Caribbean travelers, have you heard the tales of the ever-present iguanas biting pedicured red toes?
The theory makes sense, really. Iguanas fancy the taste of hibiscus flowers, which are often red and often on the ground. An iguana sees red on the ground, and voila, lunch is served.
Despite its believability, I was never convinced of the validity of this little nugget of lore. After all, I had been to the Caribbean over 20 times, and my toes have been painted red for at least 15 of the 20 total visits. I’ve encountered as many iguanas as a daily NYC subway rider has encountered giant rats.
Then one day, it happened.
While in Bonaire a few months ago, I was sitting on the patio gazing at this.
Due to my aversion to shoes (I grew up in the South, where shoes were optional), my bare feet touched the iguana-laden ground, while I gazed, trance-like, into the gorgeous glowing Caribbean. At that moment, I had not a care in the world. “This is the life”, I thought.
Then, like a bolt from the blue, I felt a sharp pinch on my big toe. I looked down just in time to watch the iguana dislodge it’s pointy little teeth from my flesh.
Mr. Reeftraveler hastily snapped the above photo while laughing hysterically at the incident which had just taken place. “Ouch”, I screamed. “What is his problem?”. “What did you expect?”, said Mr. Reeftraveler. “Your toes are painted bright red”.
Right then and there I learned the hard way that yes, it’s true. Caribbean iguanas do indeed bite red toenails.
After a visit to the hospital, whereupon I received 28 stitches to close the wound…. Ok, that part isn’t true. The bite didn’t even break the skin. I didn’t even need a Band-Aid.
My advice to those who prefer red pedicured toes – paint until your heart is content. Just stay alert for hungry iguanas.