Wednesday, 1 August 2007

The call of the jaguar

There is a saying in Chinese: disasters happen all at the same time. This could be said of our first day of our holiday in Brazil.

Stuart and I have not taken proper holidays for a year and half. So when opportunities arose to visit the biologist Peter Crawshaw who has been working on jaguar research for 30 years and who promised that I would see at least one wild jaguar, should I stay a minimum 10 days in the Pantanal where he has been conducting research, I took the offer! I tried in vain to see any jaguars in Belize 5 years ago, not even in the famous Cockscomb National Park where there reputed to be 800 jaguars. In fact the only animals I saw there were howller monkeys, a couple of poisonous snakes and leave-cutters!

It took Peter considerable time to plan our trip, especially since Stuart, concerned about work, was not sure if he could make it, and if he could make it for all of the time, etc. As Peter planned to take us on a boat trip to unchartered areas for extended period to increase the chances of sighting jaguars, where the Joe public is not allowed to go without special permissions, we needed to coordinate our schedules carefully. We were all very happy when Stuart finally decided not to miss this rare opportunity and would join me from the start and cut end of the trip in Argentina short, since it meant that Peter would have less of a headache trying to co-ordinate different schedules. But we were wrong!

When Stuart realized that the days he cut short at the end of the trip were actually weekend days, we tried to make the changes at the Heathrow airport. But that was not to be since I had bought non changeable and non-refundable tickets.