I have passed below the Matheson St. bridge so many times during my lifetime in various crappy canoes, and on home-made rafts made from tied-together milk jugs. I am not sure how I didn’t notice that thousands of bats were hanging overhead until recently. If I had a sense of smell, I hear that I may have been clued in. Evidently it smells like holy hell.
Two summers ago I paddled down the Imperial River in a canoe with two of my kids. We paddled down specifically to check out the bats. We were coming from the east, where the river is very narrow and winding with heavy mango trees and Spanish moss hanging over the banks. It was probably about 6 pm, the sun was low, the brown water glowed gold when the light could get through the trees. It’s a quiet, beautiful, easily accessible trip. We got to the bridge, and sure enough, there they were! Thousands of Mexican Free Tailed bats. I was expecting them to be hanging motionless. They were not. I was expecting them to be cute, misunderstood creatures that I would see as beautiful animals. They were not, and I did not. They were fucking gross. They kind of wiggled around in a stop-motion film style. Pointy little elbows and fur and leather. Big ears, teeth and a high rate of rabies. Hordes of them. They looked like a horror movie. If they would have all taken flight, or started dropping down into the canoe, I may have picked up my daughter and thrown her at them. I would have wigged out.
I know that there are very few people that actually think of themselves as sissies. I don’t. Sure, I have met people tougher than myself, but i am no sissy. I’ve done some crazy-tough things, and endured nasty accidents without medical treatment. I “rub some dirt on it”. As a kid, I caught a Water Moccasin in our garbage can and tried to keep it as a pet in our bathtub. I always have an urge to pull off of Alligator Alley and run and jump on an alligator…I’m no sissy. But these freaking bats…nast-o-rama. Jesus, I’m glad that I don’t have a sense of smell! That might be the straw to break my sanity. Like seeing the “Towering Inferno” in Sensurround and 3-D at the same time, all while knowing that O.J. Simpson is a double-murderer. It’s too much.
Anyway, this evening I will be taking the same canoe, with three of my kids, at the same time of day to go see, and photograph, the bats again. I will be updating this post accordingly, and with photos. Maybe I’ll even try a little video. Be warned…
….Well, we just got back from this evening’s canoe trip. It is a beautiful paddle. When we arrived at the bridge, we could hear all of the chirping of the bats, but they were hidden up in the cracks of the bridge, unlike the last time I saw them. Perhaps because it was colder out today? I don’t know. The two photos above are not my photos. I got them off of the internet. I will be going back tomorrow night to try again. I will get video of this.
After looking at all of the photos of these things on the internet….they are a tiny bit cute. In a demonic way.