March 27, 2007
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Caiman

At night, we rowed out with some guides and swept the river banks with flashlights, looking for eyes staring back at us. Caimans have shiny eyes, and (apparently) you can reach down and grab them while they're blinking.

Caiman
a Spectacled Caiman

They're lovely little reptiles. And sloths are absolutely adorable.

Caiman

Caiman

We met the sloth the next morning, thanks to a group of young people who rowed out to meet us with some Cute Animals To Show The Tourists. Again, this is doubtful ecotourism, but it's probably better to employ some kids to show us semi-tame animals than to employ the kids to hunt them. Even the little girl with the Caiman was extraordinarily agile at handling her canoe.

You really don't understand sloths at all until you see them up close: they're built a lot like primates but they aren't related. They're related to armadilloes and anteaters, they just wind up with a similar body plan because it makes sense for living in trees. I suppose they look at us as a strange kind of tree that they can try hugging -- because, when you're a sloth, tree hugging is what you do.