As long as I can remember there were caiman behind Tia Juana out avenida C about where the Corora road passed behind the camp. Over the years, the Shell Oil Company created many small ponds where they drilled their wells. There were also a couple of marshes near the pipeline that ran from Ule the main pump station. Remember the small camp at Ule?

Anyway, there were a group of us who ran around and who were bored during the summers after we came home from high school. My father let my brother, Bill and I use his jeep --we had one for as long as I can remember. We would get a few of our friends together and load up our weapons. Now, we could not have guns so we made wicked spears from construction rod which we had a welder tack a slanted hook to at the end and they we sharpened them on the sidewalks and then we wired them to the end of broom handles. They made great jabbing spears.

I ran around with Randy Sharpe, Eddie Robinson,John Yarbro and Randy & Mike Lanciault at that time and we would all get into the jeep with our assortment of weapons. We also had a spotlight on a 25 cable. So, we did our hunting at night where we could pick out the ruby red eyes of the caiman in the ponds with the spot light. We drove out to check out the ponds and we would find pairs of eyes glowing in the dark and we would aim the headlights of the jeep onto the pond and we would attempt to drive the critters out onto the ground. I forgot to tell you that we usually carried a ice-chest full of ice and bottles of Cacique and limes we picked from the trees in the camp. Anyway, we would have a few drinks and go after the caiman.

Well, we had lots of success most times. What with cursing, stumbling over rocks and running like hell if the caiman happened to turn on us. I was chased by a 3-foot caiman about twenty feet -- in full flight -- with the spot light in hand and jumped to the hood of the jeep with the critter hissing behind me with it jaws open and then biting at the jeep tires as my buddies finally got the beast. So what did we do with them? Well, we put them under the back seat of the jeep and headed home. Sometimes they were just dazed and they would come to under the feet of the guys in the back seat and there would be hollering and a ruckus as they attempted to subdue the beast.

Back home we would put the half-dead caiman in the ice cooler and then in the morning we would give it to a guy (Alan Duncan and he was British and studying to be a doctor). This kid would skin the thing alive because he learned that it was easier to get the skin off that way and then he would put the carcass on an ant heap in the back yard. He sold the skin to a guy in Ojeda.

Remember those red ants. Well the ants would cover the carcass and in about a week you could uncover the ant mound and there would be sparkling clean carcass.

One time, we went to a large pond with a group of cars from Tia Juana -- can't remember everyone who was there, but there were my usual friends then John Yarbro, Phillip Short and other including many of the girls including Franca Vettor, Yolanda Pena and others. Well, that was a night to remember. We knew there was a large caiman in the pond and Randy Sharpe waded into the pond thinking that he could chase it out. Instead, he stepped on the thing which was at the bottom of the pond and that night Jesus wasn't the only one who walked on water. He was so hyper after the experience that he could not stand still for an hour or more. Everybody was hollering and yelling and drinking -- what a riot!! We finally got it and someone had used a bow-n-arrow and there were arrows in the carcass and then someone else used an underwater spear gun and then there were the spears, etc...

I had a leg of a caiman that I had skinned and cured with table salt and then stuffed with cotton balls. I took it to the States and then one night I attended the local movie -- "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" sitting behind one of the local girls and during a tense scene I rubbed the foot one the side of her face and she turned to see it and just about died!! Great!!!

Then, there was the caiman that my brother and I found dead in the road coming back from a hunting trip in the monte. It was a blistering hot day and the road was so hot that the jeep left grooves in the asphalt. I stopped the jeep about 20 feet from the carcass and Bill went over to it with a hunting knife. He was curious and not thinking about the swollen body on the road in front of him, he leaned over and jabbed it with the knife. Well, its little sphincter let go gushing out rotten gas in his face and he about died on the spot. I put the jeep in reverse and backed up as fast as I could and he ran after me, barfing as he ran.

I died laughing.

 

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