Sweating it out in the swamp

Bonito, Brazil

A bonkers time since last e.

We spent a day in a stunning little colonial Portuguese town – Parati – all cobbled streets and sash windows. Pretty as pie. Got the tent out for its first airing. Stinking hot and rain. A marvellous combination.

In to Sao Paulo was a bit daunting. What with the sheer size and its formidable reputation even a couple of (still) city slickers like us were a bit nervous. And in part rightly so. Its a bit worrying when you end off asking yourself ‘are all these police a good or a bad sign?’ Stayed in the heart of down town – magic and manic by day. The noisiest place ever – streets thronging, and the CD shop opposite our room seemed to encourage people to dance in the streets. By night, a bit more ‘exciting’.

But we gradually got hooked on Sao Paulo’s cosmopolitan feel. UK may claim to be multicultural, South Africa to be the rainbow nation and US a melting pot, but Brazil has got what they can all only dream of – a real fusion of every culture and ethnicity you can think of. The Japanese and Syrian quarters of the town were particular favourites for us. The metro was the single greatest ‘sea of humanity’ experience we’ve had.

And it’s so huge. We climbed to the 40th floor of one building. The city stretches for miles, but of course you can only see about 10 blocks before it disappears into white out in the smog.

On a bus inland, we left the sprawling city by night and awoke in the wild west. Brazilian buses are like roaming hotels. Pure luxury.

Reached the Pantanal – the world’s largest inland swamp (bigger than France). Being Brazil, its 1200km inland to make the point. And only 92m about sea level, so definitely swampy. But fantastic game viewing here – won’t bore you with the list of stuff, but it’s like a trip round the weirder parts of the zoo.

And so hot that when we saw a piece of brown swampy water infested with Piranhas and 6ft alligators, we dived straight in (no really – we did). The alligators were a bit surreal – a wary stand off. Staring at each other.

And Piranha fishing. Only waist deep in the water to do it. Marisa caught a small piranha. Alex caught a sardine (what a real man!).

Wild west horse riding, with Marisa whooping and yelling and charging all over the place. Pleased as punch, but cant sit down so well today. And Alex didn’t fall off – which is an achievement in itself.

Now in Bonito – look it up in your atlas if you can find it. Got to dash – going swimming with the big fishes today. 45 species of fish up to 2 ft long, and water so clear you can see for 40m… Sounds suitably Brazilian (i.e. over the top).

Gaucho country all around. They actually wear cowboy hats here. And cruise downtown at night in their SUVs.

gotta dash

love to all – thanks for the messages.

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