Stuck in the middle with you

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Apr 12, 2011

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Flag of Brazil  , Mato Grosso,
Sunday, March 20, 2011

20th March
The morning light revealed this tourist lodge to be on a little island within the flood waters as far as you could see, but broken with patches of trees and and bushes. There are various blocks of multi share or private rooms. There is the restaurant area, with games room and a nice little pool outside.  There are several rotundas with 6 hammocks hanging in each. It seems like a very laid back place. After breakfast, we mustered up some good humour after yesterday´s adventure and  jumped into a little motor boat.  Our guide took us through the camping area, which is under a metre of water. Then we entered into what is actually the river path, but you would hardly know it.  We followed the river 20 minutes or so up to a bridge where we all got out and tried some fishing...... for pirahnas!!!  We had bamboo rods with line and a chunk of meat on the hook.  There were nibbles but we didn´t catch anything.  But we saw heaps of wildlife, a deer stuck on an island, caimen which is like our fresh water crocodiles, pigs, sheep, an armadillo and heaps of birds.  We were all so excited to see a toucan up in a tree, even though it was a fair way away.  I got pretty bored and wandered down the road and jumped a mile when I came face to face with a caimen about a metre away from me. They are very much like a freshwater croc. But when Thomas and I were chasing the armidillo down the road, that was the highlight of the day.  It was scurrying away and then turned and cruised right in front of me.  Then we came back for lunch, enjoying our boat ride along the way.  We were supposed to go horse riding at this place but the horses were all standing knee deep in water in their paddock as it was and there is no land to ride on!  We cannot go for our safari either!  We got offered to go tubing down the river and none of us was interested in that idea, not with pirahnas! Apparently they only bite if you are bleeding.  Joy.  It was extremely hot and humid so I said I was going to hit the pool.  My crew joined me and we knocked off the last third of my vodka bottle. We stayed there until nearly sunset.  Dean and Alan took on Thomas and our lodge guide in a game of soccer.  We found a big turtle cruising around, also a young deer was running around the limited grounds aswell and I also saw a fox cruising around.  It's weird, all the animals have had their homes flooded and they are all misplaced and trying to survive.  This is apparently a one in 40 year flood.
When I climbed into bed at night, I found the sheets and pillow to be damp from the amount of moisture in the air.  And did I mention the mozzies?  So many, yet the locals say normally there would be big swarms and this was nothing much. Poor Alisha and Alan are covered in angry looking bites, having had a bad reaction.  Luckily I am pretty free of bites because I have been taking my Vitamin B Complex (Thanks Jess for putting me onto that one!)  The little buggers don't find me attractive!  Awesome!  So I think I am enjoying being here more than all the others because of that.
21st March
We couldn´t wait to get out of this water trap, yet we were full of trepidation about how they were going to get us out, with our adventurous arrival still in the front of our minds,  And we had a train to catch.  So we were supposed to leave at 7am, but another group got in the boat before us so we spent another two hours lounging around in hammocks, wondering where the hell the boat was to get us out of there.  Then we got the word that we had to get into a smaller speed boat and put our packs in one of the little motor boats, along with a few people.  We took off at last but the trip was slow going with the propellor getting tangled and the other boat running out of fuel.  They refuelled from an almost empty jerry can and then we finally got to the road.  This time they bypassed the part of the road that had washed out, thank heavens for that!  Then all 12 of us including the driver with all of our packs piled into the 4wd that had broken down on the way in.  We were squished in, Alisha and I both on the front passenger seat.  We couldn´t believe it when we came across the other group in the old truck being towed by the tractor, well actually, they were at a standstill.  We felt sorry for them having spent all that extra time out in the hot sun. Everyone had to get out and walk across that unsafe bridge that was underwater.  This bridge appeared on the front page of the newpaper a few days ago but it was still dry then.  The picture shows tourists walking over it due to it being deemed as unsafe.  As we walked over we saw all the dead cows that had fallen off the side and washed down the river. The last time we crossed it was in the dark.  Then the vehicles came over after us and on we went.  Much of the road was under water and the water level had increased by an inch or two since we arrived.  Which is a lot considering this flood is hundreds of kilometres wide. It took four hours to get out and we had missed our train already.  Our driver was waiting for us and took us to the Bolivian border, where Thomas introduced us over to our Bolivian guide, Karina.  Thomas and Karina tried to get us through customs quickly.  We even managed to do a bit of a queue jump so we could catch the train but it took too long.  That meant we had to take the overnight bus.  We all gave Thomas big hugs and big tips goodbye.  He was a fabulous tour guide! 
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