Diary/Photo Journal


Weeks of January 30 -  February 05, 2011

A surprising week for both of us as Gerson was reunited with friends from 30 years ago and I got to visit a wonderful park just outside of Curitiba. both of which, we did not expect.

We were invited to spend an evening with a friend of Gerson's, Jose Carlos Branco and his "family".  I should have suspected that his "family" included his wife and children and especially, the mutual long-time friends.  Before we knew it, men walked in that caused Gerson to hold his breath in astonishment as he had not seen a couple of them in 15 years. 

Fortunately for me, they all spoke good English and I was able to whittle a few stories of their gloried past and along with the stories, came several pictures of a famous trip to Peru.  The noticing of the bond of these surf-mates was immediate and there were many times that 30 years seemed like yesterday.  Some of them lost a little hair or gained a little weight, but none of them forgot their times together.

Kiko, Jose Luis and Jose Carlos (brothers),
Sinval and Gerson - present day

Where's Gerson? (white shirt, behind
the front door)

Gerson hanging out in Peru (with Jose Luis, and Sinval)

Yes, that rather skinny guy in the
red shorts is Gerson at 18 years old!
(with Jose Luis and Sinval)

The rented van was packed
(Gerson was behind the front passenger, Jose Carlos was driving)

Gerson, Sinval and Jose Luis

This surf trip was a mixture of traveling to Machu Picchu and surfing as much as possible.  Meeting up with several other Brazilians, they all pitched in and rented the Hiace (van) and trundled from Lima to Trujillo to surf Chicama (which we have also visited).  Quite an undertaking for a bunch of teenagers and almost quite unimaginable today with all the paranoid parents out there.

Jose Carlos, Kiko, Gerson and
Jose Luis - then and now

Jose Carlos and his backpack still provided
humor and the reference to "kangaroo
syndrome" as he did not want to lose
contact with all the money, passports, etc.

Gerson, Sinval and Jose Luis
find a friend at Machu Picchu

Hanging out near Curitiba -
Gerson, Jose Luis and unknown

We were not able to fill the entire week with fun and friends as we had a few more things to complete for Cindy.  We were able to install the repaired window, repair a second window damaged in the attack, install some flashing along the garage roof and restructure a bit of the back yard where Cindy is kept. 

Unfortunately, a contractor that was building next to where Cindy was stored wanted to remove some of the dirt in the area as he did not have enough for his construction.  Vinicio allowed the soil removal and the contractor ended up taking a large chunk of the soil along the garage and left a 3' drop between where Cindy was stored and where we would have to drive her down to get out of the yard.  As a result, we had to move a "hill" of dirt nearby and create the ramp down to the lower level for Cindy's eventual departure.  This, along with installing a long length of flashing on the wall adjoining the garage roof, were our labor-intensive, blister-causing adventure for the week. 

Carlos Vinicio helping out his
parents with their dolce (sweets)
business. Love the headphones
over the hair net

Earthmoving and roof repairs
(yes, that ladder was interesting)

We cleared the way for Cindy

The window is in and works fine

We found there was an attempt
made on this window

Cindy is cleaned and ready

A discovery among some debris.  If there was a contest for the highest jump when
this toad leaped out of its hiding place
then I won

OK, enough with the mud, blisters and sopping wet with sweat and rain, time for a little diversion.  Just outside of Curitiba (about two hours west of the city) is a wonderful park called Vila Velha that rose from the bottom of the ocean some 600 million years ago.  Given the fact that the area is about 3500 feet (about 1200 meters) above sea level and about 120 miles (200 km) inland, one gets taken aback with the idea of how much water it took to cover that expanse of land. 

A beautiful bird of prey

Gerson in front of the stone formations

Vila Velha - State Heritage park
since 1966

100's of millions of years of erosion
created some eerie pathways

The park is known as "stone city" and consists of over 20 stone sentinels formed from millions of years of erosion.  In addition, the stone pillars are tucked into and around a beautiful bosque or forest, green with moss and a constant pulsing sound of dripping water. 

It is easy to get lost in the maze of
stones and trees

Views to the surrounding countryside

View upward between the stones

A lone tree finds the afternoon sun

Amazing bird's nests cling to the
underside of the cliffs

Part of the fun of the park was to identify several of the various shapes of stones, much like you find animals or similar in the shapes of clouds.  

The Goblet or Chalice and Gerson wishing
it was full of beer

The Gorilla or Ape

The Indian

The Dolphin

The park has a separate portion that consists of Furnas(es) and a Golden Pond.  The Furnas' are craters formed when water penetrated the sandstone layers, eroding the sandstone from deep within and subsequently collapsing into itself, creating a natural pool.  One such crater, Hell's Cauldron, had an elevator that allowed the visitor to descend to water level and view the crater from its depths.  Unfortunately, through many years of use, the elevator (and the grease used on its cables) was found to be polluting the pond and therefore, its use has been discontinued.

There was also a Golden Pond that when the sun hits it just right, the waters appear gold in color (due to the presence of mica on the bottom. 

We only saw a couple of the furnas(es) , yet there were dozens more in various stages of development.

The beautiful furnas
(Hell's Cauldron) and
the now defunct elevator


Surrounding countryside

Golden Pond - but not enough sun


The drive to and from Vila Velha was quite beautiful as the landscape was a variety of rolling green hills, large farms and rocky hills.  I found it interesting to see acres and acres of tree farms and even a large tract of corn proudly advertised as "DeKalb Corn" (from Illinois).  The tree farm made me think about all the negative reports of the loss of Amazon trees when those same reports never mention how many thousands of acres of trees are being replaced through Brasil's tree management program.  Hmmm...

Tree management replacement DeKalb Corn direct from Illinois

The trip to Vila Velha was a nice end to our week as we are winding down and nearing our departure.  In the final couple of weeks, we have a bit more time at the beach planned and we are definitely not looking forward to the dreaded "packing" of our luggage - not that we have collected a few absolutely needed items to bring back with us.

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