The Visitor

It is my third day in Costa Rica, and I have just arrived at my cousin’s beautiful home on the ocean. I am enjoying the veranda with the million-dollar view, and the cook has brought me cheese and crackers.

Then something catches my eye under the table, and suddenly I’m jumping up from my chair and hopping around from one foot to the other and making little squealing sounds. He hesitates, then turns and retreats to the ledge above. He is almost three feet long, this beautiful iquana. Scaly and in varying shades of green and gray, there is almost an iridescence to his skin. His eyes roll around and fix on me. I calm down, then consider him. I can anthropomorphize any creature. So I decide he’s a youngster, probably in his teens, as iguanas go. He’s a moocher. Someone here has offered bits of crackers or cheese before. And he has been drawn by the scent of mine. Of course he thinks I will be as generous. Claro!

I sit down, and he comes back down the wall and approaches once again under the table. It is a little too close for comfort, so I jump up once again, and this time I go to find Eider, the cook. Eider comes out to the veranda, takes the empty green plastic bag from the trash and shoos the iguana back toward the wall, whacking away at it until the poor creature races toward the garden, hissing at Eider all the way, then dives into the flora. Suddenly I feel bad. Wish he would come back. But I spend the rest of the evening on the veranda alone.

The next day I am reading, sunk deeper into my book. Something catches my eye. It is the iguana, near the bar. He scrambles up the wall and sits on the ledge, watching me, ready to make a fast escape if necessary. I keep reading, and after a while, he settles down on the ledge in the sun, facing out toward the ocean. He stays there even when I get up to go inside. A couple of hours later, I return with my book, and my camera. I want to shoot him. He rises up on his haunches as I settle down, then, just as I turn my camera on him, skitters away into the garden. I do not see him again that afternoon.

Two days later, he is back, on the ledge soaking up the warmth from the October sun. I sneak up with my camera, and he puffs up as if to hiss. Cautiously he dips down to the rock, where he blends in so well I doubt my camera will find him. I try, though, and come away with an image of rock-blended iguana. He doesn’t like me. I will have to work hard to make friends again. Perhaps feed him a bit of my lunch - tomorrow. I name him Fred.