We are having nice sunny days, but the weather forecast was slightly uncertain, so Julinho had decided we would go for the rivers directly. If the rains started our chance of seeing a jaguar would be decreasing and camping in the wild becomes a little uncomfortable.
The first part of the road has still open fields on both sides. We see a lot of different birds, caimans in the ditches under the small wooden bridges, marsh deer and pampas deer.
Gradually the vegetation on the roadside changes. Thicker bush replaces the open fields and Julinho speeds up a little. We want to arrive before darkness in Porto Jofre. Quietly he instructs me on how we will operate the following morning. Preparing for the river boat trip is always a matter of big concentration, you are leaving civilization behind and you have to be sure you have all the necessary gear working perfectly. I will show our guests around the Jofre's grounds until he is ready. It's not only the preparation, I feel that the 'jaguar-fever' takes J.'s head. Although he is very honest about the probability of seeing jaguars with his clients, he cannot guarantee it, nobody can. It's nature and as he says, they will grace us with a sighting if they feel like it, we just have to be very patient and hope..
Lately the pressure due to a lot of operators who kind of 'guarantee' a sighting in the area has created a kind of fever in visitors and a lot of pressure on the guides, especially on the ones that work with non-intrusive manners like Julinho. During the high season a lot of boats roam up and down the rivers, with radios that communicate if one of them sights a jaguar. I may be kind of out of this world, but I don't see the magic in this. Last year we had the luck to see two jaguars on the riverbank, it was just us and them and it was really one of the greatest emotions I've ever felt.
That's why I was kind of happy that Julinho was booked out during high season, now in october the tourist stream would have been by far smaller and I wouldn't have to face the scenes of boats cramming around animals.
Near Jaguar Lodge we stop at a strange scene. A man with a crocodile tied to a rope stands at the roadside. Julinho greets him jumping off the jeep.
Enrica asks worried what they are going to do with the crocodile and J. explains that they were moving it far away from the road and the lodges' grounds for safety reasons. They normally don't attack if not bothered, but someone could step on it in the darkness or it could be hit by a car. The men try to loosen the knot in the rope with a stick without success. Julinho 'the man without fear' nears it and frees the crocodile with nonchalance.
It's already dark at 5 p.m. when we arrive at the Porto Jofre Hotel. It is a high-end hotel, run by a family that lives inside the hotels grounds. Situated on the banks of the Rio Cuiabà' it takes the name from a fazenda on the right side of the Transpantaneira, the Fazenda Jofre, and the denomination 'Porto' because being situated at the end of the road it serves as a port for the transport of cattle and agricultural goods.
Gustavo, the manager comes to greet us and shows us our accomodations. The Baficos have a nice room in a bungalow on the riverfront. I am given a comfortable room at the entrance of the hotel and Julinho sleeps in one of the rooms reserved to guides.
We have an early dinner, there is an almost spectral atmosphere at the Hotel, it seems we are the only guests. Later a small group of Brazilian fishermen arrive, still it is deserted. Everybody goes early to bed, I enjoy a lonely walk along my beloved rivers, thinking excitedly about the days to come. Last year I fell helplessly in love with the place, especially the wild river region and finally after almost one endless year here I was again.