Sensing lunch, the crocodile made a beeline towards the man standing on the muddy riverbank.
This was not a small croc. We’d seen him swimming out in the channel of the Tarcoles river in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica.
He was not alone. The riverbanks, sandbars, and tree snags all provided homes for crocs of various sizes, and inasmuch as you can get a sense of what’s on a crocodile’s mind, they all appeared to be thinking “come closer, I’m hungry.” And it was clear that when we beached the boat and the guide stepped out for a presentation that the croc had him square in his sights.
It was the final excursion of a trip to Costa Rica. We were finishing in the Guanacaste region, in the northwest of the country on the Pacific coast. Compared to what we’d seen of the rest of the country it was dryer and less humid, but also hotter. It’s also famous for its beaches.
I’m not really a hang out on the beach and work on my tan sort of guy, but I have to admit, after the torrid pace of the rest of the trip it was nice when the itinerary had us warming our heels at the beach of an upscale hotel/resort. Admittedly, it wasn’t a great spot to take in the local culture – most of the locals probably couldn’t afford the place, even at the good rates we seemed to have scored in the tour package. But for a spot to kick back for a day, it was hard to complain.
Although the beach was lovely, and a confident swimmer could enjoy a bit of body surfing, at midday the heat drove us away from the sand and into the hotel pools, including an infinity pool on the end closest to the ocean. I spent so much time in the water my fingers pruned up, toes pruned up, and my belly would have pruned up too, except I’d eaten so well on that trip the extra 10 pounds smoothed out those wrinkles.
Despite all that luxury, the memorable moments were at days end.
Have you ever experienced a sunset that goes from nice to incredible and back again? Where anywhere you look is glorious? Where even someone who barely knows which end of a camera to point forward can take a great picture? Soak this in, and ease your mind and soul…
Are you all relaxed now? Can you hear the sound of the surf and smell the light sea breeze? Has the setting sun and warm colors erased the memories of that big crocodile seeing the man on the muddy beach thinking “one big snap of my jaws…”?
Oh yeah, that crocodile. The day after our relaxing sojourn we did a cruise on the Tarcoles river, through a mangrove and biological reserve, and past a nesting area for scarlet macaws. And at the end of the river was El Jose Loco and his “pet” crocodile.
Ok, it’s not as bad as it looks, although you couldn’t pay me to swap places with Jose. These crocs had gotten used to being fed by the guides; clearly not with fingers as Jose is still digitally intact, but with chunks of chicken.
Moments before this picture was taken, Jose was dangling a bit of chicken above the snout of the croc. Once the croc started going for the chicken Jose dropped it and raised his hand. Crocodile jaws went SNAP, the camera’s shutter went snap, and the chicken disappeared.
I still wouldn’t want to be next to the croc when it figures out that the appetizers are gone, but there’s a good sized meal standing inches away.
After this excursion we headed back to San Jose for our farewell dinner. It was the end of our trip, and the end of my Costa Rica stories, at least for now. But so your last memory is not of some crazy brave Costa Rican risking life and limb for a bunch of gringo tourists, here’s a mellower amen.