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The Caiman Waits to Eat the World

March 15th, 2010


Caiman crocodilus

This caiman lives in one of the network of ancient, man-made reservoirs that once supplied drinking water to the Mayan city of Tikal–number three, I think, on this map. He’s little, only three or four feet long, and he spends his days pretending to be a log (pictured), in hopes of preying on the egrets, rails, ducks and other marsh birds that venture too close–and when he can get them, probably on those chihuahua-sized, tailless rodents I kept seeing scurrying about in the underbrush.

For this, my last piece of Guatemala ranting at least for now, it seems appropriate to bring back my favorite Mayanist quote about the end of the world:

“The word for eclipse in Maya is chi-bal-kin, literally “bitten sun’, and it was the ancient belief, which persisted until fairly recent times, that at the time of an eclipse the sun was bitten by a serpent.”

The City of the Sacred Well: Being a Narrative of the Discoveries and Excavations of Edward Herbert Thompson in the Ancient City of Chichenitza T.A. Willard, 1910

An awesome book, by the way, which can be had for free on los eeenternets, here.

Next week, it’s back to chilly, wind-blown New England.

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