• Joanna

Do not FEED the Crocodiles

Updated: Oct 30, 2021

In regards to driving, I feel like I’m starting to getting the hang of it. Almost feel like I’m a pro. Like I’ve been cruising the streets of Costa Rica since a young age… 48, at least.

I had left Tortuguero and I was on my way to Cahuita. After a long… and treacherous haul, I finally made it. Google Maps informed me it would be a three hour and thirty-two minute journey.


Google Maps is a dirty liar.


There was more than enough road construction here, to be spread out throughout the entire country, and it ended up taking me over five hours.


I have officially named my little white tin can, Bird. I was desperately trying to come up with a charming little name and nothing seem to fit … until finally, I had a good look at the license plate.

🎶 Bird is the word 🎶

I did eventually arrive in Cahuita, and spent my first evening at Bridgette’s Ranch. It was a cluster of colourful little bungalows, set against the backdrop of a jungle-style horse ranch. I had my own cabanita, with its own front porch hammock, and inside, a large mosquito net drapped bed, very reminiscent to that of Sleeping Beauty.


There is nothing like a mosquito net bed to make you feel very fairy tale regal…


... and safe from the little bloodsuckers.


There was also a small kitchen, equipped with my own tiny fridge, but I only discovered that after I drank two warm beers.

Cahuita has all the regular characteristics of a laid back, surfer town.


Emphasis on the laid back.

MUCH Emphasis on the surfer town.


The area I am in, is called Playa Negra (Black Beach)… and any early morning stroll through here definitely demonstrates the late night aftermath of a 20-something lifestyle.


I pass many run-down, characterful, multi-dorm hostels, inviting in those that seek a more carefree, yet affordable style of living. As much as turning back the clock to that manner of lifestyle is somewhat attractive… and very tempting at times, I fear I have become too accustomed to the luxury, the comfort and the convenience of my own living quarters, my own private bathroom… a garden/ocean view… rental car… and my dependable credit cards.

I can also look back on the fabulous memories I have of when I was younger… and broke, travelling the world. I wouldn’t have traded the experiences I had in any colourful, run-down, dirty old hostel, for the world.

Bridgette was kind enough to allow my to leave Bird and my belongings at her ranch, while I made my way to Punta Cahuita for a hike.


The beauty… indescribable. The Caribbean Seascapes… second to none.

I was mesmerized.

It was an 8km trek that winded it’s way through the jungle and along the white, prestine beaches. Breathtaking.


If ever there was a time to use the word breathtaking, now was it.


With each step, the spectacular view I encountered was beauty overload… and enough to invoke tears of pure joy. Being completely engulfed in the depths of such lush and tangled, tropical nature, was inspirational beyond comprehension.

There were times, I thought my heart would stop.


And then it did…

I was mistakenly under the impression that I had left the dangers of crocodiles behind me, in Tortuguero. No?


Don’t swim with crocodiles??

Don’t feed the crocodiles?


Has the world gone mad? Did they think I would stand by with my camera, as I casually tossed the reptile a few peanuts???


Feed them? I would BE their feed!


It was enough to make me almost turn around on the trail and head back for the safety of being surrounded other people. I was no longer on a three hour tour with strangers, and a dirty guide.


I was alone.

Alone on a trail.

With crocodiles.

And I was crocodile bait, if there ever was crocodile bait…

Now, not only was I looking up & down for snakes and spiders… and all over for jaguars, but now I was also stuck on constant crocodile surveillance.


I assessed my survival rate immediately and decided to stay close behind others on the trail, with the hopes that they would be attacked first, and I could turn and run…


My extensive Google research did nothing to calm my nerves or ease my mind. Admittedly, I spent much time by the high water line, making inquiries, such as;


Crocodile deaths in Costa Rica.

Crocodile attacks in Cahuita.

Crocodile sighting in Punta Cahuita.

Ironic, yes… that I position myself by the high water line. Dumb dumb. Me… knowing full well that crocodiles can move with both speed and ease, in rivers, lakes, ponds, bogs, trails, sand and sea.


Finally I had to compromise with my fears and continue on. What is life if you’re afraid all the time? I kept repeating, when it’s my time, it’s my time. I could get hit by a car, have a heart attack, choke on a pickle, or be eaten by a crocodile. Right? So onward I went, stopping frequently to take a picture, admire the view, marvel at the wildlife and even jump in the water. Of course, I didn’t venture in too far, for fear of sharks… but did make a valiant effort.

Baby steps.


There are a lot of things that can kill me here. Remind me again why I came?

Unfortunately, I was only at Bridgette’s Ranch for one day, and then I had reservations at a place called Casita Algebra. I really must find out how they came to have this name… because who, in their right mind, would name a beach oasis after school’s most hated subject?


Odd.


Yes, odd… and odd is what I discovered when I arrived at the math motel.


The lady that runs this place is German. She is very stereo-typical German… and by this, I mean absolutely zero disrespect to Germans… But Germans have a tendency, and a reputation, to be very stoic and difficult to read.


She was giving me the particular details and general tourist spiel for what I needed to know about the joint and the surrounding area, I was sitting there, smiling… aNed taking it all in… all the while, nodding in compliance and appreciation.

When she had finished, she turned to me and asked if I had any questions. Not really, but I desperately wanted to contribute to the conversation, as a demonstration of how attentive I had been.


So… I asked if there were any restaurants in the area she might recommend.


Her first, initial reaction was that of irritation… because, of course all the restaurants were VERY good!


Finally, after informing me of what an incredible chef she was, succumbed to telling me about some Italian place that made wonderful pasta.


I honestly didn’t care.


I wasn’t even up for reccmendations, as I had my heart set, once again, on nachos… having had seem them on a couple restaurant menus earlier.


Addiction is addiction.

I was just trying to be friendly.

Then I made mistake #2.

BIG. Huge.


I asked if they were any seafood restaurants in town, serving cangrejo… crab. 🦀


Please remember, I had my heart set on nachos.

Not Italian.

Not crab.

Not her cooking.


Well, shoot me down if I didn’t get the full, bleeding heart, save the planet, judgemental lecture on killing creatures in boiling water. Not only that, but I also was treated to a play-by-play of the exact conversation she and her husband had, about eating lobster, when they were first introduced.


I believe this woman was taking on the world, one step at a time.., and I, unfortunately, was her first step.


It was enough to make cruel, cruel me want to slink away into nothingness… and it was almost the path I took. After 15 minutes of learning that restaurant chefs in Cahuita prefer to cook with fresh food… I was done and it was enough to make me, obviously a fanatical carnivore who tears animals apart, limb by limb, without remorse, want to run far and hide under a rock for eternity.


For just a moment, let’s bring it back to the NACHOS I wanted.

The vegetarian nachos… without cilantro, please.

Her high horse was getting nauseating and my fake smile was beginning to fade from my face. I couldn’t hold this expression of kindness, curiosity and obligation anymore. This was a true test of toleration… and I was on the verge of failing miserably. Once she recognized the vexation creeping across my face, she stepped off her animal rights soapbox.


She decided to completely spin her story around, pretending her English wasn’t so great and ”… had I asked about a horrible nightclub in town called Cangrejo Loco?”


No.

I had not.


I knew if I stayed any longer, I was going to make some serious inquiries and accusations in regards to the poultry, seafood and red meat options clearly advertised on her own restaurant menu.

Animal rights, my ass.


I made a hurried exit, as I had had enough and I could not take one more moment with this woman.

Fuck the nachos.


I’m going for crab.

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