Before you read this post, I want you to know that I promise to make the next one (after this one) very pleasant.
At Laguna Manuela, local fishermen drove by on the beach road from time to time, to and from Pancho’s fishing hut at the end of the point. One of the fishermen stopped to ask if we’d like to buy some lobsters. We bought seven small ones for 100 pesos which was about $18 at the time. After a wonderful dinner of chicken legs and lobster done on the barbecue, we felt that a walk was called for.
A trail led up the hill from the beach to the point where we had seen the Jesus statue a couple of days before. As I waited for Gary to join me, I noticed a black beetle in the sand. It had long legs and seemed intent on doing handstands. I found out later that they’re called stink beetles, and its actions were similar to that of a skunk. It raised its back end to release a noxious spray, as a defensive action.
The trail wound through thick, low patches of pink desert sand verbena that covered the hillside. We were once again amazed at how these flowers could thrive in such a dry climate. Dampness from the ocean must have gone a long way towards providing plants with needed moisture.
We were only about halfway up the hillside with Gary leading the way, when I stopped in my tracks and called his name.
“What?” He turned to look at me.
I pointed at the path between us and couldn’t catch my breath enough to talk. “There’s…thuh…th…”
“What? What’s the matter?”
I pointed and stammered, “There’s a …” Still, I couldn’t catch my breath enough to speak. I punctuated the air with my finger pointing to the ground.
“Oh, wow! Holy sh–!” he said.
“Tarantula!” I finally managed to spit out the word.
“Okay, calm down. It’s not going to hurt you. Sheesh! I thought you were having a heart attack,” he said.
“Well, I still might.” I took a couple of steps back. The spider hadn’t moved. “I think it must be dead.”
Gary found a stick on the ground. “I’ll just give it a nudge and we’ll see.”
I took two more steps back. As Gary carefully brought the stick in front of the spider, it reared up on several of its back legs, and stood up tall, its front legs waving in the air in boxing stance.
Gary leaped back, dropping the stick. “Holy smokes, he’s fast.”
I stood hugging myself tightly, and watched the tarantula run to the edge of the path.
“Well, come on,” Gary said.
“Easy for you to say. You’re past it already. How did you not step on it on the way up?”
“I didn’t even see it. But never mind. He’s off to the side now. You can come on through.”
I decided the only way to get past there to continue the hike up the path was to do a high jump and long jump combined. I put my long legs into action and made sure I leaped higher and farther than the legs of the spider could propel it. My eyes inspected every inch of ground for the rest of the walk searching for Olympic sized crawly things.
I must say it spoiled my enjoyment of the beautiful view from the top of the hill when I had to check the ground around my feet every few seconds. And the worst thing was, we still had to go back down the trail.
Fortunately, the spider had gone into hiding when we returned to the spot, and I scurried down the rest of the path in record time. Partway along was a pullout spot where a young couple and their two small children had just arrived in a van. They were setting up a tent.
I felt I should warn them. “You know there are tarantulas up there.”
“Yeah, we know,” their little boy piped up. “We saw their tracks in the sand.”
I didn’t think for one second that he was exaggerating. I’m sure our tarantula could have left deep drag marks wherever he went.
“Let’s go make a cup of tea,” Gary suggested.
“Sounds like a good idea.”
But later, when we sat drinking our tea, all I could think of was how that tarantula could easily straddle the saucer. And with a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, there’s a good chance it’s still up there waiting for my return visit.