- will grant
- From BBC News in Puerto Escondido (Mexico)
Like all horror stories, Georgia Lowry started out harmlessly.
At a bustling Puerto Escondido, Georgia hostel, Mexico has been trying to make sense of the past few days, fiddling with his phone and surrounded by other backpackers, shortly after being released from the hospital.
Of course, she had a real nightmare and it’s no surprise that since the episode she has had trouble sleeping.
She, her twin sister Melissa, from Berkshire, southern England, and a few other friends decided to join a boat trip to Manialtepec Lagoon in Mexico. It is a place of natural beauty, where mangroves teem with rich fauna.
However, its shallow waters are also home to crocodiles and it’s time to hatch, which the group didn’t know.
“Was it a fight or a flight”
“I actually said to the guide, ‘This looks like a place where alligators live,’” Georgia told me with a smile. The bracelet tightly wrapped around her wrist is proof that she was right.
The guide – apparently a German citizen who was not registered with the tourist office and has since disappeared – insisted it was safe to swim there. As the group enjoyed an afternoon dip in the cool of the afternoon (not the initially reported midnight dip), Melissa was suddenly dragged underwater.
“It was terrible, wasn’t it?” Georgia said, turning to the other members of the group, who nodded.
A local environmentalist told me it was probably a female crocodile defending her baby. The animal followed Melissa three times, piercing her stomach and leg.
However, instead of looking helpless, Georgia reacted and repeatedly punched the crocodile’s nose.
“It was a fight or flight,” she recalls, “and you have to fight for the people you love.”
One of the friends, Ani, walked through the mangroves and asked for help. A nearby boat with another group of tourists heard the screams and walked towards it.
“I pushed through the undergrowth using my paddle,” said local sailor and ornithologist Lalo Escamilla, who went into shallow water to help the twins.
Lalo took me to the site where the attack took place and explained to me that properly trained sailors like him fear that the irresponsible actions of an unscrupulous guide could harm their business.
“They are not guides,” he says of foreigners living in Puerto Escondido who seek tourists for cheap boat trips, harming locals. “They are not federally licensed experts, they do not know the place. This is the problem.”
Once on board, it was clear that Melissa’s injuries were fatal. In addition to wounds and deep cuts, he had water in his lungs and a broken wrist. She would later develop sepsis (generalized infection) in her ruptured intestine.
Georgia’s adrenaline was such that she didn’t realize the extent of her injuries until they reached a private hospital in town.
“It wasn’t until the nurse opened my fist to wipe my hand that I realized he had been bitten too,” Georgia said. Apparently all of her attention was focused on the twins, who by that time had fallen into a induced coma.
Calling his parents was the next difficult moment as it was almost 4pm in the UK.
“When I was told that his condition was getting worse, I had to tell his family.”
Fortunately, Melissa is now out of her coma. After talking to Georgia, she went to visit her sister in the hospital and said she already looked strong.
“We are all very happy,” Georgia said in a post.
However, the road to a full recovery will be long. The Mexican doctors and the British Embassy have been “awesome,” Georgia says.
Melissa will need to recover from her physical injuries, and both women will need time to deal with their emotional and mental consequences. Georgia says she is having trouble sleeping and images of the attack keep coming out of her head.
The only thing she can count on – at least until her family moves to Mexico – is the support of other travelers and backpackers she is with. They have already formed a kind of family, a combination of friends from UK, France, India and others.
The “hero twin sister” label is still not comfortable for Georgia. For now, she just wants a chance to recover from her terrible ordeal and catch her breath after the episode.
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