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posted Jul 30, 2010, 6:02 AM by Julie Bateman   [ updated Jul 30, 2010, 6:52 AM ]

With our good fortune with all things mechanical, Fiao’s tractor’s wheel bit the dust. And tractor wheel replacements are only in Cuiaba (four hours away from his ranch), and so early this morning Fiao was on his way.

Ethan and I commenced the non-tractor phase and headed to the swamp to meet the lumberjacks and collect our wood. Jico and his team are early-risers and so once we hit the swamp area, we exchanged catcalls with them to figure out where to cross, and then ventured into the brush. Everything starts to look a bit like a snake when you are wading in water. We made it across with no problems, and Jico showed us to our lumber, and then with his team kindly helped us drag the lumber to the side of the swamp. On first site of the two lumber locations, Ethan and I estimated that we would be occupied with dragging lumber for two hours, but with the sudden help of the three lumberjacks all of our lumber was out in just twenty minutes. And they didn’t stop there, but then jumped in waist-high with us and helped us drag the lumber to the other side of the swamp – surprisingly close to our work-site if there wasn’t another giant swamp/wetland patch in between. Jico then led us into the forest to show us the next location for lumber that they would be cutting this afternoon, they had found a very straight, very tall tree that would soon be forty skinny roof beams. Not thinking that they would approve, Ethan asked if we could stay and watch them fell the tree, they not only agreed but then with no hesitation started the chainsaw. As Jico was supervising the felling, he kept us close to him and I prepared for a giant crash and I won’t lie was disappointed as I forgot about all the other brush in the forest that acted as a landing pad for our tree – still spectacular though and a loud enough crash to be satisfying.

On-site, bathroom walls and bond beam formwork are steadily progressing. Our carpenters are coming to site tomorrow, and as they are frequently on the move and without reception we have no way of letting them know that there is no bond beam for them to rest the first roof beams on top.  Fortunately, this is Brazil. And chances are that they will completely understand that rarely anything goes according to schedule in the Pantanal.

 One exception though to scheduling in the Pantanal is Jico and his crew of lumberjacks. We realized late afternoon that it would be better to pour concrete for the bond beam all at once, and therefore realized that we’d need ten more pieces of formwork. So we were fretting and fretting (as a shipment from Pocone is at least four days from when it is placed, and we need the bond beam poured on Saturday morning latest), and suddenly remembered Jico and his great crew. Fortunately, they were still at the Lodge having dinner and in just two minutes we had an order placed for formwork and a delivery date of tomorrow after lunch.