The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow

The Pantanal
September 25, 2008, 7:14 pm
Filed under: Brazil

After leaving behind the giant beavers of Rio and Sao Paolo (and the women they are attached to), I headed out West in search of the Giant Beaver of the Pantanal.

Toucans...or TWOcans. Pun intended. Holy shit that's funny.

Toucans...or TWOcans. Pun intended. Holy shit that's funny!

For those not in the know, the Pantanal is the world’s largest marshland, 262,000 square kilometers, over 20 times larger than the Everglades in the US.  This area is very well preserved by the Brazilian government, and is one of the best places on Earth to see abundant wildlife: anteaters, jaguars, armadillos, alligators, piranhas, toucans, Giant River Otters, Giant Anacondas, Giant Rodents, and, with any luck, the Giant Beaver.

Alligators and the Pantanal -- more common than Stank on a Frenchman.

Alligators and the Pantanal -- more common than Stank on a Frenchman.

After taking a 20 hour bus across the country far into Nowheresville, I started seeing animals everywhere.  Colorful toucans flying overhead, emus charging around weirdly, capybaras (giant hampsters) standing there looking stupid, alligators menacingly eyeballing the stupid capybaras, um…what else…kangaroos bouncing gleefully, polar bears nursing their young, eh…teradactyls playing poker…

Ok, so I made up those last few.  But, I saw tons of animals, and this was still on the bus.  The next morning, myself, two Australian girls, and a bunch of French clowns took a jeep down the wilderness road to search for more animals.  After 15 minutes of driving, our guide jumped out of the car and spotted fresh jaguar tracks on the ground.  It is very, very rare to spot jaguars in the wild, so we looked around for awhile, but it was gone.  I suggested we use one of the French people as bait, but after a couple of hours of waiting, not even this plan could entice a jaguar out of hiding.  I guess even the mighty jaguar of the Pantanal is no match for the mighty stink that emanates from a Frenchman’s armpits.

Macaws -- Um...nothing really funny to say about them.

Macaws. Um...nothing really funny to say about them.

As we moved on, we spotted an incredible assortment of animals just lying around, without a care in the world.  Monkeys, macaws, snakes, lizards, alligators, birds, and more birds, not to mention even more of the animals I spotted from the bus.  My favorite animal is henceforth the Giant Hampster, because it is so stupid looking, and makes amusing noises when it becomes terrified as a gringo chases after it.

Piranhas -- Who's eating who now, lil' fishy?

Piranhas -- Who's Eating Who Now, Lil' Fishy?

The next day we tried our hand at piranha fishing.  I guess technically, “tried” isn’t quite the appropriate word, because all it took was putting beef on your hook, lowering it in the water, and lifting within 3 seconds with a piranha on the hook.  These little bastards are terrifyingly aggressive.  Our guide told us a story about a tourist who was boating at night, crashed, gashed his head, and fell in the water.  Within one minute, he was completely eaten by piranhas.  Yikes.  There will be no swimming for yours truly, Lord only knows what they’d do to this sweet, sweet man flesh.

Yowza.  Anywho, these dumb little fish were so nuts for meat that we even chopped up a piranha we had caught, baited the hook with it, and, within 3 seconds, caught another piranha.  Filthy cannibals.  As we got more and more bored, we invented a game enjoyed by man and alligator alike: man catches a piranha, smashes it against the boat, then carefully hurls it to a nearby alligator to catch.  I call it “Ultimate Piranha.”  After tiring of this lovely game, we had caught our share of piranhas for a the night’s meal of fried piranha and piranha soup (which our guide creepily called “Brazilian Viagra”).  A meal suited for a erectile-disfuctional King.

Them Gators is Good Eatin'

Them Gators is Good Eatin'

After our fishing adventure, we took a boat trip up river in search of more animals.  Again, this was not very difficult.  There are alligators lining the shores up and down the river, and other animals flying, jumping, and frolicking about everywhere you look.  We hiked up a small mountain in the middle of the marshes, and looked out on complete and total wilderness, without a sight of human settlement.

Alas, the elusive Giant Beaver was nowhere to be found.

Monkeys gearing up to throw some feces at us.

Monkeys gearing up to throw some feces at us.

That night we went out on a nighttime boat tour, and as our guide flashed a spotlight around, we saw hundreds of alligator eyes staring back at us.  These little creepers were sneaking around everywhere, mainly because they are protected by the government so that the locals can’t eat them, or make them into leather boots, leather hats, leather sunglasses, or leather chaps, Brokeback Pantanal-style.  Unfortunately, we did not see any other animals that night, and another boat driver came back and told us we missed a jaguar by about 15 minutes.  Drat.

Thus, while we missed the opportunity to see any anacondas (and I was unable to yell “There’s snakes out der dis big?!”), saw no jaguars, and confirmed that the only Giant Beavers in Brazil were fueled by Samba music and Skol beer, the Pantanal gets a giant A+ in my book.  This place is amazing, full of wildlife, untouched nature, and man-eating animals just itching to play a game of “Ultimate Piranha.”

Capybaras -- Giant Hampsters

Capybaras -- Giant Hampsters


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