Saint Death and The Ibera Wetlands

Saint Death

I came across a strange place in northern Argentina. It was called the Sanatorio de San La Muerte. I had never heard of “Saint Death” so it sounded interesting. I stopped by and it was a chapel of sorts, covered with gifts and prayers to Saint Death asking him (or her I guess, why does death always have to be male?) to keep the person safe, etc. The phenomena is growing- a movie has just come out in Mexico exploring the topic. Some say it goes back to the 1700s when the Spanish kicked the Jesuit priests out of Latin America. Anyway, the person I talked there was cool and gave me some souvenirs. Here`s a photo of a card showing Saint Death and on the reverse side a prayer. The other photos show examples of some of the gifts that people had left for Saint Death. I guess he has a drink now and again.

The Ibera Wetlands

After Saint Death (and Gauchito Gil, but that`s another story) I spent a couple days exploring the Esteros, or wetlands of Ibera. The name is Guaraní for “Brilliant Water”. It is the second largest wetlands in the Americas, second only to Brasil´s Pantanal. It covers about 13,000 sq. km. and is home to many hundreds of species of birds and fish, as well as caymans, capybara, snakes and marsh deer.

I took a boat tour around one of the lagoons, a lake really. Here is a nice shot of swamp grass.

We saw dozens of caymans. Here are a few. This species is a yacaré negro.

Then we saw a bunch of Capybara, or Carpinchos (water pig). These are the largest rodents in the world. They didn`t really do much,  just sat there and watched us.

Then I did some hiking around the place. Here are a few pix from that day.

I also saw some howler monkeys but they were sleeping and just looked like lumps of fur so no pix.

Here are a couple more. First is a local kid who I met and I gave him a little piece of chocolate. Of course, he followed me everywhere after that, I could not get rid of him. He wanted me to take a photo of him every five minutes.

Finally. This sign was posted in the hotel room I stayed in. I loved the English translation. Katrina and Ira, you should post some Japanese ones.

6 thoughts on “Saint Death and The Ibera Wetlands

  1. maudie September 16, 2007 / 7:47 pm

    Hi Kev, enjoying your travellog. You be careful out there. Maudie

  2. Capt. Don Kilpela Sr. September 18, 2007 / 5:58 pm


    There are a lot of these shrines in Brazil. There is one cathedral between Sao Paulo and Rio in which it looks like you could fly a small airplane. These shrines, however, feature many medical objects such as crutches, slings, medicine bottles, etc. Are you going through brazil at all? Venezuela? If you are in Venezuela, pop over the Bonaire or Curacao for a rest.

    Don wants to know haw many miles a day you cover.

    Great blog. Uncle Don

  3. DAD September 18, 2007 / 8:27 pm


  4. Capt. Don Kilpela Sr. September 20, 2007 / 2:34 pm

    Hey, Kev,

    I just looked at your map route again and see that you will not go through Brazil or Venezuela. Those Chilian mountains look pretty daunting.

    You’ll never know how much in awe I am of this trip. I can barely ride to the Pines in the morning (5 blocks, uphill) and I do the final 500 feet in gear 21. And for my age I’m in decent shape. Of course the ride back is fun at 30 mph and no pedaling.

    Spent a few days with your dad when he was in Copper Harbor but now Katrina said he’s in Costa Rica….man on the move.

    Two more trips on the Queen IV and we can wrap it up for the season until next May. We had a relatively good year busniesswise so that makes the winter vacations easier to take. Hope to see you when you get back to Miami as we’ll be in South Palm Beach from Feb through April.

    Uncle Don

  5. kkoski44 September 22, 2007 / 8:04 pm

    Thanks for all your comments. I´m glad people are reading this.

    As for how many miles I go, I try to get 100 km which is 62 miles a day. My highest day was 134 km (83 miles) so far.

    I will be going into Bolivia soon and that is where I will be really tested by the Andes. We´ll see if these old legs can still push up a 25 km hill.

  6. Alissa T Nembhard November 15, 2007 / 7:15 pm

    lol, the kid is cute, i like him. you just had to make fun of the hotel translation ahh?

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