We leave Dourados unimpressed and continue through the landscape of cattle farms and soybean and corn fields. As always, we make a stop along the way to cook for Leon and us. We can’t find anything better than parking in front of an electronics store. While we are cleaning up our last instant noodles in the shadow of the building, an employee of the shop comes out of the shop and approaches us. I’m already preparing that we’ll drive away the customers with our ratty looks and that he wants to scare us away. But that’s not the case. He invites us to a barbecue!
A fundraiser is taking place in the store and a lot of effort has been put into decorating and preparing meat, beer and cassava for your own rodizio. The only thing missing are interested customers. There are ten employees in the store, but hardly a customer shows up. We fill our bellies, chat with the staff and, of course, take selfies. We are from Germany? Oh oh oh, 7:1… Still surprised and with full bellies we continue our journey.
In one day we reach the city of Campo Grande. The city is much bigger and prettier than Dourados. Here, too, our accommodation is in a closed community with gate and guard, again nobody told us anything about it in advance and again we have to wait. At least not that long and the time is entertaining, because we see a couple of huge blue macaws playing tricks in a palm tree not far from us.
Then an old but very funny man, who is particularly enthusiastic about Leon, lets us drive him to the commune and, like a really slow-witted idiot, explains to me how to use the transmitter to open the gate automatically.
Then he shows us the accommodation, explains the transmitter for the gate again, tells us where we can park, lets us drive him to the gate, explains to me again how to open it, and is irritated when we drive out of the gate to get to the nearest supermarket. He tells us how best to turn back, how to get through the gate and find the accommodation. I get the impression he thinks we’re very stupid little monkeys. Sara falls out of the back seat laughing and clutching her stomach in pain.
The city looks clean and tidy. It is large and is considered the civilized gateway to the Pantanal. So we’ve arrived. If there weren’t cattle ranches and corn fields all around the city, you could almost believe it. After all, the large park offers an impression of the exotic. In the Parque das Nações Indígenas there are not only coconuts to drink at every corner. We see capybaras at the lake, which run around freely and even have offspring. Again and again we see a small group. They seem to be different families.
And we also get to see various water birds, as well as a large group of blue macaws and an owl, which positions itself on a low branch in the middle of the day and without hesitation. This is an impressive spectacle of wildlife right in the middle of the city.
In the middle of the lake, a small island was depicted with an indigenous inhabitant on horseback hunting with a spear. Which people that should have been is a mystery to me. It’s Sunday and a lot of people are having a picnic in the park. Families, muscular men, groups of women. Interesting compilations.
It’s midday, we’re hungry and we have something to celebrate today. Not far away we find a restaurant that looks good and offers typical Brazilian grilled food. It also seems good because there is a long line waiting at the entrance. At least we can have Leon’s dinner reheated and I can have free liquor on the house. And we don’t get bored because we can admire people’s fashion, which is impressive. The men wear fine shirts and even suits. The women wear chic dresses and show a lot of skin. Families and couples seem to be gathering today.
From a woman in a chic white dress, who is also waiting with her family and who appears to be the only one who speaks English, we learn that going out in luxury on Sundays is a Brazilian tradition.
That will be confirmed in the coming weeks. We suddenly feel very shabby in our clothes.
Finally we get a table and can watch the master directly preparing the Rodizio. The restaurant is expensive but very good. Again and again the woman in the beautiful white dress comes to us and helps us to communicate with the staff, although she is only a guest herself. The other employees also try very hard with us.
I use the time in Campo Grande to determine why we are currently not getting any water in the car’s kitchen. I find a loose contact in the electrical system, but the water tank also seems to be empty, although we have just freshened up the water. Strange. Then there is still a failure of the freezer, which can be traced back to the weak power supply. You have to select an extra program in the menu for the device to work properly again.
After a few days we leave Campo Grande again. We make a detour north because I’ve read reports of a road where you can see a lot of anteaters. We want to see that. The first stop is called Rio Verde de Mato Grosso and from there a track leads south through no man’s land to Aquidauana.