“You’ll need a fleece.”
“A fleece?” Tessa looked at me, baffled.
“You know, a fleece? You do have a fleece don’t you?” She didn’t, and wasn’t sure what one was (but she is my unfailingly classy friend). I’d looked up weather in Costa Rica for our immanent trip: San Jose the capital and Monteverde Cloud Forest areas predicted a week of thunderstorms and heavy rain. Tortuguero on the Atlantic coast didn’t feature on my weather app, nor did Corcovado in the far south on the Oso peninsular. So, a real adventure then, into app-unknown territory.
“Better pack our umbrellas,” I said, “and some walking trousers and boots”. I was remembering my last visit to a rainforest, in Thailand, where leeches lay in wait, waving up from the leaf litter like little brown shoots. Clever little brown shoots that are also able to lurk up trees, detect the carbon dioxide in your out-breath and drop on you from above. I’d watched with horror as they tried to wiggle in through the loose weave of my Bangkok hippy trousers, and the sarong I was using as an ‘umbrella’. I lasted less than 24 hours before I fled for a beach.
“I thought I’d wear my white linen trousers” said Tessa.
“I think we’d better make a trip to Cotswold Outdoor” I said, moving on down the list from Rickshaw Travel, noting to self to pack my snake bite kit (which is at least 20 years old and I don’t actually have a clue how you use it, but the bit of string and blade look handy)) and an extra supply of anti mozzie lotion.
Tessa met me at Cotswold a few days later. She’d brought her friend Barbara, another Fine Artist, along. Barbara agreed linen trousers would be perfect in the heat “nice and loose and cool.”
Loose trousers? In the jungle. White? “The list says you see more birds and animals in muted colours,” I said.
The shop was full to the gunnels with ski wear, it was, after all, December. No thin fleeces, no muted long sleeved cotton shirts, but a distractingly lovely rack of down coats on sale. Tessa didn’t like the look of any of the walking trousers.
“I think what you need is a cashmere cardigan” said Barbara. Tessa’s eyes lit up.
“But….” and I gave up.
So it was with great relief when Tessa arrived at my cottage , on the morning of our departure, in a pair of walking trousers, boots and thin grey fleece, and unloaded a funky zebra patterned suitcase.
Settled on our beds in the Gatwick Marriott we ate our sandwiches, watched the news, listened to the Archers and turned in at nine ready for an early start in the morning.