A 30-day adventure by Retirement gap year
  • Day30

    24th April Tuesday Regua

    May 15, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    A very hot six mile hike up to see an amazing waterfall. We were guided but the forest was very thick and the birds were tiny.
    This is what I have learned about Regua so far:
    The series of lakes making up the wetlands are dammed rivers.
    The three cooks are different sizes, this means the rum punch drink we get in the evenings is stronger when the fattest sister makes it. This is because the measurements for the rum is done in fingers. Here is the recipe:
    11 limes
    A jug full of ice
    3 large spoons of sugar
    7 fingers of rum
    So on the days the plumpest sister makes the punch there is more rum as she has wider fingers!
    The young man who is front of house is Nicholas (the owner) son and is 28.
    He had a row with his girlfriend last night, she was taking him somewhere he didn't want to go so he jumped out of the car whilst it was still moving.
    In hospital with a sore shoulder he finished with her even though they had been together for two and a half years.
    His grandpa is British (from Kew). Thomas' grandpa married his grandma (half dutch and half italian) when they were both very young and his grandpa inherited the farm (now the regua reserve). The marriage didn't last but they are still friends and his grandpa comes over every year for a month. Grandpa is now married to a lady in charge of kew gardens and Thomas has some step relatives, one of whom now has a baby.
    Grandpa is due to visit this Friday.
    Our guides family live in rio. His son is 3 and is called Martin and goes to nursery at 6:30am and gets home by 7 pm.
    Our guides father died suddenly of a heart attack when our guide was 28. Our guide was run over by a bus which flayed the skin from his foot.
    There is a tapir introduction program in place, but it has come to a halt because the bureaucracy allowed two tapirs, one male and one female to be introduced, and because of the time constraints of the bureaucracy the female has now had a baby, This has led to further bureaucracy but it is now nearly done.
    The politician in charge of agriculture in the areas has a huge soya production plant.
    school teachers get paid £600 a month.
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  • Day30

    23 April Regua

    May 15, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    We got up early and breakfasted and set off on an early morning guided walk with the bird guide. We saw loads and took lots of pictures. It last 5 hours but felt like no time at all. The weather had chirped up and the sun was shining. Clouds are lowering over the mountains. In Porto Alegre it had been spring so the birds behaviour was all frantic springtime nest building and mating, whereas here there is no breeding season as such and we did see some mating and nesting behaviour but also a lot of birds were just hanging about.
    I can't believe we have the place to ourselves for the next few days. It is so peaceful except for the cooks (three sisters, alike and unalike) who sing constantly.
    After supper we had a night guided walk for two hours. It was incredibly dark. Up above us the night sky was incredible. Different constellations from ours at home winked down on us with no light pollution to mar its splendour. My neck got constant exercise as I kinked it back to gaze in wonder at all those other suns, onward and further into the depths of the darkness.
    We walked down the road to where there was a reliable burrowing owl on a post. Paul took a photo of it as the torch lit it up. We walked back round the lake where the torch picked out many eyes staring back at us from the water surface, these were all caymans and there were a fair few out there! On the way back to the lodge we saw two armadillos crossing the path in front of us and were given glimpses of glow worms or fire flies twinkling in the gloom of the forest.
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  • Day30

    Sunday 22nd April Regua day 3

    May 15, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    Somewhat marred by a stomach upset which kept me awake all night. The Italian/brazilian family also affected as the grandpa was sick all night and gave me the thumbs down when we appeared for a late breakfast.
    We had a restful morning as it was raining followed by a walk down to the wetland where we got wet. After this we were on our own in the lodge as the family had gone home early.
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  • Day30

    21 April day 2 Regua

    May 15, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    A pleasant walk down to the wetlands at 6. Capybaras to be seen and a plethora of birds. We went back for breakfast, an eclectic mix of fruit, fruit juice, bacon and eggs and cereals. Afterwards we wandered out for another walk, not taking our brand new raincoats so we walked back fairly fast as the rain came in. After lunch it continued to rain, so we relaxed around the lodge, reading, cataloguing photographs and snoozing.Read more

  • Day29

    Day six. first day in Regua

    May 14, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 38 °C

    We got an early taxi for our flight. It was a good flight and we were met at the airport and transported to Regua.
    It was a lovely sunny day so after lunch (with Brazilian family, child, mum, dad and grandparents, plus assorted Italians and Germans) we ventured out on one of the many trails through the forest.
    Setting off about 3pm meant that at first there was little to see, lots to hear, and comfortable new boots, but i got a bit disgruntled as we saw no birds.
    However, as we walked out into the open we became aware of much more bird life, a highlight being the smallest woodpecker I have ever seen. Paul got some great shots of it.
    Later we walked on past the wetlands and there were plenty of birds to keep us occupied. We had a great deal of Capareenya (sugar palm punch) and then went to bed after supper as we were shattered.
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  • Day29

    Porto Alegre

    May 14, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Day 4 - second visit to Botanical Gardens.
    It was a beautiful dawn. We breakfasted and were in a taxi by eight.The taxi driver was Marcel - he was the product of an Italian father and German mother - not unusual in this part of Brazil as there is a huge immigrant population from both of these parts of Europe,
    He drove us to the botanical gardens while giving us his life story and his ambition to go to London to live later this year.
    We were dropped off and had a thoroughly lovely day with the birds, mostly on our own as the school party only ventured to the obvious places and there were some photography students on an assignment who were respectful of the place and of us..
    After a morning of quiet enjoyment and photography we went to the "snack bar" for lunch. We had some fish with rice and beans. Very tasty. When we went to pay for it, we were informed that it was the worker's canteen and therefore all free. Later we paid for an ice cream there as were feeling guilty.
    We whats apped Marcel when we were ready to be picked up and he brought us back to the hotel via a pharmacy for some face wipes. He took us back via his Dad's house and we met his Dad. He and his family (extended) all lived in what I took to be a very middle class area away from the favelas in the city and they all lived in the same street.
    We got back to the hotel and processed photos, later we dined with two other vets who didn't want to go to the gaucho restaurant tourist trap with the rest of the speakers.
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  • Day29

    porto alegre

    May 14, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Day three
    The conference.

    We were asked to be in the lobby of the hotel by 7:45 to get the mini bus to the conference venue. By 8:15 we were all herded on to it and we made the journey to the private university in about 20 minutes.
    The university was opposite a school and I was surprised to see a guard on the gates at the entrance to the school.
    Although it was technically the easter holiday the university was still thronged with students. We had been assigned a young man called Clairton to help us organise Paul's talk on the technical side. He explained that easter monday was not officially a holiday although Friday would be a public holiday.
    Paul was anxious to get to know how the technology was to be organised so we went into their palatial staff room and uploaded his talk onto a computer there.
    At the appointed time, everyone settled into the room and the conference began.
    Two hours of portuguese introduction and speeches without a working translation head-set was somewhat tedious, but as there was supposed to be a coffee break at 10:30 we stuck it out.
    As time went by it became clear that this interval was not going to happen.
    Finally after listening to a talk (in English) by Mike from Bristol, we snuck out to use the loo and find Clairton to get Paul's talk set up in the mission control at the back of the auditorium.
    Clairton reassured Paul as did the technicians there and we were first in the queue for a meal in the student canteen for lunch.
    It was noisy and full of people so we didn't linger. Paul was first on after lunch. He asked for the monitor to be moved on the stage as it was not in the right place to be seen by the speaker. He was due on at 2 pm.
    His talk was brilliant and well received, he appeared relaxed and in control, but the technology involved in the point and click mechanism for changing slides seemed to be sporadically faulty and it became clear as the day progressed that this would be an issue for all the speakers.
    After Paul, a Japanese Brazilian gave a talk about wild animals and pain, he was helping very elderly lions and other damaged creatures with nerve blocks and surgery.
    He spoke of animals having "souls" and was extremely dedicated to their recovery, such that he felt he had to intervene if at all possible which seemed to me to be debatable in some cases where the animal was nearly moribund with old age symptoms.
    After him was another Brazilian talking about the ethics of pain relief in farm animals or production animals as he liked to allude to them. This was interesting because in contrast to the previous speaker he had a pragmatic approach to the welfare of animals on the one hand and their commercial use on the other.
    After an interval with a one press coffee machine and some ropy biscuits as the only refreshment, there was a round table discussion with Professor Paul having many questions asked of him.
    I was amused by a young girl who had asked to have a photo taken with Professor Paul during the interval and was sure one of the questions was from her.
    The final speaker was a young man who was trying to sort out the stray dog population around a university campus nearby. We returned to the hotel by 7 pm. A long day and with no water for the delegates at all. The human welfare at the Animal welfare conference was decidedly lacking. We had a beer with a few of the speakers, and then had supper on our own and an early night.
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  • Day1

    Day two

    April 16, 2017 in England ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    We went to the botanical garden with birding pal Gilberto.
    Our visit was lovely as the botanical garden was closed due to it being a bank holiday, but Gilberto was allowed in as he had a pass. As a result we were pretty much the only people there and the birds were around as it was quiet.
    Gilberto was very patient with us, showing us the birds, allowing us to stop and photograph even the commonest ones, and finding them in the field guide.
    Walking through the gardens, there were two lakes, one surrounded by jungle vegetation and trees, and the other one with a more open aspect. We spotted some rare wood rails around the first one, but the second one was full of turtles which was entertaining.

    Eventually we had seen what there was to see and Gilberto was keen to show us a marshland near the airport. When we got there we were warned about some people on bikes up the track who we should avoid as they may be robbing people. We had our expensive photo kit and new binoculars with us so this made me very nervous and spoiled my enjoyment of the area. We did however see some parakeets nesting, which was a highlight.
    We went back to the hotel for lunch and bought lunch for Gilberto to say thank you.
    That evening we dined in the hotel with some other folk attending the conference.
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