Eight Hours to Nowhere


This blog entry about the events of Monday, February 02, 2004 was originally posted on February 06, 2004.

DAY 107:  There was a Brazilian morning show on television called Mais Você hosted by a sassy middle-aged woman and — although targeted for adults — a talking parrot puppet.  I figured the Brazilians needed to spice up their mornings with a soft-spoken character that could spontaneously explode into loud outbursts, the way Americans did with Regis Philbin.

MY DAY’S JOURNEY FROM THE PUPPET PARROTS of a television studio to the real parrots of the Pantanal began when I checked out of my downtown hostel and took a cab to my tour agency by the bus station.  It was there that I met Deb, a goth-type from outside of Birmingham, UK.  It was strange we hadn’t run into each other before; we had been on the same route since Ecuador for the same amount of time.  She had been traveling with a friend for most of the time, but had split up with her, bringing her like many others, to the Pantanal solo.

When I signed up for my safari the day before, there were only four people on the list.  However, about a dozen people signed up at the associated go around saying “sim” all the time.  He also told me about the crazy pronunciations of certain letters in certain words: depending on the context, sometimes “r” sounds like an “h,” “m” like an “ng”, and “d” like a “j.”

“What do you know about the Pantanal?” I asked the upstate New Yorker.

“Just what’s in the book.”

“Yeah, I just know that it’s there.”

After a four-hour ride in the air-conditioned bus on a paved road — which was sometimes delayed by a herd of cattle crossing the road with a gaucho (a South American cowboy) — there the Pantanal was.  After a food break at a rest area for about an hour, we continued to the area where the paved road met the dirt one.  We switched vehicles to a muddy 4x4 truck with a trailer in the back for passengers to travel in like soldiers, which took us over a bridge (picture above), along a bumpy and muddy road through the wetlands, passed the occasional ranch or caiman (similar to an alligator) swimming nearby in the water.  On the truck ride I met the other people on the tour, an international mix from Sweden, Australia, Holland, Poland and the U.K.  A Brazilian hung off the back of the truck and loudly yelped a happy, high-pitched “YAO!” every time went over a big bump.  We stopped at a small shop for a beer and toilet paper run and then continued through the dirt path — and a fierce and wicked storm.  We protected our trailer with the plastic tarps that rolled along the sides.

THREE HOURS LATER — eight in total since we left Campo Grande — we arrived in a camp in the middle of nowhere, somewhere right in the geographic middle of South America.  It was too dark to see the camp at a glance, so our guide Akuna — the energetic one that yelped on the truck ride — showed us around, from the toilets to the showers to our mosquito net-walled hut with about twenty hammocks all in a row for us. 

In the mess hut we mingled with the other people already in camp, including Pete, another New Yorker from Westchester with a very Jewish Bronx schtick about him.  He had been travelling in Brazil for about a month thus far with his Brazilian girlfriend, having split up from her to do the Pantanal alone.  Farley and I rapped with him a bit over dinner to “represent” New York amidst the other nationalities in the Pantanal.  Pete mistakenly brought us New Yorkers a little shame though when he unknowingly chased away an armadillo with the bright lights of his headlamp before the others could see.

Most of the other travelers had brought cachaça (Brazilian sugar cane rum) and had started a caipirinha making contest at the table.  I joined in on the competition and made one of the better ones according to one of the guides who was playing judge, bringing a little glory back to New York. 

THE RAIN CONTINUED THROUGH THE NIGHT as we settled into our camp, eight hours from anywhere.  At least there were caipirinhas.

Next entry: Caimans and Big Cats

Previous entry: The Sims

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “Eight Hours to Nowhere”

  • first of the blog hogs

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  02:50 PM

  • news from brazil….

    SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP)—In the second incident of its kind in three weeks, an American was arrested Friday after making an obscene gesture while being fingerprinted and photographed at a Brazilian airport as part of the entry requirements for U.S. citizens.

    better watch out!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  02:55 PM

  • YUM, caipirinhas. Those can be dangerous, too many and you’ll be arrested for making obscene gestures too!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  04:09 PM

  • NYC represent!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  11:09 PM

  • watch out, the “OK” sign = asshole in brazil.  don’t get flogged.

    Posted by hanalei  on  02/09  at  04:51 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
Caimans and Big Cats

Previous entry:
The Sims


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