The Shallows of Fear…

Pretty cool title for a post, no? Bear with me, I will get to the Shallows in a few, but here’s the story of how we got to experience them.

Our truck, or the Casa as it’s becoming known, was originally supposed to arrive in Zarate – a port up the road from Buenos Aires – on Oct 2nd. Which became October 5th. Which became, on the Sunday starting this week, Oct 9th. Which in turn is a Sunday. And the 10th is a holiday. And customs doesn’t work on Sundays or holidays. So, on the Sunday starting this week, we suddenly went from picking up our vehicle on the 5th, to the 11th; annoying, but there is really nothing we can do about it.

Thus, Karen and found ourselves with almost a week that we hadn’t planned on. We sat down and started making a list of how to spend this extra time, with one of our first criteria being that we wanted to get out of BsAs for a while. We do like BsAs, but it is loud and rather grimy.

In one of our guidebooks, we stumbled onto the fact that the Rio de la Plata has a large delta, a fact that neither of us was aware of. We had seen the delta on the map, as we will be driving across a portion of it at some point, but hadn’t though much about it. The guidebook mentioned that the delta is worth a boat tour, and can also be a nice place to visit. We were intrigued and started googling.

The delay in our casa’s arrival turned out to be one of those fortuitous circumstances that lead to an experience that we will long remember.

The Rio de la Plata delta is enormous. In the picture below, greater BsAs, home to about 15M people is the gray area. The delta is the darker green area that slants from BsAs up towards the left.

The delta is the 5th largest in the world, and one of the only deltas that empty into a fresh water river as opposed to an ocean. It is 5,500 squares miles, roughly the size of Connecticut, or for our Swedish readers about 25% larger than Skåne, consisting of numerous interconnected creeks, streams, and rivers, flowing around low-lying islands. And though it is physically close to BsAs, it is a world away. One account we saw stated that there is about 30,000 people living in the delta.

We booked a 3 day stay at a lodge in the delta, Los Pecanes. In order to get there, we took the train from BsAs to Tigre, roughly an hour (although the train rarely exceeds 30 mph), and then took a 90 min ride on one of the water buses, the Lanchas Colectivas, out to the lodge.

The ride on the Lanchas Colectivas took 90 minutes, and was an absorbing look into a different life style. Folks would get on and off the Lancha as if were a regular bus, say hi to their friends, hang out, chat, share Mate, etc. BTW, the folks from the Bond movies may want to take a look at the delta, it’s a boat chase waiting to happen.

Karen and I loved the lodge, Los Pecanes.

Los Pecanes

The location of Los Pecanes:

zoomed in:

and zoomed in again. Los Pecanes is the two white roofs right below where the canal branches off to the right.

The owners and proprietors, Richard and Ana, were gracious hosts, and took good care of us. There isn’t much to do at the lodge, and that is one of its strengths. Karen and I took a daily canoe paddle,

Karen has a serious forehead. And coooool soul patch in the background…

saw new and cool birds, read, and watched the Picaflores (hummingbirds) fight over the feeders. The lifestyle is slow. Slow may be the wrong word, perhaps unhurried is better. Long periods of quiet interspersed with the passing by of the three daily lanchas, and a mail boat, or a trash boat.

And now to the Shallows of Fear…

On Wednesday evening, Richard and Ana took us for a 3 hour tour focused on bird watching and ecology.
(Karen interjects that the lyrics from Gilligan’s Island fit well:

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin’ man,
The Skipper brave and sure,
Five passengers set sail that day,
For a three hour tour,
A three hour tour. )

Both Richard and Ana grew up spending weekends in the delta; the Los Pecanes lodge was bought by Richard’s father as a weekend home back in 1959. They both love the delta and are very good bird spotters.

As we were on our way back from the excursion, we were passing through the Bajos Del Temor, the Shallows of Fear, so named because a huge amount of boats have been grounded here. The Shallows are very wide and look to the inexperienced eye as if they are a large river. In fact, they vary from 9 feet deep to 12 inches. And it is impossible to see what parts are shallow as the water is chocolate brown and the visibility into the water is about 4 inches.

Now what do we see? A guy that is standing in the middle of what looks like a huge river holding onto a rope attached to his ski boat. Grounded in the Bajos Del Temor.

We spent 45 minutes trying to help the two guys move their boat to no avail. They had hit a mud bank at speed and no amount of our towing, or their hanging off the side of the boat, was going to get them off.

Finally, as the sun was setting,

we gave them numbers to call – Coast Guard, tidal info, mechanic – and headed back to the lodge. The two guys were not willing to abandon their boat in the middle of nowhere and were resigned to spend a very cold and uncomfortable night in their boat until the tide rose enough at 2.oo am to float them off. And even then their motor was damaged to the point where it wouldn’t run.

Karen and I had three great days in the delta, and an adventure… Couldn’t ask for more.

PS   We did hear back from the Coast Guard the next morning; they had found the stranded boaters and rescued them.

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One thought on “The Shallows of Fear…

  1. ah, the difference between being a tourist and being a traveler. A wonderful story! And a welcome respite. Thanks for the pix and maps, they help. Looking forward to the reunion with La Casa story

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