Farewell to Carmindo, the rivers and Dudutinha

At dawn fortunately it's only drizzling. Julinho and I start to dismantle the camp and pack all our gear, while the Baficos are still asleep.
This time the boat has to be loaded accurately because  we have to take with us three big tanks of fuel that Julinho had stocked in Carmindo's front yard. We are the last camping group of the year, must be my destiny, last year  it was the same.
He asks me for help to take them to the river, they are quite heavy. Everything proceeds perfectly until the third tank, somehow I am distracted by something he says and I run straight into a wire tended over the field...he mumbles one of his usual phrases about blond women, but we manage to finish our task, with me laughing like a hysterical chick and him shaking his head in disapproval...
Gianluigi is taking some pictures around the house, Enrica and Aldo are packing their stuff and dismantling their tents. 
While Julinho prepares the boat I try to remember how all the tents, blankets, pillows, sheets have to be packed. Probably I'm doing a good job, it all fits in one bag and J. who is very precise with his stuff doesn't complain...
He had told me to store everything under the table in Elizete's room. He would come and get it later on, in occasion of his famous lonely trip with his music and so on...
Time to say farewell to Carmindo and Maria. I get shiny eyes as always and promise I'll come back soon. 
Gian and family are sad to leave too, it was not so easy for them because of the language barrier, but they enjoyed very much the friendly welcoming atmosphere, even without understanding a word. 
At the end of our trip they will elect the stay at Carmindo's place as the best part of the trip and Elizete's food got the highest ranking too. Even the spaghettis she cooked one night were delicious, and it's not easy to satisfy  Italians on this matter...

Elizete had already left earlier, every morning a boat comes to pick up the staff of the fazenda along the rivers.

I try to breathe in as much as possible the atmosphere of this place.
Knowing that 'beauty spots' like this exist on earth, that people like them who live such a hard life still have always a smile on their face, well, it's always a life lesson.

At 8 a.m. we leave under a gray cloudy sky. The loyal Dudutinha is heavily packed and we take the same positions as in the beginning of our journey, balancing the weight carefully.
We will go straight to Porto Jofre, about 2 hours and a half of navigation. Julinho asks us if we mind him listening to music and takes a big pair of headphones out of his backpack. He is quite tired after a year of non-stop work and listening to music is a good method to relax for him.
Of course we don't mind, we are all lost in our thoughts about the fabulous days we stayed on the rivers.

He tells me that his plans are to take us on a last boat ride along the bigger Cuiabà river in the afternoon, to look for jaguars. I translate to my friends and we are all very happy about it. We are leaving behind the rivers and the boat with a heavy-heart. 

Around 10.30 a.m. we arrive in Porto Jofre. There is nobody around while we dock the boat. Gustavo, the manager arrives running while we are unloading our personal belongings and tells us to look for the papers attached to the room doors, on the riverside. This time he has reserved a room for me in the same bungalow as the Baficos. Fantastic, I love this man! I don't mind so much the room, but the location facing the river is simply gorgeous. 
In the meanwhile the sky is getting more and more threatening. I hear thunder growl advancing in the direction of the hotel. After a shower  I take a walk along the river,  where quite a few boats of locals pass by, presumably searching shelter . 
The wind is blowing very strong and they try to protect themselves with pieces of cloth and plastic bags.

Julinho reaches me and says that maybe it's better if we don't go on the rivers this afternoon, the storm is going in the direction we are supposed to take and it looks as if  it will hit hard.
He runs to get his boat out of the water while I go to take the message to my friends. We are all a bit disappointed, but it's unquestionable that he's right, only a fool would have persisted in his plans.
 I return to the docks and in fact the hotel's staff too is getting out all their boats. Not a good omen.
The Baficos return to their room to rest. Waiting for the rain I take a stroll through the hotel grounds. It's really deserted, I meet only some lonely Jabiru Storks, some vultures, grazing horses and a Crested Caracara. 
There are some exuberant mango trees, with their load of green Parakeets. My friends know I have a faible for mangoes...after last years second trip I have become famous all over the Pantanal for my little vice. I had eaten so many mangoes that I had to stop the jeep in the middle of nowhere and run into the bush to...guess what. After that happening Julinho doses carefully my daily mango allowance...
In the building dedicated to cleaning fish there are some men at work. Some Jabiru storks, vultures and other birds linger in the neighbourhood, probably waiting for the waste. In fact from time to time someone throws glibbery stuff out of the window and the birds feast on it.
I run to call Gianluigi and Aldo, but of course when we come back the show is already over. 

On our way back to the bungalows we see two Hyacinth Macaws, on a high branch of the palm in front of the door of their room. Enrica is observing them with her binoculars. Aldo tries to photograph them, but they are wicked, every time he thinks he has a good shot they turn their backs on him...
Julinho has retired to his room, there is a wi-fi connection in the hotel and he takes advantage of our forced stay to check his e-mails, which is fundamental for someone like him who works basically through the net and is often in places where there is no connection.

We put on our raincoats and reach the lagoon on the rear of the hotel's grounds. A group of Jabiru storks wades through the shallow waters, careless of the bad weather.

Now it starts to rain heavily and we take refuge in the front yard of our bungalow. The Baficos play cards until it gets too windy to stay outside. 
It's incredibly cold...I put on the few warm clothes I've brought and when the rain lessens a bit I take another stroll along the river. 
I'm a restless soul...and I just cannot manage to stay shut inside a room in a place like that.

The colors of the river are stunning with the storm.  On the empty embankment a solitary Snowy Egret fights against the wind, its plumage is all ruffled.

I wonder how the animals cope with these sudden decrease in temperature. I don't know if it's common in this time of the year, for sure I wasn't prepared for it.

Around 5 p.m. Aldo knocks on my door, he's hungry and we realize there is nowhere to buy some food here. Dressed up with all the clothes we have, we give it a try at the hotel's restaurant. The lights are off and it looks quite deserted. In the kitchen area I find Joao, the maitre, in shorts and thongs. During the meals Joao and the other boy who works with him are very formal, dressed up and kind of stiff. It must be the clothes...now he seems quite relaxed and helps us out with some cookies, hot tea and apples. Now Aldo is ok until dinner. 
Out of the restaurant it's already dark. On the way to our bungalow we cross a big group of free horses that are lazily grazing on the hotels tidy flower beds. Curious they approach us and after patting some of them on the nose they start chasing Enrica, who doesn't seem very comfortable about it. She walks quicker and the horses  speed up too...they run after her until the door of her room.
During dinner she admits she had taken some apples with her and Julinho tells us that once a group of children had fed the horses with tons of apples stolen at the restaurant...since then they were very keen on this fruit.
At 9 p.m. I fall asleep, after having taken all the blankets of the six beds in my room.

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