Croc Watch

Viewing the changing landscape as we continue our journey west along the southern coast of Jamaica has us imagining the thoughts of early explorers and settlers. Still harbouring Spanish names such as Ocho Rio and Rio Grande, this predominantly English colony’s colourful past has all but disappeared. Images of opportunist pirates hiding their booty amongst the natural caverns along the aptly named Treasure Beach or up the many rivers and under palm trees depicting an ‘x’ come to mind. So lush and full of nature’s booty in the way of native fruits and fresh water that it is no wonder that escaped slaves could build up their strength to lead rebellions.

Jamaican coastline in one of the many beautiful sunsets

Jamaican coastline in one of the many beautiful sunsets

Having followed us for an hour beyond Great Pedro Bluff to the bay where Treasure Beach stretched, the police and coast guard once again boarded us. They seemed just as excited as us when a friendly and curious pod of ten dolphins swam around the boat examining us. The anchorage proved quite rolly but the scenery was exceptional with cave laden cliffs and then a golden beach curving around to meet more cliffs. A few well kept pensions and beach bars dotted the coast line. Unfortunately, the water was murky so we moved on the next day.

Croc sunning itself in the warm winter sun

Croc sunning itself in the warm winter sun

Kiki was keen to partake in the Black River crocodile tour into the swamps. The only suitable spot to land the dinghy was in front of the tour operator. A large ‘plastic’ crocodile in front of the establishment gave the tourists an idea of what was in store for them. I suggested that we park there the next day to get a photo of the croc guarding the dinghy. We organised the tour for the next day. I was disappointed on our arrival the following day to find that they hadn’t put the croc out yet so decided that the photo would have to wait. We had a fabulous tour up the river and saw many crocs posing in various ways. One, Peter they’d named him, swam out to the boat with expectant eyes. They sometimes feed them raw chickens to encourage them to come to the boats but its just a random practice so that the animals don’t depend on them.

YS Falls, so named for Yates and Scott, the original owners of the property

YS Falls, so named for Yates and Scott, the original owners of the property

Upon our return to the dock Kiki and I headed of to YS Falls, a beautiful cascade on a private horse and cattle stud up in the countryside and Thomas headed back to the boat to get some work done. The setting for the falls was a magnificent green pastured farm with the occasional small mound-like hill covered in jungle. The owners of the property had set up lounge chairs and small huts for day trippers to relax. Kiki and I made the most of them and felt quite refreshed after a few sweet water baths.

Kiki and I ready for a dip

Kiki and I ready for a dip

When we got back to town we radioed Thomas to come and pick us up. We returned to the safari place and was happy to see that the crocodile had been finally put out in its original spot. “Come on Kiki. Come and put your head in its mouth for a funny photo.” “I’d rather just put my hand in,” she replied. Briskly we approached and when it moved its head from side to side I was impressed with the lengths that this company went to to entertain their patrons. I turned to look for the person with the remote control and accused a man standing in the doorway in a uniform. He denied it and some American tourists informed us that he was their guide and had nothing to do with the place. So I looked beyond the door for the culprit. No sign of them but I was in on the joke and determinedly marched back towards the croc. Feeling a bit threatened it then moved in an agitated way and I was suddenly convinced that it was real. Kiki and I burst out laughing. The man in uniform asked what was so funny and we told him that we were going to put our head or our hand it its mouth for a photo. Concerned, he ran back inside and alerted the militant receptionist of our ambitions, not realising that we’d already put our plans on the back burner until the ‘real’ fake crocodile stepped forward. The receptionist came out yelling and lecturing us about how we would destroy the tourist industry and cause them to go bankrupt by giving them a bad name when we were eaten. This just made us laugh harder. Her concern for our safety was touching.

Kiki enjoying the fresh water

Kiki enjoying the fresh water

Still nearly wetting our pants while we discussed and rein-acted our stupidity and close call, Thomas arrived to pick us up. To my dismay, he headed straight to tie up on the cleat near the crocodile obviously to get the planned photo. Madly, I waved my arms and gestured for him to park closer towards us. Not understanding my warnings he brushed them aside unable to see any obvious dangers, (how about the 2 ½ metre croc right in front of you buddy!!!), and remained on his course speeding towards the dock… and croc. All of a sudden the croc, realising the impending danger himself, slid into the water right in front of the dinghy. I just wish I’d caught Thomas’ surprise on camera. Once he was out of the dinghy we laughed and laughed with the sound of the ranting receptionist in the background. It was so slapstick.

Before leaving Black River we were once again boarded by coast guard and the marine police. We had a nice peaceful stopover in a bay called Bluefields before heading off to Negril, a tourist Mecca. We have been boarded twice by marine police since our arrival in Negril and have decided to just leave the fenders out as we know they’ll be back.

We’re anchored out in front of a beautiful beach with two big resorts to a distance either side of us. It’s surprisingly quiet here with just a bit of sailing and jet ski activity during the day. Bargaining with the vendors on shore is exhausting as they squabble for the tourist’s dollar.

So glad my sailing buddy didn't have a croc land on his lap in the dinghy!

So glad my sailing buddy didn’t have a croc land on his lap in the dinghy!

The locals here told us that Kiki was the name they give to the best ganga and thought it was a really cool name. She’s all tanned up and relaxed after a few weeks sailing. Her enthusiasm was great for trying the local vegetables and fruits. She’s been a great helpful guest and we’ll miss her. I loved the games each night. Now we’re looking forward to Carmen arriving from Bamberg, Germany on Christmas Day. She’ll be a wonderful gift for us, and she’s carrying our ordered Christmas presents from Germany for us too. It’ll be like picking up Santa from the airport. Anyway we send our very best seasons greetings to everyone. We hope you have a lovely day with loved ones. Big hugs and kisses to all of our loved ones. xxxxx

 

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