The first time I went to Costa Rica was last summer. I was staying at an eco-lodge called Nicuesa in the middle of the rainforest close to the Panama border. For whatever reason, I preoccupied myself with Google searches before the trip, trying to figure out which creatures down there in the wilderness would kill me. I started having nightmares of crocodiles. I studied exactly how I should run away from a crocodile should it chase me (in a zig-zag), but was surprisingly disappointed when the local crocodile at Nicuesa didn’t show his face.
A recent second trip to Costa Rica left me more satisfied. On a winding, hilly, beautiful drive out to the Los Suenos Resort on the Pacific, my driver stopped off the newly built Caldera Pacific Highway for what I thought was a courtesy, a blessing from him to me, a way of saying, “go ahead, go buy handfuls of the $5 handmade earrings hanging from the roadside stand”. So I bought the earrings. I went to the restroom. I eyed some tapestries. And then I realized what everyone else at the stop had already realized: there were a shit-ton of crocodiles nearby.
Just a minute walk away from us was the Tarcoles River—better known to gringos (and maybe locals?) as Crocodile River. I approached the bridge over the river with caution, fully prepared to zig-zag back to my car. I peered over the bridge’s edge and gazed down onto mud-brown waters ornamented with the bulging eyes and thick skins of crocodiles—many of them. I mean, at least twenty of them. Maybe twenty thousand.
I’d bet any nearby locals were scoffing at my excitement over a creature they’ve grown up with, but you know what? Whatever. Seeing crocodiles in the wild is freaking awesome and viewing them from atop a little bridge like this is the best way to do it…and, you know, probably the safest way.
By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz