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Aiden’s Travel Diary

Monday, 17 Jul 2006

Location: Pantanal, Brazil

MapWell, after being in Bonito and having an awesome time, expectations were high, and we had heard great things about this Pantanal experience.
An early rise, and a long bus ride plus a `on the back of a guide truck´ ride later we arrived to the campsite which would be our home for the next 4 days.
I must say that at first sight, delight wasnt the first thing I felt. There was nothing much happening and the campsite was just dirt, with cold showers, and hammocks for beds. We swallowed our pride (and also the millions of bugs that were living in the toilets and showes) and then became acquainted with our Guide, Mario. Little did we know that he was the one that would turn the first impression right on their heads.
After the siesta time around midday, (which is definitely needed as we found out later) we found ourselves on a boat ride on a river which basically ran passed our campsite. The birds were definitely out in numbers as were the alligators and so, the camera was red hot.
On one of the boat rides, Mario randomly pulls up to this bush, all-of-a-sudden, jumps in head first, and pulls out 2 baby alligators!!
They were soooooo cute!! I want one!!
As the day proceeded, it became bloody hot so we stop for a swim. Most were apprehensive at first, but we ended up in and some of us headed up the 8m tree after Mario had shown us a jumping platform!! (take a look at the photos)
Yep. Im a local.
My nickname so became Little Kangaroo because im from Oz, and then evolved to just `Skip.´
Thanks Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
The night time was freezing, especially in a hammock. God damnitt.
The next few days were brilliant. The weather was especially kind and basically all days were really warm and didnt heider most activities, and were filled with animals gallor.
From alligators, to kingfishers, woodpeckers to anteaters, from frogs to piranhas, and monkeys to small wildcats. And we certainly got close..
On one of our treks, we seemed to have lost track of time, so we had to take the `quick way´ back. This meant, walking through a swamp up to our knees... most refused, but Mario wouldnt have it as we started to head into the water and huge russel of plants and scrubs not only made Mario turn but almost sent us flying into the air! `Ok, alligators gone now, lets know.´ Good God.
One of the highlights was definitely the Giant Otters that we saw on one of our treks. We walking along when Mario quickly stops, and runs of through these trees and we all had to run after him... `hear that? Giant Otters....´ but we could not see them.
So, we walked a little further to the island where they usually are found, but were greeted with a chest high water-swamp obstical that most were not too keen on. Before we could say DAMN. A hug shreeck came from Marios mouth, `Errrrrrraaaaacccccckkk!!´
We all were thinking, you crazy bastard when suddenly, `Errrrrrrrrraaacccckkkkk!!!´ was heard in reply..... a few more calls out to the otters and the plants started moving in the water in front and then 3 otters came galloping in front of us on the island.... a girl from Melbourne, Bec, almost jumped up and ran away as they certainly looked as though they were `coming right for us!´
But what they did next was amazing.
The 4 of them, started jumping up and poking their heads out of the water to try and see who was making the call. Mario says, `look how they dance!! Dancer, dancer!´ (check out the pictures for proof!)
On the same trek, a mate from South Africa, Theunis, started to struggle with his eyes... not being able to open them really. Mario said, `what wrong with eyes?´
`Well, im not sure, they just dont stop watering and are really sensitive to light, so i think they are infected or something..´
Mario walks upto to a tree and with a swing of his trusty knife, he has a fruit in his hand... `you trust me??´
`yeh mate.´
Plop, one, plop two. `it will sting a bit.´
Theunis was squinting with pain....`no no no not like that Theunis, but calm, relax eyes...´
After 2 minutes Theunis opened his eyes, and to not only his disbelief but ours as well.... `there fine, MUCH better, Awesome!´
The Eye of the Tiger was born.... DA! DA DA DA! DA DA DA! DA DA DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!!! DA!!
Another higlight was definitely the piranha fishing. With the sun high in the sky and bamboo rod in hand, we found ourselves wading up to our waist in piranha infested waters.
`Heres your meat to fish with.´
`Where do I put it??´
`In your pocket..´
`Underneath the water!??!´
`ohhhh ok. Just clarifying.´
Oh God, they are going to eat my bloody legs off!! Why did I have to go commando today??
But alas, my legs are intact (and other bits.. pheewww!) and only the piranhas were the losers with me catching 6 piranhas and I salmon fish... not bad I thought!!
And after the four days, we were caked in a layer of dirt that couldnt be washed off, had no more clean clothes to wear, didnt worry about the bees, wasps, mosquitos and other assorted bugs that were flying around us, and bloody loving it.
A sad goobye to great friends met in the Pantanal and hope that the rest of their travels will be as good as my South America adventure.
So with braided anklet in hand, henna tatoo on the arm and a gorgeous brown tan that was a combination of dirt and sun, we headed back to Campo Grande looking forward to warm shower and a matress as a bed.
An ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC experience and one I would definitely say should not be missed.
A sad plane ride back as now most of my trip is at an end, only 3 days left in São Paulo, then its the trip back to AUS.
I was going to put more pictures up from the Pantanal and Bonito, but only if you guys are lucky... otherwise, ill see you after the 6 AUG and we´ll discuss them over a beer at the house in Boundary Road.
Until then, ill see you in Europe.