Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sitting on Crocodiles

It's not every day one drives three hours to straddle the tail end of a crocodile twice the size of 'relatively safe' that may or may not own both of its eyes. Of course, any day I've experienced since June 1st probably doesn't count as 'every day.'

If it weren't slightly comic that the crocodile in question only made his (slow) appearance after he heard the sound of two baby chickens being knocked together by their heads, it's certainly amazing that this community in Paga fishes, bathes and lives near the lake housing over 200 crocodiles.

Clearly, I was terrified and refused to squat or touch any part of it. With as much ease as the yellow-vested employees displayed, the hurried way in which they ushered me off of the crocodile tells me that my reaction to its wide mouth, a kind of squeak escaping my throat as it lumbered up the bank, was the correct one.

The entire experience was only exaggerated by the fact that all of the young, unbroken crocodiles were engaging in what can only be described as stalking from the edge of the lake. We caught on to their newbi-ness by the way they were cracked on the mouth with sticks when they came too close, which sounded a lot like the splitting of a log ... probably not advisable, but who am I to judge? I certainly wasn't wearing a yellow vest.

Of course, I grew attached to a baby chicken - I named him Chester - the same baby chicken hanging by his feet in front of the one-eyed croc's gaping mouth. When we finished being tourists, Chester was thrown into the abyss and, quite literally, swallowed alive. Everyone turned to me - both of my hands covering my open mouth, my eyes moving between the yellow vested chicken-killer and my fellow trainees. "Emma? Are you okay?" I could only manage a small nod before backing away from Goliath (who apparently decided he was still hungry as he followed our departing crowd, thumping down onto his belly and smiling pretty any time one of us would turn around to look at him).

Needless to say, I can check 'stand over a large crocodile' off of my list of 'things to do that I didn't know I wanted to do until I got to Ghana.' I guess I can add 'stalked by large crocodile on the way back home' to that list, too ...