It was September of 2010. Eric and I had just arrived in Bujumbura for the first time. We were waiting for our luggage with our hostess, L'Charitie, and making small talk. We wondered aloud about things to do in Burundi, unique features of the country, etc.
"Well," she said, "We do have Gustav." Her voice was hushed, almost reverent, shocked when we stared back with blank looks. "You have not heard of Gustav?"
She unfolded a tale of epic proportions, a tale where the lines between fact and fiction blur, a tale of a legend. Gustav, it seems, is a crocodile. Not just any crocodile, mind you, but a massive crocodile that has hunted along the shores of Burundi and DR Congo for over 60 years. His size (according to the wikipedia article) is over one ton. He hunts not just normal crocodile prey, but humans as well...a "man eater," like the lions of Tsavo. And, adding greatly to the legendary status, he has eluded death at the hands of hunters many times--he has four bullet scars on his body, has escaped traps and cages, and has disappeared for years at a time, only to resurface later on a different shore.
It's a difficult story to swallow. It sounds like a "dark and stormy night" tale, or a campfire ghost story, and Eric and I were left wondering if this was just a Loch Ness sort of thing. But no. No, indeed. Gustav is real, and apparently no longer even at large. Check out this youtube video below from September:
Incredible. Mind boggling. And it does put our hearts at rest for the years in Burundi to come. I have no idea what they will do with Gustav now that he is in captivity. Tourist trap, anyone? Perhaps there is still a chance for escape...