Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Whispering Land

By Gerald Durrell

The true story of Gerald Durrell's trip to Argentina in the late 1950s to gather animals for his zoo in England. It took him eight months to get the animals he wanted and along the way he made many new friends among the locals, encountered rare and interesting animals and had a pretty good time of it, all in all. The only thing he wasn't able to get done was capturing some vampire bats. He even went so far as to sleep outside one night with his bare foot uncovered, hoping to entice the bats with his own vulnerable toes. The bats were certainly in the area but were not interested in his toes. Later on he reflected that it was probably for the best because if he had been bitten he would have most likely had to undergo a series of injections to prevent the development of rabies!

This was an enjoyable story, lots of critters, some adventure, and descriptions of exotic landscapes and of the many friendly and helpful people without whom his expedition would have been much more difficult and much less successful. While reading it, some fifty plus years after it was written, I couldn't help but wonder if the wild and untamed landscapes he describes have changed much over the decades and if the sleepy little villages are still sleepy and quiet and the abundant wildlife still abundant . . .

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