The cool morning breeze swept across the marsh. The breeze was soothing as it gracefully glides across my body clothed in a sleeveless top, shorts and flip-flops. I spy a wooden chair at the edge of the marsh. It sits stoically waiting for someone to care for its weather-beaten frame. On that wooden chair I take a seat, and with outstretched legs, I relax. The tiny ripples of water lapping on the shore do not have the strength to reach my bare toes, so they retreat to try again. With writing utensils in hand, and my camera beside me I sit. I put my head back. I listen.
On a not too distant island the screeching and jabbering of gibbons can be heard. I sit up focusing my camera in their direction, I watch them as they swing among the palm branches. The screeching suddenly stops, the gibbon’s race down the tree. I set my camera down, the quiet now giving way to the gentler sounds of my surroundings.
I lean back on my wooden friend. I listen. A 400 pound Aldabra tortoise munches on her breakfast of leaves of a queen palm. A parrot sings and chirps along with other indigenous birds to this tropical oasis. I rest to the whinnying of horses at a nearby ranch. My heart beats in rhythm to the croaking of a toad who jumped over to join me. The quiet pulse of nature soothes me; I am at peace with my surroundings.
The quiet is suddenly interrupted by the gibbons who are back to their playful, and loud antics. I listen closely, those screeches are sounding more like screams. I angle my head toward the sound. It’s louder now. It is human, I hear a blood-curdling scream. I grab my camera, slip on my flip-flops and run toward the sound. My view is obstructed by green vegetation. I see an area that looks manageable, I make my way through the overgrowth. I am standing on a ledge looking down some 300 feet to a river below. A woman on the edge of the water struggles with an alligator, his jaw clamped down on her leg. Off to the left I see some villagers running to her rescue, they slow as they get closer. The largest man takes a long metal pole and forces it in the jaw of the alligator running it along the women’s leg. Another man with a wooden board places it in the gator’s mouth holding down the bottom teeth. They use leverage of the pole to force the jaw open and free the woman. It would be bad luck to kill the alligator. They prod the gator back toward the river, he quickly and effortlessly glides into the water. The men set the woman on a piece of fabric, she lies there quietly. Through a sleeve on one side of the fabric they insert the pole, the one used to pry open the gator’s jaw, on the other side is a bamboo pole. Each man grabbed a handle of the makeshift stretcher, and they start down the beach taking the woman home. As I watch them make their way back I feel my body swaying back and forth. The swaying gets stronger. It feels like an earthquake; so why is the world growing darker?
I open my eyes, I see two figures in front of me. I am trying to clear the fog from my mind. Ma’am, are you okay? One leans forward, the rays from the sun cause me to shield my eyes. With my hand blocking the sun, “Yes, I respond. Where am I?” I can see them turn toward each other they shake their heads, one grabs for their radio. I look around, I am on the wooden chair, I have my camera, and my bag is next to me. The fog is lifting. I smile. I guess I fell asleep.
You are at the Phoenix Zoo ma’am. Yes I am, I replied. That is where I am supposed to be.
They smile. Sorry to bother you. One of the visitors reported you sitting here not moving, she was worried.
Oh, I see. I am fine, just tired.
No problem. While you were sleeping a child fell in the pond behind you. The mother was screaming. The father jumped in and rescued the toddler. The screams prompted a visitor to call the police. That is the reason for the police activity you may see as you walk through the zoo. Hope the rest of your visit is pleasant. Sorry to wake you.
Clearing what is left of the fog in my mind, I began to write.