Well, I have done some crazy things in the past, but this one about tops them all.
On a pitch-black night, in the middle of the Amazon Jungle, in Ecuador, we canoed on a swamp searching for crocodiles by flashlight, with a 12-year-old native Quechua Indian navigating.
We found one 7 foot female croc and one 8 foot croc, and 3 baby crocodiles.
A few of us had flashlights, so beams of light flitted across the black water, occasionally catching some weeds or a tree or some tall reeds. We were very quiet. It was taking a long time, but the anticipation was intoxicating. Then, there – was that one? A dark mass just above the water? Yes! Amazing. And just over there – another one!
How exciting it was to see the big crocs! Their heads were just visible above the water as the light of the flashlight made them distinguishable, and just a few yards away, their eyes shining out in the dark night! Would they, could they, suddenly attack? Or were they sleeping with their eyes open. I was afraid to ask.
The baby crocs were cute in a weird sort of way, but when the 12-year-old boy couldn’t start the motor on the canoe, I got really scared. Excitement and adventure immediately turned to panic! Now what? We were sitting ducks.
What the Hell was I doing on a crocodile-infested swamp in the middle of Amazon jungle, in the middle of the night?! I need my head examined.
It seemed like an eternity before the motor eventually caught, but it was not over yet because once we got back to the other end of the swamp near shore, we could not find the dock. Back and forth with the flashlight, motoring slowly this way and that, again and again. Those starving crocodiles were surely swimming patiently below us.
Finally we found the dock.
It was while walking across the narrow rickety wood bridge over the last part of the crocodile-infested swamp, and then up the long steep stairs, that I somehow immediately forgot about the danger, and felt that this was one of the most exciting experiences of my life!
What a difference it is to see animals in their natural habitat, compared with a zoo. The croc’s big eyes just staring at you, or earlier on the river, the little monkeys sitting half hidden on a branch of a big tree in the jungle, barely visible, and peering at you as if to say,¨ What on earth are those strange creatures on the river?!¨
You come to truly understand that you have been invading their space.
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