In September of 2001, I was privileged to accompany Dr.
Wilmer J. Miller
and his wife Lotus to Brazil. The Millers had been there several times
before and are indisputable experts on the country and its plants and
wildlife, especially birds. The fact that they are both knowledgeable in
Portuguese, the language of Brazil, was invaluable to our incredible
adventure. Actually, incredible barely describes our trip
Let's back up for a second.
I met Dr. Miller at Iowa State University when I attended his Genetics
class in 1988 and later worked with him in his animal blood typing lab
the University. In addition to being a well known Classical
Immunogeneticist, Dr. Miller is the world's greatest authority on the
genetics of the Ringneck dove and arguably the greatest contributor to
the understanding and husbandry of this species in captivity. My
background with poultry and other birds, combined with my interest in
genetics made us a perfect match, and I am honored to say we have been
friends since we met.
I met Lotus Miller on my first visit to their home in Ames, Iowa. For
it was love at first sight. Lotus is not only incredibly vivacious, but
the most knowledgeable person I have ever had the privilege of meeting.
Her background and education in Ecology and Ornithology is impressive
alone, but coupled with her interest in and knowledge of EVERYTHING
else, she could be a real threat to any Jeopardy contestant. Lotus is
Earth, and a lot of fun. I have enjoyed our exchanges and teasing for
16 years now. What a great lady.
In summation I cannot say enough good about the Millers. They were my
surrogate family while I was at college, and continue to be now. Too
times, when traveling with friends, difficulties arise that taint the
relationship. In this case, I think our Brazilian adventure only made us
closer. But that's enough mush for anyone.
On to the good stuff...
The planning of the trip involved a lot of research and changes to
the standard tourist itinerary that the average travel agent just
quite grasp. We wanted to experience Brazil in its most natural state.
There would be no beaches in Rio for this group. We were headed for the
Pantanal and an Amazonian experience of a lifetime. Millers also wanted
make sure that I saw the city where they made their home during their
previous 2 year stay in Brazil, Belo Horizante (Beautiful Horizon). We
wound our trip down in and around this Brazilian city, perhaps 300 miles
north of Rio de Janeiro, and it made our transition back to civilization complete.
In general, I mainly would like the pictures and captions on this
tell the story as you travel with us through the 3 legs of our trip: The
Chapada and Northern Pantanal, The Amazon, and Belo Horizonte.
Hold on and enjoy the ride. There are Jacare (Caiman), Anacondas, Giant
Otters, Tapirs, 200 foot tall rainforest trees, Hyacinthine Macaws,
Toucans, Vampire Bats, and a whole lot of fun ahead!