Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cobras and Crocs South of the Border

Emerald Tree Boa, Pedro's Reptile Lagoon
Folks in Southern California, being in close proximity to Mexico, can quite easily make the border crossing when wanting to spice things up culturally.  Those living on the east coast can’t.  

Hold up! Yes, they can—if Pedro’s South of the Border (SOB) in South Carolina counts. 

Opened in 1949 as a roadside beer stand along the border between the dry Carolina' by Alan Schafer, SOB's popularity quickly grew. Schafer expanded his menu to include grilled burgers within the first few years and by ’54 had added a 20 room motel.  Over time, the original roadside shack became the hat-topped Sombrero Restaurant, but one of six onsite eateries. The South of the Border Motor Inn has since expanded to 300 rooms. Camp Pedro, well, is just that--a 100 full hook-up site campground.

"Pedro”, you might wonder by the numerous fiberglass, um, replicas was the bellhop who Schafer had helped emigrate from Mexico. 

Located visibly off North-South thoroughfare, Route 95, Schafer’s tourist town in Dillon, South Carolina hardly need to advertise in order to draw customers.  The neon laced 200’ Sombrero Observation Tower and the 97’ drive-though Pedro can be seen well in advance and more than 175 comic billboards line the highway 60 miles in either direction.  A great place to break spring break road trips for families with kids in tow, SOB now includes theme based amusement park, Pedroland, and El Toro Arcade.

The newest addition to Schafer’s import village is the Reptile Lagoon, which is said to be the largest indoor collection of reptiles in the States. And truly, it’s crawling with sharp clawed saw toothed and otherwise slithering cold blooded beasts.  Daisy, the rare albino Burmese python, is the largest snake in the exhibit at 22’ long weighing 220 lbs but hardly among the most deadly.  The King Cobra and the African Black Mamba are in the running for that title.  There is the large Mata Mata turtle that looks like a log as well as a fresh water finned pig nose turtle.   The Aldabra Island Giant Tortoise is quite curious and personable if not grounded by the weightiness of its massive fluted shell.

The Lagoon is opened daily.  Admission costs are $8/adults and $6/12 and under. 

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