Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brazil '08, Day 7 to 10 - Santa Catarina

The rest of our trip was a little less eventful, less exciting and possibly unnecessary, so I will just recount it in one post.

Nov. 11th - The day we had to decide if we should go on with our planned track to Santa Catarina or return to Husband's hometown. Husband was sick by this point but we thought we'd come this far, might as well keep going. The motivation for going to Santa Catarina was to visit the German settlements of Blumenau and maybe Pomerode, famous for retaining their Germanic architecture and even language. We decided to go to Blumenau and check it out. The phone at the pousada wasn't working so we couldn't call for a cab. Instead we waded out in the rain with our bags and waited for a passing bus (this time in the right place) which took us to Morretes. The mood was not the best, what with a lame ass lunch in Curitiba and the long bus ride (total travel time 7 hours). Once in Blumenau we hoped to be inspired with what to do and where to stay, but we weren't. There was a bus to Pomerode at 8pm but we didn't know what to do there either. We picked the Hotel Gloria from the Lonely Planet guide due to its proximity to the center and took a taxi there. The taxi driver told us that it had been raining for four months now, but that he was hopeful that it would stop soon. The hotel was lame, the food dreadful, the rain never-ending and the mood black.

Nov. 12th - Once again we had a decision to make, and once again we thought that turning back would be a shame (though far less optimistically then yesterday). We thought we could take a day trip to Pomerode but the buses were not cooperating. There was excitement as we found out about a cool farm called Hotel Fazenda Mundo Antigo, which has been converted into a hotel, but the roads to it were flooded and impassable. Eventually we did have a stroke of luck - Max Pousada in downtown Pomerode had a room and told us about a metropolitano bus that left from a bus stop just down the road from Hotel Gloria and went straight to Pomerode. Here are some parting shots of Blumenau and of the crazy breakfast which consisted almost entirely of CAKE! While on the bus we saw roads so flooded that kids were swimming in the water (personally, I find this gross and unhygienic, but whatever...)

We thought food in Blumenau was bad, but it seems that over-salted dishes and cake with EVERY MEAL is just a Santa Catarina specialty. Since it was raining we couldn't go to the more interesting historic street where a lot of the original settlement still stands, so we went to the Museuo Pomerode, where a delightful guy gave us a tour in excellent self-taught English. The town began with the Weege industry of fabric dye and in later years, tools. Some of the original buildings were destroyed in a freak refrigerator explosion. The town still used carriages in the 1950s. The name Pomerode comes from a German term for pulling up tree roots, which is something the early settlers had to do a lot of. Unfortunately they were spraying for termites during our tour so I ended up with a mad headache, which Husband had little patience for. Undeterred we next visited the museum of a local sculptor, Teichmann, who used to carve wood (also self taught) and was apparently a bastard (according to his son, who runs the museum). With some time left to kill we didn't know what else to do so after having some hot cocoa and cake (what else???) we just hunkered down for the night. Seems like a lame way to end the trip.

Nov. 13th - A day best described as an endless bus ride. After having the usual cake breakfast (I can't look at cake anymore!!!) we headed for the bus station to catch the 11:15am bus to Curitiba (which was late). Arriving in Curitiba at 3:30pm we thought we'd have some time to eat lunch but there was a bus to Sao Paulo leaving at 4pm and so we decided to take that instead. The country side around Curitiba, which we had missed last time due to traveling in the dark, was both beautiful and sad. Signs of endless logging and a damned river were a real eyesore.

One of the good things about the long bus rides in Brazil are the 30 min stops they take in rest area restaurants, which are often very delicious. At 10pm we were in Sao Paulo, tired and unsteady on our feet (that's ~11 hours of bus ride so far!), and by 11pm we were on the bus to Husband's home town, which took another 5 hours to get us home.

Later - After some more time spent in Brazil we finally returned home. Husband was very sad to have to leave, and I can't say I was too excited myself. Nothing to look forward to but a dreary winter. Overall I thought this trip to Brazil was very nice, because we both got to see some sides of the country we had never seen before. For me, anyway, it was still very much a tourist's perspective though, and I must remember that. The trip back was pretty smooth until we got to the States, at which point all kinds of nonsense ensued: customs wouldn't let Husband through until cleared by the FBI (happens every time), the train ate $14 and still wouldn't give us a ticket, the subway was packed and we had to stand, with our backpacks, for the entire hour it took to get to the bus station, the bus driver popped in "the Incredible Hulk" for everyone to watch but Husbands headphones wouldn't work and mine only played in Portuguese and people complained about the movie being on in the first place so he shut it off entirely and at our next bus stop refused to let people off the bus, which caused a stir. But our kitty was home when we got in, so I guess everything will be ok again some day.

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