Day 82: Early Morning Walk

Sat. 3rd November 2012

Sunrise in the PantanalWe now know one advantage of the heavy rain during our first night here in Pantanal – it was very effective in keeping down the number of insects flying around. As Janet described, yesterday evening we were inundated with flying critters and any light just attracted them, so there was no reading in bed (hammock). The previous nights rain also drowned out the various night time noises – howler monkeys, frogs, crickets – and the lesser spotted human snorer. Extinction threatened this last species a couple of times as I struggled to get any sleep at all.

Red & Green Macaw - one contributor to night time noise?In the end, I resorted to taking the opportunity to catch up a little listening to my Economist audio edition. It didn’t help me get to sleep, but it did suppress the other noises and I do need to catch up as I am 4 weeks or so behind. The long bus journeys are my main opportunity to listen to the Economists and to my regular set of podcasts – I do find them a useful way to keep up with what is happening in the world. As ever, the Kermode & Mayo Film Review podcasts from Radio 5Live are a highlight – though Janet has to shush me whenever I start chortling and attracting funny looks from the others!

Given my poor/no sleep, I was happy that we had signed up for the early morning forest walk and the alarm going off at 5:10 relieved me of the tedium of trying to get to sleep. It was still pitch dark when we got up and we had the added challenge of trying to work out which hammock Jess was sleeping in so we could wake her too! Good guess – but wrong Jess, I think we were forgiven !

Toucan hiding from usIn the end there were 5 of us who set off following our guide, Ronaldo, just as the sky was starting to lighten – everything was in monochrome, really quite surreal, and Venus (I assume) was shining brightly just above the horizon. Dawn came quickly (so to speak) and the improving light let us see more of the surrounding grassland and forest. We saw many of the birds and animals we had seen before, but the highlights were seeing Howler Monkeys in the branches of a nearby tree and then seeing the holes where an anteater had been snuffling round ants nests. Sadly, we didn’t get to see the anteater itself.

As we got back and after having had breakfast (still no bacon and egg but at least it didn’t involve spaghetti, rice or beans), the others were just getting up and dressed. It is now time to pack up and move further on east as we head towards Rio. We enjoyed the Pantanal, but it wasn’t as much of a highlight as (say) Salar De Uyuni. I will certainly be glad to not only have a night in a proper bed but also to have a night without the accompaniment of animal (and human) noises.

All aboard please!It was back into our pop-pop open sided truck for one final time to drive to the edge of the park and then into a minibus for the 4 hour transfer to Bonito. An opportunity to catch up on sleep and/or podcasts depending on your preferences. Our lunch-time stop at something that distinctly resembled a motorway service station was our first inkling that Brazil really is going to be quite different (as well as more expensive) than Bolivia.

Cashew fruits (nuts attached)Bonito is a small town with a long main street around which everything clusters. We are based here for a couple of days before catching a night bus to Iguassu – for the waterfalls and hopefully, also to see Skyfall. (Yes, it is on the cinema there, and it seems to be the English version with Spanish Portuguese subtitles. Can’t wait!). There are activities based around the town including snorkelling in a lagoon with tropical fish; visits to a water park; and trips to a cave where the light shines bright blue through the water.

However, we opt for a lazy day tomorrow as we’ve been on the go since Lima a month ago (and possibly before). We want to catch up with family and so are looking forward to Skype-ing and having a general catch up. Our other priorities are the usual mundanities – laundry, ATM & cold beer!

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