We rode about an hour and fifteen minutes upstream along a river in a small wooden boat with an outboard motor on the back. Then we reached a large lagoon, just as the sun was setting. There were five of us in the boat: two young female German tourists, two native guides, and myself. We fished piranhas for about an hour, having little luck, though the guide and boat driver did catch a few. The mosquitos were thick, swarming and biting us, even through our clothing. My hands and back itched, though thankfully they stayed away from my face. They completely ignored the tropical strength insect repellant I applied.
When it was truly dark, we left the fishing spot and cruised along the edge of the lagoon, the guide tracing his flashlight along the shore. He spotted a pair of red eyes, though we couldn’t see them, and told the driver to kill the engine. We approached on paddle, and he perched on the front of the boat. Then he leaned down, and in one swift motion grabbed a caiman by it’s neck. It struggled a little at first, but soon stopped, and sat calmly in his grasp.
The guide showed us how to hold the caiman, first taking it’s tail, for in addition to it’s razor sharp teeth, it’s tail could also do a fair amount of damage, and second taking it’s neck, just below the jaw, so it couldn’t bit. It had a smooth, soft belly, and hard scales on its back. The guide showed us how it had two sets of eyelids, one semi-transparent so it could see underwater, the other normal skin to keep out light and protect the eyes.