Happy 42nd Wedding Anniversary: Crocodiles and Why I will Always Love My Wife

The recent article about an American surfer who lost his leg to a crocodile attack surfing in Costa Rica reminded me why I love my wife and she is still my beautiful bride after 42 years of marriage.


Oral hygiene check on a 12 ft Croc

The connection may seem bizarre at first but hopefully after reading this you will understand. Debi and I have been together for over 45 years and have shared adventures some exciting, some dangerous, and some bordering on crazy. She must really love me for all I have put her through, and at times she actually acts like she enjoys it. Looking back I do not think we have ever stayed at a five star resort. I simply can’t imagine spending that kind of money to sleep in a fancy bed nor do I really enjoy being waited on. I think my time at La Costa Resort as a houseman picking up rich people’s dirty laundry and as a waiter at the Hungry Hunter soured me to the roles of a master/servant. Somehow we have still managed to survive.

Debi and Geoff Bell's Wedding

Oct. 5, 1974 our wedding

Debi is a goddess; calm and accepting, she needs to be to be married to me. What other woman would sleep in the middle of the jungle in an unfinished house without walls while bats fly over  as you sleep and the next morning calmly clean up the bat guano. With me she has vacationed in the jungles of Costa Rica without electricity, without phones and without hot water. What other woman would be the only woman waiting in line for the the ski lift to open on a freezing, snowy morning just to get first tracks with me. Unafraid of steep chutes or speed when skiing she always waits patiently at the chair for me as I can never keep up. Easy going and calm the only time her stubbornness comes out is protecting our family or me: She is German after all. All she needs is a deserted beach to walk or a steep ski run and she is happy.

perfect form at Mammth Lakes

My wife Debi making it look easy

So back to the crocodile. In Costa Rica she walks the five miles to the isolated beach we surf at…I drive. The break like most good points is located at the mouth of an estuary. A sand brim created by the river and the waves blocks the river’s flow; one incline faces the ocean, the other faces the estuary. For years we were told there were no crocodiles in the area but the 12 foot crocodile that washed up on the beach(see above) and several missing dogs near the estuary contradicted that idea. One day Debi is lying on the incline watching the surf, suddenly two Costa Rican children come up to her and say, “Senorita venga. Miralo. Miralo.” (Lady come, Look at it).” Now Debi does not speak Spanish, she has a horrible tongue but she has learned to understand quite a bit. She follows the children to the top of the brim, looks over and there sunning itself mirroring her position on the other side is a 7 foot crocodile, within 10 feet of her. Debi calmly packed up her stuff and moved down the beach: That is why I love my wife, no panic, no hysterics, just calm acceptance and action. I am not sure I would have been so calm.   I love her dearly and hope someday soon she will forgive me for dropping my laptop on her foot on last Memorial Day, breaking it (her foot) and keeping her from walking on her beloved beach this summer. Maybe she will even put up with me for another year. Happy Anniversary to my beautiful bride. I will always love you.