Let me tell you about the time I almost kissed a crocodile....
It was a few days into our all-inclusive-stay in Jamaica and my family was getting antsy. So we hired a driver for the day and headed out to St Elizabeth from Lucea. During the hour long drive we decided to head to a few destinations. One of them being Black River.
I had no idea what was in store for me, but I was pretty excited to take a break from the resort.
We pulled into the facility and gave a suspicious glance around. As my uncles haggled down the price of our adventure, my cousin and I mingled around what looked to be an air hanger. Snakes and other creatures were in various terrariums, which terrified her. I guess she didn't realize what would come next...
Finally, we loaded up into a large boat where other passengers were already seated. While I brought my camera and hat onboard, the captain and guide brought a huge bowl. He placed it under his chair and fired up the engine. He was friendly and cracked some jokes as he pulled into the rivers current.
As we drove along he chatted about the flora and fauna around us as I took in the landscape. Suddenly he killed the engine and pointed out. "Look, do you see them?" I peered overboard and heard a passenger gasp. Two crocodiles peered at us as we looked back. In a flash our guide was leaning over the edge of the boat with that bowl. He reached in and threw something overboard while he yelled "Come." to the crocs. They swam right over and their jaws snapped as they chewed. Chicken.
He introduced us, "This little one over there is Donette and next one is Terrorist." I gave a little wave. The two crocs eyes continued to follow us as he returned to his seat and began driving us down the river. I had no idea that in 30 mins I would be holding one.
We came to a pad of lilies and our guide walked to the front of the boat and leaned over into the water. Cue my cousin yelling expletives and telling him to get back in. He leaned back up and began handing something out to the women at the front of the boat. He soon reached me and handed me one with a wink. It looked like a peacock feather. He explained that the Water Hyacinth is one of the thousands of species of flora on the protected land. It was gorgeous.
We saw several impressive crocodiles on our journey. But I was more impressed with the wetlands and its story. Our guide scooped river water into a cup and asked which one of the passengers would try a sip. One guy stood up and took a gulp and described it as sweet tasting. The colour of the crystal clear water in the cup didn't resemble the dark depths he got it from. Our guide explained that the soil under the water gave it it's name and fooling colour.
After we docked, we strolled into a crocodile centre. Our guide explained that it was a spot for crocodiles who needed a little extra TLC. Two of them were in the middle of an argument when we got there. The males were hissing and only a fence stopped them from scrapping it out. Our group was pretty horrified but our guide casually yelled at them to stop and they did. He walked over to a smaller captivity and pulled out a small croc.
"His name is Cameron." he said looking at me. I fell in love! Our guide explained that the little guy was only 2 years old. Found in someone's backyard, the homeowner called the facility and found him a new home. I mustered up some courage and asked if I could hold him. Our guide instructed me to hold his neck and tail. He said it was even safe enough to kiss him. I was tempted to see if he would turn into a prince, but alas my cousin's judgemental stare stopped me.