Brazil – Part II

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Time for the next entry on the trip to Brazil. My last blog only covered four days–this story may take a couple more chapters. We did so much in so little time–and missed out on a few because of the shortness of the visit.

Monday morning, we stood outside of the hotel and waited for the kids. Looking up and down the street, I realized I was going through a change in my perceptions, as far as the language was concerned. At first, all of the signs and forms of communication in Portuguese was exciting and interesting–then a pall came over it, because there was no escape. It was getting to the point where I wanted to shut down around 5pm–just close my eyes and not see any more words I couldn’t read. But of course that wasn’t going to change–the difference had to come from me. By the time we left the country, the communication was getting easier–there were times when I could follow almost all of a conversation–just from what I was learning and getting used to.

We have a real reason to learn Portuguese; after all, our son expects to stay there until he earns his doctorate, which means another four years. Besides that, his possibly-future in-laws might be coming to visit next year–maybe even bringing the kids with them.

Once we got into the car, we drove to Blumenau, a German colony, about an hour and change from Florianopolis.

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It wasn’t a really huge tourist spot, but it was fun.

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We had lunch and bought souvies–sure is nice to have people with us to translate. Everyone spoke Portuguese, not German, in case you were interested. The only difference, really, was the last names on the businesses–predominantly German.

We visited a few museums, once we could find them…

The first was a Beer Museum:

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A lot of the info was in English, which was a welcome sight. Joe liked to translate the rest for us, with Joana right there to make sure he got it right. When he seemed to be getting tired of the headwork, Joana just picked up the thread. They make a great partnership.

There was a lot of old equipment, as well as a lengthy history and info on beer-making. I really enjoyed it.

Not far from here was a mausoleum/museum dedicated to Dr. Herrmann Bruno Blumenau, who founded the city in 1850. I didn’t realize it was a mausoleum until we’d been through it–I guess I was too distracted by the wild capybara that wandered past the front of the building:

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Then there was the Fritz Muller Museum, a man who was a correspondent of Charles Darwin, and a scientist of flora and fauna in the Santa Catarina area of Brazil. Pickled critters, stuffed critters, bones, etc. I loved the displays of rocks and shells. The taxidermy treatments of the animals were definitely amateur–they looked like someone used marbles for eyes, and then just gave up.

We found a café (Joana likes her afternoon coffee), then made the long drive back. We made a return trip to the stables, where we had ribs and Caipirinhas – Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime. Marcus makes them strong–on an empty stomach, it wasn’t long before the world was doing silly things.

Joana rode Sheikh, and we could tell that horse had a lot of trust issues. But she really let him know who was boss. What a beautiful horse! He’ll be wonderful once he gets comfortable with where he is.

Tuesday started out the usual way–with breakfast in the hotel. The Brazilians love 80s music–almost all of the music that came over the loudspeaker was 80s music done by secondary players. Same singer, different songs from different bands. A nice backdrop of sound for the morning.

This day (Tuesday), we started out with a trip to another fort.

 

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Fortaleza Sao Jose da Ponto Grosso

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Hell’s Phone Booth–have you ever seen a creepier one?

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The path to the fort itself was treacherous, in my opinion. Rectangular slabs of concrete, spaced inconveniently apart, and placed at a tilt. I was always afraid I was going to slide right down the hill. But we finally got into the fort without incident–phew!

The views were fantastic, as the pictures will attest.

We made it down to the beach too, where I picked up some shells and rocks. Anywhere I go, I do this. They go into a bag, and they come home, and they get stored…why do I do this??? …Coz they’re purty…

We drove to the coast–where, exactly, I don’t know–and had lunch there. The kids were hoping we’d be able to get a certain type of drink in coconut shells, but it was the wrong time of the year for it. Bummer.

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We visited a turtle sanctuary, which was a nice diversion. There was a tour group of kids there, which added to the energy in the place. When the employees fed the turtles (some smelly grass stuff), one of the four huge turtles in the pool just hung back until the others lost interest, then had the whole feast to itself. Clever critter!

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Joana had a dental appointment, so we waited for her at the hotel–one of the only times we had a slow spot in our trip. When she got done, we headed back to the house, where we had dinner, roasted pinhaos, and drank much beer. Nelson presented us with various types of meat, including pigs’ feet. I considered trying them, but there was way too much fat, even for me. There was plenty of other food to eat, so I didn’t go away empty.

On Wednesday, after another good night’s sleep and the usual breakfast, we went over to Beidar Mar Shopping for a cup of chocolate espresso at Kopenhagen’s. We then went to the Universidad’s campus to have a look at a mural that covered three sides of a building there.

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It was fantastic–very native in its creation. We took a lot of pictures of it, but of course I couldn’t put all the pictures on here.

Our next stop was visiting Joe’s workplace–a lab situated several miles from the campus. He showed us the stuff he was working on, explained the procedures, and introduced us to his professors and co-workers–pretty impressive stuff they’re all doing. Some are propagating various plants to find ways to keep the species alive, others are working on finding ways to use the plants for other purposes. I’m not clear on everything…

After a brief stop at Joe’s apartment–which was a really nice place–we went to an ecological garden nearby. It really was just a preserve/park–not a real tourist area. We walked through the area, while a group of monkeys followed us for a bit. We were able to get pictures of them, finally…they moved so fast.

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I’ll be darned if I can remember the name of this type–I think it’s “mico”.

When we got back to the house, things were in turmoil. Miro and Kito had gotten into a fight, and Luke got hurt trying to break it up. Joana got them cleaned up, but it took awhile, and it made us miss a party we were supposed to have gone to. Nelson knew of another place (both places were quite a ways away), so we jumped into his truck to get to it. We got to see a lot of countryside and hillside, and drink in the beautiful rural areas that I’m betting most tourists miss.

Unfortunately, the place Nelson had in mind was closed.

So we drove back to the stables. Visited Joana’s horse again–always a pleasure. She went for a ride, and we stayed back at the “man cave” (my name for the central social area of the stables).

I was feeling homesick all of a sudden–it came on without warning, and at that point, I would have been glad to go home. But the feeling disappeared after a few more of Marcus’ potent drinks.

Back at the house–because there were no restaurants open before 7pm!–we chatted as Joana replaced some hardware in her computer. I about fell asleep a couple of times.

Finally, we went out to meet Joana’s mom at a Brazilian barbecue restaurant. This sort of service is something to be experienced–totally different from what I am used to.

The customer can go get salads and side dishes from a buffet, but the meats are served individually. Waiters take skewers of cooked meat out of the kitchen area, and carry them table to table. They describe what the particular cut is, and if the customer wants some of it, they shear off a piece, which the customer grabs with a pair of tongs. There’s beef of all sorts, lamb, chicken hearts (I like ’em), pork, etc. This goes on the whole time the customer is seated. Then the dessert is brought along the same way. Barbecued pineapple is wonderful!

Our last day, we toured the southern part of the island–just a short trip into a small-town coastal area. We did a little beach-combing, and found a dead penguin. The shops we wanted to visit weren’t open, so we just drove back the way we came. The houses were interesting in places. In one spot, there was an Arabic-style house…

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…across from a castle:

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Wonder if their conversations ever turn to the days of the Crusades…hmmm…

We stopped off at a little restaurant for lunch…and caught a glimpse of a toucan. A live one–yay!

Through heavy traffic, we made our way back to Beidar Mar Shopping, where we went to a coffee shop. We were right beside the movie theatre, so we bought some sweet popcorn. Really good! Like kettle corn, but even sweeter. I could only eat a little of it, then I had to stop.

Back at the house, Paul showed Joana how to make calzones. Nelson had asked him to show him how to do it, but it was an unspoken agreement that it was Joana who would be doing the work.

I found a deck of cards and played solitaire while the kids and Paul did the work–after all, the kitchen is only so big. Joana came over and got another deck, and also started playing when she wasn’t busy. Soon Joe sat down and I let him have the cards. Nelson and Paul decided to put their two cents’ worth in too, so it turned into a group participation thing. It was fun, but unexpected. (Joana’s mom was off somewhere, and came back later in the evening.)

After dinner, we said our good-byes, went back to the hotel, and packed most of our stuff.

Our last day, we shoved the luggage into Joana’s car and headed for one more tour. First, though, we went to the plaza and park in front of the church we’d gone to–there were some merchant booths set up there–and picked up a few hand-made things.

We drove to the southernmost part of the island, where we bought some more souvies, then the kids drove us to the airport. The flight(s) home were hell, and I’m glad to be shut of airports for awhile.

And now we are home, and beginning to plan for the trip we want to make next year:

Scotland and Italy!

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