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  • Day22

    The Pantanal - 28 to 31 July 2015

    July 30, 2015 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    For those that don't know, the Pantanal is a vast wetland/savanna area in Brazil near the borders of Bolivia and Paraguay. We elected to go here instead of the Amazon because we heard that there were more wildlife sightings here...mainly because the vegetation in the Amazon is a lot thicker...

    Day 1 (28 July)

    So after we coordinated with the tour and ran the errands mentioned in the previous post, we headed out to the Pantanal. We rode with the owner of the tour company and a Bulgarian - Canadian named Vincent.

    The first day of the tour consisted of us riding out to the Lodge in a truck and having to stop and take a ferry across the Paraguay river. Frequent readers will know that Jaime spent her time making friends with the mangiest of dogs. There was also a piglet she tried to befriend...

    Anyway, as we were driving out to the lodge, we saw multiple cayman, capivare (spelling?), birds, lizards and probably some other animals I don't remember. Also, a capivare is huge South American rodent...just think of the 'rodents of unusual size' from Princess Bride....most were actually bigger than Jaime's dog Sierra....if that tells you anything.
    As we were waiting on dinner, we got to chat with an older Korean gentleman. He was traveling by himself and his English was not very good. He was very impressed by Jaime and gave her the Korean name 'Lena'...which apparently means 'beautiful' in Chinese. Needless to say, Jaime liked him immensely. He nicknamed Keith Yong sun...which he said meant 'clever' in Korean. Keith thinks this claim dubious and is probably the Korean equivalent of 'asshat'. Jaime and Keith nicknamed him Sawyer, as he wanted an American nickname. He liked Sawyer and since Jaime and Keith are both Mark Twain fans, they thought it appropriate. (As an aside, it turns out Keith is the Mark Twain fan as Jaime just has a few books on display to make her 'look smart'...)

    After dinner we went on a night safari. A 'night safari' is a fancy way of saying 'we sat in the back of a truck and spotlighted animals with a massive flashlight'. Keith's friends and family are likely familiar with this technique. Jaime's friends and family may not be as familiar. Keith thinks that it's nice that redneck activities are popular all over the world.

    Day 2 (29 July)

    So we woke up on day 2 and went on a river tour....we traveled up one of the local rivers and saw cayman and other animals....mostly birds though. After about 45 minutes we stopped and drifted downstream for a bit. While we drifted, we did some piranha fishing.

    In our boat we had two Koreans, Vincent, ourselves, and our two Brazilian guides. The fishing contest that ensued was won by the Brazilians...it was not even close. I think they caught 7 or 8. The American contingent was 2nd overall with 3....and to be completely fair, the American success was entirely attributable to the efforts of Miss Jaime Parker. Keith caught nothing. Had this been prehistoric times, Jaime would have been the hunter and Keith would have been sent off to pick berries or nurse the babies...it was also very nice of Jaime to make sure Keith knew who caught the fish. Keith would have probably forgotten about his poor luck and atrocious fishing skill, but Jaime was kind enough to keep him reminded....

    When we came back from lunch, we found out our next activity wasn't until 3...so we had time for a siesta. At some point during our snooze fest, the power went out...and with it our air conditioning unit. Jaime was less than thrilled. Keith is pretty sure the only reason Jaime eventually stopped mentioning the fishing statistics was because her focus (wrath) was focused elsewhere....namely on Paolo, the manager of the establishment.

    As far as customer service skills, Paolo had none. He also did not enjoy questions of any type, though especially from women. When Keith asked him a question, he got a round about answer that didn't address the query. When Jaime asked a question, she was told she needed to calm down and that he didn't work for the electric company. For the record, Jaime just asked for an update about the electricity.

    The convo went very much like this....

    Jaime - "so do you have an update on the electricity?" (And to be clear, she didn't even say it with an attitude....like the way she talks to Keith when she thinks she is just asking a normal question)...

    Paolo - "Amiga! No need to get angry...I no work for the company"

    (Keith's inner thoughts - "oh you poor bastard...you have no idea...you think you do, but you really don't. That wasn't an attitude. I know about the attitude you're about to get and I'm so glad it's going to be directed at someone else....best day ever. Ring side seats and everything....)

    I don't have direct quotes from what Jaime said, but she made sure that Paolo knew he did not answer her question. Jaime also made sure Paolo knew she did not appreciate his tone....and she repeated her question in a very condescending way. Paolo answered the question and was nice the rest of the trip...and by nice, I mean that he avoided us as much as possible....(except when it was time to load our stuff to leave...he couldn't get us out of there fast enough.)

    But enough about that...

    In the afternoon we went 'trekking'...this is the term non-Americans use for hiking/walking. We walked through a lot of standing water in the search of animals. We mainly saw cows, but we saw a bunch of birds and some howler monkeys. It was crazy hot outside and the mosquitoes were abundant. At one point we walked through standing water that was chest high. It was at this point that Jaime asked Keith to take a picture. Mind you....Keith was already carrying both pairs of shoes, the water, and Jaime's backpack. He was holding all of these things above the water so they wouldn't get wet. Keith politely informed Jaime that it was a terrible idea to get one of their smart phones out and that it was just asking for trouble....Jaime grew frustrated with Keith's lack of additional hands and had Vincent take their picture.

    We had a cold shower when we got back and had a lovely dinner with an Italian couple and Vincent.

    Day 3 (30 July)

    Day 3 consisted of another trek, though this one was much longer and because it was earlier in the day, it was cooler with less mosquitoes. We ended up walking about 7.5 miles and saw more monkeys, birds and some native pigs. Jaime started to get tired at one point...Keith was aware of this point because Jaime started tripping on sticks and not watching where she was going. The comments about the heat and how she was 'over it', also served as important clues. Her constant tripping eventually led to a couple scratches. When the wading in water resumed, Jaime began reciting segments from her microbiology studies. Keith learned a lot during this period as the lessons Jaime shared were repeated often.

    After lunch, we went horseback riding with a group of Russian English teachers. We were told to be ready at 1...and we were. Much to his immense joy, we actually got on the horses at 3...the experience was fun, though the trotting was not good for Keith's back, or for Jaime's neck, which she had irritated earlier in the trip.

    At one point, Keith's sunglasses fell off and he had to maneuver his horse back down the trail to get them. Jaime was under the impression that his horse was taking him in the wrong direction, but his horsemanship skills became readily apparent after he grabbed his glasses and came galloping back across the prairie. Had he been wearing a cowboy hat instead of a plastic hardhat, he would have looked impressive. Unfortunately, the plastic hardhat is incapable of making someone look impressive....so, instead, he continued to look like what goober....

    That night, we had our best Brazilian meal yet. The best dish was a chicken concoction served over crispy hash browns. It was delicious. We also dined with a French couple. They had all sorts of questions about American politics and our view of the world. They also asked Jaime a lot of personal questions...Jaime was quite pleased since she loves when she is the subject of the conversation.

    Day 4 (31 July)

    Our last day had us fishing for piranhas in the lake by the lodge. We each caught 4 fish so Keith was able to redeem himself a little. Jaime was kind enough patronize him (just a little) and let him know how proud she was of his 'cute, little fish'....

    After fishing, we went back and relaxed before lunch. We left after lunch and rode in the back of a truck for about an hour and a half at which point we got another shuttle to Bonito....we actually spent a lot of time in the back of trucks in the Pantanal. Keith enjoyed riding in the back of trucks going too fast down bumpy gravel roads. Jaime enjoyed it to a point...Then her safety concerns kicked in...

    We're now in Bonito and are having a great time....more on that later.
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