Jul 22, 2009

Wildlife in the Esteros del Iberá

What a fantastic place this was! We were here on the 18th and 19th of July with friend and former Corvallis soccer teammate, Erika. (More pictures of people to follow!) Top picture is of a group of capybaras, whose claim to fame is being the world's largest rodent. They are placid creatures who seem to be walking (and napping) advertisements for zen meditation. They are the same size and shape of small sheep, and we observed them grazing and resting, sometimes both at the same time. As far as we could tell, the adults had no large predators to worry about. The young capybaras, well, they have to keep an eye out for the yacaré, which is pictured below. Honestly, I never thought I would see an alligatory type of reptile outside of a zoo or a Florida golf course.

But there they were, yacarés (pronounced sha-ca-RAYS in Argentine Spanish) in spades, also seemingly without any worldly cares. Maybe just thinking about their next meal of baby capybaras. It was marvelous to pull right up alongside them in the boat and take in these majestic creatures. They are not the lunge-out-and-devour-you kind of caimans, so observing them is not risky. The guide was skillful in maneuvering the boat and quite respectful of the wildlife.

Full disclosure: while I did get many excellent pictures, these ones are cut and pasted from the internet. I know, I'm a cheater. I just don't think I can get the pix from my camera uploaded here. Well, and I'm feeling a bit lazy. We stayed in an inexpensive and clean little hostel called "Hostel Iberá." For 35 pesos a night (a little under US$10) we had clean beds, a hot shower, and coffee and bread with butter and jam in the morning. There was marvelous flowering vine outside our room on the veranda that attracted hummingbirds, and in the ditch just down the block I spotted some kind of rail (a water bird) that I'd never seen. Not that I keep a life list, but I do know virtually every bird I've seen here so far is a new one for me. Pretty exciting!

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