Posting has been light in recent weeks thanks to a two-week sojourn in Brazil and a week recovering therefrom.
I mostly turned off my inner economist to get in touch with my inner Darwin. So I have only a handful of economic observations:
- After arriving in Rio, the car that picked us up was made in China, fueled by ethanol, and just as nice as a Subaru.
- The weakness of the dollar vs. the real was noticeable.
- Economic growth often poses environmental challenges. That’s certainly true in Brazil. But we also encountered repeated stories of how economic growth and conservation can be complements. Jaguars, for example, can be worth more alive than dead thanks to ecotourism. And the ease of getting jobs in the formal sector has reduced hunting pressure in some areas, sparking a virtuous cycle: more deer and more jaguars.
Like many first-timers, we visited Rio, Sao Paulo (briefly), and Iguacu Falls. But the highlight was three full days in the Pantanal.
To which you might ask, “the Panta-what?”
The Pantanal. It’s one of the world’s largest wetlands, home to jaguars, giant anteaters, innumerable birds, and the world’s densest concentration of crocodilians (the Yacare Caimans pictured above).
If you are into wildlife, the Pantanal is way more fun than the Amazon. Why? Because it’s easy to see critters when savannah mixes with small forests. In the Amazon, in contrast, many of the best birds and mammals are up in the tree canopy, 100+ feet above your head. In three days in the southern Pantanal, we saw 22 species of mammals and close to 150 species of birds (including Toco Toucans), many more than on a comparable trip to the Amazon.
For those into such things, my wife and I have a travel blog here and posted photos here. No jaguar photos, though. We heard them call at night and saw their tracks. But we didn’t see any (we did see an Ocelot). Clearly we will have to go back.