Thursday, April 15, 2010
Guyana Tales: Getting Friendly With the Neighborhood Caiman
After an over-night bus ride on a pot-holed dirt road through the Amazon jungle my father and I arrived at Iwokrama Field Station, hot, encrusted with dust and exhausted. The river, though opaque and brown, looked incredibly inviting.
"Is it safe to swim?" we asked our guide.
"Yes it's very safe," he assured us. "Just wait about twenty minutes because I have a few things to do before I can watch you."
"Oh we're good swimmers we don't need to be watched!" we said. We're both pretty intrepid travelers not used to having a guide so, although we appreciated his gesture, being babysat was not a cool idea or necessary.
"No, no, please just wait and I'll be down as soon as I can," he insisted
OK, we thought, no need to rock the boat on arrival.
Twenty minutes later the guide accompanied us down to the river. We swam around in the murky water, stretching our bus-stiffened muscles for about half an hour while our new friend watched vigilantly from the dock. Afterwards, we went back to our rooms, showered and went to dinner.
We were served by an absolutely lovely Amer-Indian woman who asked us about our day.
"I hear you went swimming," she said with a sweet smile. "Did you meet Sankar?"
"Yes Sankar, he's our eight-foot caiman."
My dad nearly choked on his manioc.
"Um, no we didn't," I said nervously as my dad gulped water, his face turning red. "Uh, is he friendly?"
"Well I'm not sure really," our friend said in her sing-song voice. "I like to feed him scraps of meat."
And with that she went back to the kitchen.