Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 3, 2011

Swimming with Crocodiles

That morning the captain suggested going out exploring in the dinghy, and by exploring he meant looking for things to kill.  I was all for snorkeling and exploring, however slaughter at sea had lost some of its charm.  I wanted to go snorkeling.  Without lugging a spear gun of any type with me.  I just wanted to enjoy the ocean, marvel at the myriad of colorful fish, and reefs certainly in the Mexican waters around us.  That wasn’t in the cards.

Guessing what “go exploring” meant, Lindsey opted to stay on the boat.  I, on the other hand, followed Tony and the captain slipping off the boat and into our inflatable grey dinghy looking forward to seeing some of the beautiful palm-lined beaches we were anchored along side.

We stopped off at the nearby shore.  With white sand beaches fringed by palms bending over with the weight of innumerable coconuts it  looked like a movie set. But the captain wasn’t headed there for relaxing.  He had seen a useful-looking crate there he wanted to pick up.  Grabbing a few coconuts to fill the crate up with would be icing on the cake.

Almost as soon as we set foot on the island the no-see-ums descended, we brushed our arms again and again trying to get the nasty little insects away to no avail.  But the coconuts dangled tantalizingly just a few feet away so we sucked it up and steeled ourselves to our tormentors.

Using an obliging branch, knocked about 20 of the coconuts out of the laden trees and brought them back to the boat in our newly-acquired red crate.  But soon the no-see-ums got the best of us and we beat a hasty retreat, motoring away from the idyllic beach.

The captain raced the dinghy across the rough waters, pounding into the waves with teeth-rattling jars.  At last we stopped at a reef that looked like it had “structure,” or potential lobster homes.  We anchored near a promising coral head and the three of us flipped over backwards into the warm water.

snorkeling with schools of fish

I swam through schools of hand-sized multi-colored fish and stately coral structures.  Again and again I marveled at the different world that existed just beneath the waves.  Unfortunately not everyone saw the underwater world as I did.  The captain was far from pleased with small fish and beautiful starfish.  There wasn’t anything to kill, as he put it.  Soon we relocated to a nearby reef.  And another.

As each new location failed to yield lobsters, the captain, grew increasingly frustrated.  Finally he threw up his hands.  There weren’t lobsters around here.  He’d wasted all that dinghy fuel for nothing, he grumbled.

Mangroves

On the way back we passed some mangroves we had missed on the ride out.   The captain’s mood shifted.  Great hiding places, deep water; there might be some big fish hiding here.  The water was too murky to expect lobsters, but you never knew what might be swimming around mangroves.  We anchored again and flipped backwards overboard holding our masks.

The trees were filled with frigate birds

This water was deeper here and significantly colder.  To make things worse in the turbid waters visibility was next to nothing.  Chilly, I retreated to the dinghy to sit, warm myself in the sun, and watch the flocks of black frigate birds inflating their red throats like huge balloons.

A few minutes after I’d crawled back in the dinghy a shabby little motorboat putted through the mangrove channel.   I waved at the man standing in the back of the white skiff.  He was clearly leading some sort of ecotour.

He was quick to greet me.  Suddenly a look of panic came over his face, and he began shouting in an almost frantic voice.  “Cuidado!  Hay crocodiles aca!  No puedes nadar! 

My eyes widened in horror.  I’d just been swimming with crocodiles?   Tony and the captain were still in the water with their spear guns flippering around crocodile-infested mangrove channels!  I remembered seeing crocodiles in the Florida everglades, and as torpid as the creatures looked on land I still would not want to meet one.  Especially in a murky mangrove swamp.

I thanked the ecotour guide and watched him motor into the distance before I called my crewmates out of the water.  The captain wasn’t entirely sure if fishing were legal in the area we were in or not and the possibility of a crocodile might be preferable to the probability of a Mexican prison.

They hadn’t seen any crocodiles, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there.  I shivered on the dinghy ride back to the boat and not just from the chill wind on my wet skin.

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Responses

  1. Scary story. Glad to see your site has developed a following.


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