I think I got up close to my first iguana when Mary and I vacationed in the Florida Keys. The iguanas are so tame there that one can walk up to within a few feet of the lizards as they lounge in the sun seemingly oblivious to picture taking tourists.
Not so here in Ecuador. There are plenty of iguanas in our area of San Clemente, Ecuador as I regularly see evidence of their presence on my patio and in my garden. They like to eat achocha plants and we have had poor results trying to grow the pepper like vegetable here as the iguana will wait until the plant is a few feet tall and then eat right through the stalk in the night. There is also the physical evidence scattered about confirming the critters have been around almost every night.
The lighter is there for size reference. We clean up little offerings like these almost every morning. We also often hear the iguanas scurrying off when we step outside on the patio in the night, but they are difficult to see.
When Bob and Lori came to visit we took a trip up the Portoviejo river through the mangrove area and Lori got these pictures of large iguanas high up in the mangrove trees.
And I saw a large iguana at the botanical gardens in Portoviejo as it raced for cover beneath a storage shed.
When people come to visit here and ask about iguanas I generally can show them some iguanas on the top of a house near the main road where I regularly see iguanas sunning themselves in the afternoon.
But – what about the semi-tame iguanas that sit on open pathways and provide photo-ops for tourists and curious gringos? I spot iguanas in the yard area every now and then, but as soon as they see me they race away for cover. They are all around us, but why are they so hard to spot here?
The answer comes from just about every local I ask about iguanas. When I tell them I saw an iguana they almost all ask me if I caught it. I tell them I just wanted to get pictures and ask, “Why would I want to catch one?” I get the incredulous look reserved for crazy gringos as they answer, “To eat it!”
Iguanas are fearsome appearing reptiles and look like they would be mighty hunters, but they are actually plant eaters and, at least in Manabí province in Ecuador are the hunted not the hunters!
So – I was excited yesterday when I stepped outside and noticed we had a pool visitor.
The ever wary delicacy did not race away at first as there was a small wall and thirty feet between us, so I got my camera and got these pictures.
The iguana did not know that I represented no threat to him. Just look at those long claw like feet with the curved nails!
I kept trying to walk to the side of the pool to get a different angle, but the ever wary delicacy kept turning toward me. Just after I took this last shot, he scurried away into the bushes and safety.
I was glad that I finally got some pictures of an iguana close up and, now that we have met, perhaps we will be seeing our neighbor the iguana out by the pool again. We will keep you posted.
By the way, I am told (no surprise to anyone who has asked about exotic foods before) iguanas taste like chicken! So far Mary and I are taking that on faith.
Life is good in Ecuador!