A slow way home

The night before we had talked about another change in our tour-plans. Originally we were supposed to sleep one more night at Carmindo's, leave at dawn, make the whole boat trip to Porto Jofre and drive through to CuiabĂ  all in the same day and in a hurry. It would have meant driving through the Transpantan
eira on a run never stopping.
The weather is changing, menacing clouds are again building up at the horizon, so we decide together to take the slower way, leaving already this morning and spending the last night at one of the pousadas on the Transpantaneira.
Carmindo has gone to Poconè early in the morning and we have the task to take Maria to a neig
hbouring farm where she is supposed to stay with friends.
After breakfast with Maria and some chatting we dismantle our camp and pack our stuff. While Julinho cooks our meal I disassemble the ten
t, deflate the matresses and pack all the gear in one big bag.
Maria is already there on the wooden bench...waiting for us, with her things in a big
plastic bag and a black bucket with the half watermelon...she wouldn't leave that behind!!
Heavy heartedly we leave the house with the white chapel behind, the dogs barking like crazy because we are 'kidnapping' their mama..
Maria sits in front, she doesn't speak much, her
look lost on the horizon. What must these eyes have seen in all those years...I would have loved to have the privilege of staying longer just to listen to the endless stories of this land's people.
But there's no time for sad thoughts, Julinho joking tells Maria that she is the tourist today and has to decide what she wants to do! She only grins....
We leave her at a fishing lodge where relatives work as housekeepers. Two little girls come to greet her shyly and we have to say farewell to this infinitely sweet tiny woman.
Back on the boat we give it another try in search of getting a glimpse of a jaguar. We are in no hurry and enjoy the last drive on the small rivers. When we pass again in front of Carmindo's and Maria's
place the big brown dog is still standing at the pier and looks puzzled at us, he doesn't know his owners will be back at night..
We don't see jaguars but on a small river arm covered with
lilypads we meet a family of giant otters on swimming-lesson! There are at least 8 of them all paddling like crazy after an adult one. And what a noise they make!!! Trying to follow them at respectful distance we get in quite shallow waters and have to do some complicated manouvres to get our motor out of the intricated lily-pad carpet...the only moment I wish I was a man, it is impossible for me to pull the motor out of the water while Julinho gives gas to free our boat. It ends up with me at the steering wheel and giving gas while he pulls up the motor....
Gliding on the golden water I silently say farewell to this lush and peaceful nature, so powerful but so fragile when it comes to
resist to aggression by man. I have mixed feelings as always when I'm confronted with these rare natural treasures, on one hand istinctively I feel I have to keep the secret to protect it, on the other I know that it's survival depends on spreading knowledge of the importance of mantaining every single part of it, in order to keep this wonderful environment alive.
Around mid-day we arrive at Porto Jofre Hotel, at the pier we meet Carmindo's son and Julinho s
houts some colorful phrases at him. With a big bounce Julinho drives his boat onto the trailer and it is taken out of the water by a truck.
This is the last boat tour of 2009, I'm very honoured to have
'closed' this years season;the boat will be staying dry until march 2010.
This time, as I proved to be of some value as a helping hand, I'm allowed to help unpacking the boat, loading the 4x4 and getting t
he boat ready for storage. While we cover up the boat with a big tarpaulin a group of Hyacinth Macaws brawls in a tree over our heads.
I notice how every person we have met throughout the trip has a friendly word for Julinho, and the same I can say of him towards others, always ready to give a helping hand. It's a pleasure to hang around with him!
And there we are on the road again...

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