July 14, 2022 - Chapter Four in the Brazil/Argentina Saga
Somehow, despite having prepared for this trip for four years, I hadn't realized that we'd be in the Amazon! Inadequate geographic knowledge of South America contributed to this, of course. The northern edge of Mato Grosso state includes the southern edge of the Amazon habitat - not the Amazon river per se, but one in the vast system of tributaries that one would expect from such a river.
When we awoke for our last morning at Pousada do Parque, we prepared for the drive back to Cuiabá. We drove out slowly, seeing some fine birds. But Rich, of course, had an even more stupendous surprise for us. We drove out to a wonderful canyon for a special bird that fly-catches from the walls: the Cliff Flycatcher (Hirundinea ferruginea). Reminded me of our Say's Phoebe, but with an eye to situating itself in gorgeous scenery (pun intended).
Top Row - The Moon on July 14th; Sunrise at Pousada do Parque
Second Row - A gorgeous moth at Pousada do Parque; the Cliff Flycatcher
Third Row - Another angle on the Cliff Flycatcher; the Cliff itself
Bottom Row - the Cliff at a greater distance; the road and the sun
Next I turned my attention to Cuiabá's cityscape and airport. The little glimpses of culture are revealing, and I am a life-long fan of airports and airplanes. I am not a grumpy traveler, even with the increasing inconveniences in air travel. The whole thing - the plane itself, the thrill of take-off, the ability to see the earth from above, the arrival to somewhere different - all of it delights me as it would a child. Naivete, you might think, but really I think it is proper appreciation for this everyday miracle that human cooperation has made possible. Think of what Debussy said: “The century of aeroplanes deserves its own music. As there are no precedents, I must create anew.”
Left. An architecturally interesting Catholic church in Cuiabá.
Center. A boosterish advertisement for a city in central Mato Grosso.
Right. Problems with the apostrophe are, apparently, universal. Likewise, pizza appears to be universally loved!
The Cuiabá airport had many emporia for Pão de Queijo. Our plane ride was from Cuiabá (CGB) to Alta Floresta (AFL).
On take-off I got to see the Cuiabá River from above. Did I mention that I actually like flying? I really do!
Our destination, Alta Floresta, in the far north of Mato Grosso state, receives one (1) commercial flight per day. Ours. It totally charmed me. It was about the size of a garage that does auto repairs. We flew on Azul Airlines, which was founded by the same guy who led JetBlue. Their logo - a highly stylized map of the Brazilian states - is cool.
The city of Alta Floresta is younger than I am - it was founded in 1976 when there was a gold rush in the area. We didn't really spend anytime in the city, and it didn't seem particularly large. Instead, we boarded a tour van and headed for the river. It was here that I met my best Brazilian language teacher and pal, Lucas. He worked for the Cristalino Lodge where we were headed, but he stayed in town. Lucas is just shy of twenty years old, and has been learning English (sometimes on his own) for many years. He enjoyed asking us esoteric questions about English usage, and he encouraged me to keep on speaking. We laughed and howled (probably disturbing everyone on the bus, but hey, belly laughing while learning and making a new friend is THE way to live!).
Lucas sends us off to Cristalino Lodge
Lucas enjoying a scope view. Davi is behind him, and Rich partially blocked by the scope.
Lucas, me, and Peggy on the bus! July 14, 2022
Cristalino Lodge can only be reached by boat. For much of the next few days, the river would be our birding road, our way to reach new trails, and the best option for adventure. It was also stunningly beautiful.
As nighttime fell, we arrived at Cristalino. Rich had told us that this was one of his favorite places in the world, and it became obvious why over the next few days. As we disembarked, I noticed that there was a perpetual bug lamp lit! "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" That night I spent a few minutes there with Rich (who also gave me a good preset on my camera to take pictures of the insects). From top left clockwise a Lichen moth (Barsinella sp.), Giant Cicada (Quesada gigas), a Broad-headed Tree Frog (Osteocephalus sp), and a Wandering Spider (Ctenidae family)