Caught up in a caiman face off

Think a canoe trip in the Pantanal region on Brazil is a quiet affair? Think again!

(Visiting the Brazil stand at the World Travel Market yesterday made me think back to this most memorable of days during my solo trip to this incredible country)  

Today we’re talking reptiles and mammals and despite the night safari being cancelled due to high winds, the 7am 4km walk through the neighbouring area showed up a whole array of strange and exotic creatures. That may sound like an early start to some of you, but believe me, it’s impossible to sleep past 5am as a cacophony of birds, ably led by the extremely loud and ubiquitous chaco chachalaca, shake you out of your bed whether you’re ready or not. (Side note here – I am awarding the chaco chachalaca my ‘how to big yourself up’ award as it has a fabulous name that sounds like a samba step and a call like nothing you’ve ever heard before yet it is the dullest and most boring looking thing you’ve ever seen. The thing is, everyone knows it and it is completely unforgettable  – a great job of self-publicity that we could all learn from!)

Back to the morning walk and it wasn’t long until we came across howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, yellow armadillo, marsh deer, and South American coati.

 

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Getting back into the swing of things

I don’t mind admitting that I’m feeling a bit flat at the moment. It’s been 3 weeks since arriving back from my trip to Brazil and I just can’t seem to get back into the swing of things.

It’s not helped by the fact that all eyes are currently on Rio for the Olympics Games. I know it’s difficult for anyone coming home after a significant time away, but I can’t help feeling that my particular situation is made worse by being able to see ‘my beach’ through the window of the Beeb’s TV studio on a daily basis: the very studios that I watched being built on the Copacabana whilst I was there. I recognise it all. The pedestrian crossing in front of the Irish bar, the Rio 2016 official merchandise store where I bought my T-shirts and Olympic Havaianas, the promenade that I walked up and down every day, the beach bar where I drank many a caipirinha, even the flags that flutter in the wind. They are all so familiar to me and they all make wish I was still there.

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5 things I’ll miss the most about Rio (plus a few that I won’t)

I love large cities by the sea and, in my humble experience, Rio is the most beautiful one that I have visited (followed closely by Sydney and Cape Town). It lived up to my expectations in every way and despite many people telling me that I was crazy to go there, ‘Rio is so dangerous’, ‘You’ll get Zika’, ‘The country is broke and the government is corrupt, it will be depressing’,  I could not have asked for a better experience. It certainly has a bit of an edge about it but use common sense and leave your valuables at home and you’ll be fine.

There are many things that I’ll miss about Rio but here my top 5.

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Laid back and leaner – lessons from Rio

I came to Rio for six weeks as part of a volunteer programme to mentor young entrepreneurs, but as I get ready to leave, I am very aware of just how much I have learned during my stay here. It’s fair to say that when I arrived I was more than a little wound-up (as my lovely, straight-talking teammate pointed out to me, as only a South African with Dutch, German and Greek influences can).  I hadn’t thought it was that obvious but it was time to relax and go with the flow.

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