July 19, 2017
Vieques, Puerto Rico
written by: John
Today I learned a valuable lesson in proper mango management and what size vessels are needed when collecting mangos. Here’s what happened:
I went out for my usual morning mango collection, as we have many, since they are in season and our trees are loaded. The best bearers are at the bottom of the property, which isn’t a long walk but it is a nice stroll down a hill through various tropical plants.
It had rained last night and the mangoes that had dropped were plentiful-more than would fit in the medium sized pan that I had brought down.
I only had the pan because I was dumping our overnight/dinner compost scraps and use that to bring up the mangos. Some of the mangos had been busted open, had worm holes in them or just didn’t look like ones that I would keep. When you have so many you can afford to be picky. Those castaways are collected and fed to the horses that linger along Murderers Row–that’s another story–so I threw them out from under the tree in a roughshod group to make them easier to collect when I returned with the “damaged mango bucket.”
My mango collection pan was full as it only holds about a dozen medium mangos, so I neatly piled the other dozen good mangos next to a bush for later collection.
I went up to the house with the first half of my haul, moved yesterdays haul to the sink to be peeled and prepped for storage or eating, and headed down with a bigger container for the remaining “good” mangos.
As I got closer I noticed that some of the mangos had moved out of the pile and discounted it to gravity, since the bush where I left them was on a small rise.
Then I noticed a long, thin green and black striped snake whose head was hidden by the bush. As I crept closer and further out for a good view, I realized that this was no snake, but a very large iguana feasting on my neatly piled ‘good’ mangos.
Now, I’m not one for shooing off any interesting creatures so I comforted it with a soft low voice, while I dug out my phone to snap off a few pics. The photo shoot was short lived, but I did get a couple of excellent shots of this monster. He ran to the edge of the property where there’s a chain link fence while I snapped off a couple of more shots.
Then he did the unthinkable. He tried to run through the fence!
Obviously, running through it was not going to happen for this big guy, as he was much girthier than those 2″ square holes in the fence.
Undeterred, he tried it again and again and it actually vibrated that whole section of fence with every ram. He was a giant for sure, but there was no way he was going to knock the fence over. This allowed me time to get a little closer for a few more snaps of my lens. I held my arms apart to estimate his size. It appears this guy was right about 5′ long and 16-18″ in girth–a monster!
When he first scrambled away from the mango pile he stopped, gave me a sideways look, and bobbed his head a couple of times.
Did that mean, “Thanks for the mangos,” or “I’m going to bite, whip and claw you for disturbing my mango buffet?”
Either way, I kept my distance.
If he had wanted to turn and chase me down, he would have definitely won–I’ve seen them run and they’re fast.
He finally made it through a hole under the fence into the dry mini jungle next door and away he went…at least until I set out another mango buffet for him.
So after he’d left, I stood there for a while to access what just happened.
Why did he go for my neat pile of a dozen mostly green mangoes and not the 2 dozen randomly strewn about, of which some were ripe and juicy?
Was this just to piss me off?
I’m not mad. I am grateful for this close encounter of a “monstrous” kind and I was happy for the photo shoot.
Or, was the way that I had stacked the neat mango pile that looked so inviting?
Since I don’t speak iguana and don’t know how to interpret head bobs, I guess I will never know.