Thursday, February 19, 2009

Musica Llanera: Conjunto Hato Cedral - Pajarillo

The Llanero cowboys and the rest of the staff at the isolated cattle ranch of Hato Cedral in Apure State - easily the best place to see wildlife in all of Venezuela - come together in the evenings to play musica llanera for their guests.

For the Venezuelan cowboys it's a chance to get out the harp and sing a joropo or two for the birdwatchers and assorted nature nuts who come to the ranch to get up close and personal with piranhas, anacondas, alligators and the Zen-like chiguires - the biggest rodents on the planet.

There is no better place to hear musica llanera than on a working cattle ranch, amid the whoops and whistles of the myriad birds that inhabit the rivers and partially-flooded plains and the thunder of galloping horses as cowboys round up hardy Zebu cows.

Joropo is a fast-galloping form of musica llanera played on harp, the small four-stringed cuatro guitar and maracas.

Conjunto Hato Cedral is just a loose name for these part-time musicians, who will swap instruments during the course of the evening, or entreat a compañero to come forward and sing a favourite song.

The guy with the cowboy hat playing maracas is none other than my old mate Victor, the best birding guide at Hato Cedral and a real character.

It was Victor who introduced me to my first anaconda by draping it around my neck.

To contact Hato El Cedral visit their website:

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