Back to the Transpantaneira

At 6.30 a.m. after loading the jeep we have breakfast and say good-bye to Joao and his colleagues.
A last glance at the river, a hug to Gustavo who has taken care of us so nicely. He tells me to come back, next time without this 'indio feio'....Julinho just looks at him and hisses: 'And how is she going to get here?'....

There we are again on the road, the weather is still uncertain today with many clouds. But Julinho says it will get better in the afternoon.
We will drive until km 33 of the Transpantaneira, this time with less stop-overs, we have to be at Pousada Pouso Alegre (have a look at their website, it gives a nice picture of the flora and fauna of the place) for lunch. Lunch, dinner and breakfast time is the only 'human' timing you have to respect here. All lodges have fixed 'feeding' hours and if you come late you mess up the organization of their kitchen staff.

I's not so cold anymore, still we keep our windows partially closed. Aldo and Enrica doze lulled by the monotonous noise of the motor. Gian instead looks alertly out of the windows, he doesn't want to miss anything.
I'm awake too, lost in thoughts once again.
As we drive back north, we see again how the dense and green vegetation slowly gets more rarefied and dry. We make some short stops at especially populated water ponds.

At km 33 there is a crossroad. We deviate on a small mud road on our left side. From there it's 7 km across lush vegetation. The last part of the road is elevated. Earlier it had been almost impossible to reach the fazenda during the flood tells us Julinho.
On our way we see a small brocket deer in the woods and a family of Cotias.
Pouso Alegre is different from the other places we stayed at. It is much more rustic and the front yard is full of young people in improvised jungle clothing. They stare somehow bewildered and amused at Julinho's jeep and welcome us, together with Luiz, the owner and his mother. 
The place is a conglomerate of one floor buildings, where the rooms are. In front of each a hammock with mosquito net. I look at Enrica's face out of the corner of my eyes...not a good omen. The small front porches of the rooms are lined with wet clothes, probably they are from the group of young people that had been there all alone until our arrival. My room is basic, but fully equipped: bathroom with electric hot water shower, two beds, air conditioner and fan. The Baficos are on the opposite side of the fazenda, in a newer building. 

All lodges have electric showers, the problem is the head is sometimes so high that it's quite difficult to reach the button to turn it on. I had helped myself with chairs, tables, sticks and so on. So it was or hot or cold...
In Porto Jofre, on the last day, a hot shower had brought me back to life again.

The fazendas grounds have the usual luxuriant mango trees and the presence of  a myriad of different birds captures soon our attention. There are no feeding places for the animals here, they are attracted by the unspoiled vegetation that surrounds the place. The grounds of Pouso Alegre are less 'manicured' than those of the other pousadas.

Enrica asks me if I can talk to Luiz about a missing mosquito net in one of their windows. When I expose the problem to him he gets quite upset, he says there are no mosquitos here now. Well, all the hammocks with mosquito nets around them aren't really a good evidence. After a while we clear the misunderstanding, he thought they wanted nets to put around their beds and was trying to tell me that it wasn't necessary..
He promises that after lunch he will go and fix it.
At 12.30 a.m. we are all ready in front of the lunch room, but it's still closed. Luiz passes by and hastily tells us that it's almost ready. They don't have a numerous staff here, it's Luiz and his mother, a cleaner, a cooking lady and a kitchen help. There are some men who probably take care of the horses.
We chat a little bit with the other guests until they open the doors. The food is less spectacular than in other places, my friends dream of Elizetes food...but the basic things, rice, beans and meat are ok. There are some strange dishes which are probably intended to delight American youngster's palates, or pretend to at least. But even the young American guests discard it and stand to the local dishes.

Here the matter of drinks is different. Drinks are never included in tour prices or in the fees of lodges. In the other lodges we've stayed so far they annotated the consumed drinks and before leaving you pay all of them. Here at a counter there is a handwritten book where you write down what yo take.

After lunch Enrica returns to their room to wait for Luiz. After a while he arrives, with a hammer, nails and two boys and fixes the net. Laughing she tells me that when he leaves the boys tear the net down and fix it all over again.
He is quite a character, with a wealth of knowledge about wildlife and nature and, if he likes you, very well disposed in teaching you a lot of things.
A quite relaxed atmosphere in general.

At 3.30 p.m. we leave for our first walk, taking a track that leads first through medium dense vegetation where we see Toucans, some Toucanetes, Turkey vultures and many other birds.
Then we enter chaco like  fields, dotted with contorted dead trees, where white Brahma cows graze in the distance. These fields all flood during the wet season tells Julinho. 
It's a striking landscape, different from all we have seen until now. Enrica tells me it remembers the endless African pastures.
Julinho shows us a tall thorny cactus, the 'Mandacaru', typical of Brazil's desertic north-eastern regions. He takes out the knife he always carries around stuck in the back of his trousers and cuts a slice of it's skin. It's a hard membrane, dried the pantaneiros use it to roll cigarettes.
Sparse trees stick out from the deserted fields, Julinho explains us their names and what they are used for by the locals. One is called 'Para-tudo', that means 'for everything'. Every part of this tree is utilized for something, be it medicinal use or to build tools.

On our way back we pass by a water pond near the lodge, populated by the usual caymans. On the edge one motionless exemplar, he doesn't move even when we near him...

At the pousada a surprise, a nice guide I had met last year, Tchaco, is sitting on the porch in front of the dining room with two tourists, a man from Saudi-Arabia and his son, who live in Japan.
The son has a huge lens on his camera and Gianluigi looks at it admired...
They have only a few days here and are eager to hear our stories about the rivers, the jaguars, the Giant Otters...

After dinner we leave for a night safari on J.'s Toyota.
Julinho has a terrible headache and we try to convince him to postpone but no way, he insists on going. 
Aldo and I climb on the roof, Enrica and Gian inside. Julinho instructs me on how to scan the surroundings with the torch. It's the first time I do this...and I'm not very good at it, so after J.'s repeated complaints I pass the light to Aldo who does a better job.

We drive along the pousada's access road in direction of the Tranpantaneira. The water pond we had seen in the afternoon now is full of Caymans. Hundreds of glittering red eyes resemble an aerial night city's incredible. 
Further on suddenly an excited hiss from the interior of the jeep that halts abruptly. Two Tapirs are wading in another pond on our left side. We observe them for a while, Gianluigi tries to take some pictures.

And then after two minutes drive another tapir crosses the road exactly in front of us. Aldo and I have a fantastic viewpoint from the top of the Toyota and we hope that the others inside have it too.
We see deers, coatis and two crab-eating foxes. After approximately one hour we turn the jeep, we pass again by the pond with the thousand eyes, one of the most spectacular views we've had. Aldo knocks like crazy on the jeep's roof over his father's head, but from their angle it was not so astonishing as it was for us, probably because of the light incidence.

Back at the pousada we meet Tchaco who had been around with the Japanese guy in his car, but they hadn't been lucky as we were. My friends go to sleep ad I remain there for a chat with Tchaco and Julinho. The group of American students is around too . After a while J. escorts me back to my room, alledging his terrible headache...and then probably reaches Tchaco, who was having fun with the American girls...

On the threshold of the room next to mine the Japanese guy is sitting there in the darkness , I join him and we have a long chat under the dark sky.

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