Did anyone else get duped into snipe hunting at camp? I can’t tell you how many times I went hurtling along well-worn paths at YMCA summer camp in search of the elusive snipe. Other campers figured it out more quickly than I did (I didn’t figure out Santa Claus wasn’t real until the 4th grade, sheesh), but even once I knew, I still loved the snipe hunt.
In Argentina, we were in El Palmar National Park, just outside Colon, hanging out, keeping warm with the occasional swig of yerba mate, goofing off:
Me Jane, you Tarzan.
When suddenly our guia caught wind of the elusive CARPINCHO.
And we were off! In what I really thought was an elaborate snipe hunt, designed to give foreigners a thrill and our guide/taxi driver a good chuckle.
We were off-trail, The Boy, me, and this very nice Argentinean woman, following our guide zig-zagging along the banks of the river, quietly dodging branches and bramble. We’re all trying to move swiftly yet silently along the banks of the river, all the while having to sidestep the MASSIVE piles of CARPINCHO poop.
I have not had that much fun in a long time, even though the most exciting wildlife I expected to see were some fire ants. I was tiptoeing along, trying not to lose an eye in the brush, and I’m embarrassed to admit I spent a good half hour imagining myself as some master tracker, invisible to my prey (as every branch I stepped on gave a resounding crack of course, but it’s hard to hear when you’re breathing so hard, so I was able to keep up the illusion).
So I was shocked as all get out when we finally stopped along the river and saw that our guide (and we) had successfully tracked THIS:
Pardon the fuzziness of the photo. The Boy doesn’t have the steady hand of a seasoned peeping tom apparently.
A real live carpincho, the largest rodent in the world! barking! like a seal! at us. Can you believe that is just a giant rat and not, like, a BEAR or something?
AWESOME. Finally, I found my snipe.