The Lagoons of BaHiA de navivdad

Story & photos by Editor

On one fine January day I took the local bus to Villa Obregon, got off at Calle Esmeralda, and explored the lagoon that lies between there and the town of Barra de Navivad. It is a large area full of wildlife, including white herons, iguanas, and crocodiles. It is legally only accessible on the perimeter which usually means walking along Calle Primavera, on the far south side of town, and then along the beach. Or, you can access it from the main roads outside of the villages.


Calle (meaning street) Primavera has a walkway along parts of the swamp, and as I wandered along it a young boy pointed at a tree, yelling ‘Iguana’. I managed to get the lizard in focus on my video camera when it jumped off the branch and caught a bird or some other prey in it’s mouth. I gave the lad a handful of pesos. He seemed surprised. This is not one of the tourist traps where locals pester foreigners.


From then on I paid more attention to any movement of the lagoon's wildlife. It is deceptively quiet. The herons stand still with their peaks pointing toward their next meal underneath the foliage in the murky waters of the large lagoon, which is separated from the ocean by a mere sliver of beach, a few hundred metres wide.



The roadway narrowed until on one side there was lagoon and the other an eight foot wire fence, which the people of each casa had erected to keep the crocodiles out. Some of the more prominent houses had walls around them. On the cobblestone street young girls rode bicycles and giggled as they went by, while boys hung in groups plotting the overthrow or one thing or another.


Down on the beach I headed towards Barra de Navivad, a 4 kilometre walk along sandy beaches. Keeping near the fence that surrounds the lagoon, watching for more wildlife, I was surprised to see a vulture within a stone's throw of me calmly resting on a fence post. From the beach, there were a few places where I could see the placid water of the lagoon, but mostly it was covered in varieties of local flora. Behind, on land, bushes hung low. Coconut trees stood above them. In the blue azure sky flocks of birds, , sea gulls, other vultures, hawks, something that looked like a smallish pterodactyl, and pelicans scattered the sky like gusts of clouds. The pelicans flying in WW2 formation, while the other ancient flyer gave every impression of being an ill-bearing messenger from local gods.


The only real trouble was that I didn’t buy some cheap sandals. So after an hour my feet were getting hot, and I didn’t want to put on wet shoes. I sat on the beach and watched a man fish from shore, the gentle waves deceptively turning at the last moment into large concave semi-spheres that crashed with the sound of a distant cannon. Behind me a vulture had found a dead fish that the tide had gragged in earlier, and was giving it his undivided attention.


It could have been a female. My lens was not that powerful, and getting too close to the ugly-headed parasite didn't seem like a good idea at the time. However, I did watch it at a distance. And once or twice as I got nearer, the vulture reluctantly flapped its wings, took off like an old flying machine for a few metres and landed near-by on a post; still eyeing the fish with something of a territorial expression. I got close enough to the fish to take a photo, then walked on towards Barra. When I was twenty metres away, the vulture flapped down to reclaim its lunch.


I trampled the other kilometre to town, and was happy to brush off my sandy feet, put on my shoes and go to meet a couple of new friends for lunch under the umbrellas of a Costalegre restaurant on the beach.


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