6 o’clock in the morning I’m heading to Santos Dumont air
port in Rio de Janeiro under a heavy storm. It’s been raining since my arrival in Rio one week ago. Shivering I look up to the gloomy sky hoping in Mato Grosso’s proverbial heat. Trip flight takes me to Cuiabà, the capital of Mato Grosso, with stop-over in Belo Horizonte and Goiania.
Dozing over the clouds I wonder if Julinho from Pantanal Trackers(www.pantanaltrackers.com.br), the guide I hired on the internet, received my e-mail confirming his change in plans. His sister was supposed to pick me up at the airport and bring me to a guest-house in Cuiabà, where he would have met me at night after having brought to the airport the people he was on tour before me. That would have meant driving the whole 245 km road from Porto Jofre over Poconè to Cuiabà on one day and all the same on the next early morning. I had expressed my concern about him being tired in one of our earlier e-mails….well…never dare to say to a Pantaneiro that he is tired…it’s a rough land of proud hard-working man. Being myself a proud hard-working woman I hadn’t insisted any longer.
In fact a few days before my departure he had written to me proposing to meet him directly in Poconè, fantastic I had answered but I wasn’t sure he had had the chance to check his e-mails on the road. I wasn’t worried, Poconè is a small town 2 hours from Cuiabà at the beginning of the Transpantaneira, if I missed him or his sister at the airport I would have jumped on a bus to Poconè and was confident I would have found him there….
I didn’t know the guy, but from his e-mails I got the feeling that he was a nice person. And so it was.
I had contacted him some months ago, after an extensive research on the web, and by e-mail we had set up a plan for my five days in the Pantanal. I wanted to see Jaguars and of course all the wildlife, I wasn’t really interested in all the ordinary adventure stuff offered by conventional jungle-tours. I wanted also to get the feeling of what it was like to live in a place like that, not only the gorgeous nature but the people that are living part of this environment.
Our plans were to leave Cuiabà early in the morning of the 24th, drive to Poconè and slowly down the 145 km of the Transpantaneira, admiring the wildlife and landscape, arrive in Porto Jofre, pick up his boat and drive 2 and a half hours to the home of a local couple on rio Piriguara where we will be camping during our tour, deep in the area were we would have the chance to see the onça pintada, the jaguar - the largest American feline.

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