Wading chest-deep through the green water in a 100 sq/m lake in Siquirres, this bizarre and dangerous spectacle draws tourists from around the world.
Calling quietly for his five metre long ‘companion’ before thrashing around, lifting his tail and head above the water.
‘This is a very dangerous routine but Pocho is my friend and we have a good relationship,’ says 52-year-old Chito. ‘He will look me in the eye and he does not attack me.
‘It is too dangerous for anyone else to come in the water. It is only ever the two of us.’
The bizarre friendship began nearly 20 years ago when Chito rescued the 980-pound crocodile after finding him close to death on the shore of the Parismina River, in the Caribbean province of Limsn.
Shot in the left eye by a cattle farmer after preying on a herd of cows, Chito enlisted the help of several friends to load the massive reptile into his boat, Naming him ‘Pocho’ (meaning strength), the fisherman says he healed the reptile with medicine, food, and, more importantly, lots of care and attention.
‘When I found him in the river after he was dying so I put him in my boat and I brought him into my house,’ recalls Chito.
‘He was very skinny, weighing only around 150 pounds, so I gave him chicken and fish and medicine for six months to help him recover.’
During the recovery process, Chito stayed by Pocho’s side, even sleeping with him at night.
‘I just wanted him to feel that someone loved him, that not all humans are bad,’ Chito says. ‘I love all animals, especially ones that have suffered. It meant a lot of sacrifice. I had to be there every day.’
After Chito felt that Pocho had bonded with him, he started to get closer and closer to the animal.
‘After 10 years I started to work with him,’ he says. ‘At first it was slow, slow and I started to play with him a little, touching him a little bit and then slowly doing more. Then I found that when I called his name he would come over to me.’
Today tourists travel from all over the world to see the unusual spectacle.
I am happy because I rescued him and he is happy with me because he has everything he needs,” says Chito.