Age 5 & 6
In the early 50's when the Tia Juana camp was mostly houses on stilts and there were few homes and there was no large pumping station to pump out the camp when the rainy season came and the camp would flood regularly and there was no fence dividing the Shell camp from the Creole camp -- the streets ran the full length of the two camps -- there was abundant wild life. You see, over the generations during the annual droughts the wild animals would come to the lake to drink and the camp was built in their way.

At one time a tigre with a cub was found by its roaring in the top of one of the coconut palms. Parrots would flock into the trees in the evenings and everyone had pet parrots or cages of parakeets or an occasional ocelot or a “cuchi-cuchi” or pet pythons. It also was not unusual to find deadly snakes - Corals in particular were common -- in your yard or in the carport in the early mornings.

Dad and Mom went hunting almost every weekend and even weekdays after work taking my brother and I along. We used to find large land tortoises - almost two feet long and 1½ wide and take an occasional one home as a pet. We even caught armadillos to make as pets, but the things could dig their way out of anything. Dad would drill a small hole in the shell edge at the rear of a tortoise and tie a cord to it and a tree in the yard where we would keep it until we became bored and let it go and once we caught an armadillo behind Tia Juana and put it into the chicken coop where it dug itself free over night – that’s when I learned how they could dig. When we caught it, Mom, held onto its tail in the passenger seat of the jeep as Dad drove home, but the tail slipped out of Mom’s hand and all hell broke lose as the poor armadillo scrambled to escape and Mom lifted her legs and hollered at Dad to stop the jeep and Dad laughed and laughed as he finally caught the beast and we drove home with it.

In the afternoons behind Tia Juana you could hear the Red Howlers hollering in the jungle. At this time there were few Paisanos in the back country. We came upon a tribe of Red Howlers crossing one of the Shell Oil exploratory roads and Dad decided to interrupt the crossing by driving into the path way.

Well, all hell broke loose!! The monkeys on both side of the road did not want to go around the jeep and instead jumped up and down making a “grand demonstration”. As they became more agitated they started to throw sticks and rocks at the jeep and eventually to our disgust they started to crap into their hands and throw the crap at the jeep and us. This strategy on their part worked as Dad pulled the jeep ahead as fast as he could to avoid any more of that abuse.

We looked back and the monkeys had settled down and proceeded to cross the road in their original track.

Another wildlife lesson learned the hard way.

 

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