I’ve been working at a really cool cattle ranch and ecolodge in the Brazilian Pantanal.
It’s so hard to sum up the experience I’ve been having here so I revert to lists of cool new things. Also, the list of vocabulary words I’ve learned in Portuguese that I update every night is a pretty good way of seeing what I do.
– cattle drive
– getting chased by water buffalo
– wrangling a stray cow
– seen the flood waters come in and the landscape and animal behaviors completely change
– ridden a swimming horse through a deep river.
– the men here wear large knives or small machetes (depending on how you look at it) on their belts to use when riding through palm tree forests. It’s a good way to trim branches in the way.
– there are SEVEN components to the saddles here instead of the 3 I’m used to. I’ve finally learned how to secure everything though.
– long sleeved pants and shirts are a must because of the mosquitoes.
– At the farm we wake up at 4 am, drink coffee, milk cows, eat a breakfast of rice and meat and more coffee.
– Lunch and dinner at the farm is always rice and beans and meat. I’m not sure how I’m going to get enough fiber in my diet to poop these days but maybe oranges?
– I cut open a green coconut with a machete yesterday and drank from it.
– Instead of store bought leather conditioner, they use sheep fat and dry the saddles in the sun.
– All the meat, milk and cheese we have here are from the farm, and Dona Ana in the kitchen bakes fresh bread every day.
– A young bull was acting up when they were milking the cows so they litterally lassoed him, castrated him on the spot and fed his balls to the dogs. Not a good way to start a Friday morning if you ask me.
fica a vontade: be welcome, or make yourself at home
esquecer: to forget
tomara que sim: I hope so
aprender na marra: to learn by necessity
afundar: to sink
quebrar: to break
esfragar: to scrub
geito: personality, way of being.
estrela cadente: shooting star
adivinha: to guess
nao estou com presa: I’m not in a hurry
que e meu e seu: what is mine is yours
I’ve really enjoyed my experience here, because I’m not getting the typical “tourist” experience or any special treatment. I live in the wooden houses with the rest of the staff, who are all Brazilian. I have to learn Portuguese, there are no guides here to translate everything for me and only a couple people on the farm speak it, though only a little. I eat with everyone else, so (for better or worse, no vegetables) I see what normal people eat here, not the fancier food that goes out to the guests.
The owners have been so welcoming. I work here, but you can tell that they also want me to enjoy my experience here and see as much as I can. You can also tell that they really love and care about the area. I got their email a couple weeks after I got rid of most of my clothes, so Olivia (one of the owners) has gracefully let me borrow a pair of her jeans, a couple pairs of socks, riding boots, a bunch of shirts.
If you want to see pictures, here is the link