Friday, January 30, 2009
Rio Tarcoles, Costa Rica
I looked up, arched an eyebrow and just had to ask “¿Peligrosa?”
Is this dangerous?
“Un poco.” A little...
Standing knee deep in swamp goo with a crocodile eying me while crawling up the river bank, that seemed an optimistic appraisal. On the other hand, I wasn’t the one holding a chicken.
In the mangrove swamps where the Tarcoles River empties into the Pacific, crocodiles thrive, and a nascent tourist industry has been born. Half a dozen boats now offer river trips, and all advertise pictures of their boat captains dangling poulets in front of oversized, airborne crocs.
Foregoing a group tour, I sprung for a boat of my own and showed up at sunrise to go chase Scarlet Macaws around the mangroves for a while (a process that reminded that while it’s easier to photograph exotic birds in a zoo, it’s also more dignified, cleaner and less expensive). After that, we went looking for crocs. it wasn’t all that difficult, since the low tide mud flats were pretty much lined with the evil looking bastards. But at one particular river bend lives an old friend. Slapping a chicken in the water is the traditional calling card, and soon a 15-foot long croc sidled up at the river’s muddy bank.
With that walnut-sized brain, multi-tasking isn’t a crocodile’s long suit. And apparently a small but dead chicken is just a lot less bother than 180+ pounds of flailing, mud-covered photographer. At least first thing in the morning. Once the sun gets his the old reptilian blood flowing, all bets could be off.