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Thursday, June 17, 2010


When my husband booked us for a kayaking trip in Beaufort, S.C., I was excited. The day before our excursion, we were riding around on a golf cart and spotted a huge alligator sunning himself under a sign that read "Alligators May Live Here". We all laughed and took a couple of pictures. Later that day, Tim's mom informed us that a man had lost his arm to a gater a few weeks earlier—poor old guy stuck his arm in the marsh to retrieve a golf ball.

So before we set out on our journey—which took us meandering deep into the marsh—I asked our guide if we needed to know anything about safety or alligators. There was a pregnant pause. I told her I'd just learned about the guy who lost his arm. Another long awkward pause. Then sweetly laced words of assurance, "we've never had an incident and if you don't bother the alligators, they won't bother you." She finished by telling us that the gators on Fripp Island (where we were staying) are totally different from the ones on St. Helena—just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Another woman in the group reassured me that the man who lost his arm was "really old and dumb."

Being from the city and all, I don't know alligator habits, but a few questions came to mind: Why are gators on one island (10 minutes away from the one I'm on) so different from gators on another? Do old and dumb people attract more gators than young  smart people? I I was rapidly becoming the pesky paranoid tourist no one wants on the trip, so I kept these thoughts to myself.

The kayaking was sublime. Ironically, however, we were visited by not one, but five, alligators while eating our picnic lunch later that afternoon. We stuck around long enough to take a picture (see my son, David, above) then high tailed it out of there. I still trying to decide if the risk was worth the journey . . .

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