My Story
A monkey in captivity reaching for his companion in the wild.

A monkey in captivity reaching for his companion in the wild.

A monkey.

A monkey.

A toucan.

A toucan.

Argentina - The Missions

The Jesuits built missions in the jungles of Argentina and Brazil to convert the local Guarani tribe to Christianity.  However, they did not force themselves on the locals.  The Jesuits learned the language of the Guarani and convinced them that they had something to offer, particularly their music and art.  They did not intend to rule the Guarani, but rather, to partner with them.  The Guarani would continue to rule themselves.  And so, the Guarani moved into the missions and enjoyed something of a renaissance.  They created beautiful music and art, combining what the Jesuits brought with them with their own culture.  The Jesuits also protected them from the rampant slave traders that roamed the area.  However, the kings in Europe and other powers grew jealous of the Jesuit’s success.  The Jesuits were told to leave, and the missions were invaded, tearing apart the lives the Guarani had built for themselves.

A bird.

A bird.

A parrot.

A parrot.

Another attempt to capture Iguazu Falls.

Another attempt to capture Iguazu Falls.

An attempt to capture the beauty of Iguazu Falls.  This picture does not do it justice.

An attempt to capture the beauty of Iguazu Falls.  This picture does not do it justice.

Argentina - The Dogs of Cachi

They’re everywhere.  The dogs that is, and they seem to have a very good relationship with the villagers.  The dogs running around with no apparent owner look, nonetheless, like they’re quite well fed.  When the dogs approach the villagers, they often leap up with joy, and the villagers receive them with open arms and affectionate petting.

They ran around as individuals and as groups, sometimes getting along with each other and sometimes not so much.  I’ve seen dogs marking their territory and protecting that territory by leaping towards other dogs with a snarl and teeth bared.  Other times, they playfully chase each other around the town plaza.  They were so concentrated on their chase that I thought they might barrel into men, women, and children with no regard.  But there was plenty of space, and they managed to dart around any obstacles.

In one particular group, there was one male and two females, the male clearly being interested in one of the females.  Whenever he managed to get the female to stand still, he would hump, a vigorous thrusting motion starting from the hind legs but shaking his whole frame, regardless of if he was lined up properly or not.  Often, there’d be nothing but air between the two dogs, and yet, he’d do the thrusting, as long as he had a paw or two on her.

The dogs are also experienced beggars.  They know where the food is.  They wander into restaurants, eying the patrons sadly.  It works.   I gave food to one particularly sad looking dog who is probably the fattest of them all.  One especially brazen dog jumped up and sat on a bench next to an eating man as if they were a happy couple.  It didn’t work.  That time.

A coati mundi hanging in a tree.

A coati mundi hanging in a tree.