Friday night about three I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming that I was sitting in my house in Bucerias when it got hit by a hurricane. Of course, it’s not hard to figure out why I had this nightmare. My time in Bucerias has been a nightmare. And a hurricane of disasters. So I decided that I would get up at six, with everyone else, and tell them I wasn’t joining them on their excursion to San Blas. But when I got up and told Chris this he said, “Forget about it. You’re going to San Blas with us.”
And so I did.
La Tovara, the national park in San Blas, is sort of like the Mexican version of the jungle cruise ride at Disneyland. Guides in little boats slowly take you up the twisting waterways of the San Blas water refuge and point out the open-mouthed crocodiles on the banks and the turtles sunning on logs. Except these animals aren’t animatronics. They’re the real thing.
The cruise isn’t quite as much fun as it used to be. Even a few years ago, when you showed up for your cruise at seven or eight in the morning, they’d offer you a free beer. But times are tough at La Tovara; now you have to buy your own beers.
The Fletchers have done this cruise eight or nine times and know that you want to get there right after they open, around seven. That way you see more wildlife and avoid the crowded boats that tend to zip through the mangroves later in the day. So there we were, the first boat on the water, admiring the orchids growing wild on the tree branches and hundreds of tropical birds—tiger herons and green kingfishers and mangrove warblers—when we come around a bend in the river and there’s a six-foot long crocodile just hanging out with his mouth open. I asked the guide why he stood there with his mouth open and he shrugged and said it was how crocodiles regulated their body temperature. Or perhaps he was just thinking of the good ol’ days when tourists would come by and pour a little Corona down his gullet.