September 15, 2008
It’s Eric again with more news from the Northern Jaguar Reserve. This field trip was really mixed; we got great things but also others that made me wish I had stayed at home in Sahuaripa. Before leaving town, we heard that the rains had destroyed the road inside the reserve and that the main road leading to the reserve had some landslides in a few places. Luckily, I carpooled with three vaqueros to the first ranch in which we were working, and we were able to fix some parts of the road, take out some stones, and fill some potholes. When I saw the way they moved the rocks, I thought it was going to be easy to repair the road in the reserve. However, upon seeing the huge hole in the middle of the road, I dropped my idea of the vaqueros repairing it. The guard of the reserve told me he had to make the mule almost scale over the rocks in order to pass.
The good thing about it was that we had to travel by the horse trails, so I managed to see a lot of places that I didn’t know. It was really marvelous to see the mountains and the rivers, and, as it was the rainy season, we did see some waterfalls. And hey, it was the first time I rode a horse for that long, and I’m not used to it. The trip from La Ventana to El Dubaral takes almost nine hours, and then to Los Pavos it takes another four to five hours. At the beginning I was really concerned about my health; I thought I was going to lose my butt, or worse… Anyway, the horse was really tame, but the rider is inexperienced (I would like to say “was,” but I think he still is), so it was a bit of an adventure trying to avoid thorny branches and stay on the saddle. It was amazing because in some places, the roads were really narrow, and the horse walked through as if it were nothing – really amazing. Also when they have to climb rocks, I was really scared, but they know how to do it. I really recommend the experience.
As for the bad things, the truck got stuck in the mud on one of the roads. The area is like a swamp, and it only just looks like a normal, dry dirt road. Underneath the dry layer lies a wet and big mud layer. As we were driving through it, we got stuck, or embancados like they say around here, and we struggled a lot to take the truck out. Also, we got a flat tire, and it turned out that the spare we were carrying didn’t fit. It was awful, and I saw myself stranded in the Sierra. One of the ranchers, Don Rene, helped us and fixed the tire with a screw. I really admire these people; they know how to survive under any condition they face.
Despite all the efforts, and the problems, we didn’t get any jaguar pictures during this period. We just got three pictures of pumas. It was really upsetting, after all that hard work. I hope we can manage to get some more felid pictures for the next time. Well, I think that’s all for now. I appreciate your sharing in my adventures.
– Eric Ramírez Bravo
Eric has been a Jaguar Guardian at the Northern Jaguar Reserve since Spring 2008.