There was no English tour available here either, but a guide who spoke a little English gave us a short intro, and then sent us on our way independently, past a river and through the reptile house.
The boys were amazed at the array of HUGE snakes on display, and told us a lot about a smaller, coral something or other that is extremely poisonous, and several fakes that often get mistaken for the real one. (Both the fakes and the real thing had enclosures there in the Biocentre’s reptile house, and I was very impressed in their ability to point out subtle difference in the four different specimens on display!)
Crocodiles, turtles and even armadillos also brought smiles to our faces, and we visited both the butterfly habitat and the orchid house, the latter of which was home to several busy hummingbirds. The centre raises several species of butterfly and releases them into the wild, to “replenish the supply and decorate the jungle”!
The sign at the centre’s exit, as well as the fact that children are free, speaks to the fierce commitment and optimistic attitudes of some here to education and conservation, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. (The rainforest here, which once comprised over 1 000 000 square km of land where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet now measures less than 7% of that, seriously endangering the many species of flora and fauna there, and threatening to destroy the many medicinal and other benefits to humankind. As the saying in these parts goes, “kill the rainforest, and we will die, also.”)
But the fierce determination and optimism implied throughout our visit presents a message of hope and a call to action for the centre’s visitors: As a notice next to a path which had been carefully constructed around a pre-existing tree proclaimed, “the accumulation of small, individual contributions can result in big changes”.
After our lesson at the Bio Centre, it was back to our favourite restaurant in town, near the bus terminal: The food is good, the prices are good, the Internet is… not so good today, so this blog post will have to wait until we arrive “home” in Buenos Aires, sometime tomorrow morning, according to the bus schedule.
Time, now, to catch our bus for the 18-hour ride back to the city. Good-bye, beautiful Iguazu!