Friday, June 10, 2011
Paraguay border to Bonito, Brazil, 200 miles.
First, if ever you do this crossing, stop and shop at Shopping China. This huge duty free store has just about everything and at amazing prices. We bought, amongst other things, lounging chairs for the beach, wine and champagne, gourmet food such as caviar, chocolate from Switzerland and candies from England and shoes for Tom. Traveling from my youth, I had seen stores like this but for Tom, it was astounding. From there it was a visit to the Policia Federal for our immigration and Aduana for the motor home before getting on the road to Bonito. We had been told that the road was well maintained so the trip would only take 5 hours or so. As we drove we were again in swamp and marsh terrain with a variety of birds to keep our interest. At one point we thought we saw ostrich...or emus...or what are they?...we muttered to each other. Without the benefit of the internet we came to the conclusion that they must be some type of rhea from this area. They definitely had the flightless appearance of the emu and some were quite large. Two other species of tall birds caught our interest, one being a road-runner type with a crest on its head and the other we knew from books – it was the 2 meter (7ft. tall) red-necked Tuiuiu stork. The Pantanol is home to about 650 species of birds including ibises, egrets, herons and parakeets. There are also many ranches with herds of Brahma cattle and acres upon acres of corn and sugar cane, most of which goes into the production of alternative fuel. Our campsite in Bonito is operated by Hostel International and similar to the hostel in Foz do Iguaçu but it turned out to be much smaller and not really set up for RVs. We had to park next to their tour vans in a small gravel lot with not much room. The town itself is very small, very touristy and very expensive. Since it is approaching winter here there were very few people and the big attraction – swimming and snorkeling in the local rivers – was cold to say the least. We visited a tourist park, Balneario do Sol which borders the Rio Formosa and has several waterfalls and areas for snorkeling. Tom and I endured a chilling 20 minutes in the water and that was enough for us. The park itself is pretty and clean with trails where you can see macaws, monkeys and a large furry rodent similar to a guinea pig called a capivara. But after all our travels and sight-seeing, Bonito was disappointing to us. After two days we decided to leave and get back to Peruibe and our rental home. We are not sorry we made the trip as if we hadn’t we would have wondered what it would be like but if your time in Brazil is limited, there are many other regions that are much more interesting and satisfying to visit. Sorry Bonito!