Pantanal Adventure!

tuiuiu pantanaljacares pantanalcapybara pantanalanaconda pantanalFinally, it was my turn to go to the Pantanal.  I had missed two opportunities earlier in the year due primarily to my fractured tibia and ankle bone which rendered the journey unsafe and impractical.  So wait I did, patiently while other volunteers ventured out to see the largest wetlands in the world.  Yes, my time had come and I was ready to see if the Pantanal lived up to its reputation.  And it did, offering so much more.  I must confess that it is not for the tame at heart or those who go green at long. boat journeys.

piranha 2 pantanal

But then you may consider that to be a small price to pay when compared to spotting an alligator or two, catching a piranha for dinner, discovering birds so large you may think of Pterodactylus, and if you are lucky enough you might even get to see an anaconda.  In a nutshell, that is the Pantanal´s  wild side.

family pantanalpiranha dinner pantanalkitchen pantanalpantanalBut there is more, the human element.  I was so blessed to have spent two nights with a  local farming family whose pace and quality of life inspired me anew and resonated with my contemplative side which longs for a slower pace of life, simplicity and periods of  solitude.   On arriving,  I had joked about sleeping in a ´hede´ and to my surprised at bedtime, our hosts produced a hammock so I could sleep under the most magnificent starry sky I have ever seen.  While I consider myself to be a huge fan of nature, without doubt,  the highlight, actually that should be pluralised, the highlights of my experience in the Pantanal was the time spent with the farming community – playing guitar late into the night accompanying the host on the concertina, while throwing back rounds of  local pinga and capirinhas:  sitting around the fire at 5.30 next morning sharing in the communal cup of hot herbal mate tea;  joining in and providing music at the baptismal mass celebration of six babies; receiving the sacrament of reconciliation in this Garden of Eden;  being in fellowship with several other farming families who traveled for hours to join us in the mass celebration and festa.

water lily pantanal

pilot pantanalflowering trees pantanalbird pantanalnarrow waterways pantanalwise old owl pantanalpiranha pantanal Yes I was genuinely surprised at how akin I felt during my short time in the Pantanal.   I look forward to my return.

Parishes of Sao Paulo and Santa Lucia

DSCF5172Here are some photos of our visit to two remote parishes along the Brazilian/Bolivian border.  We accompanied Padre Pascal on a 35km trek by car traveling on single track dirt roads through farm lands in the drier part of the Pantanal.

The parish of Sao Paulo (photo at right) is located on a farm and during the mass we could see cows and horses wondering by, not forgetting those pesky mosquitoes that kept us busy swatting throughout the service.

DSCF5176DSCF5173I particularly liked the Black Madonna statue and ceramic cross on the wall behind the simple altar.

These parishioners live a very simple life and some travel for miles to attend this monthly service.

DSCF5189This is the parish of Santa Lucia in the village of Borracharia.

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Silent Retreat at Instituto Vincente

DSCF4438Definitely one of the highlights of my experiences so far in Brazil.   I am grateful for the silence in such a beautiful, tranquil setting here in Campo Grande and the enormous hospitality of the Salesians in residence.

DSCF4427The retreat centre is actually located on the site of the botany and veterinary departments of the Don Bosco University but this clearly adds to the ambiance, making it ideal for gentle walks, quiet talks, prayer, reflection, contemplation and relaxation.

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The Way

DSCF4258I glorify the Lord this day as I travel from Corumbá to Campo Grande – the awe-inspiring scenery – blue skies, mountains, rivers, foliage, flora and fauna.  My heart takes a leap at the signs of Gods’ wonders.  I  am reminded that “His love endures forever”, and how everything “praises the Lord forever.”  DSCF4260

 

I thank god for the gift of awe and wonder.  It is a marvelous thing under heaven.  The red earth, a result of millions of years of creation in God’s hands, what splendour…and yet he is not finished with our gentle earth to whom he has given us stewardship over.

 

DSCF4273We too are like potters, with the earth in our hands.  We too are chosen to create a world for those who will come after us.

 

DSCF4059We are His – His children, chosen, friends, beloved.

Feliz Ano Novo a todos

DSCF3627Henri Nouwen shared that “to give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer.  It is more than a word of praise or appreciation; it is more than pointing out someone’s talents or good deeds; it is more than putting someone in the light.  To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s Belovedness.” MAY GOD BLESS YOU EACH AND EVERY DAY IN THE NEW YEAR.