Wednesday 23 December 2009

On the road

Since Friday, 18 December, I`m on a bus trip through Southern Brazil.

The time table said that the trip from Santa Cruz to Caxias do Sul would take 2 hours and 50 minutes. Well, it took 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Sitting on a bench on the main square of Caxias, I was approached by a young woman who asked me to participate in a survey for a chain of drugstores. That is probably not for me, I said, I am a tourist. Ah, where from? Switzerland. She smiled and said she was from Torres. Did I know Torres? I said I did. Where will you spend the New Year? I don`t know yet. Well, Torres is the place to be, she said, it has the third biggest firework in Brazil. By the way, Caxias is great. I am here with my husband. Just the two of us. His daughter from another woman is with her mother. So it is just him and me here. Fantastic. We both work. Here it is easy to find work, in Torres it is very difficult ... Okay, gotta go, see you. And off she went. Such chatting - that may seem somewhat personal to a European - is fairly common in this country for Brazilians simply love to chat, with whom is secondary.

I walked around the center of town, got hungry and had a not very good "pastel". I returned to my hotel, asked for a place where they served good "pastéis" and then had a good one. Later, again on a bench on the main square, I watched the world walk by. Caxias has a center that I instinctively liked, it has a big city flair but is still not too big and that makes for good vibes. At 18 hours sharp, it was sunny and warm, loudspeakers in front of the cathedral filled the air with "Ave Maria" - it felt terrific.

A guy in the Internet Cafe was convinced I was from Uruguay. When I told him I was from Switzerland, he just laughed and said for him I was from Uruguay. I assume this has to do with my Portuñol, a mix of Spanish and Portuguese mainly spoken at the border of Brazil and Uruguay. No, I have not picked it up there, I have developed it myself and added a Swiss German accent.

Brazilian men, when saying hello or good bye, often tap other men on the shoulder, Brazilian women often kiss you on the cheek. In a bookstore, a woman in her thirties suddenly turned around and bumped into me. "Desculpe", she smiled, tapped me on the shoulder and left the store. She was beautiful, I would have preferred a kiss.

On the bus to Lages, my neighbour explained that he had lived for 30 years in Porto Alegre but was originally from Santa Catarina. People in Rio Grande do Sul are arrogant, he whispered.

In Lages, a gentleman in the hotel elevator, after he learned where I was from, told me he was from Santa Cruz and started to speak German to me.

In the bus from Florianópolis to the island, a young man behind me threw up - I was lucky that his vomit was all over the floor and not on me.

At the island junction, people were standing in line for the bus to the South of the island. When it finally arrived, many young men literally stormed it. One youngster pushed me, I got hit on the head, lost my sun glasses, stumbled. A young women with her son on her knees shouted at them ("são terríveis, são mal educados") and offered me the seat next to her.

After my first night at the Praia da Armaçaõ, my arms were covered with mosquito bites. The dona of my pousada said that only yesterday the government had anounced that there was no dengue on the island. Until then I had not worried.

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