Dinner is served before a group of us embark on a trip across the lagoon in search of lagoon crocodiles. The lodge partners with researchers from the University of Florida, which subsidises these excursions to assist with their efforts to document the croc population here. Our guides Arturo and Abdul wield their spotlight looking for the reflections which mark out the eyes of our prehistoric-looking reptiles. 10 minutes in and Abdul catches a 3 ft-long male specimen. We look on as the crocodile is measured, weighed, sexed and chipped. Our experts agree - this lad (is that a sincere grin on its face and why is it looking me like that?!) is given a clean bill of health. We release him back into the water and he promptly dives down to resume his hunt for snails that we had rudely interrupted.
As I prepare to hit the sack after this long day (who invented jet lag and can I have his email? Asking for a friend), I realise how little I actually know about caimans/crocodiles/gators. I think I was guilty of taking them for granted - “oh, here’s another one” - and always paid closer attention to the more elusive animals. They are however fascinating creatures and I was pleased to see an entire team of guides here - with the backing of a huge institution like U of F - devote so much time to them and ensure they get the spotlight they actually deserve as key cogs in the balance of their habitats.
Tomorrow will be another great day as we’ll be visiting the nearby Mayan archaeological site, and there are few things I enjoy more than old stones! Probably only American Airlines for taking me back to Central America…