The boat slowly approached two mating anacondas. The boys quickly and as silently as possible threw on their gear. One by one they slid off the boat and into the water. The snakes, aware of their presence, broke off their courtship and swam in different directions. The boys chose the biggest of the pair to follow, an 18 foot long beauty. They filmed and photographed the snake as it silently swam away from them. The encounter was brief but everything we all had hoped it would be. This moment was exactly what I had been dreaming about since I first learned that it was possible to swim with anacondas in Brazil. A dream come true! This was also just the first encounter of a perfect week of diving... Sadly, I was NOT there for any of it!
September 22 - San Fransisco International Airport. I arrived at the airport late for my flight. I screwed up on my departure time, so a nice final breakfast with Maritza, Sophia and our buddy Larisa, turned into a mad race towards the airport in an effort of getting me on my flight for Brazil. I made it with seconds to spare. HOWEVER, when I was checking in for my flight, the airline attendant asked me for my travel visa... My heart sank. My eye's wide with fear, I responded, "What do you mean travel visa?" She then told me that for americans to fly to Brazil, a travel visa was required. I told her I didn't have one. She looked at me, handed back my passport and said, "Sorry, you are NOT going to Brazil today."
I was stunned. I have never needed a tourist visa for any of the countries I have visited in the past, so that caught me completely off guard. I started scrambling, trying to see if I could get one in a hurry. It turns out, that I needed to get it through the Brazilian Consulate. However, they wouldn't be able to get it until Monday, because they are closed over the weekend, ( today was Friday ). That meant I wouldn't get it in my hands until Tuesday. Which meant I couldn't fly till Wednesday, and I wouldn't get to my group until Friday. Which was the final day of the trip.
I.. freaking.. screwed.. up.. badly! I sat down, head in my hands, just devastated. I missed the window for my trip, I disappointed our friends who joined us. This trip was one that I had been dreaming about for a very long time. I was gutted.
Thankfully, my good friend Jorge Cervera Hauser, who was joining us on this trip picked up the reins and led the group. The week would of been so much harder without his help. And I am happy to report that the Brazil trip was a smashing success. They had 3 days with an 18 foot anaconda, mating anacondas, jaguars, caiman, river otters, families of capybaras. Just everything we had hoped the trip would be. Of course, I wasn’t there to see it this season, but that is the price I paid for my American vanity and stupidity. Everyday, the boys updated me with the trip and how it was going. I received image after image, of an epic wildlife adventure. I was extremely excited for them and so damn happy that the trip was a huge success. But I was also dying inside, wanting desperately to be there with them, to experience it all. For that, I will forever regret.
The trip ended and everyone one went safely home. I was ever grateful that the boys had the adventure of a lifetime. The images I am sharing from the trip are all Jorge's pics… and they are all just stunning! We are of course planning our trip for next season already and I can say this with confidence, I won’t make that same epic mistake next season... and I WILL be there for all of it!