Once upon a time, for whatever reason, my friend Todd Garrett decided that the water in the pond here at El Jardin (the Medical Missions property where I live in Iquitos) was lonely, so he purchased a baby alligator and put it in the pond to keep the water company. Yes, I know, your minds are rambling through the same list of rhetorical questions as mine, with the primary one being: Has he lost his mind? Needless to say, since June I have been on a quest to find and remove the creature. Naturally I was not about to perform the task at hand, so several days a week for the past 5 months I have said to Villa that he needs to take care of this. He has given me one excuse after another as to why it hasn't been done: too much water in the pond (he can't get in to look), too little water in the pond (it has dried up due to lack of rain and the alligator has buried itself in the mud), too much mud (he doesn't have any boots), and my personal favorite, he hasn't seen the alligator in weeks therefore it must be dead and/or gone (you can see the logic, right?). I bought him a pair of wading boots for the purpose of getting in the pond to search; we also have a machete and any number of other tools that could be used to remedy the problem, yet the excuses continue.
Even I know that the best time to locate an alligator is at night with a flashlight, so Monday evening, just after dark, I took my little linterna and traipsed to the back of the property where the pond is located. One quick sweep across the water with the beam of light and, sure enough, there they were - 2 little orange eyes peering at me. Elder Luis and a couple of other guys were hanging out at the church next door and called out to me, asking what I was doing. I told Luis that I desperately wanted to get rid of the alligator and asked if he knew anyone who'd be willing to come get it out (since Villa is obviously as much a fraidy-cat as I am). Luis asked if I had a bat or other heavy object (which I did) and said he could take care of the problem himself. So I ran to the gate to let him in. Fifteen minutes later, after a good whack on the head with a metal rake, Luis scooped the unconscious reptile out of the water, took further measures to ensure it was dead, then picked it up by the tail and promptly carried it out the gate with him and over to the church for everyone to see. And that was that.
Of course, when Villa found out the next day, he turned on the machismo and said he would have been able to get it too if he'd been here at night (at which time I reminded him that he spent 3 weeks of nights here while I was in the U.S. in September). He just laughed that silly little giggle of his and shrugged his shoulders. So now we're on to worrying about bigger and better things, such as how to make El Jardin more secure for me after the string of break-ins on this block over the past week. How's that for a cliff hanger?