11:45 - This morning, as it turns out, we did the most relaxing thing I think I have ever done :-)! We did go on the canoe trip, but we were on two kayaks and I was sitting in the front with my camera and Nico (one of the chaps from the lodge) did all the paddling from the back (similar situation with the germans and Raul on the other kayak). But it was not a very fast and furious affair...we almost drifted along, in complete silence amongst and under the vegetation in an everglade like environment (as I think I have mentioned, there are several different environments within the patanal). It was beautiful. And the water was almost like a perfect mirror. At times it was difficult to see where the break in the water was. The silence was regularly broken by the loudish (so it seemed in this situation) german chap just talking to his wife in german :-). At one point I even felt like I wanted to fall asleep...We saw a variety of birds and alligators. Raul actually picked up a baby alligator (a one year old), so that we could take a close look. A great morning! When we got back to the lodge, we joined the young family arrived yesterday at the pool. Luckily today is warm (although cloudy), but not excessively so. The little baby boy kept laughing as he played with his dad in the pool...so cute! The little family is brasilian. The manager of the lodge yesterday had explained that although business with foreigners has been declining over the last two years (one would imagine because of the crisis as this is not a cheap place), more brasilians have taken to going into the pantanal for holidays and short breakst, and although they don't generally buy all inclusive packages with boat excursions etc, they do tend to make up for some of the decline. After a long and refreshing soak in the pool, I sat myself down to dry and promptly fell asleep :-). For the last couple of days if I stand still my eyes automatically close! It must be the peace and quiet.
20:45 - Lunch was the usual rice, bean, meat...but with the addition of an okra dish. After lunch I retired to the games room to try and link up and see what new toys Apple was launching but internet via satellite was particularly slow and in the end Den (the father of the little boy) also got bored of trying to download his emails and spent an hour and a half telling me his life story. The woman he's here with is his third wife. He has 3 kids, one for each wife. The first one lasted 8 years, the second only one year and the latest had been going for 4 years! He used to be a wild party boy when he was younger and was even shot during a fight (he showed me the wound). He's from this area, Mato Grosso, and has never been outside of Brazil. He loves holidaying in the lodge of the park and it was his first time in this one. The amazing thing is not so much his life story, which in itself was quite colourful, but that all this was being narrated in broken english a at times a little portoguese :-)! A funny thing did come out about the difference between the Portoguese language and brasilian: the word bussetta (no idea if that is the correct spelling) in portuguese means 'little bag' but in brasilian it is a woman's genitals...even funnier, Raul (our Columbian guide) told us that in spanish/columbian it's a bus!
At 4sh we left on a jeep safari. We drove a couple of hours on a dirt road heading south (I think). We saw mainly birds and a few babygators here and there. We eventually reached a village (that's what I was told but it was a lake with 3 houses at a great distance between them and at opposite sides of it). We saw the sunset (pretty amazing colours) and then made our way back in the dark which should have allowed us to see nocturnal animals. As it happens we saw an owl like bird (common something or other), a couple of rabbits and a wild pig...nothing else. Back home waiting for us though, there were two large families of capybara (extremely large rodent)! After a quick shower I had dinner (and yes there was rice and beans!) I made my way to the library and plan to retire to bed very soon. It's been a really good day and the weather has bren great. Not too warm and the sun came out for our jeep ride. Tomorrow morning we go on a horse ride somewhere :-), it should be interesting!
As I know you are reading me Daniela, a special hello from your zia all the way from Brazil! I miss you all.