It’s hard to travel because you always feel like you’re on vacation and with that mentality you tend to eat and drink more than normal and are lax about working out. Well, this has finally caught up to both of us – Wayne is losing weight and I’m finding it! We are completely out of shape and I’m fighting the “Freshman 15” all over again. Recently, we made a commitment to start working out and stop eating everything in sight. We also enjoy a nightly caipirinha or two in Brazil, wine in Argentina and beer just about anywhere. Before we left on this adventure, I thought I might lose some weight because I’m a picky eater, but the food on our trip has been fantastic. We’ve tried everything from caiman to dulce de leche and we haven’t been disappointed yet. I’m now doing pilates online with Blogilates and Wayne is doing a series of push-ups, sit-ups and squats and we’re both trying to run/bike whenever we can.
It sounds easy to just go out for a run, but there are times when I’m not sure if it’s safe. I don’t speak the language and I usually don’t even know the name of the hotel/hostel where we’re staying – a recipe for disaster! So, I don’t go running. We also have to eat out the majority of our meals, unless we can stay at places where we can cook, but when it’s only a day or two it doesn’t make sense to go grocery shopping. Breakfast is usually included, but a lot of the time it’s just a big basket of white rolls, processed cheese and fly covered watermelon. We get so excited when we get to start the day with fruit, yogurt and cereals – it’s the small things in life that make us happy!
Wayne’s plan was to head to Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia after the Pantanal. This is the biggest city in Bolivia that’s close to the Brazilian border town of Corumba. It will likely have slightly better than crap internet. I am stressed about heading there or anywhere else in Bolivia because I’ve heard horrible stories about the quality of the internet and unreliable electricity. I can’t afford to be offline with my job and I also hate the feeling of being locked up in the hostel after dark. I told him that we should head to Bonito, Brazil instead and he didn’t have a second thought about it. All the guide books rave about this wonderful town. On a side note, we still have to travel to Santa Cruz because it’s the only way to get to the Salt Flats for July 4th weekend!
We arrived at our pousada, Ceu de Estrelas in Bonito late Thursday as a rodeo was in full swing. This must have been the reason the bus station was like a ghost town. We had no idea where our hotel was located, it’s dark and usually bus stations are in the worst part of town. I was a bit nervous (as usual). There was a single taxi driver who told us how to get to our hotel in Portuguese, but didn’t even offer to take us. We figured we better ask him for a lift because neither of us understood his directions. We later laughed because it was only 3 blocks away in the safest part of town!! The best part about coming to Bonito for us was I could run to my heart’s content and Wayne could rent a mountain bike!!! HAPPY TIMES!!!!!
Bonito is home to the most crystal clear rivers, waterfalls, caves and so much more. The town is very clean, there are excellent restaurants and hotels, and there seems to be a family atmosphere here with lots of children playing in the square every evening. There is also a 3k running path similar to the path on A1A – not very long, but better than most cities we’ve visited in South America! We booked our hotel until Sunday just in case the internet was bad and we had to head out, but it was perfect and we decided to stay another week so Wayne could photograph giant anteaters, toucans and find anacondas and I could continue running!
Saturday we headed out to the Gruta do Lago Azul to see the vivid blue lake down inside a big cavern. It was only 20km from Bonito and we had to pay for private transportation. If you ever make it to Bonito, renting a car is probably a good option because transportation costs are starting to add up! There were at least 200 steps to the bottom of the cave. Many people complained that it was dangerous, but we didn’t think so at all. The guide stopped 6 times to give information (in Portuguese) and for us to take pictures so the descent didn’t seem like much at all. We spent time at the bottom trying to get the perfect picture and I think Wayne was finally happy with the “not-so-perfect” picture!
Sunday was the big event for us – we were going to snorkel from the main spring of Olho d’Água River to where it meets Rio da Prata, which is a crystal clear river full of many varieties of fish. We were told we also might see caimans and anacondas! The trip was 50km out of town at Recanto Ecológico Rio da Prata, and included an hour stop at a small private reserve, Buraco das Araras, to see a collapsed cave that is now a huge sinkhole with many nesting red and green macaws. The Rio da Prata facility is set on a huge piece of land where they farm, offer horse riding, diving at Lago Misteriosa, trail walking and one of the best tours we’ve been on so far, the snorkeling.
After collecting our wetsuits and booties it was a brief drive to the start of the 50 minute hike which would take us to the waters edge. We saw marmoset and capuchin monkeys on the hike which was a good start to the day. Upon entering the water we were surprised it wasn’t so cold, although I was freezing by the time we finished snorkeling in the Rio da Prata river. There were 9 in our group and we stayed single file as some of the sections were extremely shallow and rocky and in some places the current was pulling us along very fast. I did get to snorkel alongside a caiman which was a first and the highlight of the trip – pretty scary too! I’d never be that close to an alligator in Florida.
And on another note…
While in Bonito I found out that a high school friend of mine put his 9 year old son, Peyton, to bed one night. The child had a seizure in the middle of the night and never recovered. He passed away the following day. I never met Peyton and I haven’t seen Noah for ages, but I’m always following them on Facebook and feel like they are as close as ever. Noah and his family are such an inspiration for helping people get active and have healthy lifestyles. My heart has been broken for his family and it’s a lesson that tomorrow is never guaranteed. Live life to the fullest and always tell the ones you love how much they mean to you! Today I’ll be running for Peyton!
June 6th – June 14th 2013