My nephew and I are walking back from the bakery in the downtown Cabo Rojo area, a lazy Saturday afternoon, muggy and cloudy as most days have been lately. We are walking down the street that dead-ends at the large drainage canal behind My house. Nearing the bridge that crosses it, on the left, is a vacant lot where a small house stood until 1998, when Hurricane George hit the area, shortly after My arrival here.
Some days I wonder if I had anything to do with that...Curiously, the nephew I'm with was almost 3 months old back then.
We're talking about basketball and football, just talking, and as We come up parallel to the vacant lot, My eyes take in an odd sight, blink, and then I say to him, interrupting My sports comment: "Mira eso." Look at that.
Just to Our left, about 3 feet from My nephew, atop some rubble overlaid by a corrugated zinc sheet, lies an iguana. Not the garden variety, 12-inch, smooth, gray-skinned-with-black-markings kind, but a veritable lizard monster, stretching 5 feet from its dewlapped neck, craggy head and gimlet yellow eyes to its long hind claws and snake-like tail. It was staring Us down as My nephew and I gawped at each other.
The lizard didn't move. I measured it again with My eyes, from spiky head to where its right hind claw perched on some wood, My gaze moving clearly from My right to My left. Maybe 6 feet in length, if you add the tail. My nephew asked Me if I had ever seen one before and I answered not in downtown Cabo Rojo or anywhere else outside of a zoo. Every other specimen I'd seen was smaller by far. I wondered what it ate and we both looked down at the supermarket bags filled with fast food papers and garbage just underneath the lizard's perch. Partial answer there.
We moved away slowly as I kicked Myself mentally for not having My phone with Me. We raced up the stairs, across the bridge then down the other side to My house and told My son, My older nephew and My Special One to come see a surprise. My son, aware that I seldom act this excited, gave up looking for his other shoe and followed Us wearing one tennis shoe and only a sock on the other foot.
The lizard was gone. I showed the others where the lizard was when We saw it and how far it extended atop the rubble. It was then that I looked at the vacant lot, the blank space that in My mind was just the remnants of an old house and a muddy field when it rains. I took in the tall grass near the canal's wall and how the grass grew very high at the back of the roughly triangular lot. Two large trees dominate that far corner, each over 50 feet, covered with kudzu. The grassy area is pockmarked with the house's debris, mainly wood and metal in ramshackle piles low to the ground. Water accumulates in small deep puddles left by tires as cars and trucks park in the grassless area every once in a while. To My left, a mechanic's garage and behind the vacant lot lies only the canal. The few houses across the street are either owned by elderly folks who live alone or are doctor's offices, largely empty during the week.
Where once I saw a dead-end street for traffic that gave Me a shortcut to town, now I saw a tiny pocket of wilderness, an open terrarium for a huge lizard. To say that My daily walks into and out of town are going to be different now is to understate the impact of a simple truth: When eyes see a New World, they see everything again...better.
And yes, I intend to take the lizard's picture one day.
The Jenius Has Spoken.