A Travellerspoint blog

February 2016

Out on the town with Ricardo again

Ricardo woke up really early in the morning and I couldn't get back to sleep, so we just left for our adventure of the day. We went to see his German dancing friends having a breakfast together. Then, we went to buy some Asian pears from a Japanese buddhist temple.

After all the errands were done, we went to Opera de Arames, a theatre built out of pipes and wires. It was pretty nice.

From there, we drove over to Park Tangui, where we had some popcorn and walked around until we found the Ukranian memorial, a reproduction of a historical church with exhibits of pysanky.

The last two stops on my agenda were to go to Santa Felicidade, the Italian part of town and Torre Panoramico. In between those two places, we danced with Ricardo's German folk dance group.

In Santa Felicidade, I told Ricardo to choose a place, because I had no idea what would be good, it just had to be Italian. I was laughing my face off because there were so many cheesy things, like a statue of a huge bottle of wine and giant angels, right in the middle of the street. It was amazing. Ricardo said "Oh it's not like Italy?" No, not at all, honey.

While the ambience was quite different, the food was amazing. We stopped in at a buffet type place, where they came around to your table with various delicious things. I bought a bottle of wine that was way too big, and couldn't even drink it all.

Ricardo had dance practice so I joined in on a few dances, they really had a lot of fun doing that for hours at a time, it was infectious. I can't believe I forgot how to polka after all those years.

We still weren't tired, so we went to Torre Panoramico at the top of the communications tower at the top of the tallest hill in Curitiba. Ricardo slept in the car while I looked around at the top.

Then, we came home and I fell right asleep. I didn't wake up until 5:30 a.m., 11 hours after I went to bed. Phew.

Opera de arame

Opera de arame


Opera de arame

Opera de arame


Opera de arame

Opera de arame


Ukrainian memorial

Ukrainian memorial


Ukrainian memorial

Ukrainian memorial


Ukrainian memorial

Ukrainian memorial


Ukrainian memorial

Ukrainian memorial


Tingui park

Tingui park


Italian food in Santa Felicidade

Italian food in Santa Felicidade


Torre

Torre


Torre Panoramica

Torre Panoramica


Torre Panoramica

Torre Panoramica


Cheesy statues in Santa Felicidade

Cheesy statues in Santa Felicidade

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Macumba and a gay bar

Ricardo met me at the bus station again and we headed straight to the Macumba church. They were having a gathering to communicate with spirits via special medium people. It didn't cost anything, so Ricardo said I should ask one of them a question.

A woman came over with a clipboard and told me I could talk with a certain balding bearded man, sitting crosslegged on the ground, comforting a visibly distraught woman. He was all dressed in white and he wore all sorts of imitation gold jewelry. At least seven giant rings with huge plastic stones were on his fingers, and at least three gold necklaces with huge links reached his belly.

He sipped from a glass of red wine and spread a white cloth in front of him, scattered with coins and trinkets. I remember one of them was a metal bicycle keychain, I don't know what all these things signified but it made him seem more legitimate. A woman placed a small wooden stool in front of me and I sat down on it, hovering above the him. The woman was also all in white, with a red sash slung around her hips. She would be my interpreter.

The man looked at me with impatience, and I suddenly wanted to turn around and go home, feeling like an imposter. I didn't have any faith in spirits, there was no reason for me to be there except to observe. I didn't think I should get involved. I told the interpreter that I didn't have any problems, just that I felt directionless. I was pretty sure that the man had sensed my lack of commitment to his faith, and he almost rolled his eyes as he listened to the woman in white tell him what I said.

He answered that he couldn't tell me my mission, because it's everyone's mission to find their own mission. He wanted to know about my job and hobbies, so I told him. He said I should become more religious, and write about my travels more. OK thanks for the insight. I was hoping for something a little more detailed, but I wondered if I would've even listened if he did have something specific to say.

The man angrily thrust a small white candle into my hand and told me to light it at the feet of the statue of Jesus outside. I was meant to pray and ask Jesus my question, instead of him. NOW! GO NOW! he snapped.

He abruptly changed his soft demeanour and I became a little frightened, put my sandals back on and scurried out the door. I was accompanied by another woman in white outside, where they watched me place the candle on the shrine. It would have been nice to have a minute to think about my question, but it wasn't going to happen.

Ricardo went out for a smoke and I chatted with a shaman woman who was overly excited to meet me. When Ricardo came back, we watched the mediums bless an antique wagon wheel. They adorned it with colourful ribbons and danced around it, casting positive energy its way. The owner of the wheel would proudly display it in their home and hope that it would bring them good luck.

From there, we went to a crazy gay bar, where I ordered the most expensive drink on the menu. It was 30 reals ($10). I thought it would be like a long island iced tea, but I ended up getting some sort of crazy giant drink that the bartender tried to make me down all in one go right in front of him. I got angry and said that I wasn't a child and didn't do this anymore. I told him I didn't know what sort of drink I was ordering, and he should let me just drink my crappy drink in peace. He finally let me, but it took a long time.

I let Ricardo fraternize with his people while I stayed out in the smoking area practicing my Portuguese. A woman I introduced myself to got a little friendly and I had to tell her "no gosto meninas", she left pretty fast. Then, I started talking to the young gay guys and they were quite friendly. A really creepy drunk one that looked like Justin Bieber came over at almost the same moment Ricardo did. Ricardo tried to kiss him without even introducing himself at all, but he got rejected, and then we left.

Macumba group

Macumba group


The macumba shrines

The macumba shrines

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Banana pancakes and the rainforest

In the morning, I washed all the dishes while Ricardo was out, and when he got back he made me banana pancakes.

I mentioned that I would go to the Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente before going back home and Ricardo offered to drive us both there. This place is a small rainforest park that was founded by Jacques Cousteau. It was an old quarry that had grown back into a nice humid jungle. They put some wooden walkways in, a couple of classrooms and bam, outdoor education centre. There were also lots of people taking wedding pictures, and even one family taking pregnancy pictures. Eek.

We walked back to the car and got lost, wandering around quiet suburban streets and getting chased by angry dogs.

When we finally found the car, Ricardo dropped me off at the bus station and I attempted to buy a ticket for the 12:30 bus back to Ponta Grossa. Even though there was still five minutes until the bus left, the ticket man wouldn't sell it to me. This is not China, where they would sell the ticket up to the minute and yell at you to "GO GO GO!" to the bus platform. Not in Brazil folks. I'm sure not in China anymore.

In Brazil, if there is five minutes until the bus leaves, you have to get on the next one, which is coming in an hour and half. There is no running for any bus, ever.

Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente

Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente


Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente

Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente


Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente

Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente


Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente

Universidade Livre do Meio Ambiente

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Hitting the town with Ricardo

The secretary at work told me the first bus would leave at 5:25 a.m. I thought that would be great, because I'd get to Curitiba by 8 a.m. and have a full day for exploring ahead of me.

So, I woke up at 4 a.m., ready to go back to sleep on the bus. I sauntered on down to the bus terminal and what do you know, everything was closed and there was no bus in sight. I looked at the bus schedule again just to make sure, and there it was, the first bus was leaving at 7:30. Oh...my...god...

I went back home and slept for an hour, only to wake up again at 7, in time for the actual first bus to Ponta Grossa. That bus came right on time, and then I ran to catch the 8 a.m. bus to Curitiba, but it was full, so I had to leave at 8:45, with an arrival time of 10:45.

Ricardo, my couch surfing host was already up, he was excited to meet me at the station. When I got there, he was waiting, and he whisked me off to the botanical gardens. He also brought his little dog named Shanna and we wandered around in the greenhouse and art gallery.

Then Ricardo dropped me off at the Oscar Niemeyer museum on the other side of town. Once again, I was not a fan of Curitiba's museums. The guards followed me around like hawks and they berated me for having an empty (!!!) bottle of water. They showed me the special water drinking spot where you had to pour water into a cup and drink it there and not move one inch, while under official supervision, of course. I drank a cup and emptied the glass into my mouth, then I carried it around so as not to waste it, when I went back for another swig of water. Nope, that was also haram. The guard ripped it from me and threw it out. By the time I was done at the museum, I had four plastic cups taken from me and sent into the landfill. Brazil, you are stupid and wasteful, and I don't like you.

Half of the exhibits were closed because I had bad timing, arriving in between some temporary exhibits, so it was also disappointing. There was no art in the famous "eye" of the museum. I climbed all the way up there only to see some detritus, then went back down to look at the rest of the art.

On the way back to Ricardo's house, I asked an employee at the bus station for directions. I had interrupted her romance novel, so she wasn't very friendly. I kept saying "escrevo! escrevo!" so that she would write down which bus I had to take, but she refused, over and over. It wasn't until a man who could speak English told her I what I wanted, that she finally wrote down the name of the bus station where I had to change buses. Again, I was not impressed, Brazil.

When I arrived at his house, Ricardo wasn't there. I went to buy some snacks and beer, and by the time I was back he was home. He invited his other gay friends over and we ate dinner while I listened to a lot of people speaking Portuguese and drank my beer alone. They wouldn't drink my beer, but they passed around some shots of apple rum, which I thought was peculiar, but I went with it, of course.

Curitiba botanical gardens

Curitiba botanical gardens


Curitiba botanical gardens

Curitiba botanical gardens


Curitiba botanical gardens with Ricardo and Shanna

Curitiba botanical gardens with Ricardo and Shanna


Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Oscar Niemeyer Museum


Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Oscar Niemeyer Museum


Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Oscar Niemeyer Museum


Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Oscar Niemeyer Museum


Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

I got robbed

When I woke up there were two men sleeping in my dorm room. OK, it's co-ed I guess, interesting that no one told me.

I went to have breakfast and the only person to try to speak English to me was Andreas, a young mechanical engineer from Bogota. He was studying here for two weeks. After breakfast we decided to go to the main art gallery in the south of the city. It resembled the Guggenheim, but again, there was not too much inside.

We took the bus back downtown and had a famous hot dog with parmesan cheese and peas inside. It was a big mess but the pigeons loved it.

We went back to the central market and some guy ran past me and I thought he grabbed at my silver barrette that I sometimes attach to my bra strap. I was confused for a few minutes until I realized this man had ripped my grandmother's necklace right off of my neck.

It was understandably upsetting, but there was nothing I could do anymore. He was long gone already. I was just sad because I kind of thought I'd have my grandma there with me close to my heart forever. It also made me upset because I had thought about packing the necklace away until I left Brazil. At the time, I had decided not to because it wasn't an ostentatious piece of jewelry at all, only a small heart (with small diamonds yes) but not "blinged out", so I kept it on.

Anyway, I can't change my decision now. All I can do is hope this guy can buy some good cocaine with it and whatever pain he has that caused him to act like that is temporarily dulled for one more day.

Andreas spoke Spanish, not Portuguese, but he managed to help me make a report to the police. They didn't even take my contact information, we just did it for the statistics I guess.

I was really shaken up after that. We went to another art gallery in a beautiful old building and saw some other sights around town, until Andreas got tired (he had flown in on a red eye the night before).

Back at the hostel, I called my mom and cried about the whole ordeal, but in the end, it doesn't matter anyway, it's just some metal. Other people heard me talking and came in to tell me their robbery stories. One woman, Carla, had her cell phone stolen nine times in Rio, where she lives. Once, she was threatened at gun point to give her phone up. She said she was tired of filing police reports, and just wished something would be done about it. Even if you have "track my phone" activated and you do find it, chances are, it's in a favela and you can't go in there to get it anyway.

The hostel manager also told me that in the last six months he's been getting more reports from his guests, at least once a month. He thinks it's getting worse, maybe from the economic downturn, maybe not.

Andreas and I went out for some microbrew at Quentin's, a bar with the theme of every Tarantino movie ever. It was really loud and really busy. I enjoyed it after a terrible last 24 hours of my trip.

My bus left for Ponta Grossa at 12:30 a.m., so I dropped Andreas off at the hostel and took a cab to the station, wary of walking around by myself in Porto Alegre after all that happened.

Fundacao Ibere Camargo

Fundacao Ibere Camargo


Fundacao Ibere Camargo

Fundacao Ibere Camargo


Fundacao Ibere Camargo

Fundacao Ibere Camargo


Fundacao Ibere Camargo (last photo of my necklace)

Fundacao Ibere Camargo (last photo of my necklace)


Cachorro Quente do R

Cachorro Quente do R


Me vs. Cachorro

Me vs. Cachorro


A park

A park


Museu do Arte do Rio Grande do Sul

Museu do Arte do Rio Grande do Sul


I found a gaucho

I found a gaucho


Museu do Arte do Rio Grande do Sul

Museu do Arte do Rio Grande do Sul


Catedral Metropolitana

Catedral Metropolitana


Palacio Piratini

Palacio Piratini


Praca da Matriz

Praca da Matriz


Praca da Matriz

Praca da Matriz

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

I got molested

In the morning, I decided not to go anywhere with Wanderson. He had talked a lot about it, but hadn't organized any rides anywhere, like he said he would. In addition, three times he said he would pay me back for something and didn't. I don't mind paying for stuff when I'm couch surfing, but just say thank you and don't pretend you owe me.

So, I just went to Porto Alegre instead. All morning, on the bus, with the wifi, I was messaging couch surfing hosts and found Elwis very quickly. He also said he would pick me up at the bus station when I arrived.

He sure was there, at first, I thought he was a drunk homeless person, but then he called out my name and I realized this drunk guy was my host. He helped me buy my bus ticket home and then we went to his place. It was a student co-op, so it was in terrible shape. His tiny room smelled like mould, but the library, where I would sleep, was fine.

We went out to buy some dinner of pastries and more beer. At the table outside on the public patio, he was cutting up a mango for me. He moved his chair too close beside me and started fondling my arm and hand. I told him in no uncertain terms that I wasn't comfortable and that he shouldn't touch me again. Ten minutes later, he was doing the exact same thing.

Elwis wanted to take me to see some Brazilian guitar player which I really thought would've been cool, but on the way there, he said "I really hope we don't see my girlfriend!" and something switched off in my head.

"I don't want to go anymore, don't drag me into your drama," and I marched right back, demanding my bag back and ignoring all his attempts to explain. I told him I had heard enough and that I just wanted to sleep and leave in the morning. (It was already 11 p.m., so I didn't want to go out in the street looking for a hostel at that hour.

Elwis left me alone for about two minutes and came back with a pillow and some water. I sent him away, but he didn't go. he called me a liar and said he didn't touch me at all. I was furious. I grabbed all my stuff and got one of the other students to let me out. On the way out, I told them their roommate was a piece of shit and I went out on my own in the streets to find a hostel.

Luckily, there was a brand new one only about 100 metres away. I paid for my bed and told them the story. They were very upset, and treated me so nicely the rest of the time. I went to sleep in the hot stuffy room, grateful to be alone at last.

Cidade Baixa Hostel

Cidade Baixa Hostel

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

On the hunt for gauchos

I wanted to see some gauchos because I was in cowboy country, but Wanderson said they were all on vacation, or it was too hot to work this week. So, we went grocery shopping and made a picnic to take to a cowboy park outside the city. There was also a small movie set used for a gaucho movie about five years ago nearby.

I managed to see some tired looking gauchos leading some horses somewhere while we were snacking on papaya and watermelon in the park with the cows in the field.

Wanderson also brought me to a tiny, possibly polluted water cascade. We forgot the blanket, so we left early and took the bus back to town.

We went back and picked up the blanket and then went to nap in the park for a while until dinner. Wanderson brought the mate and I brought the peanuts.

For dinner, we had pizza at a restaurant he used to work at. The pizza was cooked on a large stoned and it was packed full of six cheeses. We had some fancy beer and I paid the bill. I had already bought all the stuff for lunch and was kind of expecting to go halfsies on dinner. I guess he had no money at all, so then I felt more sorry for him than anything. He kept insisting he would pay me back for things but never did.

We walked all the way across town to a brew pub that only had two beers on tap. It was a furnace inside and even though a huge fan was blowing in my face, I was sweating just standing at the bar. I told Wanderson I was leaving, but he got them to put one more table outside, so I stayed.

We met two of his friends and one of them lived in South Carolina, so he was nice to talk to. His girlfriend wouldn't even look at me, I dunno what that was about. Maybe she was embarrassed she couldn't speak English at the same level? I paid for the beers again, and when we got home, again, no effort was made to pay me back. I was tired of Wanderson.

Bage church

Bage church


Me and Wanderson

Me and Wanderson


Bage

Bage


Bage

Bage


The small waterfall

The small waterfall


The small waterfall

The small waterfall


The small waterfall

The small waterfall


The small waterfall

The small waterfall


One horse

One horse


Cowboys!

Cowboys!


Our picnic

Our picnic


Picnic

Picnic


Mate in the park

Mate in the park


Stray dog

Stray dog


Stray dog

Stray dog


Pizza

Pizza


Pizza

Pizza


Pizza

Pizza


Pizza

Pizza


Me vs. beer

Me vs. beer

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Sao Miguel and randomly couchsurfing in Bage

Breakfast was amazing! The jams were fresh and the pao con queijo was so soft and fluffy. Fresh papaya and melons, oh my.

I went to the mission right afterwards and spent a while wandering therein, pretending to be a nun. The interior of the church was quite breathtaking. I can't imagine the awe an indigenous person would have felt walking in there 300 years ago. It must've helped convert a lot of heathens.

When I got to Santo Angelo, there were no buses for Pelotas or Rio Grande, so I reluctantly accepted a ticket to Bage, which had a sidebar in my book about cowboys. I found a couch surfing host named Wanderson (amazingly) during my 10 hour bus ride down south. Wifi on buses is the best.

So, Wanderson (which is actually his real name) met me at the station with a huge smile and a big hug. Within the first five minutes, he told me he was gay and also coincidentally that he had taken an STD test today. Wow.

He had fresh rolls and cheese waiting for us at home and we just talked all night, until 2 a.m. His English was incredible for someone who only started learning it three years ago. He told me the Brazilian government had free English classes for everyone who wanted to take them, so he simply took advantage of that.

Breakfast at Sao Miguel dos Missoes

Breakfast at Sao Miguel dos Missoes


Sao Miguel dos missoes Hostel

Sao Miguel dos missoes Hostel


Sao Miguel Dos Missoes

Sao Miguel Dos Missoes


Sao Miguel Dos Missoes

Sao Miguel Dos Missoes


Sao Miguel Dos Missoes

Sao Miguel Dos Missoes


Sao Miguel Dos Missoes

Sao Miguel Dos Missoes


Sao Miguel Dos Missoes

Sao Miguel Dos Missoes


Sao Miguel Dos Missoes

Sao Miguel Dos Missoes


Sao Miguel Dos Missoes

Sao Miguel Dos Missoes


Sao Miguel Dos Missoes

Sao Miguel Dos Missoes


Sao Miguel Dos Missoes

Sao Miguel Dos Missoes


Rice for Jeremy from the bus

Rice for Jeremy from the bus

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Rainy lazy day

I went to find out if the museums in Sao Borja were open today, and of course, they were not. I bought some chocolate, coconut water, a watermelon and beers to restock Miguels fridge. When I came back it started pouring. Miguel called the bus station to ask when was the next bus to Sao Miguel de Missoes and it was not leaving until 4 p.m. So, we waited in the rain, snoozing on his floor.

I got off the bus with two other people and we waited for the local bus. Someone called the bus company and they aid there was no bus coming. A guy named Renaldo said his friend would pick him up and he invited me to come along. I told him I wanted to see the sound and light show at the mission and he promised to guide me there.

When his friend finally came, he took me with his girlfriend to the light show. My guide book said it was translated into English, but it wasn't (minus one for Rough Guide). So I watched some coloured spotlights shine on an old building for an hour.

After the show, Renaldo even brought me to the amazing hostel down the street. I checked in and said goodbye. There was a beautiful pool with terracotta tiles, so I took a midnight dip and fell asleep quickly in my empty dorm.

Sao Miguel Espectaculo!

Sao Miguel Espectaculo!


Sao Miguel dos Missoes Hostel

Sao Miguel dos Missoes Hostel


Sao Miguel dos Missoes Hostel

Sao Miguel dos Missoes Hostel

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

I think I am getting old

The hotel owner told me the night before that I could pay him in the morning, since I did not have any cash on me the night before (WOW). So, I tried my luck at the Caixa Bank, but nope, no worky. The next bank was Banco do Brasil and that one always works, so yep, worky. I went back to pay and looked at Trip Advisor again for my breakfast spot.

I was pretty sure it would be open, but nope, in typical Brazilian fashion, it was closed all week for the holidays. I went towards the only thing that was open, the cemetary, to see the grave of a deposed president. He was buried in 1976 without a state funeral, and then exhumed and moved here in the 90s.

I was still starving, quite a familiar sensation for me lately, trying to adapt to the non-24-hour style of South America. On the way back to pick up my bags and find Miguel, there was an ice cream factory, where I had quite literally the best fudgicle of my life. White chocolate on the outside and thick sweet fudge on the inside. I tried to savour it while it instantly melted all over my hands in the 35 degree (at least!) weather.

I found Miguels house no problem, and he was there to let me in. He explained that he had been out all night partying and will do that again tonight. OK, sounds awesome. All the museums were closed today, so I thought that would be a good idea to follow him there.

Most of the day we stayed cool in the air conditioning and he cooked some Argentinian food for me. He was a Spanish teacher living here for five years so he could speak Portuguese, French and Spanish pretty well. We could not communicate well at all with English, so I tried to switch to French. It was quite hilarious most of the time. If anyone listened to us talking it must have sounded really really messy. We would switch in between all four languages, while trying to explain a simple story, depending on which words the other person knew.

Miguel concocted some delicious lentil dish made with collard greens and ground beef. After some passionfruit capirinhas we took a really long nap and he showed me how to make Argentinian empanadas. We had to head down to the river to the party to meet his friends before we could devour them though.

For some reason, his friends were 18 and 19 year old hooligans, drinking beer on the front lawn of their dad~s house. They wore carnaval team shirts that featured a drunk childrens cartoon character from Mexico. Their team was one of the biggest.

The way people drink here is very strange. They pass everything around. I guess it helps the beer stay cold, but how many infectious diseases get transferred this way? I accepted enough sips to be polite and stayed sober the rest of the night. I was still a little tipsy from lunch anyway. The rest of the ^Moo Chavez^(sp?) team kept on drinking in the park at first, to collect each other, then they went into the fair grounds.]

I soon realized what the shirts were for. The teams each danced around large coolers of beer and mystery juice were right in the middle of the crowd. They shared their drinks with the rest of the people on their team. Every so often the singers would put on a certain team´s shirt and everyone on that team would cheer. Every teammate would only share drinks with other people on their team and the shirts made it easier to find each other in the crowd.

At some point, we went out to the river and all the kids smoked a bunch of weed. It was a nice break from the crazy. I stared at the stars in the clear sky, admiring the brilliance. Something I could never see in China.

On our way back in, a little blondie dressed in tie dyed leggings and white Ray Bans (at night) got questioned by the military police at the entrance. They said he looked ``shy`` and wouldn´t let him in. He came in another gate later and I found out the cops were right. He brought a bunch of cocaine back to his friends and I heard them snorting it next time we went to the river for a break.

All of these boys were off to compulsory military service in the coming weeks. They told me they were happy to go, but I wondered if the drugs were an escape before the inevitable hell they were about to endure.

I kind of wished I could take something as an escape before the inevitable hell I was about to endure...It was at least eight hours of what sounded to me like the same song, by the same band and the same three singers. I am not sure how the musicians accomplished that feat, but they did.

My legs were covered in black liquid of indeterminate substances, my arms were lubricated by the sweat of other frantic dancers. I tried to tell Miguel I wanted to stay away from the crowd, but I guess he had to follow his team.

At 2 a.m. I thought we might go home, but we could not leave until four or five. Miguel~s motorcycle was locked up in someone~s house.

So, I endured. Completely sober and extremely confused and frustrated. Why people would do this every year, I have no idea. The whole place smelled like beer and vomit.

At one point, someone threw ice into the crowd and it smashed straight into my forehead. It really hurt a lot. At another point, a very hefty couple, making out and glistening with bodily fluids once fell on top of me and I punched the man as hard as I could in the back to push him off of me.

People would just dance out of control, smashing into me repeatedly, like I did not exist with no apologies. I punched them too eventually and they backed off.

I tried to appreciate the joie de vivre of it all, but it was impossible when the stench of the air itself made me want to vomit, and children were offering me large chalices full of sugary mystery drinks. The insanity was palpable.

Later on in the night, one of the girls on the team asked if she could take a picture with me, I declined and she proceeded to take a selfie beside me, making sure to capture me in the background before I could move out of the way. That was it for me. I had had it and it was time for me to go. Miguel finally got the key to the gate which was guarding his bike. We got home at 6 a.m. I was so dirty and tired when we got home, really glad to sleep. Miguel inexplicably went out for more and I just slept until noon the next day.

Deposed president's grave

Deposed president's grave

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

The bus

When the bus finally came, I sprawled out across two seats, reclined in the extreme and didn~t wake up until lunch. There was some squash that tasted like candy at the pay by the weight cafeteria. I could not even think about eating anything animal derived.

I spent the rest of the day either snoozing or drifting off to sleep on the bus to Santo Angelo. We arrived at 9 p.m. and I was starving. I ran to the first restaurant I saw, but I didn~t see any food, just ice cream and beer, so that~s what I had.

The waiter spoke English and I told him who I was staying with. He was so excited that it was actually his son~s god father and he couldn~t wait for me to come back. My bus to Sao Borja left at 10 p.m., so I had to run off and catch it quickly, once again.

I arrived in Sao Borja at 1 a.m. and figured it was too late for my host Miguel. He messaged me back after I had already taken a shower and was all ready for bed in my random hotel room the taxi driver brought me to. I came a day earlier than I told him I would, so it was really my fault.

Ice cream after a long bus ride

Ice cream after a long bus ride


A giant moth on the bench

A giant moth on the bench


On the bus

On the bus

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

The most Brazilian day ever

It took two hours to just find the bus that takes me to Ponta Grossa. In Carambei, there are three possible places to catch it. I started at the stop by my house, since it was right beside the bank. I tried to fill up my wallet, but it would only give me 300 reals ($100), not enough for the week by far.

After waiting in line for 30 minutes just to do that, I didnt see any bus go by, so I asked at the store what time it would come. In 20 minutes, I thought he said. I forgot my water bottle, so I ran back to get it. Still no bus.

What time does it leave

Ah, in an hour, was the reply.

OK so, now I have the opportunity to walk to the highway and catch one there. It was super hot and I was already cranky, so when the driver of the highway bus told me to take another bus, I already wanted to cry.

What do you mean it says Ponta Grossa on the front of the bus!

Un otro! he repeated

My God. I had to run to catch this bus, so I was not happy when someone at the bus stop suggested we go to the terminal. Oh what a novel idea! You mean theres a bus terminal here... perfect.... Why didnt I know about it before ugh...

A strange Pakistani man felt the need to show me his business card to prove to me he was a lawyer, and therefore a good guy. He directed me to the terminal where another bus would take me to Ponta Grossa, finally.

At 1 p.m., I found myself there, with glazed eyes, trying to choose the right bus company that would take me west. I gave up on Curitiba, because my couchsurfing hosts were not answering.

I decided I would take whatever bus was going to Rio Grande do Sul, the most southern province in Brazil. Lucky me, I thought, when the ticket lady said a bus was leaving at three. After I happily paid and handed her my passport, she explained it was leaving in the early morning. Oh...my... god...

There was no way I would go back home to wait for it at this point, so I asked some other companies what they had to offer and it was the same. I figured I would find something to do for 12 hours in Ponta Grossa. I wandered down to the cathedral, actually up, because the whole city is perched on a hill. I took a little snooze in the pew, which I hoped looked like I was praying, and then went downtown to see the parks etc.

While I was wandering, I noticed a samba band practicing and people setting up scaffolding for a real live carnaval parade tonight. What luck. This time, I really was lucky. I asked a sales guy what time it all started and he said 9 p.m. Perfecto. I now had something to do until bus time. But it was only about 6 p.m., so what to do until then...

Oh, I know, I checked Trip Advisor for the best restaurant in town. It was called La Gondola, and it was categorized as European. So, I changed into my blue sparkly dress I just bought last week in a bathroom in a city park. Classy right. And I strolled on down, expecting some fresh ravioli or something.

I was a little early, so I ordered a martini which was strangely cheaper than the draft beer. It was weirdly sweet, even though I asked for the dry one. The pasta I expected was twice the price of the barbecue and buffet deal, so I got that. I did not mind waiting for the barbecue to start, even though my intestines were liquifying and consuming themselves already.

I live Skyped the whole thing to Jeremy, steak, salmon, Portuguese style cod, mussels, calamari, fresh salad, filet mignon, sausag and pork with pineapple sauce (that tasted absolutely awful) everything else was melt in your mouth amazing though.

The rain was coming down in buckets, so I was not very hopeful for the street parade by the time I finished devouring the carnivore explosion. When it stopped raining, I walked in the direction of the deafening pounding of drums and found everyone preparing for the big party. It turned into the most Brazilian day ever, barbecue, carnaval, samba, what more could I ask for.

Once again, I had so many feels. That awestruck feeling came back again. As the drag queens, glittery teens and die hard grandmas danced and twirled down the street in their finest, I was completely covercome. Ten years ago, I would have never imagined I would be in this place, witnessing an age old tradition that I have only seen on TV.

Here it is again, the reason I risk blood clots on 26 hour flights, run around looking for buses that never come, nap in parks and fight with bus station security when I pass out on their cold metal benches, drenched in rain. But, I am getting ahead of myself now.

The dancers were charmingly amateur, everyone from toddlers to grandmas contributed to the spectacle. Then, it started to drizzle. Soon, the drizzle changed to a downpour. I shaved my backpack in a dry corner and joined the other carnaval die hards splashing in the puddles. I was frozen to the core and miserable, but we still cheered for the dancers who looked much worse.

When it was all over, I put on everything that was still dry in my bag and tried to imagine I was warm. I fell asleep many times waiting for my 3 a.m. bus. It did not arrive until 7 a.m. It would not be a Brazilian day without something extremely late and no apology.

The king, queen, princess and muse of carnaval

The king, queen, princess and muse of carnaval


Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa

Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa


Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa

Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa


Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa

Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa


Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa

Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa


Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa

Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa


Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa

Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa


Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa

Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa


Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa

Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa


Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa

Carnaval parade, Ponta Grossa


Dry Martini

Dry Martini


Sweet martini

Sweet martini


Me vs. really rare steak

Me vs. really rare steak


Cutting up the pork

Cutting up the pork


La Gondola

La Gondola

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Mostly art galleries

This morning, I attempted to venture out of Carambei for the day. Andrew told me that I'd have to go to Ponta Grossa first, if I wanted to go anywhere. So, I found the bus for Ponta Grossa and hopped on. It didn't stop very far from my house. One problem though, I forgot my wallet. I had to jump off and get it. That just added at least an hour to my travel time. Sigh.

I wasn't sure when the next one would come, so I walked to the highway and waited and waited. Finally a big fancy bus pulled up, headed to Curitiba. I paid the driver 40 reals ($13) and we left. Somehow, I didn't have to go to Ponta Grossa after all.

We arrived in Curitiba at noon, half the day was gone. I was sad that it took so long. I thought I'd just wander around the whole day, so I took a random bus going in the direction of the historical centre. I was lucky and the first stop was the right one.

I found myself at Praca Tiradentes to see the Catedral Metropolitan and walk along black and white tiled cobblestone pedestrian streets, almost the same as in Macau.

I had a "pastel", deep fried pastry stuffed with something delicious, in my case, ground beef, and continued getting lost. I found the contemporary art gallery of Parana, which had nothing really remarkable, lots of modern interpretations of Jesus and some photography from the Amazon.

Then, I found the former city hall and the flower market, along with the city's oldest house "Casa Romario Martins". The church next door also had some really old Catholic sculptures which were quite eerie. The Memorial de Curitiba was interesting too. I liked the giant mural illuminated by huge windows.

After visiting all these cultural venues, I got the feeling that the local government may have spent a lot of money setting them up, but not really following through and putting much content inside. The Alfredo Andersen museum might be an exception, I thought it was well stocked with interesting contemporary, politically inspired art, many with anti-capitalist messages. I believe whoever makes the decisions spends more on security than on art.

I was starting to get hungry and cranky, so I headed to Praca Garibaldi where there should've been a bunch of restaurants. But silly me, nothing was open at 2 p.m. on a weekday. Didn't I learn anything in Macau? Ha. None of them opened until 7 p.m., I was out of luck.

I gave up all hope and continued on to the Museu Paranese, where I was absolutely hounded by the security staff. They refused to allow me simply to wander around at will, one man tried to explain that I MUST see the museum in some strange erratic pattern that didn't make much sense. They also kept telling me I couldn't use the flash on my camera, but it was clear that I was carrying nothing of the sort, all of my belongings were checked into a locker at the front door.

When I tried to look at an exhibit of Brazilian currency, the same man came again, to show me something better. I became extremely irritated and told him I was leaving because this museum was no longer enjoyable to visit. His face fell, I think I disappointed him.

Still starving, I walked back to the pedestrianized area, where there was bound to be something open. I finally found a small diner selling crepes, so I ordered a cheese one and a cold beer. Fantastic.

Feeling a hundred times better, I decided just to walk back to the bus station and go home. I was early, but on my way there, I stopped at the Salvation Army and bought me a new dress for 10 reals, about $3. Woop! No longer sweating like crazy, I had a much more comfortable walk back.

It was insanely difficult to navigate the bus station, I walked around in circles for at least half an hour, trying to find my gate. The signs seemingly point in the opposite direction of where you need to go. It was infuriating. Lucky I got there early, seriously.

Then, on the way back, we hit traffic because of a rainstorm and construction, we were 30 minutes late to Ponta Grossa. Andrew also told me that the last bus to Carambei was at 8 p.m. So, I was a little panicked, not knowing if I should take a cab 30 km home, or if it was cheaper to just stay there overnight. Luckily though, on weekdays, the last bus is at 10:30, so I just waited two hours at the boring bus station and finally arrived home at around midnight. Happy to be in my own bed.

Catedral Metropolitan

Catedral Metropolitan


Me at Praca Tiradente

Me at Praca Tiradente


Catedral Metropolitan

Catedral Metropolitan


Me vs. Pastel

Me vs. Pastel


Contemporary art museum

Contemporary art museum


Old city hall

Old city hall


Casa de Romario Martins

Casa de Romario Martins


Memorial de Curitiba

Memorial de Curitiba


Memorial de Curitiba

Memorial de Curitiba


Black and white tiles everywhere

Black and white tiles everywhere


Some sort of fountain

Some sort of fountain

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)