There's a chain of electronics stores in Central America called El Gallo Más Gallo. Literally translated, this means "the rooster most rooster." More accurately, it's something like "the most macho rooster," because the word for rooster ("gallo") is also used to mean "tough."
One of my concerns before heading down here was the realization that in hot climates like the ones I have been and will continue to be visiting, scorpions are known to pop up from time to time. Most just give a really painful sting--though I've also heard of it giving people a metallic taste in their mouths for a few days, or giving them partial numbness. Occasionally, if not frequently, the stings can be fatal, especially if you turn out to be allergic to them.
I have no idea if I'm allergic to scorpion stings, but I was endowed by my creator(s) with a fairly acute sense of my own mortality. It's not so much that I'm afraid of death as that I would really greatly prefer to continue living. I'm only a month into this adventure, and there's a whole lot more that I want to see.
So, heading into this trip, I anticipated that I would likely experience my first face-to-exoskeleton encounter with a scorpion in the wild. And I truly had no idea whether I would stay calm and deal with it, or scream like Ned Flanders and run away. Score one for my animal instincts.
Last night, while packing up to leave Quepos (and subsequently, Costa Rica), I was pulling my shirts out of the dresser. To my surprise, I picked up my black cotton tee to reveal the friendly fellow pictured above, probably about three inches head-to-stinger. I should add that, although I had prepared myself for the probability that this trip would include a scorpion, I had not encountered one yet, and had in fact been told by my host family that they had never had one in the house in the many years they'd lived there. So this wasn't one of those "I should be careful in case there are scorpions" moments (of which I've had many). This was a "holy shit, that's a scorpion!" moment. My only immediate reaction was to say "whoah!" a little loudly--though fortunately not loud enough to wake Doña Haydee or Don Victor.
So, I looked at the little bastard, and thought for a moment. And I realized, well, obviously I need to kill it. But first, I totally have to take a picture. So, the last thing little Scorpius saw was a flash bulb immediately followed by a hiking shoe--a shoe guided by my swift right hand of justice. He squirmed after the first attempt (again, I didn't want to wake my hosts), so I gave him another shot.
I have to say, I'm not accustomed to killing a type of insect big enough to completely retain its shape after it meets its demise, so I stared at it good and long to see if it would move again. When it did not, I scooped it onto the sole of my shoe and flushed it down the toilet.
As you would expect, I spent the rest of my night shaking out every piece of clothing and luggage I had. I did not encounter any of his friends, although I did find several pieces of exoskeleton that he had shed in one of my luggage cubes (including an earlier version of his stinger).
We're not really sure where he came from. The best guess is that he snuck into my backpack somewhere and found his way into my luggage. He was there long enough to molt and grow a new exoskeleton, so it's hard to say when it would have happened. At any rate, I have by no means won the war. But today I hold my head high having won the first battle. Gallo Más Gallo, meet Guy-O Más Gallo.