If you go down to the swamp today you're sure of a big surprise
Campo Grande Travel Blog› entry 12 of 45 › view all entries
Campo Grande (pronounced Campo Granje), a town on first observations I found so underwhelming that I begrudged spending 24 hours in the place, clearly the Brazilians who told me Curitiba was unattractive had never been here!
After a wander though I found it had a few quirks that meant I softened my intial, perhaps overly harsh, first impression. Snap judgments after long plane/ train/ bus journeys should be avoided.
First anecdoctal point: just in case you forget while the hell you've come to this rag-tag dusty little city, there are novelty bins and phone booths shaped like various animals you'd expect to see in the Pantanal, it's like some Disneyfication gone wrong, not that they're scary just really tacky!
On the plus side I found this great Acai joint and I had a room all to myself with an ensuite with a super hot shower and I basked in the thought of lapping up the double bed and good sleep while I could as 3 nights in a hammock awaited.
After the British guys in Igacu had put the fear of God into me about my tour company for the Pantanal as their new LP South America guide gave a slightly negative but vague review it all turned out just peachy. Admittedly they didn't get off to the best of starts as they forgot to pick me up at the airport but eventually turned up when another guide from another company called them and we left a hour late for our tour but after that it was just brilliant, having a really great group of people definitely helped (we had a nice international mix of Belgian, French, English, Danish & Israeli).
The camp consisted of 4 huts, the kitchen and dining areas, the guides hut and two huts for the groups as well as a campsite with tents etc already provided.
Everyone at camp was really sociable and there was a real mix of nationalities not just within our group, it didn't take long for the beer and cachaca to start flowing, needless to say my cachaca liquer didn't make it out of the Pantanal, so much for it being a potential present - oops!
After minimal sleep the 6am wake up call was like a bucket of cold water over my head, all that was soon forgotten on the walk though as we got lucky with the wildlife; we saw Caimans (a small alligator - not as impressive as the huge crocs in Darwin) in fairly big groups and pretty damn close up too - thankfully not too close.
The last event of the day was a night safari which unfortuntaley was the most dissappointing thing we did on the entire trip as it was so umeventfull, we only saw more Caimans and this type of flower which only open at night and the indeginous people use the heart of the flower for insect repellant, the rest of the time we ended up making jokes about how the animals were off hiding behing the trees playing poker. the safari ended up turning into a bit of a beer and cachaca safari (we loaded up with 3 litres of cachaca on the way back), I also introduced my non-English speaking friends to the concept of 'beer o'clock' time became divided into portions of beer o'clock, half past beer, quarter to beer and quarter past beer for the rest of the evening - now that's cultural exchange! The rest of the night was a fun party with lots of drinking (Ithink I may have conveyed this already?), the caipiranhas I have to say were a bit grim without any ice but we survived, there was also some dancing and chatting around the camp fire to be had with both the guides and backpackers providing the tunes.
I managed to be suprisingly hangover free the next morning and we even got a lie-in until 7.30am - ooooh! After going on a blanket raid after one of the groups had left the previous day we all managed to sleep a hell of a lot better as well which I think helped the cause. We started day three of our Pantanal adventure with a jeep safari with Jonny's group(Jonny turned out to be something of a Doctor Dolittle) and once more we seemed to hit the jackot with wildflife spotting; we saw a family of Giant Otters (take one English Otter and times it in size by about ten), who wanted to swim over and say hi, it also helped that Jonny was 'talking' to them which drew them even closer.
The day was capped off with Piranha fishing in the afternoon, now I'm not usually a fan of fishing mostle because its a concept I associate with long, cold, rainy days bored out of your head at home but I actually really enjoyed it (sunshine helps I feel).
Despite statements that we weren't drinking again that night Kenneth & Bram bought more canchaca - damn them! It was an even more bozzy night that the night before, testiment to this were several DRI's, I clashed heads with Sandro after some mental dancing and them fell out of my hammock, lying on the floor laughing to myself, bless everyone else was more concerned if I was ok while I was just laughing my ass off.
Next morning I didn't have the same luck as the previous day and felt rough as a badgers arse (serves me right I know) but a nice mornings tubing down the river soon sorted me right out - bliss!
After lunch it was time to leave (thank you Ecological Expeditons for an amazing Pantanal experience!) and we all said our goodbyes at the entrance to the park, the others were all headed back to Campo Grande whereas I was heading on to Corumba ready to cross the border the next day.
So the next morning with a heavy heart (and a much lighter bank account) I said a sad farewell to Brazil, an amazingly diverse and vast country with fantastic people, in the words of Arnie "I'll be Back!"