Sunday, August 31, 2008

Santa Catarina and Mato Grosso

I´ve travelled quite alot in the past week. I flew from Rio to Curitiba. There I spent a few hours waiting for the bus to São Bento. This was not lost time, because right outside of the bus station was a lovely old inside fresh market, also with restuarants and gourmet cheeses, wines, and oils.

Two hours to São Bento brought me to a tiny little town of about 6o,000 people, where most of the people are of German descent. A very charming little town that has hills, a chiming bell tower, no crime, and about 3 major roads. Vivi was here staying with her family. So I stayed with her at her mother´s apartment but also spent good time with her very nice sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew. One night they had a lovely dinner party with friends. The last day there in São Bento we all went together to see some of the neighboring towns. On the fouth day we drove to the coast to Florianopolis.

First we stopped in a little town to visit the relatives of Vivi´s father. They lived close to a big lake. Wonderful lunch!

In Florianopolis, we stayed with Vivi´s brother. He has a wonderful rented house above the lake! Que linda! We drove to the South of the island and visited some nice areas. Lots of great sea food here! I ate enough oysters to fill me for the next year... I need to come back here another time to enjoy the beaches and trails more. Somewhere along this 1 week with Vivi´s family and friends, the Portuguese clicked and conversations became understandable. This was good because after Florianopolis I was on my own...

I flew to Brasilia where I stayed one night to meet with someone, then took the 14 hour bus to Canarana. When I stepped off the bus in Canarana at 10 am in the morning, I questioned my decision to travel so far into the center of Brazil. The bus station emptied quickly, and I could literally hear the leaves rolling down the empty streets in this city center. The heat was so heavy that the enormously wide paved roads shimmered, and little tornados brewed across the street medians. All of the 4 people in the bus station stared at me as I went to a bus ticket window to get a return ticket (already I was thinking about returning). Three indigenous people had arrived and were negotiating their ticket with the vender, giggling and making jokes that the vender (and I) didn't understand. I held my head up high as I left the station, trying to look confident that I knew what I was doing. I immediately went to an internet shop, hoping for an email from my colleague at UF with instructions about what to do next, and finding nothing, lingered-- writing in my face book "Arika is in Canarana and is wondering a bit, what in the world I am doing here in the middle of no where."

So I asked the woman at the counter if she knew where the IPAM office was-- the organization that my friend works for. She said sure! And she knew my friend! So she called him, got his friend, and his friend came to pick me up to bring me to a hotel and help me find lunch. Then immediately we ran into Paulo at the hotel where he was looking for another friend. Then, suddenly I had lots of friends. His group of researchers and students had come into town for the weekend to get a break from the isolation of the field station. A mix of Americans, Germans, and Brazilians. Great people! I guess in a town of 7000 people its not too hard to find who you are looking for.

No comments: