CURITIBA, IGUASSU FALLS, ARGENTINA MISSIONS, PARAGUAY
Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday
By early December, I had wrapped up my work projects for the year. I flew to Brazil for 4 weeks of exploration.
I started in Curitiba, a modern city in the south of Brazil,
and capital of the state of Parana.
Curitiba has an international reputation as an ecologically aware city. The public transport is excellent; even New York has studied their success, looking for ideas.
My previous Brazil travel frustrated me with trying to communicate in Spanish.
So I decided to work on the problem: I took Portuguese language lessons for 10 days at this school in Curitiba.
Although this was an English-teaching school,
I arranged for three one-hour lessons each day,
one-on-one with an instructor.
This is a monument to one of the major immigrant groups such as Polish, Ukrainian, German, or Italian, I cant remember which.
This "Southern Region" of Brazil is very European looking.
The people here have tried to seperate politically from Brazil to the north.
The first weekend I went to the Atlantic coast.
An exciting narrow-gauge train completed in 1880 operates from Curitiba to Paranagua, a journey of 110 km in about three hours..
The guidebook says 13 tunnels and 67 bridges. Notice the train tunnel on the upper right side of this canyon.
Train bridge on the route to Paranagua
From the Atlantic coast at Paranagua, I went by bus and boat to the beautiful and quiet Ilho do Mel (Honey Island).
This island paradise allows no motorized vehicles.
Lots of beaches and trails are perfect for long walks.
Walk about 1 hour to visit this 18th-century
Portuguese Fort which guards the entrance to Parana Bay.
I thought the facade was unusual:
Looking back from the Fort towards the village
along Praia Fortaleza.
This freshwater stream flows out of the island,
and is heavily stained with tannin from the vegetation
A mossy log on the beach
Back in Curitiba for school week, I learned how to navigate the super-efficient bus system. The bus stops are plexiglas tubes along the street. You pay before entering the tube, and the buses load quickly through multiple doors like subways.
Express routes from the suburbs come straight into the city without any stops, encouraging suburban living.
It is the week before Christmas,
and there are Christmas carol singing celebrations in the downtown area.
This one bank building had live singers
in each decorated window of their office.
This beautiful glass and steel structure is a concert hall
Milton Nascimento gave a free summer concert in the Brahma beer factory yard.
I went with these
Brazilian teachers from the language school.
A few nights later I went out for beers with my Portuguese tutor (left) and some of the English-learning students.
We enjoyed a bavarian style beer parlor, where one of the students asked me if I knew what is a submarino. I did not....
This is a submarino:
a draft beer with a small stein of whiskey dropped inside. The denser liquor stays in place until you start to drink the beer.
From Curitiba I travelled by express bus (12 hrs) to Iguassu Falls.
I spent one night on the Brazilian side, and the next night on the Argentina side.
Iguassu is worth at least two days of looking around.
You can go out on this walkway to look into the "Devil's Throat", and get completely soaked.
Then I visited two Jesuit missions.
San Ignacio Mission
in southern Paraguay.
I took a bus to Asuncion, the capitol of Paraguay.
I spent two days here, including Christmas Eve.
I didn't know what to expect in Paraguay.
Plaza of the
Unlike southern Brazil,
there were well-made handicrafts to buy,
such as these "tejadores".
I then flew to Sao Paulo, Brazil on Christmas Day.
A direct bus from the airport went to Campinas, north of Sao Paulo.
From there I made a day-trip to the town of Americana, a region of textile mills.
About 10,000 poverty-stricken U.S. Confederates emigrated here after the civil war. The King of Brazil offered free land and boat passage for anyone who could grow cotton.
Confederate Flags and
gravestones in the cemetery,
and pictures of civil war generals
in the church,
are reminders of this unusual migration.
The final four days of the trip were in Rio de Janeiro.
I visited relatives living in the nearby town of Niteroi.
They came to Brazil from Germany 3 or 4 generations ago, about the time my other German ancestors settled in Washington state.
Marcelo Von Pressentin and his mother in their Niteroi apartment.
Fireworks are ready on the beach
for tonight's show
the evening feast
New Years Eve dinner party
My room at the Rio Othon Palace Hotel.
I invited friends to the hotel for a good view of the fireworks.
About 4 million people flood down to the
Rio beaches just before midnight;
Guinness records this as the worlds largest outdoor celebration.
Emile Klingele and family
Dancing and drumming on the beach.
Celebrants dress in white
in honor of the sea goddess Iemanja.
New Years Eve fireworks
above Copacabana beach
Sunrise on New Years Day, 1998
Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday