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29th February 2016 – Miami, Florida, USA

I’m spending the “bonus” day of 2016 in transit from Greenwich, CT to Miami, Fl. In an attempt to keep myself conscious, I’m jotting a few safari notes between moments of peeping out the window and spying the endless sandy beaches of what I think to be North Carolina. This should keep me awake.

This is the second time of recent (the first was between Munich and Amsterdam) that I’ve found myself dozing off on a short flight. I seem to have developed a tendency to awake from these aerial catnaps with a violent start which, as far as I’m aware (I’m not actually awake for all of it you understand), consists of a powerful jerking of the head, chest and shoulders combined with an ungovernable leg twitching and, perhaps most disturbing of all, a passionate vocalisation of sorts.

I should confess that whether or not I actually make a noise is thus far unconfirmed. However, when one takes in the clearly embarrassed glances and giggles of my nearby passengers and sets against these the starkly contrasting, stone-faced rigidity of my unfortunate, next door fellows, one has to admit the embarrassing likelihood. Considering the expressions I’m surrounded by on this particular occasion you’d be forgiven in assuming I’d just whooped like a hyena on American Airlines.

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03rd March 2016 – Miami, Florida, USA

I’ve had three fantastic days in Miami and surrounds. The weather has been splendid and three lovely young ladies, Laurie, Amanda and Emily, have proved the most charming and gracious hostesses. Lucky devil!

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I went jogging in Pinecrest and found myself hopelessly lost in suburbia, classic behaviour I must ashamedly admit.

“Hi there, it’s Nic the friendly, British, outrageously handsome safari guide. Look I went jogging by mistake and cant find the way back to Laurie’s house. Could you give me a clue and keep this between us?”

Good heavens! South Beach was an eye opener of note. There seems to be a penchant amongst the residents, of an evening, to keep the swimming costume on, throw a diaphanous little silk number over the top before going forth unto the bars and restaurants with a vengeance. I’m quite certain that literally none of the ladies I saw favouring this particular fashion statement had been swimming, although they all looked tremendously buoyant.

We saw a lady in corset, stockings and suspenders leading her companion, a rather scantily attired gentleman with an all obvious zeal for leather underpants, along the sidewalk (that is American for pavement) by a dog collar and lead (that is English for Leash). I know I’m British and thus, by rights a complete prude, but it was only four o’ clock in the afternoon! On a Tuesday! Now you call me old fashioned if you must but hells bells, what the dickens is going on with that?

The highlight of my time here was driving out on the Old Tamiami Trail to the everglades, taking a walk through this remarkable ecosystem and even getting to ride in one of their famous airboats, a large tea tray with equally large hairdryer on the back.

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In her book “Rivers of Grass”, pioneering American conservationist, Marjory Stoneman Douglas opens with the passage “there are no other everglades in the world.”

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The main wildlife spectacle here is certainly the abundant American Alligator, but we also viewed a plethora of birds, reptiles, amphibians and even a rather bizarre looking, and somehow semi-tamed, Fox Squirrel. I got out to take a photograph and he tried to jump into the car.

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Alligators and crocodiles belong to different families of the order Crocodilia but they’re not all that easy to tell apart. Alligators tend to have a broader, blunter snout than that of crocodiles; it resembles more a U-shape and the crocodiles more a V-shape (Alligator below).

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In alligators, the upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw and, in fact, completely overlaps it. Therefore, the teeth in the lower jaw are almost entirely hidden when the mouth is closed, fitting neatly into little depressions in the upper jaw.

In contrast, crocodiles have an upper and lower jaw that are pretty much equal in width. The lower teeth line up along the margin of the upper jaw when the mouth is closed, interlocking with those in the upper jaw. This is most noticeable on the fourth tooth in the lower jaw (normally the largest tooth in both ‘gators and croc’s) being invisible on the Alligator and prominent on the Crocodile (Croc’ Below).

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Regardless of the differences, both prove extraordinarily successful in the discouragement of swimming, whatever of the weather.

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