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Christmas at the Campamento

Sarah Faegre | Jun 20, 2008


It is Christmas and our last night at the Campamento. Vicente and I stay up late, searching for the rare-maned wolf and then enjoying a campfire in the peace of our isolated island home in the Bolivian flooded savannahs.


December 25th

What a perfect Christmas (and final night) at the campamento.  Vicente and I were sitting at the little, bound-stick table, listening to surprisingly non-staticy music from the high-frequency radio that we use for communication purposes.  The music was interrupted, to my great joy, by the shriek of the rare-maned wolf.  Vicente jumped up and turned off the radio and we sat in silence listening.  The flickering fire-light, left over from when we cooked dinner, sent soft shadows over his face as we looked at each other, listening, both thinking the same thing: lets go look for it. 

We grabbed flashlights, stepped into our damp rubber boots and walked toward the call of the rare-maned wolf.  I turned off my bright LED headlamp and we walked in darkness, occasionally using Vicente's low power incandescent flashlight.  "The white light is too bright," he told me.  "It scares away the animals."  And so we walked to Isla 2 in darkness and silence, the rare-maned wolf yelping from the savannahs somewhere beyond Island 2.  We waded along the short path through the flooded savannah between the two islands and then stood at the edge of Island 2, looking out into the darkness of the savannahs, listening.  Neither of us spoke.  The wolf shrieked again.  I shrieked back.  The wolf seemed to respond, calling again more quickly than before.  As the wolf and I called back and forth my imitation of its voice improved.  It came closer.  Vicente and I conferred in excited whispers-it's working.  He believes me.  And then abruptly the replies ended.  I howled and howled in vain. 

"You scared him away," joked Vicente.  "He probably got closer and thought, 'what kind of freaky she-wolf is that' and decided to leave".  As we gave up and walked back towards camp the wolf howled again...from the island we had just left.  And we rushed back towards it, as quietly as possible. 

After giving up our search for a second time we waded back to camp.  I suggested that we celebrate Christmas by making a fire near to our hammocks, which were strung between palm trees at right angles to one another.  Vicente went about making the fire and I heated up some water for mate.  The night was warm and peaceful.  I felt a little bit melancholy, knowing that it was my last night at the campamento, but also content, knowing that Goliath and Manu were safe in trees and able to fly.  We rocked in our hammocks for hours, talking and staring into the fire.