Dragons On the Talofofo
The river narrows...

Saturday's (September 28, 1996) touring kayak adventure took place on the Talofofo River, which dumps into the Talofofo Bay on the southwest corner of the island of Guam. The cast of characters on this day trip included Peter, who can stack more kayaks on a small Nisson than anybody I have ever seen, Richard, Ester, Richard's wife and Luke. Richard and Ester paddled a folding kayak and Peter and Luke were using one person sit-on-tops.

The river was flanked by nypa and cocnut palms, with pago trees and bamboo. Behind this was breathtaking limestone and basalt cliffs covered with papaya and tangan-tangan. The flat water at the mouth of the river was full of hydros and pago flowers floating down the river that blew off the trees.

Halfway down the river we encounter a palm tree bent over by storms and erosion and extending across the river with the top growing strait up at about an 80 degree angle. This was an irresistable lure for Peter and Luke to climb up the tree and leap into the water below. However, halfway up the trunk... Crash! It sounded like a large branch falling to the ground, but, as Peter quickly pointed out, it was a monitor lizard more than one meter long! After Luke jumped into the water, we all paddled around trying to photograph the reptile that had climbed back up another palm to join a slightly smaller monitor lizard. To get a better photo Luke decided to join the two by climbing up their palm tree.. It wasn't until he was halfway up the tree that Peter pointed out to him that monitor lizards can be dangerous if corned and I suppose that being trapped at the top of a palm tree would be a fairly good example of how to corner a monitor lizard. Now this was truly a "National Geographic" moment. There they were hanging from a palm tree, two introduced species- the monitor lizard was introduced to Guam from teh Philipines via Spanish galleons about 200 years ago and Luke was introduced to Guam from Tennessee via Continental Airways about 3 years ago. Anyway, the lizard permitted him to take a photograph.

The river narrowed from 35 meters across at the mouth to just 5 meters across where we turned around. The only trick was to turn Richard and Ester's 5 meter long Folbot folding kayak in the small current of a 5 meter wide river! Luke hung out in a small eddy and watched Peter and Richard pull of a small feet in the physics of kayaking by turning the kayak around and we headed down the river to the beautiful Talofofo Bay. Days like these make you feel lucky to live in the tropics!

Luke Sharp
September 28, 1996
Tumon Guam

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