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Mrs. Struckman’s Trip Across the Globe 

With a population of about one fifth the size of San Francisco, Pantanal, Brazil is by no means the typical vacation spot for a Monterey resident on their summer break. However, for two weeks, our very own Catalina adventurer, Mrs. Struckman and her husband ventured out to explore one of the most beautiful places in the world. The two stayed at a small working ranch where they were able to see not only the native peoples make a living off of cattle ranching and the fruits of the trees, but they also were able to explore one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World. I had the privilege of interviewing Mrs. Struckman during the start of year about her amazing summer exploring not only Brazil, but also Madagascar, and everything these trips entailed.

Never having been to either place before, the questions that had to be asked first were simply, “What did you think?” and “What surprised you about this trip?”. Quick to reply, Mrs. Struckman described how full of life the area was and how “phenomenal” and “incredibly diverse” the land actually was. To follow up and hopefully gain more insight on this awe-inspiring trip, the next question that had to be framed was, “What was your favorite thing to see/do?”. While it can be a real struggle to pick favorites, the choice for Mrs. Struckman was not difficult. Iguazu Falls — one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World — could not be beaten in terms of pure wonder. As Mrs. Struckman went on to show me pictures of the magnificent falls that they had hiked up to see, she also showed me some of the beautiful pictures of the native birds and animals that they had gotten to see on their trip. Thanks to floods during Brazil’s rainy season (typically heavier from December to May), Brazil’s ecosystems are diverse and attract a variety of animals in its dense jungles. Since the trails go out only so far in these natural jungles, Mrs. Struckman talked about how they split their hiking periods into two days, which provided them plenty of opportunities to observe the wildlife that called Brazil its home. Some native animals that the couple was able to see in person was a jaguar, a green-headed tanager, a black-collared hawk, a capuchin monkey, and even caiman (some with their babies taking a ride on their back!). Along with the rest of her group, Mrs. Struckman was able to see some of these animals come down for water or even a small snack along the river banks (considered a prime photo spot for those who adventure there). Other, more dangerous animals were viewed from boats that offered a much larger view of the expanse and wonder of Brazil’s majestic habitats and inhabitants.

I was surprised and delighted to find the answer to my next question, “What were you most excited about taking pictures/videos of?” while looking through Mrs. Struckman’s album made to document their journey. The first answer consisted of three simple words: the giant otters. While Mrs. Struckman described the otters as traveling in groups of five to ten, she also talked about how the otters were “super fun to watch” and that they were very playful. However, what the pictures actually illustrated was just how large these giant otters are; a fully grown adult can grow to be about two metres long. Thankfully they were not looking for a fight.

Lastly, I asked Mrs. Struckman,“What did you like most about this trip?”, bringing the conversation full circle. Mrs. Struckman eagerly replied that what interested her the most was “how much variety there was” and how amazing it was to really see the entirety of the area around them. Mrs. Struckman showed her gratitude toward the opportunities she had to hike and travel in the river by boat. Crossing off another item on her bucket list, Mrs. Struckman’s journey allowed her to explore another corner of the world and to take one more step toward seeing and fully appreciating the beauty of the world we live in. She, once again, provides a chance to get a peek of how precious nature and its inhabitants truly are.