This is a tale from Day 3 of our taking possession of the Pura Vida and amended on Day 42 as we discover reality. I explained this to Colleen today, a guest who had observed something similar.

Returning to “Day 3” or so of our new life. I wander down to the kitchen - it is 11pm, I turn the lights on. I notice something small had died in its tracks half way across the kitchen. I also notice a trail of the local tiny gray ants has found its next victim - the small dead thing. About 200 of these tiny ¼ sized ants had picked up the dead "insect thing" and were "walking" it back to where ever tiny ants take their prey. I watched and wondered about this automatic and so natural system. The simplicity, the elegance of the solution.

200 tiny grey ants here and another million or so

somewhere under the house. The wonder of it all. I learned later these ants are known as ghost ants from a local Costa Rican bulletin board on Yahoo.

On Day 3, that was my view of the "ultimate solution" at Pura Vida Hotel. It is now day 42 and my views have changed on a lot of things . . . not least is the efficiency of the tiny gray ants. It started a few nights later. It culminated a few nights ago - the great gray ant reassessment.

It happened as I watched the abject failure of the usual 200 ants to deal with a lumbering giant of a beetle who had crawled out of the primordial swamp. This followed numerous gray ant failures of a lesser scale. My Hormigas, as they are called here, were bloody failures at their job. I needed swift execution. I needed immediate removal of the carcasses that landed in the Casa. If reinforcements were needed I expected the jungle telegraph to assist. If 200 Hormigas was not enough, I wanted to see 300 or even 1000.

Whatever it took to get the job done. After all, there were another million or so under the house sitting in lounge chairs listening to our Cuban CD's. Where were they when you needed them???

One possible advantage of these little grey ants are so small is that it doesn't matter too much if you step on a few. The mess is not noticeable. However with failure after failure the trails of these little idiots were growing.....200 Hormigas near the green sofa working on a brown beetle, another 200 working on a very large Hormiga of different specie near the dining table. Another 200 under the Fax machine dispensing unsuccessfully with a black thing of no identifiable specie.

The old Casa in 2002

These trails start to add up.... worse they take so long to get the job done when there's only 200 per carcass! Leave them to do it their way and a big bug could take 3 or 4 days. Then there's the "walking on them thing". How many do you end up walking on when their trails start to resemble the London underground train system? Something didn't feel right about all this. My Hormigas were just not cut out for the job.

This is why they are no longer a "wonder" - in the short space of 42 days, they are now persona non grata at Casa Jubb & Chu. Of course, it really won't matter a hoot what the Casa government thinks about their presence. But I have a new mission and it is to seal the entrances. I realize the futility of this since the windows here are never closed. We have the perfect temperature day and night of about 75/68. We have screens on most things yet the small gray ant is of a perfect design. It was built to penetrate the smallest mesh made by man or womankind (I do, however, have grand hopes for nanotechnology). I know my mission may be pointless, but it was important to put behind me some of the naivete of a newbie in Costa Rica.

The main Casa today

I actually now believe we may be reaching full détente with the Hormigas because I now realize it matters not if I can keep them out. What I am keeping out is the bigger bugs they are seeking. With nothing to carry around, no night time exercise regimen so to speak, the little buggers don’t even want to launch an expeditionary force inside. Their scouts report back to base, "Nada at the Casa" and off they go searching for other 6 legged things to play with in the gardens.

Only Day 42 and I feel like the Hormigas and I have reached the proper accommodation.