I was up the other night watching a program on the SciFi Channel, an interesting interpretation of the Peter Pan story. When the crocodile ate Captain Hook’s hand I was reminded of an incident that took place a few years back on a journey to Costa Rica.
Central America is a wild and beautiful place; Costa Rica has reserved a quarter of its territory as a national park. I had just boarded a bus leaving San Jose, the capital and home to most of Costa Rica’s population. We were traveling through jungle covered mountains and headed toward the sea. The rainy season was overdue and the air inside the bus was rank and humid. I breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled to the side of the unpaved road to enjoy the slight breeze, stretch our legs and paw through souvenirs displayed near a dried up creek.
I had all the souvenirs I needed and, feeling like Indiana Jones, decided to explore the bottom of the creek. A local dark skinned boy of about ten saw what I was up to, shook his head and said something I didn’t understand in Spanish. As I proceeded to climb down he grabbed me by my shirttails and wouldn’t let go. He kept pointing at something in the creek.
I didn’t see anything, just a bunch of old logs in scattered puddles. Then a bird flew by and landed near one of the puddles. A log moved. It was a crocodile, ten to twelve feet long, moving faster than I would have imagined. The bird barely managed to escape the croc’s snapping jaws.
The boy smiled at my open-mouthed expression. I handed him a few dollars, all that I had. I had no idea that crocodiles inhabited Costa Rica and can only imagine what might have happened had I climbed down there. I’m not nearly as fast as that bird. I could have ended up with a hook of my own.
I did manage to snap a few pictures. Have you ever made a near-fatal mistake on a vacation? I’d like to hear about it.