February 09, 2004
Standing Room Only
DAY 110: I don't know if it was from the horseback riding or the fact that I slept in a hammock that had sunk low from everyone's drunken swinging, but I woke up with every muscle in my body sore. Perhaps it was a combination of the two.
IT BEING THE RAINY SEASON, we were already tapped out of things to do -- in fact, people who had signed up for four-day tours decided to leave a day early. We had already caught a caiman and a puma and spent a day as cowboys. The one thing left to do wasn't nearly as exciting: making necklaces out of objects of the Pantanal.
I walked out with Akuna and a knife to collect some aloe vera leaves -- the same leaves that cut up my legs on our nature walks. Akuna taught me how to scrape off the "meat" of the plant, leaving its stringy fibers, which he braided into string. For my centerpiece I wanted to put a caiman tooth, but they were all out. Rather than be a poacher and kill one -- with my bare hands --
After a final lunch, a a truck took our group back down the bumpy road to the entrance of the Pantanal. Michael the Aussie was quite loud when trying to figure out the certain "nocturnal activities" that had transpired in the shadows of camp. Frodo and Matt talked about television shows, while Deb, Assaf and I sat in the back pretty quiet to observe the occasional emu running by.
The crew dropped us off at the intersection of Dirt Road and Paved Road and waited with us there until our buses came. Half of us went to Corumba while the rest of us went to either Bonito or back to Campo Grande. I bid farewell to Frodo, the Aussie guys, the Brits and the Swedes and got on a bus with the three Aussie college girls and the Israeli. We flagged down a bus, the same line I took from Corumba to Campo Grande, but it was standing room only. The next bus wouldn't come for another three and a half hours, so we just got on and stood or sat on the floor. With my body still sore, I endured an hour and a half of standing until we arrived at the midway rest point in Miranda. Afterwards I stood another three hours (picture above), leaning on the bathroom in the back, reading Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones and chatting with one of the Aussie girls Storm, who sat on the floor with me for a while until two seats opened up when two people got off. (By the way, Storm is her real given name -- her parents must have been really hippy or really big fans of The X-Men.)
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