I stand holding on to the interwoven wood balcony, looking out over the grounds, we are on the top floor. When you walk out it feels like you are in a tree house rather than a resort hotel room, even this high up the trees still tower above you. We are on vacation, call it a mix between Disney Land and an African safari. We stayed in a grand lodge with balconies overlooking the beautiful landscaped grounds, It feels as though the suits were simply placed temporarily in the jungle. A Short walk to the west and you find yourself standing on soft white sand beaches with turquoise waters at your finger tips. They had large wooden porches for you to get out of the sun, solar powered carved wooden fans decorated the ceiling providing enough breeze to cool you down in the hot tropical air. Your choice of swing chair or rocking chair to relax in.
We decided to head out and explore. As we come to the ground flour we walk along white stone paths that twist and wind around the premises making even this simple task a joy to do. As we enter under a stone bridge , simply another walkway above us, we encounter the most unusual wildlife. They have the bodies of a Llama, some were tall as a giraffe, others were the same height as me. One has the face of a chicken or perhaps a sweeter looking vulture is a better description, another the face of a camel. The tall ones simply looked as they should, except for their height. Some had colorful blue and red tassels woven into their fur, others wore pastel pink and green leg warmers. They were wild but naturally tame, curious creatures, that loved to be among humans. A crowd quickly gathered behind us, these creatures would come in close to inspect us, nudge our face, picking at our clothes. It was a delightful experience.
I reach out and scratch one on the underside of its jaw, he leaned into my hand but stood up alarmed when a loud roar came from behind us. A man with a tiger on a leash presses through the crowd, at first I thought he had lost control of it until I noticed he was afraid of these docile creatures and was goading the tiger to attack them. Before I knew it the tiger was lunging into the air still on leash and the man is dragged forward. The tiger, a Saber-toothed, stood taller than any grown man in the crowd. The gentle creatures panic and retreat the other direction awkwardly with their long slender legs, as they run if you can call it that , I notice some have legs like that of a chicken.
I call for help and the people panic, the man had clearly lost control of the tiger and it is still furious. The tiger stands on the opposite side of us, the man has only terror in his eyes, paralyzed by fear. I look, the crowd has dispersed and everyone else is behind me by several feet. I am on a stand off with the tiger, I hold my hands up but low and try to speak in soothing tones. The tiger no longer in a defensive stance, sits but still growls. Another man steps in, he has a polar bear on a leash. The bear seems gentle enough and calms the tiger down but we are all too afraid to see what happens next. As we leave the man insists that the bear is harmless and tries to demonstrate by poking and jumping on to the bear yelling to us “ see? he wouldn’t hurt a fly!” I look over my shoulder the man looks defeated, I think to myself he may be right but I still don’t trust the tiger. Rightly so, I hear a roar again and he’s loose. We run into the building, we enter the offices and explain what has happened. We need to get back to our rooms but we cannot enter the stairwell with our valuables. The staff shows us a safe place to store them temporarily and we run back to our suit.
We wait in our rooms until things calmed down. When we went back to retrieve our personal items, the office would not return one of the wallets, our friend was furious and just sat fuming at his predicament, I knew he would not accept my help but I offered it anyway. He bit back at my offer, infusing heat and frustration into me. I don’t know why I even offer I think to myself. I leave to go cool down on the covered porch. I sit with my book in the rocking chair, trying to relax but I feel too wound up over the days events to do so. Some friends approach me to further discuss what happened and suggest I go sit on the beach to help with my nerves. I gather up my things and move to the lounge chair on the beach. I sit there with my toes in the sand, my book, and a wide brimmed hat to cover my face. Another friend approaches me in beach attire with a drink in her hand. She notifies me that its happy hour and I should really try one of these, I look at what’s in her hand to see a Glass carved out of ice, it was clear with tiny bubbles trapped inside, When I looked further frozen within the glass was an entire fish about 6 inches long, It was a deep emerald green, its frozen eye a gleaming silver. It was frozen with its mouth open and the beverage was poured and served from inside the fish with a straw. It was a truly odd site, like you were drinking the fish’ innards but not since the inside of the fish was also incased in ice. She was delighted about it and urged me to try it, I simply nodded and said I would go check it out. As she walked away I looked towards the bar and contemplated why that would seem appealing and why it was so popular.