As soon as we arrive in the village, Faye is besieged by a throng of kids. They adore him because they believe he protects them from Gustave. Kids surround him like the pied piper. "Fai-ya, Fai-ya," they chant. As we walk down the banks of an estuary, children somersault naked into the muddy water, showing off for Faye. Gahungu Chedrac, the stern, elderly chef du village, disapproves and scolds them, "Get out of that river!" They ignore him.
Farther along, we encounter women washing laundry in the water. Men and women bathe at private beaches without protective fences between them and the water. No one seems to be standing watch.
One of the villagers Faye knows is a woman who lost her husband to a massive croc with a curious dark spot on its head. The widow's name is Nitegeka Abiya. Squatting beside the entrance to her darkened house, with her baby daughter on her back swaddled in a sarong, she wears the same hard, perturbed look that I had seen on Adifax's face.
"I don't remember the exact day," she recounts, "but it was about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. My husband, Mayoya, and I had just eaten and he said, 'I'll be right back. I'm going to river to wash up.' I heard people screaming, 'The croc! It's taking someone!' I ran to see what was happening and I saw his clothing on the banks.
"We were sure that it was Gustave," she continues. "What could we do?"
This time, Faye agrees that it was probably Gustave: Eyewitnesses gave a description that correctly identified his dark scar. Three days later, fishermen on the lake discovered Abiya's husband's head. They brought it back to her for identification. He was 35. Abiya was pregnant.
For the people of Gatumba, the possibility of dying suddenly, violently—at the river's edge, on the highway, or in a rebel ambush—is a central fact of life. They mourn the victims of rogue crocodile attacks with grim fatalism. And then they return to bathing and fishing and washing clothes in the river, and allowing their children to swim in it, as if an epidemic of amnesia had erased the horror.