A TNT Travel Writing Awards entrant
Author: Paul O’Connor
A few years ago, I was on a surf trip through the wild, Central American jungles of Costa Rica – a country containing 5% of the world’s biodiversity despite only covering 0.1% of the world’s landmass. Luckily, at the end of a muddy and deserted road I stumbled across a bay containing the ‘Perfect Wave’. With darkness closing in and the closest civilisation more than three hours away, I set about sleeping on the beach; my surfboard cover a makeshift sleeping bag. Unfortunately though, the jungle mosquitoes immediately began an attack. Yet even more concerning were the wild noises emanating from the jungle, and knowing that I would make the perfect snack for any panther who so desired to eat me, I got up and trekked back to the black jungle clearing where my car was parked. After climbing in, I wound the windows up to keep the mosquitoes out. However, the tropical heat and humidity inside the car soon intensified to suffocating levels and the sweat covering my body became so saturating that my fingers began to prune.
Needing fresh air, I reached for the door. Yet to open it would be to let the mosquitoes back in. So instead, I grabbed a beer and soon after, another, and then another, and so on. And the reason I decided to get drunk was because a few years ago, a friend of mine had passed out drunk in a small clearing in an Indonesian jungle – one not only mosquito infested, but also carrying malaria. Amazingly, on waking in the morning he had not a single bite on his almost totally exposed body. Thus, he had unwittingly discovered that mosquitoes will spare a drunkard with blood poisoned by alcohol.
After what must have been at least a dozen warm beers, I opened the back door of the car and passed out paralytic with my legs hanging out the door. When I finally stirred, it was because of a wet sensation on my foot. In a desperate survival instinct, I pulled my foot back inside the car – it was obvious from the glistening of tusks and grunting, that a wild boar had set itself upon me. Worse still, no one had ever told me that boars like to pin people down, to gut them with their tusks, to kill them and eventually eat them from the stomach out. I did however realise that I needed to get away from this beast. Yet I couldn’t! The boar was already part of the way into the car and the door at my back was locked shut.
I wasn’t prepared to die all alone in this jungle though, so I unleashed with one almighty kick aimed at his snout. Unluckily I missed, and I felt no pain as my foot sliced open on the beast’s tusks. Seconds later a hoof came crushing down, landing on my thigh.
‘AAAAAAAHHHHHH!’ I screamed in agony.
Luckily, as the boar then continued further into my car, he released my leg. Instantly, I pulled myself up against the door behind me, yet the boar kept coming. His tusks that had been slashing at my shirtless stomach were now within centimetres of piercing my abdomen. But then he stopped – his girth was such that he had become stuck in the door opening. Also fortunate, the front seat beside me was partially reclined, so I pulled myself up, over, and into the front. Immediately I opened the door and got out of the car before looking around for a tree to climb. Meanwhile, the car beside me continued to shake. Not for long though.
‘The boar is out!’ I yelled. Knowing that it will be coming for me, I dived back into the car and I shut the front door. Following on, I did a Superman dive into the back seat before pulling the back door shut. The boar, realising that I had locked him out responded by ramming the car – again, and again.
‘Help! Help!’ I yelled repeatedly. Yet there was no one within fifty miles to hear me.
Meanwhile, the car continued to shake. Gaining small composure, I began to fumble around for the car keys so that I could drive away. Yet the interior light didn’t work and I couldn’t find them. So I climbed into the front, and in a futile attempt to attract help, I began flashing the car headlights and banging on the car horn. With this, the car stopped shaking. There was stillness – yes stillness. The flash of the headlights and wailing of the horn had seemingly freaked the boar and he fled.
I looked to my watch; 4.53am – just over an hour until sunrise. Looking for the keys again, I found them before starting the car up. Yet I was in shock and shaking uncontrollably, so I couldn’t drive the car away. Instead, I continued to sit in the car, looking out into a jungle now illuminated by the car’s headlights – all the while envisaging that the boar is going to burst back out of the jungle and through the windscreen to eat me. The fear was paralysing.
With sunrise came a feeling of safety so I got out of the car to inspect the damage. There were some dents, a hole in the backseat upholstery, plus blood sprayed from the cut on my foot. Yet surprisingly the damage wasn’t overly severe. Also lucky, unscathed was my surfboard that lay underneath the car. Best of all though was me – I had escaped with my life.
With the cut on my foot not severe enough to prevent me from surfing, I grabbed my surfboard and hobbled off through the jungle. On pulling the last palm frond out of my way on making it to the beach, an even bigger smile spread across my face. This was because the bay in front of me was stacked to the horizon with lines of swell, and I would be enjoying a day of perfect waves – all alone.