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Sayulita is a dirt and cobble-stone Mexican village with numerous paharos de la nieve – “snow-birds,”(winter visitors from the States and Canada,) which means it is picturesque, framed by a quiet bay, small green mountains, a spill of jungle and the iguana tree with a sign that reads sanctuario de las iguanas verdes. We stop under the strong branches above the rutted road and peer up. “You stand and stare,” the shop-girl told us, and pointed in the direction of a tangle of trees in the next block.

 Under the tree is a tall iron gate. Enormous butterflies hover. The iguanas blend in. We tilt our heads and gape, looking for a creature or two in the leaves above us. “There they are! Two of them.” Shabda said. I looked. Powerful arms and hands. Orange spiky backs. A head with an eye and a fake eye below it. But the tail, my God, that tail is long and thick and scaly. Most iguanas look bigger than a green daschund but dragonish. A thin pig dressed in a costume.

 An on-line zoologist claims that skin change from green to orange in the male occurs just before breeding season, along with dewlap extension and head bobbing. They feed on bugs and leaves, and stay near water so they can drop in and swim away, if threatened. A Green Iguana can grow up to seven feet long. I really hope one doesn’t fall on us.


Things fall out of the sky these days. The Air Force jet flattened two San Diego houses. Bernard Madoff’s fifty billion dollar investment scheme crashed on to the front pages of the New York Times last week, was splayed all over the international press, knocked us over and spilled our peace of mind, and that of many friends. Makes you want to duck. Makes your blood run cold. For the reptile cold blood is not a problem. Fire breath is another thing entirely. In the world of caves and treasure, the dragon is better than an investment firm. A large, fast-moving, burn-you-quick reptile.

Just where was that treasure-dragon when Mr. Madoff made off with all the money?