One thing that was nice about staying around Curitiba was that we got to enjoy the day-to-day activities that we sometimes miss out on. Daniel and Iara's son had his 14th birthday at a paintball park and we got the chance to watch the splattering of the paint as well as enjoy some very good birthday cake. Of course, it was a good excuse for many of us to get together and tell old stories (or in my case, hear Gerson's old stories).
I need to insert a round of applause for Iara. Like her sister-in-law, Isabele, Iara is a champion swimmer. Iara recently competed in a South American swimming competition and swam away with the top prize, making her the best swimmer in her age group for the entire South America. Remarkable lady! Iara will be coming to the United States (near San Francisco) in August to compete in a world competition - best of luck!
Later in the week, we took advantage of the good weather (as I have affectionately called Curitiba, "Curichuva" as 'chuva' is Portuguese for "rain" and it does that a lot during this time of the year) and we visited the Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately, much of the gardens were closed as they were being prepared for a significant Bio-Diversity (biodiv.org) convention being hosted by the city of Curitiba.
We also took a little time to visit the Oscar Niemeyer museum (an architect prominently involved in the designing and building of Brasilia). And unfortunately, yet again much of the museum was closed to prepare for the Bio-Diversity convention to take place in mid-March. The exterior design of the museum was quite the eye-catcher and when you see the picture, you will understand why.
There was some Cindy time as well. In the past couple of weeks, we arranged to have Vinicio and Evelize's (Gerson's cousin and parents to Carlos) lot cleared so that we could prepare it for a shelter for Cindy. Finding a long-term safe storage for Cindy was a considerable challenge and it worked out well to build a garage on the back lot so that Vinicio and Evelize can use it when they finish building their house. Vinicio and Evelize are building their sobremesa and bolo (sweets and cakes) business and with that will be a complete reconstruction of their large parcel of land. We look forward to seeing their plans materialize and we especially look forward to tasting their success!
After a week of taking care of more business than pleasure, we took advantage of a weekend with friends at the beach so as to tip the scale back to more pleasure than business.
Kike (see page 3) was in town for the week and spent the weekend at his family's beach home in Pontal do Sul. Pontal do Sul is the launching point to take a ferry over to Ilha do Mel and we spent a day on the memorable island. We were joined by even more friends of Gerson's and even two that have come from the United States to visit their beloved Brasil. Gerson, the owner of Mystic Surfboards and Ray, both live in Southern California and we look forward to seeing them on the other side of the world.
We spent a terrific day on Ilha do Mel and of course, Gerson was recognized by the locals. His popularity was only rivaled by that of the other Gerson, as his person was quite well known on the island as well. And then, when you make exceptional surfboards, you are known and welcome anywhere there is surf.
We ended the week at the beach; however, I get to add a little writer/editor's license here and add a day from our next week. Why? Because most of next week we will have spent at the beaches in the State of Bahia, around Salvador and Porto Seguro. You may not recognize the places; however, if you have ever browsed travel brochures for Brasil, you have seen the turquoise waters lapping onto the white sand beaches that are laced with swaying palm trees and framed by thatch-roofed palapas. That will need an entire page onto itself.
Until then, just a mention of two very nice "environmental" parks called Unilivre (Free University of Environmental) where the universities hold free environmental education courses. One park (that was a restored quarry) had an amazing wood ramp that wound upward and around to give the visitor an incredible view of the park and the city. The other park, Bosque do Alemao, took you along trails that were lined with small storyboards retelling the story of "John and Mary" which many of us will recognize in its original name form of "Hansel and Gretel".