Today, March 20 , started with another early wake up call. Our mission du jour … Visit a fishing village for a ” day in the life” of the “pantaneiros”, as the local fishermen are known. We also planned to visit the local school, but because the teachers were on strike, due to chronic low pay, we had to rely on the village elders to assemble the kids for a little quality Q and A time, enlivened by our gifts and some fun songs.
Next up on the agenda, the pantaneiros taught us how to fish for piranhas. Not only are these bloodthirsty critters scary little killers, but they’re also ugly as sin! Nonetheless, they are prized as a cheap, abundant food source (and as legend has it, help pantaneiro gentlemen perform like studs). Once having caught the piranha, one of the village elders, Juana, showed us how to make piranha soup. In a scene weirdly reminiscent of a show on the Food Network, Juana prepared the soup, and then pulled a sleight of hand to serve us the finished recipe. I’d like to say I loved it, but the best I could do was finish my serving. Most of our group actually did like it though. I have to say, though, if I were a guy, I’d probably prefer to take the little blue pill!
The villagers then showed us through the vegetable and fruit gardens, and then it was time for the boat ride home (and the promise of more appealing lunch time choices).
After lunch, many of the group left on the boat to try their hand at fishing for piranhas themselves. Given the heat, and the option of spending the afternoon using the lovely pool at the lodge, Jim and I passed on the piranhas. It turned out our choice was probably a good one, as the sky clouded over in a menacing way and it dumped rain on the hapless fishermen. Besides, we got to enjoy a really spectacular sunset.
The catch du jour was promptly fed to the many “Zekes” when our fellow travelers returned.
We celebrated the catch and our last night in the Pantanal with caipirinhas!
Tomorrow, back to Rio.