No one mentioned the iguanas

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 5, 2004

CANCUN, MEXICO – You can prepare yourself for a lot of things about Mexico.

For example, you know before you go that it’s probably going to be hot and there will be some language barriers.

You expect different foods, customs and mannerisms.

I was prepared for those things. What I wasn’t prepared for were the iguanas.

Greg and I decided to honeymoon here because it was relatively close, most definitely tropical and from what most people have told us, very accustomed to entertaining English-speaking visitors.

Upon our arrival, we found each of these things to be true. Negotiating around Cancun is pretty much like getting around any tourist town in the United States, resembling Panama City Beach far more than the quaint Mexican towns we’ve seen on television.

On our first day, we decided to explore using the cheapest and most commonly used form of transportation here – the bus.

We stood in line with the rest of the tourists and locals, waiting our turn to hop on board.

I was standing off to the side when I saw Greg smile and tell me I might want to walk toward him.

I did, and then turned around and looked down. About 6 inches from where I had been standing was a long, green iguana.

It was more than a foot long and was sticking its long tongue out at me, a move I quickly decided meant it wanted to eat me.

I let out a yelp and people turned. Seeing what caused the commotion, the other tourists became excited about the iguana, snapping its picture and excitedly walking toward it.

The Cancun residents just looked at us like we were crazy, as did the iguana, who, despite my earlier prediction, did not eat me, or anyone else, for that matter.

Through the course of our day’s explorations, we ran into numerous iguanas.

You would see them walking on the side of the road, stretched out in the sun or on the side of a tree. There were several times when I saw something scurry across the sidewalk just in front of me, catching the sight of a long, green tail scurrying into the sewer.

I asked the hostess at our hotel about the iguanas.

&uot;Do they just wonder around?&uot; I asked.

She looked at me blankly.

&uot;Yes, but they won’t hurt you,&uot; she said in broken English.

&uot;We don’t have those on the streets where I live,&uot; I replied.

&uot;Where’s that?&uot; she asked.

&uot;Alabama,&uot; I said.

&uot;Ahh … Sweet Home Alabama,&uot; she said in a sing-song voice. &uot;No iguanas there? It’s a shame.&uot;

No, I thought, it’s not. I can handle the heat, the language barriers and the lack of Diet Coke.

What I cannot and will not handle are giant lizards waiting to attack unsuspecting tourists.

Leada DeVaney is the publisher of the Hartselle Enquirer and the Madison County Record. She is the former managing editor of the Shelby County Reporter and can be reached at