My Crazy Flesh Eating Insect Episode

We love the locals but not this guy

I have been living in Costa Rica for 20 years, and much of my time has been spent in the rivers, mountains, and beaches. During my time here in Costa Rica, I haven’t had any health conditions other than the normal issues you might find in any country. During these 20 years, I have been drinking tap water and living the local life.

Costa Rica is in the tropical zone just 8 degrees above the equator. The conditions make it one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. With biodiversity comes insects that might be carrying the cure for cancer and some insects that carry some not so welcoming things to share with the two-footed human foraging through the rainforest. Some of the diseases that can be transmitted range from zika, dengue, chikungunya, bot fly, and leishmaniasis.

As mentioned before, during my 20 years in Costa Rica, only one of the insect-transmitted illnesses above has I been a victim of. While any disease can be fatal when not treated correctly, none of the diseases mentioned above are fatal if treated accordingly. The insect that, after 20 years, finally decided to call my body home was the leishmaniasis parasite. 


What is Leishmaniasis

Known locally as popolomollo, a sandfly carries leishmaniasis found deep in the rainforest below 2500ft. The disease is common among indigenous communities as it prefers very remote areas. While it is not common and doubtful that a tourist will contract leishmaniasis, it is still possible even if they visit remote areas.

The bite of a sand fly causes leishmaniasis, and you most likely won’t even feel it. Not only this, but the symptoms will not start until weeks or months after being infected. Leishmaniasis might cause swollen glands, but almost nobody gets ill to the point where they feel they need a day off work or a bedridden. The main cause of this disease is when ulcer-like wounds start t appear on your skin. They start as tiny scabs and grow outward in a circle. Each spot you see start to form is where a separate sand fly bit you.

There are two types of leishmaniasis, and they are divided into layman terms by old world tropics leishmaniasis and new world tropics leishmaniasis. Costa Rica and Americans make up the new world tropics and are home to much more mild leishmaniasis. The old world tropic parasite of leishmaniasis can travel to other parts of the body and even be fatal when left untreated. The new world version can leave huge scars when left untreated.



How is Leishmaniasis Treated in Costa Rica

If you start to notice a circle scab anywhere on your body weeks or months after visiting the back-country of Costa Rica, you should probably keep an eye on it. If it starts to grow, then you will want to visit a micro-biologist or dermatologist to have it examined. While having heard of leishmaniasis in medical school, most dermatologists in the US have never dealt with a case directly. 

They will do a scrap of your arm and send it to a lab where a micro-biologist will look for your newfound friend under a microscope. If they find leishmaniasis, you will be given an antibiotic of no less than 20 days of a shot in the buttocks. Chances are, you will need another cycle of 20 to play it safe.

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POC Camp

The POC camp is an extension of the POC lodge and while the POC Lodge is located with vast views of the Pacuare River Canyon the POC Camp is down on the river’s edge. While it might not have the view of the POC Lodge it sits on one of the calmest sections of the river making the POC Camp home to one of the river Pacuare’s best spots for taking a swim and relaxing on the river’s edge.

POCsito is a favorite among so many of our guests. It is a glamping experience with some of the important comforts of home.

POC Lodge

Started in 2011 is the POC lodge. If you haven’t figured it out by now POC lodge is our own lodge and what we like to call the “baby” of the P.O.C. Adventure Company. We wanted a lodge on our favorite part of Costa Rica which is the Pacuare River and with the help of locally harvested supplies and labor, the POC Lodge was born.


This is a 180-acre property that runs over 1 mile of the Pacuare River. Our goal has always been to offer as much comfort as possible without steering too far away from our roots of just roughing it on the river’s edge. Our lodge has hot water, a splash of luxury in the rooms, and 5-Star service and attention to our guests.

Our favorite part about the lodge is that we built a short hike up from the river’s edge. We know we have the best views of the Pacuare River canyon and unfortunately pictures don’t even do it justice.

Arenal Paraiso, Arenal

Have you ever wanted to stay the night at the base of an active volcano? Well here is your chance. The Arenal Paraiso is located at the base of the Arenal Volcano with breath-taking views of the perfectly cone-shaped volcano.

Here at Arenal Paraiso’s, you will enjoy the beautiful property which offers much more than just a view. The property has numerous bungalows that offer a splash of luxury while surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. After a day of adventure, you will love making your way back to relax or hang out in the pool at Arenal Paraiso.

Shawandha, Caribbean 

Located at the edge of the white sandy beaches of Costa Rica sits the Shawandha lodge.  A perfect blend of eco-style luxury along with the sounds of the ocean and vibrant ambiance of the rainforest.

Shawandha lodge is set up with individual bungalows made out of local wood. You will be sure to wake up to the sound of the local residents such as the howler monkeys and green macaws. After your day of adventure, you will have a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful swimming pool at the Shawandha Lodge.

Hotel Villa Florencia, Turrialba

Located in the valley of Turrialba surrounded by sugar-cane plantations and views of the smoking Turrialba Volcano sits an old plantation home that has been renovated into a beautiful small hotel named Villa Florencia.

This is a great hotel with a beautiful pool and plenty of space to take long morning or afternoon hikes. The Villa Florencia hotel is a chance to enjoy luxury while feeling like you stook back in time. While you are in the valley don’t forget to look up as the Turrialba Volcano can often be seen doing small eruptions from across the valley.

Casa Turire, Turrialba

Casa Turire has been one of our favorites since we started. The grounds are some of the lushest you will find anywhere in Costa Rica. Casa Turire sits in the valley of Turrialba surrounded by mountains and the beautiful Turrialba Volcano. The most amazing part about Casa Turire other than its great restaurant and home-made sugar cane ice cream is that it sits on a peninsula surrounded by Lake Angostura offering great morning hikes, birding, or SUPing around the lake.