PREDATOR LOVE HANDLE: A BIG CROC INDEED...
Palau "Sea crocodile," someone shouts. Are sure enough,
one worms along the riverbank a great, fatbellied grey thing that snaps
The deckhands keep heaving entrails off our put-put launch.
This ecotourism enterprise is so new, hacked from the mangrove tangle of Palau's big island. The rooster frescoes are as raw as the croc-snacks: fresh-painted onto the huts, modeled on the ancient bai meeting houses. A spirit lamp flickers in the outhouse.
all done for the love of Palau, which I never, ever could fault.
But. Stop. Baiting. Animals. Please.
Everyone loves charismatic megafauna, sure. Yet not at this price. Who wants to travel around the world for pullet-greedy, perform-on-
demand Predator Love Handle?
For several summers, I worked as a wilderness guide. A gonzo young thing, I carried extra gear with glee and preached the no-impact mantra.
weary from the Cascades or the Olympics would whine sometimes.
"Can I see a moose? A bear? A cougar."
snipe back, "do you really want to be in place where such things are guaranteed?
We show you mountains
without handrails. Can you ... dig?*"
(*Yes, yes, I realize this was insufferable. But I was a whippersnapper and much besotted with the Beat poets who retreated into our hills... I mean, c'mon, at least I wasn't throwing snowballs with rocks or gone wild, running with the mechanical bulls...).