From this picture you will deduce that they keep live crocodiles. Now we were told stories of baby crocs stealing bait and attacking the fishing line of unwary fisherman and some family members even warned my younger sprogs to stay far from the water. I didn’t believe them. Surely, they wouldn’t allow you to fish with crocs? Boy, was I wrong!
The crocodile enclosure spanned across two sides of the bridge crossing to the ponds, housing the most humongous specimens I have ever seen. Basking in the hot sun without a care in the world, these creatures secretly watched us, their sparkling green eyes attuned to the slightest movements around them. I warned my youngest to stay away from the fence dividing us from these gigantic creatures, but found myself drawn closer to their close proximity to the fence. Some force enticed us to want to get closer, as though what we were seeing was too far fetched to believe.
My brother scoffed at us and moved us along to the pond where our equipment was being delivered from the car. Yes, there are gentlemen there to carry your things so that you don’t have to struggle on your own along the jagged paths.
Upon arrival at our own thatched gazebo housing a large picnic bench and overlooking the splendid pond, my sprogs started screaming. Up in the ceiling, close to the beams was a giant spider with long black legs and a body, half white-half black. It contentedly watched our chaotic reaction to its presence from a web intricately woven like a hanging basket amongst the beams. After a deep breath I told them to just ignore it. After all, we had seen similar spiders surrounding the lion enclosures at the lion and cheetah park. They were supposedly harmless!
Once they got over the fact that we had company in the upper beams, they focused on the creatures flittering to and fro between the brickwork on the ground. Another round of screams were released because of the large ants and small spiders! I became impatient and told them to get a grip. We couldn’t avoid all of nature.
They settled down once we brought out the rods and big brother showed them how to load the worms in the hooks (something they refused to do themselves!). Soon, everyone had their own private spot around the pond. The fish were very savvy; each time a line was cast, we watched them literally jump out of the way and dance to another safer spot in the pond. Frustratingly, the tiddlers found it amusing to clean our bait off our hooks if we left the line in the water for too long.
The day dragged on and the heat pounded down on our heads. Accompanied by the sound of the various birds hidden in the reeds, the little kingfishers ducked and dived, barely catching the wily little buggers hidden just below the glassy surface of the water. I grew tired of my spot under a tree. The smell of fermenting water and the heavy buzz of flies behind me was off-putting, even if the spot was perfect for catching the Wile E. Coyote fish cooling themselves in the shadows cast over the water by the tree’s branches. I moved back to our gazebo to join my brother who was frying up some boerwors (spicy sausages) as a snack.
He asked me to recast his fishing line which was drifting lazily in the semi-cool breeze towards the lily pads. Excited to do it since he had a really nice sized rod, I hopped to the opportunity. Unfortunately I underestimated the wind and my ability to cast a heavier rod; the hooks and line went straight past a tree that had fallen into the water and got caught in its branches. Weirdly enough, this tree was still growing.
I apologised and promised to go retrieve his line. Big mistake. It’s only when you do something ridiculously dangerous that you realise how old you are. I started climbing this tree, telling myself that I had done this a thousand times when I was younger.
“Just keep your balance,” I muttered to myself, “and you’ll be fine.”
Well my vertigo set in and the green, murky water kept reaching up to grab me. I decided all fours was the way to go and crawled along the crumbly trunk. A thin branch was in the way so I batted it to one side, not noticing the sharp thorns poking out. It was some kind of Acacia plant that was using the tree to support it. There’s a special word for plants that do this, but it escapes me at this moment.
Long story short, I managed to crawl up to the slender branches jutting out into the water just as my brother reeled in the line. Disentangling the hooks from the fine, feathered leaves of the tree set it free and I was able to return to the safety of dry land. My arm was ripped by the thorns but that didn’t bother me as much as the threat of falling into the water. Later that day, I saw a baby croc swimming further up the pond. I was very glad I hadn’t fallen in!
After a lovely day basking in the sun like the crocs, we packed up and headed home. I’m sure I saw the fish waving good-bye and laughing at us. I didn’t mind. The baby crocodiles swimming just behind them were smiling too!