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
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!!
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.