Only relatively newly arrived expats swim in the Placencia Lagoon. Locals shake their head and smile. “Crocodiles”, they say. And then add, “sewage”. I can’t decide which one I find more disturbing.
The first time I visited Pacencia, Belize, I swam across a narrow section of the lagoon, at night, reassured by a Canadian expat who, after living here for three months, thought he knew everything about the country. I would never do that again.
While the lagoon provides a spectacular view off Maya Beach (see insert), and is extremely inviting on a steamy day any time of the year, it is also a habitat of “literally thousands of species of organisms” (Placencia Lagoon, Science, Conservation and Mitigation projects in Placencia Lagoon Belize, 2008). Marine mammals share living quarters with more than 70 species of fish and both American and Morelet’s crocodiles.
Even though I found a number of tiny, secluded beaches in the mangrove growth while exploring with my kayak, I’ve stayed away from swimming after getting a confirmation by an approximately eight-to-ten-foot crocodile cruising right passed my veranda, on the surface, closer to the beach than my dog when she swims out to fetch her tennis ball.
No more throwing the ball in the lagoon!
I am not planning to get personally acquainted with either species of crocodiles, but I have to say, I am grateful to live at a place where the diversity of wildlife is not an urban legend. I love to watch pelicans fishing loudly and sloppily while I’m having my morning tea; flocks of small birds surrounding the veranda in the afternoon; countless geckos scurrying around on the vaulted ceiling at any time of day or night; and even the occasional scorpions playing possum in the middle of the living room.
A juvenile crocodile, already as long as my kayak, swimming by the house no further than 10 yards out is the cherry on top.
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