A snake encounter in Costa Rica


I woke up to Jonah's voice, groggy, bleary-eyed and confused because contrary to every other morning, he was not singing and dancing to ___, our 6:00am alarm for the last couple of weeks, that morning it was shouting, and it was 5:00am. 

"Elliot, Josh; there's a snake in the bathroom!"

We both jumped up and were almost immediately standing, in our pajamas, at the stairs staring with our sleepy eyes at a small grey-brown shape, curled up in a spiral. A sliver of a tongue was released, and a faint hiss could just be heard. 

I thought to get my wildlife identification sheet, and back beside my bed, I fumbled through my bags as the first cracks of a new day started to seep through the forest and into our mesh windows. They gave just enough light so that I wouldn't have to use my torch. After a few minutes of frantic fumbling I felt the slippery-slidey paper-thin feel of the laminated identification sheet. 

After I flipped it to the Serpientes page, all three of our eyes switched between the snakes on the sheet and the snake about 5m in front of us, staring us down. At first I was sure it was the "False Fer-de-lance", a non-venomous snake which was basically harmless. We all breathed a sigh of relief. The logic cogs in brain suddenly kicked in, and realised that if there is a False Fer-de-lance, there has to be a true fer-de-lance. My eyes traveled downwards on the laminated sheet, and there it was. 

Fer-de-lance: Highly venomous. 

Jonah, Josh and I all took a step back. Our guide had told us a few days earlier that if bitten, you had 3 hours to get to the hospital if you wanted to live and it is Costa Rica's deadliest snake. 

Our guide helped us to bring our reptilian friend back into the rainforest  safely, and I was almost sad to see him or her slither away into the unknown.

Other animals featured in that days adventures included Basilisk Lizards running across a river, tent bats sleeping peacefully upside-down, pelicans bobbing on the waves, dolphins leaping above the surface, and sea turtles gliding below the surface.