Diary/Photo Journal

Week of January 23, 2005

Another eventful week filled with family, friends and food.  We started the week by taking a walk through a typical flea/crafts market and I drove Gerson crazy with oohing and ahhing at the varying items displayed.  You know those things, all that stuff you never knew you needed until you see it!  Gabriel, our angelic driver, took us to a fantastic Italian restaurant in a part of Curitiba that is famous for its Italian influence.  The restaurant boasts that it is the largest kitchen in the world and can easily serve over 5,000 lunches a day. 

When we started lunch, the Italian restaurant
was packed - and this is just one of three salons.

Let's play "where's Louise"

After enjoying yet another generous meal, Gabriel dropped us off at Gerson's Uncle Carlos' home, which is nestled in between his son's home (Vinicio and Evelize) and Uncle Sebastian and Aunt Marilda.  As with all of Gerson's family, there are strong memories that he cherishes and with his Uncle Carlos, these memories revolve around a father-like influence and much time spent around race horses.

When Gerson was young, Uncle Carlos owned thoroughbred horses and often let Vinicio and Gerson tag along to the hippodrome.  Gerson has told me many stories of his love for horses and how it was imprinted by Uncle Carlos. 

While enjoying a raucous conversation with Uncle Carlos, his daughters Vanessa and Viviane, and with Vinicio's son, Carlos, a horse race came on the television.  Uncle Carlos immediately recognized the starting gate as it was he who built the gate.  How cool is that to be watching a horse race and be sitting with the man that built the gate. 

Uncle Carlos' gate

One of Uncle Carlos' winners - Dami
Recognize Gerson at 14?  Look for the glasses
Gerson, Uncle Carlos and Vinicio posing with
the same winner's cup for Dami

Speaking of Vinicio and his wife, Evelize - they treated us to some of their delicious confections.  Their business is making fabulous cakes, brigadeiros, etc. and selling them to a multitude of customers.  My taste buds will never be the same.

Gerson with Vinicio
and Evelize in their
kitchen (ummm brigadeiros)
Puppy Of The Year goes to: 
beloved 5-week old mutt of Viviane and Vanessa

We left this part of the family and walked all the way across the yard to Gerson's Uncle Sebastiao and Aunt Marilda wherein we enjoyed yet another laugh-filled hour and even more stories I will revisit.

Gerson with Viviane,
Vanessa and young Carlos

The row of houses owned
by Gerson's family for

A cherry tree that Gerson planted
with his grandfather.  It looks like
both the tree and Gerson grew
quite tall.

With Aunt Marilda, Vanessa and
Uncle Sebastiao

Leaving Curitiba behind, we left via train to head to the coast to meet up with Gerson's sister, Marjorie, at her beach condo.  The train departs Curitiba amidst the tall buildings and travels through lush, mountainous landscape dotted with small farms and ranches.  The train is just a single-car train that wobbles along and it makes you feel as though  you have taken a step back in time.

Our train

Some fantastic scenery (a bit
poor due to the pictures being
taken through the window)

Beautiful rivers abound

and these flowering trees
are everywhere

We arrived at the train station to be met by Marjorie, her son Felipe (18) and her daughter, Flavia (13).  Keep in mind that Gerson had not seen his nephew and niece in eight years and this was Flavia's first look at her loving uncle.       

We had a wonderful lunch near the train station and took a short walk along the river.  Then, it was off to the beach.

Flavia, Gerson, Felipe and Marjorie
A pretty little town
Two of those very photogenic trees

Marjorie's place is located in a small hamlet referred to as Florida and with the palm trees swaying in the breezes, you could see the similarity.  Actually, while we were there, a freak windstorm kicked up and if you added some rain, we would have been reliving Hurricane Frances (which we were in Florida, US, for) all over again.

Our wind storm

Views north and south from
the condominium

Views of the beautiful beaches

and of the countryside behind
the condominium

Unfortunately, we only had one true sunshine day and the other days were spent in and out of rain showers.  Alas, January is the rainy season and it lived up to its almanac prediction.  Even with the rain, the temperature was very comfortable and we were afforded time to visit the nearby communities, a nearby island (a many storied hang-out for Gerson), and to meet even more family and friends.  Marjorie treated us so wonderfully that we started to get real comfortable with never leaving.  Not to mention that Felipe and Flavia were a great audience for Gerson's morning dancing and other antics throughout the day.

We did receive very sad news while we were staying at the beach.  Gerson's friend's (Marcio) wife, Simone, passed away in the night on January 25.  We knew the cancer was terminal but we were still shocked by her sudden death.  She was so vibrant and laughing and we were fortunate to have met her and remember her in this way.  She leaves behind a loving and devoted husband and a beautiful 6-year old son, Gabriel.  She will be greatly missed.

Brigadeiros and the local
kids indulging

Crab dinner was messily delicious

Marjorie's sister-in-law's son, Juliano said
that his dream was to work for NASA. 
Guess who just happened to have a hat from
the same place?  I think Juliano is sleeping
in his new hat.

Marjorie's in-law family walking on the
beach in Caioba

Gerson had some time to try to teach Flavia to surf; however, between the rain and the unpredictable waves, we did not get to see Flavia hang ten.  I have no doubt that with the right conditions, she will be a surf force to be reckoned with.  To take a little space to be the proud aunt, Flavia is a Champion Paddle Tennis player.  Champion, you say?  Yes, in 2002, Flavia was the World Champion for her age group (remember, despite how maturely beautiful she looks, she is only 13 years old), and continues to be a top world player.  She has played in Europe and around South America where paddle tennis is popular. 

Gerson in front of the
beach condos

Gerson and Flavia

Going out to surf and the long
walk back

Of course, we made time for a few bar-b-ques and Felipe gave even Gerson a few tips.  Ok, proud aunt again...Felipe is also an awarded paddle tennis player and has taken part in the exchange student program wherein he schooled in New Zealand for six months.  He speaks Portuguese (of course), English and is learning Spanish and German.  All within his short 18 years - I'm impressed!

Gerson and Felipe
Felipe teaching Gerson
the art of bar-b-que
Gerson with Felipe and Flavia
teaching them about surfing

We took a fun 45 minute boat ride to the Ilha do Mel (or Honey Island) that Gerson spent, ahem, quite a lot of time surfing, sleeping in friend's beach huts, and, ahem, spending time with girls.  You know I am getting THOSE stories, one-by-one.

It is a beautiful and historic little island (not only because of Gerson's past experiences).  A fort was built on the island in the 1800's and during the World Wars I and II, the United States armored the island further to protect its southern flank.  We made time to take a short boat ride to the fort, walk the width of the island, take another try at surfing and indulged in the local fare. 

The town from which
we took the boat to
Honey Island - a mural
of the history of Brasil

Honey Island

Fortaleza and us having fun
in the passageways

View to original stronghold on
the beach

One of the US guns

Going to Honey Island with Gerson was like walking the red carpet with a celebrity.  Everywhere we went, there were loud cheers, great hugs and warm welcome-backs for Gerson.  He definitely was popular on that island *raising my eyebrows*.

Colorful boats lined up on shore

Beautiful landscape

Beautiful views and beaches

Gerson and along one of the many
footpaths - no cars allowed

Getting ready for our ride to the fort

Flavia and Gerson head out to surf

Gerson with Felipe and Flavia

Even the local dolphins like to surf

We spent our day roaming the island and we spent most of that evening knocking on doors of friend's parent's summer homes.  Unfortunately, both Marjorie and I drained our camera batteries and I have no pictures.  What I can tell you though, is that Gerson has many "parents" and once he was recognized and the people got over the shock of seeing him appear out of thin air, they were loathe to let go of him.  What a terrific group of people and what a pleasure it was to meet all of them

Felipe and Flavia

Flavia looking well-beyond her
13 years while she is watching
Gerson wax his board


Our food at a restaurant
owned by a friend (of course)
of Gerson

Our typical path less traveled

Outside of being saddened about Simone's passing, we had a fantastic time this week with Marjorie, Felipe and Flavia.  Just in case you are wondering, this is the summer vacation for South Americans and like us North Americans, many here spend their summers at the beach.  The only thing missing was the patriarch, Carlos, for he could not get time away from his restaurant.

Home Page     South America Diary Index     Previous Diary page     SA Diary page 23