Becoming Feral


The first time we took Camille on a primitive camping trip, she was 5 years old. We were with our friends the Gaddys, and had just pitched our tents in the piney woods of Hunting Island, South Carolina. It’s a lovely island with no development other than the campground, education center and lighthouse.

hunting-camilleAs we set up camp, Camille approached and said, “Mama, I need to go potty.” So I introduced her to the concept of peeing in the woods.

At first, she was shocked and disgusted. “You want me to go where?!” she asked. I tried to think of a way to make it seem less bizarre. At the time, she was super duper into dinosaurs, so I said, “Be like a dinosaur. Dinosaurs didn’t have potties. They went potty on the ground.”

It worked.

And ever since then, even though we no longer need the prehistoric motivation, we refer to it as “going like a dinosaur.”

There’s been a lot of that happening these days.

Ok – so if you’ve kept up with things you know about our dry (brown) season here in Costa Rica. You know about our water shortages. Well, it’s gotten even drier, and water even more scarce, and our coping strategies even more … interesting.

On top of things, there’s this awful sewer smell coming from the master bathroom. Sometimes our bathroom smells like rotten cabbage and we don’t know why.

We mentioned it to our property manager, and he gave a shrug. The plumbing here is … how do I describe it? Our “grey” water is piped right out of the house and down the hill. We learned this early on, when I was doing laundry and Lee went for a run. As he walked past our house he could hear water gushing onto the ground – it was the rinse cycle. Same with our sinks.

Thankfully we do have a septic tank, but there’s this smell, and no ventilation in our bathroom. However, our bathroom does open to the outdoors, so we’ve taken to propping the back door open when we’re home to air things out.

This has helped with the smell, but not the bugs. Although perhaps the worst was when Lee came around the back of the house one afternoon to find two vultures “cavorting” in our shower.

I’m not joking.

He scared them off before we could get photographic proof.

So thanks to this odor issue, in addition to leaving our door open to the “elements,” we try to avoid using our toilet as much as possible. Couple this with the fact that in the mornings and late at night we have no water for flushing anyway, and it just seems easier to go like a dinosaur.

So several times a day, one of us will announce to the others, “I’m going outside – like a dinosaur!” so the others know not to look in the backyard. One of these recent times, as I walked past my toilet and did my dinosaur thing as though it were perfectly normal, I was struck by a thought.

I have become feral.”

I admit, the water shortage is getting a bit old. The water stays off in the mornings until 10 a.m. sometimes, and has been cutting off earlier and earlier in the evenings too. Just tonight I was washing dinner dishes around 6:30 when the water pressure began to fade, and I raced to get the washing done before the tanks went dry. I had planned to get a shower before bed. Guess not.

Again, with the feral thing.

I’m sorry if you’re disappointed to hear that everything is not always rainbows and unicorns here in paradise. I’m sorry if you’re feeling disillusioned. But this blog is about documenting our adventures, and if you consider peeing outside an adventure, then I couldn’t leave out these details.

We are coping though. We grab our showers when we can, even if it’s not convenient. We’re good about remembering to refill our water jugs when the water is on so we can brush our teeth when it’s off. We pee in the grass.

What’s going to be really exciting is when we have our guests next week (Hi Alva and Erin!). We wanted them to come experience the jungle with us. We invited them to walk on our gorgeous beaches, eat in our lovely restaurants, and soak up the pura vida atmosphere. But I doubt they knew they were signing up for some of these little “issues” too.

But thankfully, our guest bath smells just fine. And we’ll keep those water jugs topped off so they won’t have to go like dinosaurs.

Pura vida, everybody. And I mean that. Yes, I’m a little more “one with nature” than I intended, but still – there’s this.


And this.


And this.


Now don’t we feel better?  That was a palate cleanser. So here’s a toast to it all – the good and the ugly – everything that makes this place wild, but on the balance, still wonderful.


2 thoughts on “Becoming Feral

  1. Great writing! Enjoying your blog We live in Guiones and have the exact problem with the cabbage aroma and the shower.! One tip is to keep your drain hole covered. If we cover the hole with a cup after we shower it keeps the smell at bay. The vultures in the shower has disturbed me!! my god, that must have been a shock and a half!

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