Brazil Wrap

Have you ever had those days when you are sitting at your desk and all you can think about is escaping that dreadful, mundane, ass-dragging, 9 to 5 – or 6 – or 7, piece of shit Tuesday?  When knock off time seems to be coming about as fast as a five-year olds piss poor attempt to send a bowling ball down the lane.  Slowly – bouncing – off – the left bumper, then the right bumper, then the left bumper, until it comes to a standstill, just two feet from the pins.  When you have exhausted all of the yahoo headlines, Facebook updates, and the fake money in your online poker account.  When the very thought of doing something productive makes you want to be physically ill and yet you can´t seem to find ANYTHING to entertain yourself on the internet (or have been banned from ping-pong until after 5pm).

When all you want to do is drop everything and go to a beautiful beach, enjoy weather that wraps itself around you like a warm blanket on a cold night, stick your feet in the equally warm but refreshing water, and enjoy a cocktail that is sweet to the taste but packing a Mike Tyson punch of alcohol.

You may not realize it at the time, but there is a high percentage chance that you are day dreaming about Brazil.
Unfortunately our time in Brazil went faster than an apple through my digestive system when I had giardia.  It seems like just yesterday we were getting smacked around by the mosquitoes in the Pantanal like a coked out whore that stole money from her pimp.  Clearly our time in Rio dominated our thoughts and hearts when it came to Brazil.   But Ilha Grande did beat out all other beaches we visited in Brazil to claim the “BS – WANKERSS Beach Award” (Bret/Sally Way Awesome Nice Killer Entertaining Relaxing Sand and Surf – Beach Award) 
We know that when we make it down to the southern America again, Brazil will be on our list of places we visit.
Food:
To the most dedicated carnivore that wants nothing more than to die choking on a bloody piece of meat and it just so happens that Brazil bids quite well as a very practical place for such an act to happen.  The Brazilian style BBQ (Churrasco) is a wonderfully scripted ballet.  The protagonist role being yourself, the antagonist your stomach and its painful, cramping, beyond stuffed, emergency signal it so pathetically attempts to send to your brain.  The waiters smile as they pile more and more varieties of meat on your plate.  Gleefully increasing their pace as they see you being beat into submission.
The guys on the street are serving up what many of us refer to as Kabobs of meat and based on quality and quantity would be dished out for well over $20 in the states.  However you’re going to be able to catch these bad boys on just about every corner (at night) for $2 – $4.
Top Rated For The Trip:
Clearly as the introduction paragraph stated; Rio is by far at the top of our list for Brazil and thus far top rated for our trip over all.  Lopes Mendes beach in Ilha Grande is one of the best beaches either of us have ever been to in our life.
Items Lost:
Our sense of budgeting and self-restraint (Our budgeting to this point has been exceptional.  Brazil. . . 24% over what we intended to spend)
Items Acquired:
Debit card (lost in Bolivia)
Tablet (Died in Colombia)
*Big shout out to Glen “Pops” Armstrong for taking out the second mortgage on the house to send both of those items to Brazil!
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Ilha Grande and Paraty

After seven days in Rio, I was reluctant to leave but our spending habits would have had us on our way back to Seattle in less than a month had we stayed any longer . . !

We started making our way down to Sao Paulo with two pit-stops along the way.  First stop was Ilha Grande.  An island paradise we were sold on after talking to an Irish couple we met back in La Paz.  Due to Bret´s lack of planning, we missed out on bus tickets to where we would get a ferry over to the island (ha-ha Sally, you mean OUR lack of planning – Bret).  Luckily, my research skills found Easy Transfer that would get us there the very next day for three times the price.

We were set.  Easy Transfer would pick us up between 10:30am and 11:30am in a comfortable, air-conditioned van and we would be on our way.  Wrong!  With Bret´s mantra in mind (early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable) we were ready and waiting in the lobby of our hostel at 10:15am.

11:45am rolled around and there was no sign of the van.  We gave old Easy Transfer a call and were told that no, we were scheduled to be picked up in the 11:30am -12:30pm time slot.  Okay, no biggie, that´s only another 45 minutes away.  Ten minutes later, Easy Transfer called the hostel and told us that the van was already full but not to worry, a taxi would be there to collect us in fifteen minutes and will have us at the ferry dock in time at the same price.  Sweet, a private transfer!

After another hour of waiting (it was now 1pm), a taxi, the size of a matchbox finally showed up – with two other passengers and their luggage already  inside.  Bret called front seat so I squeezed into the back seat with my day pack on my lap, not overly excited about the cramped situation I would be in for the next two hours.  Until Bret hopped in the front – with his day pack AND his 70 pound backpack on his lap!  The boot was full to the brim and could not fit either of his bags.  Needless to say, he was not happy!

We had a ferry to make and were already running late so not much could be done.  We spent the next hour and a half fearing for our lives as the taxi driver had to make up for lost time and was trying to shave an hour off what is usually a two and a half hour drive.  After a few near death experiences, we made it to the ferry.

Admittedly we were both pretty pissed off at the whole situation but it took all of two minutes on the boat, sun shining, reggae music blaring, waves crashing, to have a good laugh and realize that hey, life is pretty damn sweet!

Ilha Grande lived up to our expectations and then some.  It´s a small island town of about 3,000 inhabitants with plenty of glorious beach opportunities if you´re willing to do a little hiking.  Of course we all know Bret is not much of a hiker but I did manage to get him on a two-hour stint to beautiful Lopes Mendes beach.  Hands down, the most beautiful beach either of us have ever been to!  Perfect, clean, soft white sand, clear blue-green waters and surf to entertain us during our hours spent there.  The photos we have do not do it justice.

Unfortunately we only had four nights on the island.  In that time we spent two days hiking to and relaxing on Lopes Mendes beach, the other was spent close to the main area, not doing too much due to a late night drinking session with a few kiwis we met at the hostel.

Ilha Grande Photos

The day we left Ilha Grande it was overcast and pouring rain – a sign it was time to move on.  Two hours further down the coast we stopped at Paraty.  We were running out of time in Brazil so only managed to stay three nights, which only allowed us two full days to check out the area.  Our first day there, it was overcast so we spend the day wandering the cobble stone streets and doing a fair bit of window shopping.

Luckily our second to last day in Brazil it cleared up and we walked thirty minutes to a beach on the coast and enjoyed our last hours at the beach for a few weeks, laying out, enjoying beers at a chill beach-side pub we came across blaring reggae music.

Paraty

Unfortunately, the time had come.  The thirty days we spent in Brazil had flown by and finally come to an end.  The last week in Ilha Grande and Paraty had been the best send-off to a fantastic time in a beautiful country.

With our next flight leaving from Sao Paulo, we had to jump on a six-hour bus ride.  We had wanted to spend at least two nights there but the beaches slowed us down and we only had one.  The only day we had to explore before catching a late-night flight out, it was pissing down rain the entire day so we didn’t get to see Sao Paulo outside our immediate area.  Until next time I guess!

Rio = Really, It´s On!

In our almost 30 years on this earth (oh shit. . . almost 30) collectively we have had the opportunity to visit over 35 different countries and countless cities (We know, it’s a tough life).  We have been on the road for over four months straight and have at least 9 more to go!  The fact is, it isn’t that places become less amazing, but sadly it becomes standard for you to be in these amazing locations and thus more difficult for an individual place to register above the rest (there is just too much awesomeness).  We each have our own list of places that have managed to hit us hard enough with what they have to offer that they have found a permanent spot in our memory and made it onto our short list of places we know we will return.

We both definitely agree that Rio has made each of our lists.

If you have had the opportunity to meet a Brazilian, one of the most common features I am sure you noticed was their undying and unrepressed love for their country.  Of course every nationality is patriotic and proud of where they are from (America, fuck yeah!).  But it seems that Brazilians manage to top even the proudest, only buy American, gun totting redneck, country music loving, ‘Jesus Christ only loves The States’ bumper sticker on a jacked up truck, redneck.  Did I say redneck twice?  Just trying to get the point across.

Before I came to Brazil I thought maybe there was some kind of class in school that brainwashed them to only have a taste for their own culture, no matter how it actually ranks against others (no offense Brazilians).  Similar to people who smoke cheap cigarettes for so long they actually prefer GPC over a Marlboro or Camel.  Or those that really believe that Hamms is a superior beer and that all bars should be required to have it on tap.

The fact is, I now sit writing this very blog wearing capoeira pants, a green and yellow shirt that says “Ordem E Progresso”, and I am listening to Michel Telo ” Ai Se Eu Te Pego.  (A song that has followed us all around South America.  I still have absolutely no fucking clue what he is saying, but damn its catchy.)

Ai Se Eu Te Pego

Oh, and we are going to kick ass at our country hosted world cup in 2014!

Turns out these Brazilians might have more than a little ground to stand on when it comes to reasons for being proud, and I don’t even think they have the right to bear arms!?  Or at least not a Saturday Night Special and or assault rifle.

Alright, I may be slightly living in the moment.  Infatuated with a new love and not judging it in a rational manner.  Simply overlooking its negative sides and highlighting the positive.  It’s not like we are going to rush into a marriage, not fully knowing each other and hope love conquers all. . . we all know that shit never works out.

We spent a week in Rio and it was able to provide us with everything we were looking for and more.  In fact, we were so happy with Rio that we are not really sure what we did in Brazil before Rio or what we have planned after?  When I think back on our 30 days in Brazil it will be overshadowed by a single week.

Late night (turning into early morning) parties on the streets of Lapa, great food, perfect weather, awesome beaches, and it even has well laid out running paths for those (few) days we felt up for it.  The sights are worth the money and the people are quick to ensure you are happy (with a smile and a thumbs up) and in our case, not lost.  Don’t feel like trying to navigate your way around?  Just whip your map out, start looking confused, and you will be helped shortly.

Lapa captured a majority of our late night adventures as the clubbers have a tendency to spill out into the street, the drink stands ensure your not wasting your money in the club – both in price and alcohol content, and the food stands help you extend that drunken stupor well past the wee hours of the morning and into the start of the following work day.  On the weekends they close the street down and no bull shit, it is right on par with Bourbon Street (only cheaper!).  Plenty of people, action, music, and craziness.

The food in Brazil is insane and Rio does it as well if not better than anywhere.  Our appetite was well passed suppressed with the by kilo buffets or all you can eat spots.  The street food was out-of-this-world.  Barbeque is not just a standard that is upheld to the highest degree by fine cuisine establishments.  The guys on the street take pride in their R$4 / $2 kabab.  The 6 large chunks of awesome of meat (chicken, beef, sausage, cheese, mixed) ranks second on my all time favorite street food item, behind the street taco of course which will always be my first love. (I see you Tacos Flair)

The beaches in Brazil don’t need my pathetic attempt to describe how beautiful they are.  If you google top ten beaches in the world, depending on the list, Brazil will grab at least two of the top five spots.  It seems they are always busy and if your thirsty little habit so desires, you can be well on your way to smashed for reasonably cheap right there on the beach.  As it is littered with drink stands and the mark up for the prime location is minimal.

While at Impanema beach we were fortunate enough to catch one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen in my life.  The sun was setting over the mountains that surround Rio and the sun was reflecting off the haze, presenting a fairly impressive array of colors. The beach was laid out in front of us with the ocean crashing gently on the sand.  As we stood at the edge of the pier we looked to our left toward Copacabana beach and were amazed to see the full moon raising from the water.  It was close enough that you could easily make out every detail.  What blew our mind was with each passing minute the moon would change colors, matching the colors presented by the sun as it set.  Sunset to our right, moon raising to our left.  Pretty damn spectacular!

Sally even managed to get a little dancing in!  Every weekend there is a festival held in a stadium on the north side of town.  Apparently it use to take place in the street, but it got so big that the city moved it to a permanent location.  The inside of the stadium is now structured into different booths, restaurants, and dance floors.  I was fortunate enough to find a Forro club that was right around the corner from a reggae club.  So we would do a couple of songs at each to make sure I kept my sanity while still appeasing Sally’s thirst for local music.

The only downside about Rio, is like the patriotic Brazilian they realize what they got going on.  Hostel prices are double compared to other places in Brazil, beers cost a little bit more, and of course that all you can eat buffet doesn’t seem like such a deal with the spike in cost.  With our plans of a year-long trip we had to attempt to keep our budget in mind while still taking advantage of the moment.  I use the word “attempt” loosely, as the moment seemed to trump the budget in most if not all cases.

Until next time Rio.

Rio de Janeiro Photos

Foz do Iguaçu

Iguazu Falls is one of the largest set of waterfalls in the world.  It is so big that it makes Niagara Falls look like a little bitch.  In fact, it is well-known that while both waterfalls were doing a short stint in prison, Niagara actually was Iguazu´s bitch.  Doing things like Iguazu´s laundry, cleaning his cell, giving Iguazu its piece of cake, and of course other unmentionable things that happen in prison.

Actually, I have no idea of the real comparison between the two waterfalls.  After an exhausting single search on Google I decided I didn´t even really care that much.  Let’s just say that Iguazu is pretty damn impressive and leave it at that.

From Campo Grande we caught a night bus to Foz do Iguacu, where we based ourselves for three nights to explore the falls.

There is much debate on which side of the falls is better, the Brazilian or the Argentinean.    The Brazilian side offers a panoramic view of the falls while the Argentinean side offers an up close and personal experience.

We decided to start with the Brazilian side, unfortunately it was overcast but we still spent a good two hours checking out the views.  It´s winter here in Brazil so we were lucky not to have to deal with huge crowds.  Also, fortunately during winter the falls have four times the amount of water, adding to the magnificence of the falls.

Before we left for this trip, neither Bret or I were overly interested in visiting the falls but talking with others along the way we were convinced we had to visit while we were in this part of the world.  It was a decision Bret and I were extremely glad we made!  For the most part it was a stunning view of the falls in its entirety.  There were a couple of opportunities to get close the falls, at one point we ventured out over the water to a platform that puts you on top of one of the falls.  Although neither of us enjoyed the view for too long as we were getting absolutely soaked!

Iguazu Falls – Brazil

Not far from the falls on the Brazilian side is a pretty impressive bird park.  It’s a refuge for birds that have been saved from smuggling attempts.  While on this trip I have discovered that Bret has a thing for photographing wildlife, in particular, birds (I think he’s secretly trying to torture me because he knows how much I hate them).  I bucked up and faced my fear and even went inside a few cages with the birds.

Parque Aves

The next day we headed over to Argentina for a full day of exploring.  The Argentinians have done an excellent job of constructing walk-ways that take you all over the falls.  We started off at the Devil´s Throat, which in my opinion was the highlight of the entire falls.  It was about a 1km walk across the river to a viewpoint right on top of one of the larger falls and it was spectacular!  The rest of the day we spent walking the platforms, exploring the many angles of the falls.

Although the second day Bret’s lazy ass tried to talk us out of going to the Argentinean side, it didn’t take long for him to thank me for dragging him across the border.  We both agree that if you are in the area, check out both sides (but save the Argentinean for last!).

Iguazu Falls – Argentina

Other than a base to visit the falls, Foz do Iguazu didn’t offer much else other than a decent buffet dinner teamed with a pretty cheesy South American dance show.

The Pantanal – Brazil

The story starts off simple enough.  Truth be told, neither one of us really has an attraction to searching for wildlife in the middle of the jungle.  But we decided that the probability of our return to this part of the world was slim to none and it just seemed to be what all the cool kids were doing, so we said why the fuck not?

The company (Ecological Expeditions) is recommended in Lonley Planet and a couple blogs we have been reading.  The only problem is their home offices are in Campo Grande and Bonita and we are at the border of Bolivia, in Corumba.  Alas! An intermediary (An ex-used car salesman with his hair slicked back and ripping people off on his mind).  He was actually waiting at the border for unsuspecting tourists, hoping to get the jump on the competition in town (his brother).  We took his card but wanted to read up a little more on the tour before we booked.  Later that day we strolled down to his office in a very finicky manner.  The overnight train from Santa Cruz was reflective of an old wood rollercoaster.  The ones where the metal bar doesn´t quite make you feel secure and the way the ride shakes, rattles, and ultimately rolls, has you questioning whether you are going to die or vomit all over yourself.  Needless to say we didn´t get much sleep.  Combine that with the reintroduction to heat, and it gave each block we walked the feeling like another nail was being pounded into the coffin that held our motivation.

When we made it to the bus station where dickhead´s office was he was quick to rush ahead of his brother and shuffle us into his office.  Now I have dealt with sales people before.  In fact, I dabbled in the profession myself a little.  The worst experience for me being the stereotypical used car purchase.  But this guy takes the cake (fat bastard obviously eats most of it too).  What he didn´t know is we had already emailed the company prior to our arrival and were given the price structure.

He began his pitch with a half ass attempt at explaining what we were buying (maybe a minute long) then went right for the jugular and quoted us R$200 more then what the company sells the package for.  Now keep in mind we are no longer in some country that uses Monopoly money, we´re in Brazil and R$200 is $100 US.  The whole package is only $200 US per person.  That is a sweet little markup for him.  I informed him that we had already been in touch with the company and quoted a price.  He looked a little dumbfounded and quickly said “Ok, ok, I make compromise for you”.  We discussed payment options (cash only / now) and then we were off to the ATM.

Sally and I noted that it wasn´t just the fact that he tried to rip us off, it was his mannerisms when he tried to do it.  I have had interactions with strung-out tweakers that were more professional and poised then this guy.

When we came back he had informed us that he spoke with his boss and there was a miscommunication.  He then started explaining portions of the package that were not included at the price we agreed upon.  The two of us just sat there and stared at him shaking our heads.  “No, that doesn´t sound very good. . .” I said.  He squirmed a little bit and said he would have to call his boss.  He made two phone calls in Portuguese (which we don´t speak) and said again how he was going to make “compromise” with us.  I was beginning to question whether he firmly grasped the meaning of the word.  He added back in the things he was trying to take out and gave it to us at the quoted price.  The entire dog and pony show took about 30 minutes and was quite annoying.  We left questioning the legitimacy of our “deal” and the company itself.

The next morning, to our surprise, a truck pulled up to take us into the Pantanal.  We thought we would surely have to return to the bus station equipped with broken bottles and molotov cocktails to get our money back.  The driver was extremely pleasant and we were thankful to be on our way.  The drive took about three hours with stops.  Quick breaks to take a few shots of the cayman (a small crocodile) and some birds.

It wasn´t until we were stopped by the police (5 minute stop) that we realized the danger of visiting the Pantanal.  The mosquitoes, oh dear God, the fucking mosquitoes!

These things are as relentless as the Japanese war planes in WWII.  Divebombing in from all directions with no regard for their own life.  It was like taking a girl onto a military post and walking down the halls of the infantry barracks.  What seems to be a deserted area quickly becomes flooded out of no where as soon as they catch wind of who´s there.  We collected around ten lumps each before we were on our way.  The very next stop we lathered up with bug spray.  We had concocted a special mix for the occasion, half OFF and half 99% DEET (Thanks Darci!).  People had told us stories about melting clothes and sunglasses with the pure DEET which is what deterred us from using it in its pure form. (Though by the end of the trip I had dreams of returning to the Pantanal with a fucking fire truck full of the shit and just blasting the place)

Once we arrived to our final destination we were relieved and had our confidence revived.  An impressive three-story, new and clean lodge greeted us.  The staff was quick to get us situated and explain the strategy of our stay.  “You don´t have much time and you have a lot of activities to complete”, explained Paulo.  “We need to get you going right away”.  He explained we would go fishing for piranha after lunch, night spotting tonight, boat expedition tomorrow morning, walking after lunch, and the jeep safari our last day.

As we walked into the dining/chill area we heard a familiar voice. . . (flashback) During our salt flat tour in Bolivia we had met a member of T.A.L.K.S.Go (Those Against Letting Known Silence Go).  Their mission is to ensure that silence is persecuted to its fullest.  If ever there is a moment that conversation seems to be taking its natural wind down, they will intervene.  It may have no relevance to the current conversation, it may be something they have already mentioned 17 times, or it could happen when everyone is trying to go to sleep, but God damn it, their mission is clear.  Kill Silence.  The member (Dave) who was riding in our vehicle had the joy of meeting another member on the last night of the tour.  An indian woman who must have been a member of T.A.L.K.S.Go for quite some time. For she had developed one of their secret weapons to the fullest, the complaining tactic.  Herself and Dave went through everything from the economy, politics, other countries, and who knows what else?  Sally and I escaped as quick as we could.

Her voice came flooding back into our lives as we stepped through the door.  The irony was not lost on me.  (This is twice I have verbally complained about a member then had that very member join me on a tour…. their onto me!)  She turned out to be a nice enough lady.  But did have a rant about the Australian police for about 30 minutes.  Apparently they don´t agree on what is considered appropriate driving.  She has a collection of tickets and a short stint of having her licence suspended to prove it.

Lunch….was….amazing!  I am not sure if it’s because we just came from Bolivia?  But to have rice, beans, and meat.  Damn, it was nice.  Plenty of it too.  If you wanted to go back for thirds, there was still no denting the amount of food they provided.  This continued throughout our time in the Pantanal.  A LOT of good food!  I could feel the dream of a Brazil Beach Body fading away as I dozed in and out of a food coma for most of the tour.

Paraná fishing proved to be more successful than I expected.  A short boat ride to an island in the middle of the Paraguay river and the five of us cast our bamboo fishing rod (a bamboo stick with fishing line attached) into the water.  Within a half hour everyone had caught at least one fish, nine in total.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After fishing we did a little boat excursion to view some of the birds the Pantanal has to offer .  Thankfully Sally and I left our good camera at the lodge (only bringing our point and shoot) and had the chance to view the birds without being distracted by silly things like the act of taking pictures.  (It turned out to be the best bird spotting on the entire trip)  This would be a running theme of unpreparedness that would carry on throughout our tour.  Thankfully bug spray did not make it onto this list.  Two of the girls we were with forgot and also proclaimed they didn´t want bug spray.  The viewable parts of their body (arms and neck) were a billboard that screamed what a retarded move that was (they had been there one day).  At one point on our boat trip there was at least 15 mosquitos on Sally and I (each), while the girls had upwards of 50 each.

The night boat tour proved to be a simple act of checking the box.  While I envisioned a large spot light similar to the ones used in the movies when the hillbillys are illegally hunting from the back of a pickup truck and getting smashed (i.e.) Crocodile Dundee.  It was a small handheld flashlight that was low on batteries.  We could barely make out what was three feet in front of us let alone the shore 30 feet away where I guide was “trying” to spot wild life.  Each passing minute of the thirty we were on the water made it clear to me why the guides were so unenthused.  The night-piercing sound of our engine, the “light” from our flashlight, the low percentage chance that any animal will be drinking from the water at the exact time we drive by and “spotlight” it, yeah. . .  Wasn´t trying to get onboard the following nights tour, that´s for sure.

The next day the guides decided that it would be easier to consolidate us and we all went on the jeep safari/walking tour (two girls with mosquito bites, the member of T.A.L.K.S Go, and a German/English couple).  The driving proved to be pretty successful and we saw quite a few animals.  However, our recurring unpreparedness had us out with a camera that was flashing low battery.  That ment we were only able to whip it out, take one quick photo of each animal we saw, and stuff it back away in hopes we saw more.  (Great job Bret and Sally, great job)

The walking tour, though successful as well in regards to spotting animals, had the major set back of the mosquitos.

I know what your thinking:  We got the mosquito point.  Stop belaboring the fact that there were mosquitos.  Suck it up and get on with the story.

No! Fuck that!  You don´t know man, you weren´t there!  We´ve seen some shit! Oh yeah, we´ve seen some shit. . .

The trek through the woods/jungle (whatever you want to call it) was enough to have the girls that were “Against putting chemicals on their body” begging for mosquito spray.  The guide (apparently locals have a built up tolerance) had at least 100 crawling all over his body.  I eased my way to the back of the group, slowing my pace enough to be 20 feet behind.  It´s not that I am not a helpful guy and wasn´t empothetic to their pain.  I just knew that Sally and I had a family sized bottle of bug spray that was 3/4 gone on our first full fucking day!

After lunch there was a second walk to the swamp to try to spot an anaconda.  Sally and I decided to hang back with the truck.  Sally had no interest in seeing an anaconda, I had no faith the group would spot an anaconda, and we both had no fucking desire to visit the mecca of mosquitos.  We stayed up by the truck with the hopes our body and mind (frustration level peaks when you are constantly swatting bugs away) would catch a break.  No such luck.  A fresh dousing of bug spray was about as effective as using one square of single-ply toilet paper.

We started outside the truck (it was hot) hoping the spray would be enough.  Within minutes we were rushing to the door and getting ready to throw ourselves to safety.  Just as we were about to pile in we were met with a swarm of mosquitos that were trapped inside the car.  Our hope sunk as we slammed the door and discussed our next move.  At first we stood together, hoping the consolidated amount of bug spray would help shield us. Fail.  Next we did our best Richard Simmons Sweating to the 80´s dance and tried to out slap away the bugs.  Fail.  Movement we thought, we need to create a breeze so they can´t catch us.  A quick walk up and down the dirt road ensued.  Looking as ridiculous as the speed walkers in the olympics (how is that even a sport?)  It took only four back-and-forths for us to realize being parked right next to a fucking swamp is a place that makes it impossible to escape mosquitos. . . We piled into the truck.  Pissed off and ready to fight.  Scenes from Starship Troopers raced through my mind as we began to slap, clap, and swat at the 30+ mosquitos inside the truck.  We had to punch and slap the bench seat in the back where we were sitting and the two front seats to get them into the air.  It took us a good 15 minutes to get every last Hmmmmm out of our ears.  We paused, watching, waiting.  Sweat dripped from our face as the violent movement of action had raised our body heat to match the warmth of the interior of the truck.  Nothing.  We broke into a cheer!  High-fives and yelps of joy rang out as we celebrated our victory.  It was only five minutes of peace before the group made their way back to the truck. . .  But it was the best damn five minutes of my life.

The last day of the tour.  We were beat down enough by the mosquitos that we were happy as shit we only booked two nights.  The sunrise the day before had been fairly spectacular and we decided to try to capture it on our last day.  Not yet soaking wet from bug spray, I decided to cover every possible part of my body with clothes.  Pants, fleece,  and a beanie.  The only exposed parts of my body were my face and hands.  The quick 50 second jog to the river bank and back to snap two shots resulted in three bites on my right hand and two on my face.  While other members of the tour toughed it out and enjoyed the sunrise in its entirety, Sally and I sat in the room and conspired to start a foundation with the goal of developing a chemical that kills all the worlds mosquitos.

Our boat excursion on the last day proved to be extremely unsuccessful.  Everyone else on our tour was extremely pleased with the number of caymans, birds, and other animals they got to see on their tour which excited us.  But because we had our good camera with us, fully charged, we saw a grand total of three birds, a small iguana, and some otters at a very far distance.  Even our guide was perplexed.  After an hour of unsuccessful scouting he took us to an orange farm.  There was an old gunned down house we toured that fell victim to the Brazil / Paraguay battle over the land and some trees that he knew had at least a good number of parrots.

We ended our tour with a two-hour ride out of the Pantanal in the back of a truck.  Followed by a four-hour drive to Campo Grande.  As we reflected back on our time in the Pantanal (counting our bug bites versus the number of animals we saw) we decided that its best to leave the animal tours for those that are actually enthused enough by animals to put up with the bullshit it takes to go find them.

Pantanal