Second day on the rivers

I wake up at 5 o’clock, Julinho is already busy around. After a quick shower and breakfast with Maria while we prepare our meal for the day, we leave for another day on the rivers.
It’s very hot already and luckily I’m 'incentivated' to leave behind all the bloody uncomfortable anti-mosquito clothes and wear my favourite ‘uniform’…havaianas and shorts, my carioca-soul is very grateful for that. There are no mosquitoes on the river, they just come out at night. In silence I thank again all the people who have written raving reviews about Julinho…
Today there is more traffic on the river, while we scan slowly the river-banks we see some boats passing by. We see lots of birds and families of capybaras. At another little beach we stop for lunch with rice and dried meat and – of course - a refreshing bath in the river before and after. A lot of boats full of people dressed up for safari pass by, they must be sweating the damn out of themselves. It’s a mistery to me why they don’t jump into the water. They see that we are not being eaten by piranhas or caimans! Well..when a caiman emerges 2 feet away from us and then goes down again..it IS a strange feeling..but Julinho explains to me that they only attack what they can eat in one bite, we are too big as a prey. It’s still quite exciting to know HE can be anywhere in the water hidden by the mud…
Small fish nibble at our skin, taking nourishment from our dead cells. The only real danger are the stingrays, their sting hurts terribly and the trick is to drag your feet in the water, trying not to step onto them.
We decide to have another look at the river bank on Tres Irmaos River where we have seen the jaguars yesterday, but today we are not that lucky.
A boat approaches
us, the guides we had met at Jaguar Lodge tell us they have seen three jaguars! Another boat had first sighted them and had really gotten so near to the animals that they had become quite nervous and had disappeared soon. Julinho and the other guides were angry about the irresponsible behaviour of their colleague, by upsetting the jaguars not only he had taken the chance of other people to see them, he had also put himself and his tourists in a very dangerous position. Jaguars swim extremely well and jump even better, a move to get the best shot could have easily turned into a tragedy and who could have blamed the jaguar for it?
I'm in a privileged position, as the only portuguese speaking tourist around I can take part in the conversation.
One of the guides tells that a woman on his boat is quite angry because he refused to get as close
to the jaguars as the other boat; that's the result of the lack of common sense in some so-called professionals. Hopefully by the end of the year the 'plano de manejo' (park rules) for the area will discipline the behaviour of the growing number of persons involved in tourism inside the Park.
When the local pioneers in Jaguar tracking (Julinho is the only one still active of the old guard)had the first sightings in that region there were only few of them and they had developed a functional method of jaguar tracking without being invasive. Now that wildlife-tourism has been recognized as good business the risk is that ruthless behaviour of few will break this fragile system, forcing the jaguars to migrate to other areas, spoiling nature and the comradeship between the people involved in that business, leaving them without their jobs in the end. And as sadly happens everywhere around the world, the foreign hawks just take off to the next shore and the locals pay the bill.

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