Animal House in San Agustinillo, Mexico
Category : Travel
I am generally fearful around wild animals, including mangy street dogs, disgusting, common household bugs, slippery lizards and relaxed, unthreatening deer. My urban-dwelling youth didn’t provide me with many opportunities to confront my fears, and to be honest, I never really sought out opportunities to acquaint myself with the animal kingdom, opting to confine my earliest travels to sheltered concrete paradises like Madrid, Paris, London and New York City.
My furlessy blissful ignorance was about to change, however, as I embarked on a trip to the Oaxacan Coast—though animals were certainly the last creatures on my mind as I hopped into a hippie-filled pesero taxi in search of unfettered sunshine and soothing, lukewarm ocean water.
San Agustinillo is a hot, sleepy and sweet little village to be found on Oaxaca’s intense Pacific Coast. I fell in love with it from the moment I queasily emerged from the rickety pesero, which responded by splashing warm road-dust all over me as it continued to tumble along. All was suddenly quiet. I could see only three gringos sipping coconut milk on the beach, and a few locals frying up sizzling seafood in their ocean-side shacks. Tranquility, I was convinced that I had found you in the rubble.
I was guided to my cabin at the top of a tall, luscious hill. It was empty but clean, and my plump bed was thoughtfully wrapped in a delicate mosquito net. The broad, screen-less windows revealed a thick medley of palm trees, powerful wildflowers, lapping waves and fresh tropical haze. On the front porch, the comfort of a purple Mayan hammock cried out to me seductively from its spot in the shade. Taking note of my sturdy, thatched straw roof, I became convinced that a very calm and nurturing week’s vacation awaited me.
Sadly, my allusions – or delusions – began to rapidly fade in the night.
As if an appetizer for the irritating meal to come, hoards of mosquitoes were easily slipping through the joke of my bed’s net to eagerly suck my blood. I responded by dumping stinky anti-mosquito chemicals all around the bedroom, and burying myself under the bedclothes despite the thick heat.
Then I was awakened by sound of something, or someone, climbing up my straw roof! Suddenly, three cats revealed themselves as they plunged like super-men through my screen-less window to continue their nasty little game in my quarters. They meowed like amplified sirens and hissed and crept closer to my bed. In terror, I threw things, shrieked, jumped, and went into hysterics until they decided to let themselves out.
“Meow,” they called out to me from the brush.
“Aahh!!!!” I responded from behind my mosquito net.
I then realized, in the lamplight, that my cabin was filled up with bugs—including scorpions, crickets, large spiders and gargantuan creepy-crawlies of many kinds (I later learned that my “luxury cabin” had been left unattended and windowless for years, explaining why it was now a zoo of the wretched). A fat cockroach and its lover laughed at me lazily. I responded with more screams and insecticide. At dawn, after a sleepless night, I went to get orange juice out of the fridge, and startled a bat that was clinging to my ceiling. It flapped at me thrice, and then left the cabin.
Hurling myself outside, I realized that the seductive Mayan hammock would be off-limits, as hornets and wasps apparently like to bury themselves in thatched roofs like those hosting my hammock. My cabin of tranquility had become a prison for my fears. Horrified, I ran down the hill to throw myself into the warm ocean. My pathway was blocked, however, by a gathering of mangy street dogs. At lunchtime, my mouth’s path to my fried seafood was blocked by a huge army of flies, and so I abandoned my shrimp in hungry, tired frustration.