Looking through my travel diaries, I found this interesting story of my trip to Nicaragua back in 1999 that I had posted on my previous blog:
I went on a boat trip up a river through the jungle yesterday with an Aussie, two British Girls and a German Guy. We were going to relax on the river, see the wildlife, visit a freshwater spring and spend a few hours in a small local village. The trip started off great. Going along the river in a dugout canoe with a small motor on the back was great. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie. The jungle canopy surrounded us and blocked out the sunlight most of the time. As we kept heading upstream, the jungle kept getting lower and lower to the river and crept in on the sides. We would use the motor every once in awhile, but we tried to keep it quiet as much as possible. The sounds were amazing! Howling monkeys, grunts of wild boar, the splashes of fishes jumping up out of the river and back in, and the sound of birds filled the air. The insects were everywhere, but we had been given some heavy-duty insect repellant and it worked well. They seemed to keep away from me and gave me a foot or two buffer zone between me and them.
Soon after leaving the city, there were no visible river banks. The Mangrove roots and tree limbs hid any sign of land. It was hard to tell how far back the water went. We did see a lot of Crocs hiding in those roots. There were also a ton of river turtles. They seemed to dominate the river. We would see 5 -10 every 100 meters or so. They were everywhere.
We stopped at a local croc farm where they kept the big fellas in an enclosed section. They had some that were 20+feet long. The farm bred them for meat and for shoes, purses, etc. After about a 20 minute stop there for a snack and to get some supplies to take to the village, we continued our journey. The spring was right next to the village and that was our destination. It took about another hour and a half to get there. The water kept getting clearer as we headed up stream and we could easily see the thousands of fish, turtles, eels and snakes in the river. The river was teeming with life.
We made it to the village and had a delicious lunch of fish wrapped in banana leaves and local fruit. After lunch, the rest of the group went off to the spring for a swim. The spring was only about 50 yards from the tiny restaurant. I waited and finished my beer then ventured over to the spring. There was a rope swing attached to a big, sturdy tree branch which everyone used to swing into the spring and then swim across. I grabbed hold of the swing and took the leap, plunging into the cool refreshing water (It was a hot, humid day so the water was just right.) As I came up for a breath and began swimming to the other side, I heard a lot of screaming. I looked around and saw that everyone on the far side of the spring was screaming in my direction and pointing towards me. I was having a hard time hearing what they were saying, then all of a sudden I heard the Aussie scream “You got yourself a Croc!” Then I heard the word “Crocodile” or “Croc” a few more times.
I looked around and noticed that I was now the only person in the water. Just minutes ago, there were probably 8 or 9 people in there. I continued rotating around and when I turned to look at the shore that I had jumped off of, I saw a Huge Croc! I am not exaggerating when I say it was at least 10 feet long and probably about 20 meters away. It was heading right towards me.
I suck at swimming, but I think I would have given Michael Phelps a run for the Gold Medal that day. I just started swimming as hard and as fast as I could toward the other side, which was about 50 meters away. I didn’t look back and just kept swimming, praying the Croc wouldn’t try and take a bite out of my leg. I got to the far side and crawled out of the water. I turned back to see the croc was a good 30 meters behind me. A couple of the people on the bank said the croc got to within maybe 5 meters of me and then put on the brakes and slowed down. He was already turning around when I saw him. I may owe my life to a local guy, who was on the other bank and threw a few pieces of raw chicken towards the reptile. Sure enough, the Croc made his way over there and chomped on the chicken. I gave the man a thumbs up and huge smile. We did not cross the spring to get back to the boat, someone drove it over to our side.
I later found out that this crocodile has been living in that spring since it was a baby and comes up twice a day to that restaurant to get some meat that they throw in. The owner throws in all the scraps him. A couple of the locals said that the croc is fairly tame around people and has never bitten or eaten a person. They doubt he was going to make me his meal. Nonetheless, it scared the shit out of me!
Labels: Central America, Crocodiles, Nicaragua, Personal Narratives, Personal Stories, Travel Narratives, Traveling