Os Lobos

The monastery at Parque Caraça is about as serene as you can imagine. It’s nestled alone in a valley, at least 15 km from the nearest soul. It’s simple, but architecturally stunning against the surrounding mountains. Now, part of the facility welcomes visitors as an amazingly affordable pousada. All meals are included and served in the giant hallowed dining halls. We slept in the ‘Brother’s Wing’.

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If you would like a chance to play modern-day Saint Francis of Assisi and coexist with nature in a peaceful countryside, this might be your calling. Hiking trails lead up into the hillsides in every direction. Pairs of parrots roost in the churches eaves, other birds have nests full of chicks in each bush, giant tree frogs hang lazily from the branches. And, then there’s the wolves…

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In an attempt to befriend the local maned wolves, the priests started leaving offerings of dinner scraps for their blessed neighbors. Each night, after a church service and a traditional snack of chá e pipoca (syrupy sweet tea and popcorn), the few guests can wander outside to the front steps and wait for the other nocturnal visitors.

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After the food was placed, we sat on the steps and patiently waited. Bode was reading a book, but still managed to be the first to spot a wolf quietly climbing the 22 steps to the cathedral. We were frozen and silent as this wild animal studied us before deciding to come closer.

These are tall and lanky canines – rusty brown, with a black stripes on their neck and black feet. They are clearly timid and wary of humans – always looking toward the steps as an escape – but still confident enough to come within a meter of a spectator, looking us right in the eyes. At no time do you think this is a tame animal.

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After a few bites and a pork chop for the road, the first wolf scampered off. Amazed at what just happened, we waited longer and saw 2 wolves come 3 times over the course of the next few hours.

But, despite the presence of a full bar at a monastery, sitting outside on the stone steps began to get uncomfortable and we eventually decided to turn in for the night.  One we won’t soon forget.

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8 thoughts on “Os Lobos

  • March 1, 2013 at 6:53 PM
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    Wow! What a great find. Awesome!

  • March 1, 2013 at 8:54 PM
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    Holy moley!

  • March 1, 2013 at 11:54 PM
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    What an experience!!! Any other guests? What a change from the bus. You guys look like the only ones around.

  • March 1, 2013 at 11:57 PM
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    They almost look like hyenas. What a strange, wonder-full evening.

  • March 4, 2013 at 4:37 PM
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    Larry – there were a few other guests, but pretty darn quiet. We were the only ones who stayed up past the first wolf visit… a very cool experience.

  • March 9, 2013 at 6:02 AM
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    fun fact from our buddy mark…

    How many of you have heard of the Maned Wolf? In spite of its appearance and name it is not a fox, nor is it a wolf.
    The Maned Wolf, native to South America is actually the only known surviving member of the Chrysocyon genus and is not closely related to any living canid.
    One suggested explanation for this is that the Maned Wolf is a lone survivor of the Pleistocene extinction which wiped out all of its close relatives and other canids from South America.
    A study published in 2003 placed the Maned Wolf together with the extinct Falklands Island wolf (also not a true wolf, it became extinct in 1876) based on morphology. The study also suggested an affinity with the pseudo-foxes of the genus Pseudalopex. A genetic study published in 2009 confirmed the link with the Falklands Island wolf and suggested that they shared a common ancestor around six million years ago.

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