Yep- we’re back in the Centenario again. The park at the edge of Cartagena’s old town is like some sort of Mary Poppins bag of amazing wildlife- for, as well as the monkeys, that tiny plot also has a population of sloths and enormous green iguanas. Like the monkeys, their being able to make their way there naturally is extremely unlikely, and it’s quite probable that they were deliberately released. Nevertheless, this was my first time seeing both species outside of zoos, and their charisma really was something special.
The iguanas, the longest of which came to a length of over 2m, were usually found clambering around in the top of the trees, where loud rustling and a long, lime green tail with black stripes was their give away. They had a very jurassic look about them, with large claws and a spiky ridged back which made them look like they’d be way to clunky to be able to climb well- but climb well they can, and they could often be seen on even the spindliest branches of the park’s tamarind trees.
And the sloths- well, the sloths. I can totally see why there’s so much internet love for them, with their placid pan-au-chocolat faces and ridiculously long arms. The first time we spotted one, we were treated to a half hour rendition of ‘sloth versus precariously thin branch’ as one of them tried to get from one tree to the next. For around 20 minutes, it shimmied right to the edge of the tree crown and desperately tried to reach far enough to get a grip on the crown next to it. After a series of near misses, and a heart-in-your-mouth moment where it let go of one of the anchor branches and was flung back as the branch swung backward, it made the sensible decision to edge its way down the tree trunk and make the crossing at ground level. Is there any sight in the natural world that’s as odd as watching a sloth travel across the ground? All I could think of was that it was that it bore an uncanny resemblance to an extremely hungover Ciara when someone’s made her a bacon sandwich but has cruelly left it in the next room. Thankfully, the sloth (eventually) made it to the next trunk undisturbed and unharmed. Not a sight I’ll forget in a hurry.