusk and pour salt on any slugs I could find. This operation did nothing to enhance their horrible appearance, not to mention the impact on their health. It’s as if they took some kind of preverse pride in how ugly they were and decided to leave this world in an orgy of ugliness, curling up, showing their wretched underbelly, and secreting more of a slimy mess that would make a runny booger win a beauty contest.  Obviously, the state of Oregon is not scouting me to run their chamber of commerce. Everything else Oregon is fine. Go Ducks!

Back to snakes. Living in Costa Rica is like running with the big dogs, snake wise. They have world class and seriously harmful snakes there, you can never allow yourself to run through a meadow with abandon. Hell, you can’t even run down a road with abandon. And, it turns out, you can’t even wash your clothes in your own garage with abandon.

One afternoon I was loading the washing machine in the garage when I heard the ceiling above me go creak. You know, like ceilings do when someone is walking on the top side of them. Well, I look up and there is the biggest damn snake I ever saw, precariously balancing on the rafters right over my head! One careless move by this monster and he would fall right down on top of me, which would probably mean lights out for me just by his weight alone, if not by him sinking his teeth into me. Or maybe I would leave this world by his wrapping around me and squeezing the precious life out of me. I ran out of the garage like it was on fire, which, if it were not attached to the house, I might have lit up to get rid of the thing.

I stood out on the street, way out, until Dick came home to do the manly thing with it, whatever that would be. But he gingerly peeked inside, took one look at it, and tore out of there as if he himself was on fire.

So we decided to wait until our Costa Rican housekeeper came by the next day. Surely she would know what to do. Nope. When we described the offending snake to her, she ran out of the house like she was on fire.

So we went to the neighbors’ house to ask for advise. He tells us the snake is no doubt long gone, departing at evening time when it became cooler outside. Then he pulls out a book, like our book reporter describes in this issue. It’s full of mug shots of snakes, all likely suspects, according to him. But I did not make a good witness to this snake caper because all I had seen was his white belly and it turns out that many snakes have white bellies. Who knew? We never learned what this particular guy’s, (or gal’s) name was and that’s just fine, I didn’t want to renew the acquaintance. Neither of us was ever quite comfortable in that garage again, it was like it was now haunted.

Another time we were driving to the beach when we saw a dead snake on the road, a pretty big one, not of epic proportions like the garage monster, but good size. A 10 footer anyway. And fat. On the way home from the beach, all that was left was some bones. Not even skin! Yes, snakes have bones, who knew that snake fact? Here’s my question: What kind of animal could have devoured all that snake meat in a few hours? I don’t think I want to know.

So that’s my reptile stories, sorry they aren’t more festive in keeping with the season.

Wait! Turtles are reptiles, no? I have a rather disturbing turtle story to add.

I built a pond in my backyard, renting a Bobtail to dig it, lining it, installing a pump to get the water to the top of my cool waterfall, the whole works. This pond was the focal point of my yard. Then I picked out some beautiful colored fish and just to round things out, in the interest in biodiverstity, I bought a nice turtle imaginatively named Tommy.

Soon, I was losing fish. I couldn’t figure out where my pretty fish were going. It was a closed system, it’s not like they could swim away. I never found any fish floating tits up either.

When I ran this by my fish store clerk, I was told that turtles eat fish!! I still get chills thinking that one of my precious critters would eat another of my precious critters. I had created this wonderful environment, I made sure none of my babies ever went hungry, even reading up on their dietary preferences. I never read anything about turtles eating flesh and blood fish, let alone flesh and blood of their own family. It was very disillusioning and I was very sad. When I took Tommy back to the store, It was suggested that maybe I wasn’t tough enough to create and maintain a nice home for wild critters. Well, why should it take toughness? Why can’t we all get along?

That’s probably what the slugs I poured salt on were thinking all those years ago in the Oregon twilight. Yes, now that I think about it, they heeled over, looked up at me and asked with their pleading eyes, “why can’t we all get along?” But my eyes were squinted shut against the ugliness of their death throes and I didn’t learn that lesson. Maybe the pet shop owner was right, I’m not tough enough to participate in the wild kingdom. ,