So I have this story that will probably blow your mind away. You know it ends well because I’m writing this, so please just hold your questions, comments, exclamations, or freak-outs until you’ve read the whole thing.
Two staff members, seven other volunteers and I decided to visit a wetland park full of crocodiles. We were supposed to meet our guides with their boats at a dock so we were driving in a Land Rover, trying to find the dock. We couldn’t seem to find it and the person driving the vehicle was getting frustrated because we were going to be late so she started speeding a little bit. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the staff member sitting in the passenger seat, pointed at something in front of her and shouted, “There it is. STOP!” The driver tried to slow down, but there wasn’t enough time so she slammed down the brakes.
The Land Rover stopped before driving into the water, but I didn’t. I went flying out of the vehicle and landed in the river. The water was pretty cold. I went under and then came up as quickly as I could to get some air. I brushed the water grass off my face and rubbed the water out of my eyes. Then I looked back at the Land Rover. Everybody was yelling and pointing at something to my left. My hearing aids weren’t working because of the water, so I couldn’t make out what they were yelling or saying. I looked over to my left and realized why they were so upset. A crocodile was swimming straight for me.
I knew if I turned toward shore, I wouldn’t get out of the water in time and the crocodile would snatch me from behind. I also knew that I wouldn’t go down without fighting. In a flash, I realized that I wasn’t done living my life. The crocodile disappeared underwater. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the people on shore yelling and waving their arms like crazy, trying to get me to come out of the water. Instead I dove underwater to face the crocodile. The water was muddy, but I could see a dark figure coming straight for me. I held my breath and waited for him to get closer.
When the crocodile was about two feet away, he opened his huge jaws. His intentions were clear. Somehow I grabbed his nose and lower jaw to keep his mouth away from me. His powerful jaws were able to snap even though I was still holding on to him. I don’t know how, but I knew I had to keep my fingers away from his teeth. We thrashed around until I felt the river bottom under my feet. I’m not sure where I got the strength—maybe the crocodile was getting tired—but somehow I threw the crocodile’s mouth in the other direction so I could scramble out to dry land. I looked back and saw the crocodile swimming away from me.
I was soaking wet, but there wasn’t a single scratch on me. Everybody in the Land Rover was staring at me, dumb-founded and near tears. Nobody said anything, so I just laughed and said, “I’m okay, folks.” After a moment or two, one staff member broke the silence, “I thought you were dead.” “Yea, me too,” another person said quietly. Then suddenly everyone was talking at once. Our guides were right there so they saw the whole thing. One of the guides came up to me and said, “You are one lucky bitch, you could’ve been croc food in there.” He laughed and patted me on my shoulder. All I could do was laugh about it and then we went on the boat drive to learn all about crocodiles.
After the boat drive, the guides wanted me to come back to the office with them and tell the rest of their team about what happened in the water. I tried my best to tell the story though it was difficult to explain how the hell I had survived without any knowledge or experience with crocodiles. All I could say was that it must have been some kind of survival instinct. I had a clear memory of an inner voice telling me not to touch the teeth when I grabbed the mouth so I wouldn’t lose any fingers or limbs. All the guides were acting like my experiences was some kind of a miracle and I was a crocodile whisperer or something.
At the end of the day, the staff decided we should go out for drinks since everyone had been really scared when I was in the water. All evening, I kept thinking, “Whoa, I could’ve died back there! How did I escape from that crocodile? No way I’m telling my family about this!” Everyone told their own version of the story. “I cannot believe how far you went flying out of the vehicle into the water!” “That crocodile must have been so pissed that you got away!” “You could’ve died!” It was getting harder for me to remember what really happened, but as the evening faded, I felt relief that the day was over—and that I had survived it.
The next morning, I woke up feeling even more confused about what had happened. At breakfast, I sat with the staff member and some of the volunteers. They were acting like it was any other day. Finally, I had to ask: “Did we visit a wetland park yesterday?”
They all looked at me like I had lost my mind. Finally someone said, “Noooo,” really slowly, like they were trying to figure out what I was talking about.
I asked again “Are you sure we didn’t go anywhere near water or crocodiles?”
They were very sure. “No, we didn’t leave the game preserve yesterday.”
“So I never really fell in the water and had to fight off a crocodile?”
That’s when I realized…it must have been a dream, the most vivid dream I’ve ever had.
When I told everybody about my dream, they all thought it was crazy that I had remembered so many details. For me, the crazy part was that it felt so real.
Later on, somebody told me that, when a crocodile appears in a dream, it’s a sign of healing. That’s interesting, considering that, in my dream, the crocodile was trying to eat me!
I’m not sure why I had this dream or what the heck it means. All I know is that being in Africa is changing me. My experiences here are seeping into my dreams. Yes, there are dangers, but in my dreams at least, I know what I need to do it survive!