The exciting introduction, in which a group of Mexican boys trap and kill iguanas, provides a dynamic opening to the book, setting the explicit tone for the subsequent story:
At this low elevation, heat and humidity saps the energy of all living things. White- and orange-toned butterflies with speckled wings flutter lazily in the heavy air. The only audible sound is the chattering of unseen parrots in the jungle awning. There is a rustling movement in the center branches. One dormant lizard snaps open its hooded eyes to reveal two shiny golden orbs. The creature’s head turns in the direction of a loud thrashing sound. A long bamboo pole, swaying back and forth, is pushed upwards through the twisted foliage by a brawny Mexican boy, who clings perilously to the side of the tree like a chimpanzee.
Thirty feet below, next to a meandering stream, stand a cluster of bare-chested teenagers, holding nets and machetes, their heads turned upwards. The youths are probably no more than sixteen years of age, some of them smooth-faced, several with soft mustaches. “Iguana, iguana!” yells one of the boys. Alert to the presence of danger, the awakened lizard slowly moves away. The kid on the tree whacks the iguana with his pole and it sprints through the leaves. Pausing at the edge of the furthest branch, the reptile is dragged down by its body weight and slides off the tree into a free fall.
On the ground, the youths form a circle next to the stream and quickly unfurl their nets. Iguanas are good swimmers but boys are better ones. One nimble lad in calico shorts jumps into the stream ahead of the reptile, which plummets, legs outstretched, into the water. The boy catches the lizard in his hands, taking care not to be scratched by its sharp claws. But the youngster underestimates the tenacity of his opponent. In a flash, the lizard whips its razor-sharp tail against his attacker, leaving a painful red gash across the boy’s chest and torso…
NEXT: PART 1