Summer 2023 - Busing It

At two in the morning we were awoken. It was pitch black. Everyone was to exit the bus as it was ferried across a river somewhere in the Pantanal. The ferry was equipped with a searchlight, which swept the water with its beam, as if searching for something. What was the pilot looking for with the searchlight? A fellow passenger guessed crocodiles, yet there are no actual crocodiles in the Pantanal, just caimans. I wasn’t about to take any chances; these are waters you don’t want to accidentally fall into. If the caimans don’t get you, the piranhas might …


Ian Birch taught business and finance at universities in British Columbia and Ontario before retiring onto a wooded acreage in the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands to pursue diverse projects. This article is an excerpt from the author’s book The Last Train through the Heart of the Americas: By Rail and Road across Two Hemispheres for which he is currently seeking an agent/publisher (

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