When we all saw the movie, Jurassic Park, we were glad it was make believe the idea of there being a place where you could reach out and touch gigantic lizards who were as dangerous as they are large. But if there was a place where you can get that close to wild and ferocious beasts that are as ancient as those frightening dinosaurs, you might just want to jump on a plane and go there as fast as you can.
There is such a place not that far from Miami in the Everglades National Park. This historic preserve has been carefully protected to save for all of us a real American swampland full of exotic creatures that are not in zoos but that you can visit virtually face to face.
A visit to the Everglades seems like you are being teleported to another world entirely. The exotic swamp setting has creatures that are wild and strange to most of us as well as plant life itself seems to be from an alien land. The trees hang down runners all over the swamp that themselves lay down roots and become new trees. There are flowers with huge blossoms that open wide for you to reach in and sniff. But be careful that you don’t get to close in case it is a meat-eating flower that snaps down on unfortunate insects to fly to close and devours them.
You can get to the Everglades Park by car from Miami. But once you are there, the best way to really experience the exotic animals is to get a guide to take you deep into the swamps. As you glide along in his boat, your guide will point out the slow moving nutria moving along, taking their time as though time had stopped entirely. And you will feel as though it did as the rest of civilization disappears and you are surrounded by that primitive swamp with no one but the guide to help you find your way out. You will be glad he is a friendly sort and not the kind to abandon you in these dangerous swamps.
Perhaps he will guide you to the pools where huge swarms of flesh eating fish lie just under the surface. As he scatters tiny bits of meat, you will see a feeding frenzy that makes it look like the water itself was boiling as the tiny fish with their sharp teeth swarm over the morsels to get their meal for the day.
Finally, the time you have been waiting for has come as he tells you to prepare yourself to meet the mighty alligator who haunts these swamps. These are not tame animals trained to do tricks for strangers. As the guide whistles to draw them out, you see nothing more than their snouts and eyes at first. They swim toward you, it seems like dozens of them, to the boat because they recognize his call. He throws bread or donuts to them and you see those mighty jaws open and clamp down to snap up their share of the treats.
Your skilled guide will make sure you get a chance to come up along side of one of these amazing lizards to examine their long scaly bodies as they swim. Their appearance is frightening, repulsive and strangely beautiful. He may even carefully coach you in how to reach out and touch the back of the huge alligator, his body and tail perhaps as much as ten to twelve feet long so you can know the feel of that strange prehistoric body in its natural setting. This will be a sensation you will not forget for years and perhaps never.
You may feel a sense of relief as your skilled guide maneuvers his craft back to civilization and you see your trusty car again. But you will come away from your trip to The Everglades with a new appreciation for the wonders of nature and the amazing diversity of life God has put on this planet. This is unlike any tour you ever took because you were right out there with those strange, exotic and dangerous beasts. But the rush of excitement of that danger is what makes the everglades one of the most fun and thrilling sights you will see on any of your travels around America.