The Wetland Pantanal – The Arrival

Just taking a break from everyday life and relaxing completely. Life without a mobile phone, without Internet, without comfort in the wilderness. An idea that is very tempting for many workaholics, full-time-students and family managers, especially when you are tired of the daily stress and the urban jungle.

A hammock in the Pantanal – A calm anchor at lunchtime

Most people are satisfied of doing a short soul trip, to the countryside or to a wellness farm. But leaving behind completely everything, for days, weeks, that just dare a few people. I belong to them. For a week I lived in the outback of Brazil, in the Pantanal. Most who don’t live for geography or earn their money with this, this region is probably not a term. Really strange, because the Pantanal is the world largest wetland.

Already my trip to that place turned out to be very adventurous. After three party days and nights in Rio de Janeiro, I embarked a small airliner of the Brazilian home brand TAM. Anyone, who believes that those domestic flights are as low as in Germany, is very much mistaken. In fact only the richer Brazilians can afford to fly. The standard Brazilians with a lower income have to settle for a bus ticket. Although you can save up to 90 percent of the price with a buy ticket, you need to have much staying power. This is why most Brazilians prefer to travel to nearby towns or regions. And many of them will probably never see the Pantanal with their own eyes, far less the Amazon region.

A small settlement near to the Rio Paraguay

From Rio de Janeiro, I went to São Paulo, where I spent a night at the airport. The first and only night in my life at a terminal. I swore to myself afterwards. It was bitterly cold and I didn’t fall asleep for any second. Far too big was my fear that I could miss the connecting flight or someone steals my luggage. Finally, I had heard so many negative things about Brazil and the local crime – especially by Brazilians themselves. It seems as if they like overstatements when it comes to their own country – even for bad things. So I sat there, awake, alone and surrounded by dozens of sleeping people, bundled up in their sleeping bags, the bags clutching. I felt a surge of envy. And also of boredom. I had already read my book and I had no hunger. So I geared up for a night full of meaningless glaring at walls and at people. But then there was my salvation – or rather not. A nice young Indian – his nationality was unmistakable – sat down right next to me, buttonholing. Initially, very nice, I thought. But after a short time he asked me for my phone number. Of course, just if he can’t find the right way in Brazil. Somehow I managed to get rid of him and I was so glad to be alone again.

A bird flying away on the Rio Paraguay

After six eternally long hours, I went to the check-in, to take my flight to Campo Grande. A three-hour flight on which I was falling asleep momentarily. My body was so exhausted from the past few hours. And I was so glad when we finally landed. A bus trip would even have lasted longer, 18 hours or more. When I had solid ground under my feet again, I grabbed my luggage and immediately left the terminal. Scorching air was blowing into my face. I looked to the left. There was hardly a soul to be seen. I looked to the right. There were two or three houses. Nothing else. That was something I wasn’t accustomed to. Because on every Brazilian airport, where I have ever been, there was total chaos – but not here.

I took the first taxi and went straight to the city centre, or however you could call this area. Campo Grande is the capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, one of the biggest and less inhabited Brazilian states. And you could also feel that. Because the capital has more of a small-town character. There are one or two major roads, many side streets and at lunchtime most shops are even closed. Due to the extreme heat or cultural causes – I don’t know it till today. I just know one thing: This city has shocked me initially and at the same time it was the starting point of one of the most fascinating travels in Brazil.

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