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
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.
looked back and the monkeys had settled down
and proceeded to cross the road in their original
lesson learned the hard way.