Burundi – PART 3
Croc got me locked tight in the jaw. His jaw unfortunately. Not mine. And to those rather faintly acquainted with um, stuff, I’m not talking about a ham and cheese grilled sandwich either. The matter at hand –for that is where I’m bit- is a seven meter long Crocodylus niloticus or African crocodile.
His name is Gustave. A fabled demon and largest ever crocodile on record, weighing in at about a thousand kilos, is reported to have snatched over three hundred people, including the wife of the Russian ambassador, from the banks of the Rusizi river. The only reason this particularly aggressive suitcase hasn’t yet ripped my entire arm from the socket is that I’m using all other available limbs to poke him in the eye. Repeatedly. The single jab didn’t impress much, even though I haven’t cut my nails in five days. “Let go,” I implore and, realizing the prosaic pallor of my wording add, “evolutionarily speaking, you shouldn’t even exist, let alone attempt to feast on my sloppily manicured extremities. It’s bad manners and I won’t stand for it.”
They actually farm these things in Australia, and I wonder if it’s because they kept eating all the cows. A pragmatic can’t-beat-them-farm-them approach I guess. And yet, I can see how the maid might have a hard time milking the rascals in the morning. Keep some Band-Aid ready. A deep gurgling growl interrupts my thoughts. In addition, splashes in the coppice indicate Mr. Ham and Cheese has found occasion to text his buddies about the impending buffet. Things aren’t looking good. No sir.
“You’ll regret this,” I insist, feebly. Truth be told, the reptilian predator whose eyes meet mine in carbuncle defiance sits safely enclosed by the concrete of a drained swimming pool. Welcome to the Musée Vivant. “This is Mr. Lacoste,” our guide chuckles. Gustave meanwhile remains at large, not quite ready to switch from delicious human flesh to the porcupines thrown at his captive peers to regale paying visitors.
My visit’s drawing to a close. One last pint of Amstel before I go. “Warm or cold?” the waiter inquires. He isn’t kidding. Most Burundians prefer a nip at room temperature, or the temperature of whichever abode or lack thereof they happen to be occupying. At a table across the room sits a spitting image of Grace Jones, who is cloned locally in a secret experiment that started around 1977. Less famous than the Boys of Brazil these girls of Burundi develop in stealth. A thousand or so are groomed and prepped to talk, sing, and walk exactly like the Jamaican superstar. Only one is selected each year. The runners up serve at autograph sessions, mall openings, and as decoys to paparazzi scum.
While the real Jones enjoys a carefree life as an ageing waffle waitress –she scarcely remembers anything about her previous life due to cocaine usage in the eighties- a new model enters service every January first, confounding fans, journalists, and longevity researchers. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Go check it out for yourself. Go to Burundi!