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28 December 2013 / leggypeggy

Wonderful memories of Christmas in Brazil’s Pantanal

Pantanal Christmas

Colin (our second driver), Sammy (our first guide), Jane, Danny (our second guide) and Olivia

It’s taken less than 48 hours for us to polish off all the leftovers from this year’s Christmas lunch—I had the sense not over-cater. But our mini feeding frenzy reminded me of the wonderful feast we had last year in Brazil’s Pantanal.

We were staying at Pousada Santa Clara, a family-run operation that makes a big deal of Christmas and an even bigger deal of the activities they organise and the food they serve.

Piranha fishing

Rael snags a piranha. Actually she snagged many

Santa Clara is located in the southern part of Brazil’s vast wetlands known as the Pantanal. This amazing region—one of the world’s largest freshwater wetland ecosystems—has a spectacular abundance and diversity of vegetation and animal life.

It was the perfect choice for Christmas.

The original plan was to celebrate the holiday at Bonita, another Brazilian tourist area. Bonita is close to a beautiful clear water river, brimming with colourful fish. The campground is lovely (we went there later), and you can snorkel the river, but Bonita can never match the homey, Christmas-y, welcoming feel offered by Santa Clara.

Luckily, Sammy, our guide, and her fiancé and our driver, Colin (thanks to a travel handover, we ended up with two Colins), negotiated with Oasis to have Santa Clara as our Christmas destination. Brilliant!

Of course, it makes complete sense from a spelling point of view—there are only two letters of difference between Santa Clara and Santa Claus.

When we arrived at Santa Clara, we  were divided into two smaller groups for the tours and activities—much easier to shepherd a couple of smaller groups through the magic of the Pantanal.

Toucan

A Santa Clara toucan

For our group, Christmas Day started with piranha fishing, followed by a horse ride.

Yes, I managed to get Poor John on a horse—through the Pantanal bushland. We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, but the horses were calm and the ride was uneventful (much to Poor John’s relief).

So the big bonus was Santa Clara’s amazing Christmas meal and festivities.

Everyday meals were served in a large open-air dining area, but Christmas dinner was presented in their large sit-down restaurant that was big enough to accommodate the whole crowd.

The speeches (all in Portuguese) made it clear how important staff and guests are to Santa Clara. And I was especially impressed by how graciously the resort honoured its diverse staff—from cooks to guides to cleaners.

Horse-riding, Pantanal

Horse-riding in the Pantanal

Our Sammy and Colin (who donned great Chrissy costumes) handed out gifts to staff and to our Secret Santa recipients.

Must confess that I don’t have a lot of great photos from this memorable day. About noon both my cameras lens (yes, I usually carry two) conked out. It took a while to figure out that the problem was the auto focus. The manual focus worked sometimes, but was unreliable in the dim evening light. So enjoy the pics I managed to get—even if they are a bit fuzzy.

And I’ll cherish the memories of that great day. Always  glad I have a mind’s eye.

15 Comments

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  1. sowayfarer / Dec 28 2013 12:36 am

    Brazil sounds like alot of fun!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Dec 28 2013 8:43 pm

      Brazil is a great tourist destination. We made it there twice in less than a year.

      Like

  2. Sy S. / Dec 28 2013 2:16 am

    Hi Peggy, very nice that you and Poor John has a wonderful Christmas day in Brazil (2012)… and this past week another Christmas home in Australia (2013)… time flies by, marches on!

    Talking about Piranha fish, this morning on my AOL screen was a scary store about Piranha fish and people injured in Argentina; http://tinyurl.com/nnrfu3r

    Sy

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Dec 28 2013 8:10 am

      Thanks for the link, Sy. I saw that piranah fish story too. Scary!

      Like

  3. lmo58 / Dec 28 2013 10:50 am

    Hi Peggy,
    So pleased to see that you had such a wonderful Christmas Day in 2012 and that John had his horse ride. Was that his first? And thank you for the photo of the toucan; it’s beautiful

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Dec 28 2013 6:54 pm

      The toucan is a beauty. It wasn’t John’s first horse ride, but he prefers donkeys—not so far to fall. 🙂

      Like

  4. gpcox / Dec 30 2013 11:46 pm

    Looks like a lot of fun had by all. Did you ever eat the piranha?

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Dec 31 2013 7:34 am

      We sure did. Tasty, but definitely more bones than fish.

      Like

  5. The Talking Violin / Jan 1 2014 7:42 am

    Hi there, thank you so much for all the support. Happy New Year!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jan 2 2014 4:26 pm

      Happy New Year to you too. It’s been a pleasure to follow your blog.

      Like

  6. SirenaTales / Jan 1 2014 10:14 am

    Thanks for sharing your colorful adventure. Happy 2014!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jan 2 2014 4:35 pm

      My pleasure. I’ve enjoyed your blog too. Happy New Year.

      Like

  7. Kenny2dogs / Feb 11 2014 2:23 am

    I have a lady friend in Stockholm who’s father was born on the bank’s of the Amazon. A beautiful land with beautiful women, errrrm.. I mean beautiful people 🙂

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Feb 11 2014 6:38 am

      Ah, fess up. You really do mean beautiful women. Although there are a lot of handsome men too.

      Like

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