My second day at the farm we are going hunting, my boyfriend tells me.
Everyone comes along; the whole family of Vinicius, Brasinha and his son, my boyfriend, me and Thiago. I jump up on the back of the white pickup truck and we drive off into the plains of Pantanal. I make sure to duck my head as we go off road and drive through shrubs, tall grass, and trees. We are on the watch for a pack of wild boars and as I do my best to hold on to the side of the pickup, I see the reflection in the side mirror of Vinicius' father Alberto holding the rifle with Brasinha's toddler on his lap.
I've never gone hunting before.
The closest I've come to tracking down animals was a couple of months ago in Pantanal, but with a very different aim. I was on the lookout for jaguars with a pro-conservationist nature photographer, a documentary film maker, two Brazilian travel agents, and a professional guide fluent in English at a luxury lodge. Then I was leaning back in a comfortable leather seat in a brand-new yellow Hyundai vehicle with black dots. With a tracking device we tried to locate the felines, marked with collars for conservation purposes, on the 53 000-hectare cattle farm catering to tourists.
Now I'm in a pickup truck with eight Brazilians, no one speaking English, and a rifle. I'm far from that world of organized, well-run itineraries with professional guides, air-conditioned lodges, and land that is used to protect local wildlife.
All of a sudden we see them. Small brown dots in the green grass by the lake, 300 meters away. Brasinha makes a sharp right turn into the tall grass. We are driving straight towards the pack of twenty feral pigs of various sizes. We stop about 200 yards away and Brasinha takes the rifle from Vinicius's father.
"POW!" I watch the packs immediately disperse at the sound of the shot and when they're gone we drive up to the shuddering body of an animal dying.
"Take this," my boyfriend says and hands me the rifle as he and Brasinha grab the bleeding boar by its feet and lift her onto the back of the truck. I look down at my t-shirt and its green logo of Brazil and then at the rifle I'm holding in my hands. My boyfriend looks at me and can't help but laughing. "Look at you know, with a rifle."
As we are driving back to the farm I'm getting hungry. I think of the nicely presented food at the former lodge: the cutlets of river fish, the sliced fruit, and the salads that were served to me then after we returned from a day in the wild. I wonder what's for dinner tonight. I look at the bleeding wild boar that I am sharing the back of the truck with and which I'm soon going to see cut wide open outside the farm house, hanging from a hook half skinned and with its blood dripping down on the floor. One thing is for sure. Dinner is going to be nothing like what I had in that other part of the Pantanal.
While dividing her time between London, Argentina and Sweden, Madelaine Triebe works as a freelance travel journalist. She has a passion for horses, Patagonia, and wild places. She is a contributing author to The Rough Guide to South America on a Budget and The Rough Guide to Argentina. She is also the author of The Rough Guide to Brazil. Follow her on Twitter (@mymaddytravel) or read more on her blog: mymaddytravel.com.
Wining, Dining, and Cattle Driving in Uruguay - Claudia B. Flisi
Reliving an Abandoned Town on the Patagonian Coast - Madelaine Triebe
Humble in the Jungle: Exploring Guyana's Rainforest - Laurie Gough
Chasing Butterflies Through Time - Luke Maguire Armstrong
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