The last three days we have been on an amazing, relaxing adventure in the Pantanel in western Brazil. So much has happen and I will tell about some of the highlights. Early on in the trip, this English guy and I started to count noticeably different animals. Excluding birds, fish, and insects, we made it to 30! Some of these included snakes, alligators, monkeys, armadillos, parrots, toucans, deer, and capybaras (ginormous rodents). Our camp was situated in the middle of this swampland and there were animals passing through all the time. We all slept in hammocks which was an experience in itself and ate fresh fruit and local food the whole time. We had our first ultimate game of the trip and of course some good soccer too.

The most frequent words that came out of our mouths were "puedo comer?" or "can I eat this?". We really wanted to eat some wild and/or endangered animals, especially the alligators. They were everywhere! The closest we got was the second morning. Our guide loured an alligator to shore with a fake fish and then roped it. He got on it's back and then grabbed its jaws. Then he said "hey steve, take this". I was like "what the!". But we all ended up passing this alligator along by the jaws. I could hardly lift the thing it was so heavy! Our guide asked us if he should kill it and cook it up. Despite our begging, one of the girls with us said no so he didn't. Later he told us he has never had to do it cause someone in the group always buckles.

One morning we woke up to the most horrible sound imaginable. It sounded like a motorcycle combined with groaning and screaming all at once. We jumped out of our hammocks and ran towards the noise – it turned out to be some monkeys. Seriously, it was the loudest thing on earth and it woke everyone in a 1 km radius up perfectly for breakfast at 6am. Other notable experiences were pirhana fishing and horse riding which Ryan is going to talk about.

-steve

On day two we had another early day starting a 6 am but it was amazing. First of all a little background information. I have gone fishing quite a few times with friends and I have never caught a fish. Not only have I never caught a fish usually everyone else who I go with does. I was bound and determined to catch a fish in the Pantanal of Brazil. My determination paid it self off in huge amounts. Success, finally! We went piranha fishing in the morning and it was an interesting experience. First of all before going into the piranha infested waters you want to make sure that you aren't the bait. What I mean is if you are bleeding then the piranhas see you as mighty tasty and they would work in a team fashion to strip you to the bone. This is a bit of info that is good to know before going in.

After checking for open wounds you head into the water up to you waist or chest with the piranhas swimming around you. The fishing rods were a long piece of bamboo with fishing line and a hook attached we used chunks of cow heart as the bait. When we were entering the water we had our rod in one hand and a handful of cow heart in the other. I reminded everyone just before we entered all the way in that it wouldn't be wise to put the cow heart in our pocket for many good reason. Kevin quickly agreed and quietly removed the meat from his pocket.

Once fishing you cast three times and then leave your line in the water and the second and I mean second you feel a nibble you need to yank your line out of the water or else you will find that your bait has been eaten. After losing my meat quite a few times and getting frustrated at the fish I caught the hang of it and in the end caught 5 piranhas. I was a thrilling experience! To top it off there were four alligators swimming around where we were fishing and they would just hang out on the shore and we would taunt them with fish and grab there tails.

In the afternoon we got to go for a horseback ride. This ride wasn't your typical horse ride you have at camp, it was the Pantanal version. Let loose, go wild! Forget the stay in a straight line, no galloping, follow the leader type style. There was a guide, but he was all over from the front to the back and sometime I didn't know where he was. So my horse and I we decided to be the leaders of the group. It was slow at the start and then I realized that I needed a thick piece of grass or a little stick and then things got moving.

It is also great fun to smack each other's horses to get them going. We did everything from walk to trot to gallop and it was at our leisure. Steve switched horses twice trying to find the perfect horse that would match his crazy style however his first horse was a little loco and wouldn't follow Steve's lead and the finally the second took a lot of whipping to get it moving. Kevin was almost a little too wild as Rusty and him would just take off in one direction in a jolt with Kevin bouncing all over. There was one moment where I felt like a true South American cowboy when one girl was racing me with her horse. She took off before me so I quickly got my horse to go by yelling yaaah yah, eeeeee, and other various south American cowboy things. Then as my horse was galloping I leaned over to the side and grabbed some tall grass and then repeatedly smacked my horses backside as I took the lead and then I finished by putting the grass between my teeth. Yeee haaaa! The ride lasted over 3hr and was just perfect but I am feeling the side affect today throughout my entire body.

-koop

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