A Godzilla-sized Gator

As the old phrase goes, everything’s bigger in Texas. However, local residents thought this pleasant moniker belonged to the local food and flair, not massive creatures. When a gargantuan gator was found weighing nearly 1,000 pounds was found by the local Gator Squad, Christy Kroboth sprung into action against a monster some would rather run from. But what went into wrangling such a monster? How do you put something into a cage that’s bigger than the truck you drove to the site?

13-feet of scales and teeth, the locally dubbed “Godzilla” was a sight when Christy arrived on scene. Responding to a call for a gator half his size, the routine procedure for catching a normal alligator quickly proved useless. The 50-year-old beast looked like something out of a dinosaur film. Missing piece of its tail and coated in the scars, Christy looked more like a knight preparing to fight a dragon.

An accomplished wrangler, Christy says that many doubt her ability to capture such prehistoric-looking prey, but she never fails to impress with her ingenuity in a pinch. Her partially blind quarry was no match for her years of experience, and with a roll of duct tape, a forklift rented from Home Depot, and more than a little persistence, Christy was able to lift the massive monster into the waiting bed of her truck.

Ari KellenNow a happy resident of a local alligator shelter, Christy is confident that Godzilla will live out the rest of his long life in comfort, far away from any he may frighten. One of the few female alligator handlers in Texas, Christy is proud of her laundry-list of accomplishments at only 30. With more than 40 calls a week from people in need of rescue from their own monsters, Christy’s work is far from finished in the state of Texas.


Travel Smart

In light of the recent and horrible events in Paris, many are reconsidering traveling outside the borders of their home country. In a world where borders are becoming more like dividing lines than simple lines of demarcation, do we choose to venture beyond or stay within the relative safety of the familiar? Below are some ways to combat the ever-growing sense of unease that comes with travel, and remember that the world was meant to be seen, not feared.

Be Aware: You’d be surprised how many people arrive at unfavorable conclusions because they didn’t take the time to research where they were going. It’s not enough to purchase a ticket and pack a bag. A smart traveler does research on where they are visiting if there are any dangerous elements, and how to avoid them. This applies anywhere you can travel, from Colorado to Columbia, so keep a level head and do your homework.

Be Understanding: Though it’s pertinent to be aware in this day and age, the same can be said for being understanding. Assuming that everyone around you is a potential threat will only ruin your vacation and weigh heavily on your mind when you should be relaxing. You may not have control over what goes on around you, but you can certainly manage your reactions.

Ari KellenBe Realistic: While the attacks in Paris were awful, it’s important to be realistic when traveling. Statistics show that, at least in the United States, you are more prone to catch a stray bullet from an act of gun violence than be involved in an act of terrorism. Now, I’ve listed this as the third thing to remember because the above two are vastly more important. Statistics cannot replace alertness and will not substitute understanding, but they can offer some sense of truth in a time of concern.


A World of Wonder

Experience is often the best teacher. If that phrase holds true, then travel may be the best way to gain a varied collection of experiences. The world is as varied as it is massive, and new ways of life can be as close as the farm in Pennsylvania, or as far as the jungle tribes of the Amazon. Opening your eyes to new cultures, new modalities of living can motivate a growth of character and spirit that would otherwise go unmoved. It’s for precisely this reason that educational travel has grown to prominence.

Ari KellenBuilt on the idea of taking “non-tourist” trips around the world, educational travel is not about collecting souvenirs or visiting the next Disney, but rather the gathering of experiences. One of the many benefits of this process is that it usually costs less than your traditional vacations. Tourist traps, for lack of a better term, are aware that they are massive draws for crowds, and thusly raise their prices to make some extra money. When comparing educational travel to a vacation, it’s best to compare the cost of visiting Florida against a stay at Disneyland.

Children benefit greatly from this process, as well. The days of week-long family trips is all but a memory, and the modern family cannot escape the screens that follow us in our pockets, but they can take the family on a trip that can offer more than what can be seen through a tiny screen. Though most of the world can fit in the palm of their hands, children light up when shown the wondrous world in real life. Facebook and Instagram pale in comparison to the wild Sahara or the jungles of Asia. Bring them to the historical sites that have since become fodder for countless movies, and show them their heroes carved into living rock.

As said by the eternal Maya Angelou, “travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” The concept of the Global Citizen is far from fantasy.