Brazil adventure-It's not just food

Since the beginning of the year, besides counseling clients on nutrition and fitness and providing corporate wellness presentations, I have been planning a special adventure to celebrate my son's graduation from high school and moving onto college. His passion is birding so I wanted to do an adventure someplace exotic where there would be many species of birds. I did not want the travel time to be more than 12 hours. After researching places around the world, I found that the state of Mato Grosso in Brazil is home to hundreds of species of birds. But the next part was to find a birding guide who would help us discover all the birds. I used the expertise of Paulo Boute of Boute Expeditions. Paulo and his wife Marluce made the lodging and flight reservations and set us up with wonderful guides. I highly recommend Boute Expeditions. Whenever I had a question, Paulo or Marluce responded within 24 hours. And their guides are experts.

So why am I writing this blog in my nutrition and fitness website? Because I want to share this special experience in Brazil along with the food.

On July 17, we left New York City, JFK airport for a 10:30pm flight to San Paulo, Brazil. I was traveling with my son, Marc and husband Charlie. Our seats were not together so I asked at the gate if we could have seats together. They took a look at the seating and then looked at Marc. They asked him if he could open the emergency exit and he properly responded "Yes". They gave us three front row bulkhead seats. There was enough room in front of us that one of us could lay down on the floor and sleep (but nobody did that). The flight was uneventful. I think I got 4 hours of sleep. The plane arrived on time at 8:30am,

Now it is July 18. We transferred to plane to Cuiaba, Brazil. This was an easy two hour flight that arrived around 2:30. We met our guide Leo along with Paulo Boute and photographer Jim Messina who were on their own trip.

We began our drive down the Transpantaneira, a 145 km gravel road that goes over 122 wooden bridges and ends in Porto Jofre.

The area is called the Pantanal. We birded along the way and arrived at our pousada, Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso, in time for dinner. The pousada is very simple and catered to Brazilians and tourists. The rooms were clean and the food was fresh and delicious. We had the typical dinner of catfish, fresh vegetables, salad, rice, beans, pasta, and farofa - toasted manioc meal. Dessert was farmer cheese, fresh fruit and a sweet guava jelly-goibada. After dinner, we went to our room and to sleep. It was a long day and we had to wake up at 5:30 for a 6am breakfast. You have to start early to see the most birds.

Happy birding and eating everyone! I will continue the story on another day.

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