“It’s the wrong Alice!” screeched the dormouse to Hatter. I say it’s the wrong R & R! It’s supposed to be rest and relaxation, not this!
The first day at the beach house, as I swept the tile floor in preparation for occupying, I did notice a variety of flotsam and jetsam, including the rodent pellets. So, what if there were a couple of mice running around? That didn’t bother me so much. Compared to the array of bats, geckos, beetles, moths, and a whole host of others, a few mice were no big deal. I was more interested in where I would hang the whole suitcase of sheers I schlepped down from the U.S. Plus, we had the killer dogs who were now allowed in the house. Turns out, unlike cats, those two couldn’t care less about rodents.
Don and I were so enthralled with the whole living-on-the-beach thing we just put up with the issues. It wasn’t until the droppings became more prevalent, showing up in bothersome places such as the kitchen counter, in the pots and pans and on the dishes themselves. Ick! I had brought some mouse-traps along when we moved from the U.S and pulled them out. Don laughed: “Honey, judging from the size of the pellets, those aren’t gonna cut it.”
That evening as we sat in the living room doing the ritual perusing of Netflix looking for a mutually agreeable movie, something caught my eye. I snapped my head toward the flurry of movement and there it was; the rat. He scurried across the floor and disappeared into a hole in the ceiling. The rat headquarters was located in the guest room. It’s one thing to see the droppings, but once you’ve actually seen the rat, it changes everything.
So, off we went to the feed store in Parrita.
We bought poison pellets the “ratas” eat, get thirsty, go find water, and die outside. That’s the theory; they die anywhere they darn well please. We spotted the first one while sipping sunset cocktails with a friend who had been living in Esterillos for a year. She is a sophisticated professional from Texas, newly divorced, off on a Costa Rican adventure with a handsome adventurous “kill ‘em and eat ‘em” type who knew how to live off the land, dig for yummy clams in the high tide, and turn foreign looking fruit into gourmet delights. As we were sipping our Umbrella drinks on the patio, she looked up at the window ledge and said: “Oh, look, there’s a little animal just sitting on your window ledge.” Her companion grabbed a broom handle, poked it and plunk! There was our first dead rat. Mr. Nature-Dude said: Rat? You call that a rat? That ain’t a rat. That little thing? Shee-it. I’ve seen some rats the size of cats. That ain’t nuthin’ to worry about!”
Well, it was enough for me, and his girlfriend. Our lips curled, noses crinkled and I said “eeeeuuwww”! Then I realized I should be happy; the poison was working. We would soon be rat-free! We all know there’s never just one rat. How many dead rats would we find? And where? My answer came at 3:00 in the morning.
I woke up to make a quick bathroom run. As usual, I didn’t turn on the light so as not to disturb Don or the sleeping killer dogs stretched out at the foot of the bed. There was just enough light to get me to the bathroom and from there I could feel my way. I had done this many times, so I knew exactly where the bath mat was, the toilet paper, the sink, soap and towels. We were not in the habit of leaving piles of clothing on the floors due to scorpions. So when I stepped on something that felt like a skinny rope on the tile, I was jolted awake. I flipped on the light and there it was! A big fat rat with my foot on its disgusting rat tail. I screeched the girly girl shriek. Those of you who remember when Matt used to scare me at the office know the blood-curdling scream. Nobody came. Not Don. Not the killer dogs. Nobody. I’m surprised the rat didn’t jump up from the vibrations. Now that the light was on, I could see two more dead ones in the shower. I was sure it was going to start raining rats. I had visions of dead rats falling from the rafters, onto the bed while we were sleeping. There would be no more sleep that night!
And this from the mom who cuddled the kids’ pet rat and let it crawl around on her neck while Pygmy, the Great Dane, danced around sniffing to see what critter mom was hiding under her shoulder-length hair. Somehow, that was fun; this was not.
That morning we sent a dead rat photo to the landlady. She suggested we get a cat. We suggested this was grounds for breaking our lease.
We had gotten an offer to house-sit a newer, cleaner house three doors down the beach. The two old ladies that own that house come four months out of each year during the “High” season, January through April. They sit on the porch chain smoking for four months sitting sentinel, go back to Canada for eight, find somebody to stay in the house during the off (rainy) season. We had stepped into a scene from “Arsenic and Old Lace” and didn’t even know it!
To be continued…