Yesterday, we went to visit an Ecuadorian friend who owns a very special waterside resort/retreat here in Bahia, Siananda.
We wanted to visit with him before we left for Mexico. Their food at Siananda is always wonderful; vegetarian with a South American flair! Dishes from Peru, Brazil and Ecuador are expertly created by resident chefs using local vegetables and herbs. They grow much of their own food that isn’t found locally. The meal was spectacular and more than we could eat but the best part came at the end.
We have known Alfredo and Rosa for some time and have spent many enjoyable hours at Siananda, Alfredo’s home and resort for the past 30+ years. Until yesterday, however, we did not know of his 20-year houseguest… a large 3-toed Sloth. Serously, how often has the subject of a 3-toed Sloth come up in any or your conversations?
About 20 years ago, Alfredo rescued this then-young Sloth from a group of indigenous people on the northern coast who were about to kill and eat it. I believe some money may have changed hands. Fearing for its life had he left the young Sloth in the local area, Alfredo brought the Sloth back to Siananda where it has chosen to remain, coming and going as it pleases. One of the main buildings on the beautiful and densely landscaped property has a loft area accessed from the interior by a spiral staircase. Negotiating the steep stairs led us to a cozy library, study space with windows allowing a magnificent view of the property, the bay and the river upon which the property sits. The windows were open. Curled and tucked into a very small space beneath a shelf was this large Sloth.
It reacted to our presence by opening its eyes and slightly moving its head. Diane was the first to touch if, offering light strokes with the encouragement of our host. Alfredo went on to explain that the Sloth comes and goes as it pleases but for the past twenty years, has always chosen to return to this safe place to sleep during the day. It roams freely at night when Sloths are most active.
Sometimes, it chooses the space where we found it. Other times, it selects another favored spot on a bookshelf but always returns to this same, quiet room. The Sloth’s access to this space is provided via climbing a tree, traversing a section of roof and entering through the always-open window.
This was not a zoo-like experience (I detest zoos and any form of animal exploitation such as Sea World.) as this animal has the ability to come and go as it pleases. It is not caged or restricted in any way but has found a safe place with only gentle and minimal contact with humans and elects to remain and return. There have been times, we were told, when the Sloth remained away for a number of days, the longest stretch about ten days. Alfredo and Rosa feared that they had lost their old friend. Then…he showed up again.
Alfredo is a very special man who truly integrates his life with his surroundings. It is apparent in the visible choices he has made and the amazing and peaceful environment he has created at Siananda. If you should ever find your way to Bahia de Caraquez, some time spent at Siananda will refresh your soul and remind you of how life can be lived. There are hammocks and comfortable chairs on porches and decks and the gentle sounds of wind chimes and sea birds fill the air. Luncheon guests often retreat to one of the hammocks to catch a nap before leaving. Don’t be surprised if one of the small, friendly Chihuahuas on the property hops into the hammock with you to curl up and share your nap. If you decide you want to extend your stay beyond lunch, Siananda offers gorgeous guest rooms. Be warned! It’s addictive!
Siananda is located about 10 minutes south of downtown Bahia, just south of Leonedes Plaza. Siananda is a private retreat, located behind closed gates. You must contact them for reservations for meals and lodging.