Tigre: A Maze of Waterways

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Mbigua  (Guaraní name) “Phalacrocorax brasilianus” a neotropic cormorant

We visited the delta of the Rio Paraná at Tigre with our friend (and landlord) Pablo. There we stayed over Friday night at his lady friend Maria’s house. This delta is unique because it is a fresh water delta, formed by the Rio Paraná flowing into the much larger Rio de la Plata.

Although it is a fresh water delta, it still has tides that create strong currents in the channels. It has latte-coloured waters (see picture to left) – rich with iron from the jungle streams flowing from inland South America. These are filling the delta with silt, and yachts can now only move at high tide, and most have moved their moorages downstream to the Rio de la Plata.

The narrow waterways between the islands are alive with boating activity, everything from motor launches to kayaks, and are patrolled by traffic police on Canadian-made Sea-Doos.

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Morning view from Maria’s dock

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New extension to Maria’s house (under construction)

All the houses in the delta are palofitos (stilt houses) because at high tide the water covers large areas of the marshy islands in the delta. The area reminded us of the Danube delta that we visited in 2007, and as then we arrived by water taxi. Here, however, rather than explore by motor boat we were allowed to use a classic wooden rowing scull complete with a sliding seat. Margo, was rather pleased that I (who have previous experience with rowing sculls) could not row because of my arm. I sat in the back with the steering ropes, while Margo rowed down the waterways which were lined with rushes and willows.

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For supper, we went to an excellent riverside restaurant called “Monkey.” It was run by a family from Cornwall, England who had lived in various parts of the world, so there were menu choices  from many ethnicities. I had grilled pacú, a local freshwater fish. We learned that this dish had won the chef several culinary awards.

The walk back to Maria’s house after supper was exciting because we had drunk rather too much wine and had to cross many foot bridges in various states of disrepair. At night, the delta was alive with the sound of frogs and crickets, but around 2 a.m. a wonderful deep silence fell. We slept well, and after a late breakfast we helped with house maintenance, returning to Buenos Aires in time for supper.

I have put up a Flickr set for this memorable excursion.

C

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