Twice in one day, I lifted the binoculars to my eyes, focused and declared to Jimmy, “You’re not gonna believe this!”
We thought we’d already seen everything that would make us gasp and exclaim – geysers and brilliantly colored steaming pools at Yellowstone; cable cars and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco; the eerie moonscape of the Badlands; the towering stainless steel Gateway Arch of St. Louis; the giant Sequoias of California and their giant dead trunks thrown up like so many matchsticks on the Pacific beaches of Oregon and Washington; iconic symbols of cowboy country littered throughout the West; the huge Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center which stopped us and our fellow tourists dead in our tracks while we all said “WOW!”; an armadillo; a manatee; whales migrating north along the west coast and dolphins migrating south along the east; panhandling burros; a black bear and a moose running across the road right in front of our car (but different days, different states); hundreds of alligators; the presidential carvings of Mount Rushmore where Lincoln’s nose alone measured 21 feet from top to bottom; the pastel art deco buildings of South Beach, Miami that are so beautiful as to defy description; the complete lack of inhibition of humans at South Beach; the gorgeous colonial mansions of Charleston.
So when a great egret and something orange and dog-sized caught my eye where they stood across a lake at our campsite in Ft. Lauderdale, I raised my binoculars and uttered, “You’re not gonna believe this!”
“Yes! Look!” and I reluctantly relinquished my binoculars. The iguana was a big fella, as long as the egret was tall, the size of a cocker spaniel with short, stout legs and a chunky tail. Stranger still, both animals were perched on top of willowy shrubs – a suitable setting for the slender egret, but Iggy definitely looked out of place. He was as orange as, well, an orange and doing his best punk imitation his headdress, a spiky cock’s comb, was impressive. They are called green iguanas but tend to look grey except when excited when they turn orange. Orangey Iggy appeared to be either challenging or courting the egret.
We now realize that through the media our senses have become dulled. We take the wonders of the world and nature for granted because we’ve seen photographs, seen it all on TV. But the awe of seeing Grand Geyser erupt for 10 minutes with scalding water to a height of 200 feet after waiting in the blistering Wyoming summer sun for three hours is indescribable. And like coming upon the iguana in his natural setting for the first time, these images are seared on our brains unlike the fleeting images on TV.
It is surprising that we haven’t seen an iguana before, as although this iguana is native to the Caribbean and Central and South America, they happen to like the climate Florida and escaped pets have multiplied and made a nuisance of themselves. They’ve chomped their way through landscaped gardens from Palm Beach to Coral Gables to Key West and even stop traffic on Highway 1.
Iggy put in an appearance later. Jimmy heard a little girl’s piercing scream followed by a whole chorus of little girls screaming until their Dad turned up to “rescue” them. It would seem they’d had their first sighting too. Iguanas are not dangerous unless cornered. They just look bloody scary.
In the afternoon (same day) we were sitting on the beach, gazing mindlessly out at yachts, fishing boats, water skiers, para gliders, jet skiers and people in varying and questionable states of undress, when a large ship pulled out of Fort Lauderdale harbor.
We’re used to seeing the blocky contours of loaded container ships but this one had an odd outline. For the second time that day I said, “You’re not gonna believe this!”
Lined up, as many as four abreast, on the deck of the ship were brand new luxury yachts and boats – gin palaces, sport fishing boats, launches, dinghies – of all sizes. At a conservative guess, there were $30 million (arrived at by multiplying 23 times a large number) worth of boats on the deck of the ship, and what lurked below?
We’d never seen anything so gloriously over the top and ostentatious . . . . until the next day when we went to the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, but that’s another story.