Snorkeling with Anacondas in Bonito, Brazil

December 9, 2010 No Comments

We’re Bonito in the interior of Brazil.  After three weeks of beaches I reluctantly decided that it was time to see a part of Brazil without sand.  I was happy to check out a new ecoregion until a nice Brazilian girl I was chatting with mentioned the “sucuri” that swallowed her dad’s fishing buddy whole somewhere in the state we were flying to the next day.  I wasn’t sure what this sucuri was but I was terrified.  When we arrived we learned snorkeling down pristine crystal clear rivers was the main activity and the Sucuri River was the best.  By this point I’d had enough time to Google image search and Wikipedia sucuri and discovered it was in fact an anaconda.

Four syllables could hardly strike more fear into my heart than those.  Nothing could console me.  Why would they name a river Anaconda River if there were no anaconda?  Logic was on my side.  My present self did certainly congratulate my past self from restraining from you tubing sucuri as I know I never would have deplaned if I had seen the monsters in action.

As it turned out, Mato Grosso Del Sur was having historic flooding and the pristine rivers were opaque.  This news both tamed and terrorized me.  No snorkeling tomorrow, but it only prolonged the misery that the day after a giant anaconda would hunt me down, chose me as the smallest and weakest snorkeler, wrap me up and swallow me with only the monkeys swinging above in the rainforest as witnesses.

On the third day of death row I broke down and cried, “I just want to do something fun and not scary like horseback riding.”  My bemused G knowing when to calm the crazies and when to push me booked up a trip through the countryside and, to his great edification, I was soon trotting along with three other twelve year girls completely happy and unchallenged.

On the fourth day the rivers had subsided and we were told the news I’d dreaded and G had eagerly awaited: our guide was on the way and to pack our things.  At this point I’d dayed and nightmared all of the ways an anaconda would get me and had even branched out into fearing the caiman.  “They’re not like your alligators,” the manager of our hostel told me.  “They’re docile unless you get between them and a baby.”  Oh, great, now all of the scenarios involved me unwittingly floating in between the mommies and the babies.  I saw eyes hovering about the waterlines everywhere.

But it was go time.  ‘Let’s get it together,’ I thought, ‘and not make a scene.’  G obliged me with the pre-teen horse and toucan ride, I won’t spoil his river float.  I couldn’t think of a logical reason only fantastical ones.

On goes bikini and snorkel mask; calm, calm I tell myself.  I also mention to the guide, “Would you kindly not point out the caiman to me as I’m not sure how I would react.  He laughed, his white perfect teeth flashing against his tan skin, and when I didn’t, he agreed.

I then needed a little more prodding to actually get in the river and begin floating, luckily competition and AC/DC were on my side.  In our little tour group a couple of Brazilian women began freaking out and hyperventilating –not even from the wildlife but simply the snorkeling concept.  “Damn women!” I thought, “Why can’t they just listen to the instructor and calm down.  I’ll be brave, I’ll show them…” and then I put my head down and began humming through my snorkel, “BACK IN BLACK!!!!”  My pump-up-anthem. It worked and the adrenaline started flowing.  It actually works because if keeps the part of my brain that worries, imagines or cautions me busy with the lyrics so that the other half of my brain can be normal.  “Dun Dun dun da da da BACK IN BLACK!!!!”  I said to the meter long Pacu fish on my right, “duh duh duh dun dun dun baaaack in blllllack” I screamed at the dorado on my left.  And I was on my way.


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