18 October 2011

Report: Plycem and the crocodiles

     Fifty-four sheets of Plycem, delivered to a Bluefields' wharf from Managua.   Plycem is a cementitious product kind of like tile backer board; or imagine a 1/2" thick piece of Hardiplank the size of a sheet of Plywood.  It's used in lots of places, including here, as siding.   Once fixed to a house's framework it gets a smooth seamless coat of mortar and the house ends up looking like typical block construction.  At 1/2 " thick each sheet weighs about 100 pounds.   Because of the weight we knew that there would be more than one trip of the pontoon boat to False Bluff to deliver the stuff to the job site.
     The first load of Plycem, 20 sheets, left Bluefields late in the morning, heading up the creek toward the dock just about the time that much of the water in the creek was heading down toward Smokey Lane Lagoon: low tide.  The three men ferrying the load jumped into the creek to push the boat over a low spot and suddenly there were crocodiles all around their legs.
     I got this story second hand late in the day after the Plycem had been unloaded at False Bluff and everybody was home safe.   So I don't know how big the crocodiles were...just that they were bigger than the baby crocodile that recently shared a morning with me near the dock, and that they were big enough to get grown men moving really fast.  
     A year ago there was only swamp where the open creek now is, with just a trickle of water flowing through the vegetation.   I think the crocodiles are using the easy travel conditions provided by the open creek as much as the people are, so maybe they were heading down the waterway with the tide toward the lagoon; or up the waterway from the lagoon against the tide:  a chance encounter with other travelers.
     Anyhow, it turned out to be an adventure for the guys who were in the water and they escaped with a story that will spread and maybe grow.
     When they got the boat to the dock they recounted their 'near death' experience to a fourth man who was working on a project adjacent to the dock.  I understand this guy took off running...that they didn't see him again the whole time the Plycem was being unloaded or when they left False Bluff.   The best guess was that as fast as he was running he was probably in Kukra by night fall.