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Is it Raining! - The Pantanal!

BRAZIL | Friday, 2 May 2008 | Views [727]

Leaving Paraguay was not so straight forward as we had expected. The plan was to get a bus to the Brazilian border from Conception and then take another bus or two over night to the Brazilian town of Corumba.

However we should have realised that plans often do not come together as expected in South America. Firstly we had to wait several hours whilst protestors blocked the road which meant we didn´t get to the border until the evening which meant the immigration office was closed and we had to take a hotel overnight on the Brazilian side of town. The next day we spent several hours searching for the Paraguayan Imigration Office which no one seems to know where it is but do not like to admit this and send you totally in the wrong direction? In the end we had to take a taxi the few hundred yards up the road.  

We eventually managed to to get our stamps and after assuring the owner of the bus company that I didn´t need to get any papers for my bicycle we found ourselves on a bus heading towards the Pantanal a lush and beautiful tropical swamp!

After changing to another bus we found ourselves in Corumba where believing ourselves the adventurous types we secured a three day camping trip in the Pantanal. This may have been a bit of a mistake as we spent the next three days being eaten alive by sand flies and the most evil mosquitoes I have ever seen, they even bit through your clothes and licked the deet from your arms. After the first day I counted over one hundred bites on my arms and back!

It was not really camping but more a large mosquitoe net covered hut filled with hammocks beside a piranha and camen filled river. The major issue being that the eating area was open to the elements and you spent the evening feeding on delious meals, prepared by a lovely local lady, whilst the mosquitoes fed on you.

I had expected the Pantanal to be filled with herds of wildlife but to be honest it was pretty well empty. However in the three days as we waded barefoot through rivers or on the back of horses or bounced around in the back of jeeps, we did get to see the odd monkey, forest dears, strange giant rodents and endless amounts of camen. We probably could have seen more but our group which consisted of Brahm a very excitable dutchmen, Phil a keen singer from Ireland and Sophia a Portuguese malaria expert were not not exactly a quiet bunch. Sandro often pleaded for silence as we crawled though the jungle only to be quickly broken by the flat feet of Phil on a large branch as he hummed a few bars U2´s "Sunday Bloody Sunday". When we did see something Brahm would over excitedly bound towards them that within a few seconds they were again lost to the under growth. For me this only added to fun as I laughed my way through the three days.

On our second day a hugh storm broke out which was to last until we were ready to leave. This didn´t stop the fun even though the boat trip was a bit of a washout we still got to float, or for me who didn´t get a rubber ring, swim down the river infested with camen and piranhas. Even though Sandro insisted they do not bite I´m sure one had a little nibble. The following day we sat hoping they would nibble as we fished for piranhas and what ever else existed in the river. We did managed to catch a few little ones but to be honest apart from Phil we pretty well sucked as fishermen/women.

By the final day I was a little sad to leave but was glad to get away from the evil mosquitoes. From the Pantanal was headed to Brazil and the so called death train, called this I think, because it used to derail a lot often killing those on board. After almost missing the thing due to a few issues in Imigration we found ourselves in a dirty but comfortable pullman class, very relieved we didn´t go first which was just arse breaking thinly covered wooden seats - Oh the pain after 24 hours being shaken around as the train clawed its way along rickety old tracks!

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