I had the scariest encounter in my life, hands down, at the Everglades National Park. I’m still not sure whether it was an alligator or a crocodile, but does it matter?! Thank goodness I was with my friend Jinn…
So I went to Joshua Tree National Park at the beginning of January 2019, which was also at the beginning of the federal government shutdown. Well, by mid-January when my friend Jinn and I went to the Everglades National Park, the government was still shut down. Aye yai yai. It was still open because of volunteers though, bless their souls.
The Everglades are huge and would take maybe 2 or 3 days to do a proper exploration of the park. We stuck to the southern part of the park, starting from Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center to Flamingo Visitor Center. There were a couple of short walks (max. 10 minutes long) off of the main route, which were cute. We came across a trail map and couldn’t figure out where the start was, only to finally see that it wasn’t a hiking trail… it was a kayaking trail!
The Animal Encounter
At Flamingo Visitor Center, there’s a store right next to it that isn’t affiliated with the federal government and rents kayaks and canoes. They don’t give you much direction, just go and have fun! Jinn and I are canoeing (mostly Jinn cause she had more power steering in the back, and I was really bad at directions) and we come across a fork. We turn right cause it looked less inhabited and very gorgeous with all these mangroves.
Dee-da-dee-da-loo, we’re canoeing and all of a sudden Jinn asks, “Is that real or not?”
“Is that a real or fake alligator or crocodile????”
I turn my head 90 degrees to the left and found myself staring into the eyes of an alligator or crocodile. It’s only a short canoe paddle away. It’s big, it’s long, and it’s way too close. I really wanted to cry with my mouth wide open, but I had this weird fear that if I opened my mouth, that thing would see it as a sign of aggression and attack us, so I freaked out with my lips closed, “I THINK IT’S REAL!”
We paddle our way to this open area… which turned out to be a dead end. WE HAVE TO PADDLE PAST THAT THING AGAIN?! That experience shaved a couple years off of both of our lives. The rest of the canoe trip was nice though.
My tips for the Everglades
- Bring heavy duty insect repellant. This is my tip for most tropical places, but for someone like me who has sweet and delicious blood, it’s super important. Even Jinn got bitten a lot!
- Figure out your kayak situation beforehand (Can you strap one onto your car? Does the trailhead have rentals?) because that kayaking trail was a missed opportunity!
- Find out what to do in the event of alligator/crocodile encounter and you’re in a boat. Also find out what to do if you’re on land.