Week of May 22, 2005
We left Porto Allegre with a heavy heart as we really enjoyed our time with our friends. The beach city of Torres was not far up the coast and we decided to stop in at yet another summer resort community. We had not planned on spending much time in Torres; however, we took advantage of a pleasant closing to the day and walked along the cliffs bearing down on the beach.
Our aim was for the Ilha de Santa Catarina and its sizeable city of Florianopolis. This city is unique as it is divided by the Atlantic Ocean, with its more industrial center keeping watch on the mainland and its fashionable and touristy attractions just a bridge away on the Ilha de Santa Catarina. Floripa, as Florianopolis is affectionately called, is a convenient starting place to venture to any one of 42 beaches, all within a one hour drive and all with their specific charms.
We found a terrific camping site between Lagoa da Conceicao and Praia Mole, right on the shore of an inner freshwater lake and near the base of protective sand dunes some hundreds of feet high.
We settled in for the night and looked forward to what promised to be one of those incredibly perfect days in a tropical paradise. Taking advantage of a scooter rental shop next door to the campsite, we dashed off into the town of Conceicao and just tooled around. We received a surprise when we came back to the camp as Larry and Marylyn had also stumbled onto the camp. Exchanging stories of the past week, we sped off on our two-wheeled marvel and made arrangements for our dinner out together that night.
We had an absolute blast zipping around Ilha da Santa Catarina and discovering many inroads to spectacular beaches. Can you tell that I liked the island? I think Gerson got rather peeved with me because every time we encountered sand I was extolling the virtues of buying a plot of land or a house nearby. I think I heard him mutter something like "Well, you might as well buy the entire island!" OK with me!! Where can I buy that winning lottery ticket!
We found a wonderful restaurant for lunch that overlooked Campeche and we absorbed the warmth of the sun while sipping our refreshments. Yep! This is the life.
From the eastern beaches, we ventured up to the northern beaches and found a little more activity for the tourists during their summer months (December - February). We passed by several canals where sea water merged with fresh water and they were lined with charming homes and hardy fishing crafts.
Making our way over to Ponta Grossa, a fort built in 1740, we took a quick tour through the grounds and were quite impressed with the excellent condition of the aged fort. We were also fortunate to be blessed with a remarkable sky at sunset; however, that meant we had a 30 minute ride back in the dark, which was a tad harrowing at best.
We had a few hours left on our 24-hour rental so we made the most of it. Careening down the eastern coast to reach the southern beaches, we again encountered pristine beaches dotted with surfers and fishermen. We were also fortunate to witness a ritualistic practice that is performed throughout Brasil. During religious processions (as this day was celebrating Corpus Christi), the people gather sawdust, color the granules and design a picturesque path for the procession carrying the representation of Christ. We were just in time to see the remnants of the "art" before it was swept away to only memories.
As Cindy was nearing the cessation of her planned journey, we decided to take one last detour before our celebration of her proudly strutting through Curitiba. We stopped off at Bombinhas and found a marvelous camp on the beach. Well, we thought we were the only ones to find such a gem of a place when to our surprise yet again, did we find Larry and Marylyn beat us to the site. I think we are being followed...or led...
We stretched our stay in Bombinhas to the last possible minute but alas, Curitiba and a weekend at the lake-house with Julio and Bela and family awaited us. Larry and Marylyn took all the convincing of a few seconds and followed us into Curitiba.
We made it into Curitiba with no fanfare except a high-five between Gerson and I and a brush of the tears in our eyes. Can you believe we made it?!!! We left California on July 20, 2003, traveled around the United States, and on October 15, 2003 we directed our attentions southward and we arrived in Curitiba, our destination for this part of our journey, on May 27, 2005. Subtracting the seven months we spent at home in the United States, we have spent a total of 15 months, give or take a week. We had looked to complete our journey in 1-2 years and we made it! Conceive, Believe, Achieve!
Our first stop in Curitiba was to say "tudo bem" to Gerson's family and to pick up our weekend stowaway, Carlos (son of Gerson's first cousin). Larry and Marylyn were whisked off to Gerson's uncle Sebastian's house to partake in the breaking open and devouring pinion seeds. Seeing as the seed pods quickly disappeared, I have to assume they were very much enjoyed.
We only had a short time to visit before we had to strike out for our northern locale, the lake-house that we treasured during our visit in January (click here to refresh your memory of that wonderful weekend). We were warmly received into the bustling abode and exchanged our stories of the past months.
We found ourselves surrounded by the mouth-watering smell of feijoada cooking and the sounds of animated chatter throughout the morning. When the culinary delight was to be served, a line formed with no hesitation. There is no patience when food this good is in front of you. Afterwards, we hauled out bags of pinions that we bought and threw them onto a large bonfire of sorts in order to roast the large seeds. Once the fire was reduced to ashes, we picked out the still smoking pods and gingerly opened them to get at the warm and tasty nut inside.
The following day we just enjoyed each other's company and lamented the fact that we had to say good-bye to Larry and Marylyn. They are heading up to Northern Brasil, near Fortaleza, and we shan't be seeing them again for awhile. We so enjoyed their company throughout this leg of our journey and our memories have only been enhanced by their being a part of them. We watched their truck maneuver up the driveway and with a collective sigh, we turned around and went back into the house.
Lake Capivari is a reservoir and has very few inhabitants around its shores. A great portion of those that have homes there are related or connected to the Caron family. As such, we all scuttled down the short driveway to brother to Paulo, Pedro's home for a marvelous bar-b-que on their view-tiful and expansive deck. A weekend such as this does not come along enough in our lives...it truly was an ideal conclusion to this part of our journey.