I’ve often heard it said that if you feed a stray animal, it’s now your pet.
Well then, may I introduce our pet pizote, Cocoa.
I think the correct English term for this critter is coati, but the locals here call them pizotes. Imagine if a raccoon and a lemur had a baby … now you know what a pizote looks like. Brown in color, it has ringed eyes like a raccoon, but a long snout. Its tail is ringed and quite long, usually held high, reminding me of a lemur.
At first, we didn’t mean to feed Cocoa, at least not her (him?) specifically. We throw all our organic food waste into the jungle, I guess technically making all the jungle animals our pets.
We’ve seen plenty of pizotes around here, complaining about the insufficient food scraps by raiding our trash bins regularly. But with the dry season they seem to have left our mountain for other environs.
Except one. We first noticed her a couple of weeks ago. She is small – a juvenile I would guess. Her coat looks thin. Instead of waving her tail high like the pizote flag it should be, her tail is often held low. She comes to our pool and crouches down to sip from the edge. Our saltwater pool, which is probably only making her thirstier. She broke our hearts.
So I started intentionally throwing our food scraps at the same spot she would appear from the jungle. A house made of glass means we often get to see her come rummaging through the mango pits, pineapple cores and beet skins. She seemed really excited about cilantro stems. And maybe I threw a perfectly good, whole banana out there too. To my pet pizote. I do not apologize.
Yummy, yummy banana.
It’s amazing how living here for 7 months now (7 months!!), the bugs and critters don’t bother me like they used to. In fact, we’ve taken to naming all the regulars. A tarantula may seem scary at first, but when his name is Paco he’s kind of fuzzy and cute.
When we arrived last year, I was alarmed at how many geckos were crawling around our walls. But I soon learned they are simply to be tolerated – everyone has house geckos. It’s best to just accept this fact. I was shocked though to find out they are responsible for the ear-splitting screeching noises we hear at night. I thought surely some predatory bird was right outside our window, declaring supremacy – but no, these little geckos make quite the ruckus.
There’s one who hangs out on a particular living room wall most evenings. His name is Michael. I tried to get his picture, but he’s speedy.
An enormous and regal iguana lives next to our pool and comes to sunbathe on the pool deck. We named him Danny. His smaller friend who sometimes joins him is Brad.
Lee finally caught a photo of the bat that flies around our porch at night, gobbling up insects (thanks, bat!). His name is Bruce.
We don’t name the scorpions or vultures. Don’t be ridiculous. They will never be pets.
In the last week we have had three tarantulas. The first, biggest one we named Paco. After he nearly fell on my head when I came in from walking the dog, he scurried behind our television where he sat quietly, as big as a kitten.
Lee chased him out with a broom, and he hung out on our porch all day until finally I felt the need to create a little more space between Paco and our living area. So I covered him with a huge plastic bowl, slipped a magazine underneath to create a floor, and he was caged. I released him next to a rock and he scurried beneath its protective cover.
The second tarantula wasn’t around long enough for a name. Just passing through. The third (maybe it was a tarantula? Looked like one, but orange) Camille named Clementine.
There was one spider though that left an even bigger impression on us than any of the tarantulas. We didn’t name her, but I think we should just call her La Madre.
Fairly early in our journey, Camille was playing in her room when she alerted us to the presence of a spider. Dutifully, Lee came to the rescue, opening her sliding glass door to chase the spider out.
The spider, however, was not cooperative, so Lee became more persuasive with a broom. This must have completely freaked out the spider, who proceeded to give birth to a bazillion spider babies right there on Camille’s bedroom floor. Camille and I just watched and screamed as tiny spiders flowed from the mother’s back, scattering quickly to all the corners of the room, never to be found by us. Lee furiously swept, trying to get as many babies outside as he could, but we were overwhelmed with baby spiders. We finally got La Madre outside, but I suspect some of her offspring are still with us today.
I got an email the other day from someone considering a move to Nosara. “Are there a lot of bugs?” she asked. Yes. Yes there are. And not just bugs – our good friends the Ankarbergs have a frog in their toilet. He appears and disappears at random. Imagine that surprise when you take a seat on the porcelain throne? I shall name him Jon.
That which does not kill us only makes us stronger, right?