While in Costa Rica we went on a jungle safari along the Tarcoles River to observe American crocodiles. Approximately 3,000 crocodiles live in one six-mile stretch of the river. We saw crocodiles that were just a few months old, some that were 2 to 15 years old and even one that was 50 years old and 16 feet long. The highlight of the tour for the males in our family was watching one of our guides (there were two) feed the crocodiles raw chicken. The lead guide kept telling us we were going to see a show. We were unsure of what exactly this meant at first, but then the other guide pulled the boat up to a muddy bank, grabbed a piece of chicken, and stepped off the boat into the mud. He began slapping the chicken on the water to send vibrations to the crocodiles so that they would know there was food. We learned that the crocs really don’t see or smell their prey. The feed by following motion and/or vibrations. The first attempt by the guide failed to produce a “show”. The day was not lost though. We shortly came to another bank where a 9 foot female was resting in the water and a 16 foot male was sunbathing in the mud a short distance away. The guide began feeding the female croc and almost immediately the male began to saunter over to get see what the action was. This was just act one. As we went along the river the guides pointed out many interesting sights in addition to more crocodiles. We learned about Mangrove Trees, saw tropical crabs climbing on them, saw beautiful birds including blue herons, storks, egrets, spoonbills, and more. We also saw remnants of the hurricane that hit Costa Rica in November of 2010. We saw where a complete village had fallen into the river as a result of the heavy rains from the hurricane and caused the bank to slide away into the river. The village is in repair, but it was a sad sight to see none the less. Then came act II. Three crocodiles answered the vibrations this time. At one point in time two crocodiles were on the bank trying to catch the chicken being thrown toward their mouths while the third waited in the water. You’ll be amazed at how close they were to the guide. I just kept thinking how will I cover the eyes of all three of my children at one time when this insane, twenty-something, young kid has his arm removed by a crocodile? I quickly came to realize my husband would be of no help as he was completely mesmerized by the entire scenario. Finally, after about 15 minutes of act II the show was over the the guides turned the boat around and we peacefully rode back to the dock.
Days later while flying home I had the awesome luck to get to sit in a window seat, which doesn’t happen often traveling with three children, and watch the sunset. The clouds were amazing amidst the brilliant rays of the orange sun. I found it ironic that one cloud looked just like a crocodile cooling himself in the hot sun. When you see the image below of the sunset and the clouds you’ll understand that crocodiles hold their mouth open to regulate their body temperature. The image of the “crocodile cloud” was taken with my iPad so it may not be the best image technically as I was at the mercy of the iPad’s photo taking capabilities, but it certainly captures the breathtaking beauty of the evening sky.