Tuesday, 8 November 2011

IATTOUR Nov 2-7, 2011

November 2: Arriving in Brazil
The travel from Canada to Joinville Brazil, although long with 4 flights and 1 bus transfer was long, but uneventful.  Our two pieces of luggage arrived with no problem.  Our two Orbitz reservations for TAM Sao Paulo to Joinville and our first night’s accommodation worked out well with no SNAFU’s.  A quick shower at the hotel, then we were off to find a Caparina and dinner…Fechoda (sp?).  The drink turned out to be rather large and potent; Elaines’ lips were going numb and not working very well by the time we reached the hotel.  It was not long after our heads hit the pillow and we were asleep.  Just in case you are interested in reproducing this effect, I have included recipes:

1 lime
2 ounces of cachaça (or Vodka)
sugar to taste
ice cubes

Wash the lime and roll it on the board to loosen the juices. Cut the lime into pieces and place them in a glass. Sprinkle with the sugar and crush the pieces (pulp side up) with a pestle. (We have a long, wooden one from Brazil, made specifically for this purpose.) Just enough to release the juice, otherwise it'll get bitter. Add the cachaça and stir to mix. Add the ice and stir again. It is delicious and potent!

Recipe of Feijoada

November 3, 2011: Joinville (Joinvilli), Santa Catarina, Brazil
After breakfast, we reviewed the lay of the land.   It turns out the hotel booked was within a stones throw of where Elaine’s Grandfather grew up.  Wandering the streets of downtown Joinville was a enlightening experience for Elaine as we turned one corner to find the Avenda des Palmas of her Grandpa’s stories.  At the end of the Avenue of Palms, stood the “Museum of Immigration and Colonization”.  This seems to be frequented by school groups and the occasional Brazilian tourist.  I am guessing that we are probably some of the few tourists to come through this industrial/working city. 

The Museum seems to be the home of an influential colonist from Rhode Island (why?).  It is filled with household items from her time there along with many artifacts donated by the German/Swiss colonists of this region.  Luckily Tony had ignored the request that photos not be taken as on the third floor I spied the large pictures of my great-grandparents who immigrated to Joinville in the 1880’s (he, from Berlin—she from Frankfurt).  What excitement!  I had to run downstairs and drag the guide up to show him (by then, Tony had finished taking photos). 

Our guide said that they don’t often know anything about the immigrants in the posted photos.  Excitedly, I found the one piece of ID with my birth name on it (SIN) and verified that we were related (okay—it said “Schutze”, but close enough). Turns out that Carl Eugene Felix Schutze’s business was at the end of the Avenue of Palms (I think that he branched out to be a dentist in Brazil, though he was trained as a Civil Engineer—guess higher education was much more flexible in those days!).   The guide’s English was just good enough to understand me and he accompanied us through the tour of the outer buildings (ranch house, cane presses, canoe, hearses, buggies).   After that, we took multiple photos of the Ave. of Palms, guessing where G-Grandpa’s business might have been.  There was only one building standing from that time.  Remembering Grandpa’s stories of monkeys, snakes, stolen fishing canoes, ginger beer escapades and small, sweet, golden bananas, it was very overwhelming to wander through where he spent his childhood years trying to take related pictures.  As the Schutzes had moved to Oregon (for Felix’s health) in 1905, there are no real family connections so we didn’t visit anyone.  It is easy to see the German/Swiss influence in this town of intermittently tall, blond people, Bavarian style houses and beer gardens.  Hmmm…now if they only had those fantastic Brazilian shoes in larger sizes!
Later, after another Caparinia, we indulged in Pizza (nothing in the way of Brazilian eateries near us or enough energy) and contemplated the walk to the bus in the morning.

November 4, 2011: Joinville to Curitiba to Foz Do Iguacu

Congratulations to REI for such great travel backpacks.  Very adjustable and comfortable, even for the 30 minute walk to the bus station—getting our exercise in before the 13 hour bus ride to Foz.  What a great thrill to see the countryside from the bus. 

Amazing how much it looks like parts of the Prairies and the farmland of Ontario/Quebec—if not for the Palm trees.  Now I know what air-view (crazy quilt of green and brown) looks like from the ground.  We passed through small communities and large in air-conditioned comfort.  All Southern Brazil looks relatively prosperous, industrious and green (clean, too).  Curitiba was a lovely looking city and we wished we could have taken more time to look around.  Interesting to watch the armed security guards—weapons drawn—collect the funds from each ticket booth at the bus station.  We arrived in Foz Do Iguacu about 10pm, took a taxi to the hotel Tony had chosen, but not reserved (as we weren’t sure of bus connections), and crossed our fingers.  No, they didn’t have room, but the taxi driver intervened and yes, they found us a nice double room with bath.  Hooray!  Off to the falls in the morning.

November 5, 2011: Foz Do Iguacu

 After our continental breakfast, we made up of bit of day food to take along, then off we went to the Omnibus Terminal 8 blocks away.  We paid our 2 x 4R fare and proceeded to the Parc Nacional bus stop….at the main terminal you board from the rear of the bus, everywhere else on the route you enter from the front to pay the fare to the conductor.  There is a real sense of propriety on the buses in order of who sits; from the elderly, to infirm, to moms/dads with kids, then women, everyone who had a seat gave up the seat for those on the list.  Needless to say, I stood the 40 minute trip while Elaine had a seat…. Taking the urban bus is easy and probably saves 150Rpp on an organized tour to see the same things.  At the entrance to the Parc, touts tried to sell you their entry tickets for 5R more than if you went to the ticket office.  Fortunately, we spied the billet office and saved ourselves a few R.  This place is hopping; bus loads after bus loads of tours are disgorging to view the spectacle.  We hopped on our bus for the 10km drive to the Cataras viewing.  I am not going to describe the falls in gory detail, as everyone can Google Foz do Iguazu and see all the information and better pictures than I can post.  Needless to say, the walk along the canyon was spectacular. 
Elanor Roosevelt summed it up quite nicely- “Poor Niagara”!   On our exit, we both entered our votes to include the Cataras as one of the new 7 wonders of the natural world.  We are getting pretty good with the local transport and found ourselves back to our community in fairly short order.  Being a nice afternoon, we stopped by a local street bar to have a beer or two and fill out some post cards. 
Great spot to people watch and see the world going by on Brasil Street.  Elaine is not so sure of the supersize beer bottles, but we made it back to the hotel OK.  Changed into our swimming suites for a leisurely dip in the pool…aaahhhh! Does that feel good or what. 
There did not seem to be much choice in our neighbourhood for resturants and we didn’t feel like bussing or cabbing so we made it out to a local Lebanese bistro for dinner..not bad!  Discussed plans for the coming days, tomorrow off to Itaipu Dam and Parque do Aves (bird sanctuary), then to move over to Puerto Iguazu on the Argentine side on Monday.

Nov 6,2011
We made our way out to the Itaipu visitor centre to take in the panoramic tour of the Itaipu Dam via the urban bus even through the pouring rain.  The information film chronicled the history, development and social importance of this facility to both Paraguay and Brazil.  90% of Paraguay’s power comes from here; 25% of Brasil’s.  In context this is the largest producing hydroelectric facility in the world eclipsing 3 Gorges by virtue of having more water.  When the Dam was completed, the reservoir only took 2 weeks to fill owing to heavy flood rains (raised the water ~110m).  In comparision, I think it took 25 years to fill the lake Nasser behind the Aswan dam.  Everything about this facility is of mammoth proportions, hard to compare to anything else as there are none.  Again I can quote facts and figures about the dam, but that is all online.  The takeaway info from the tour was that in full dump from the reservoir, the spillway volume equals > 10x the maximum discharge over the Iguacu Falls; each one of the turbines has a 10m diameter pen stock feed tube which can supply enough energy to light up 2.5m people; there are I think 25 turbines..do the math.  Let’s see if Harry and Candice can sell a few of the Green House Monitoring systems from Axys to this facility..based on the propaganda, they seem to be pretty forward looking and “Green”.  Tony has the install all cased!
We backtracked our route through the Urban Bus terminal and transferred to the Parc Nacional Bus to get out to the Bird sanctuary (lots of rescued birds).  Our afternoon was spent in a tropical settings viewing all the various birds of Brasil.  Many of the exhibits had you walking through acre sized cages of different biomes to view up close…sometimes too close a lot of the resident species. 

The Toucans seemed to be the most curious and unafraid. There was a reptile section, butterfly section, then capped off with a trip through the Macaw cage…”pieces of eight” (Portuguese translation) left right and centre and noisy!  Outside the final bit was holding the Macaw and Python. 

Where did the day go?  Back into town, for a cool refreshing dip as the cool rain from this morning was displaced by a muggy hot afternoon.
Nov 7, 2011  Foz do Iguacu (Brasi) to Puerto Iguazu (Argentina)..bridge over the River Iguaz(c)u
We had scouted out the information on the special international bus to catch from Foz to get over to the other side…what they didn’t tell us was that there are 2 bus companies on the route, 1 has three times as many buses; our luck we catch the one with the fewer busses (important later).  We made all the right moves, informing the driver to stop, nae wait for us to get our passports stamped on the Brasil side… When we emerged the bus is gone.   We thought we would hop onto the next  bus, but were sadly informed our transfers were not valid and were told to wait about an hour.   Not thinking quick enough just to pay the fare, the bus drove on with us sitting on our backpacks.   We broke out the insect repellent as our legs were getting chewed on by various biters.  The next bus showed up, we caught and paid our 8R to escape the bugs.  We emerged after clearing Argentine customs to find the bus gone…surprise/surprise.  Luckly we had our transfers in hand to catch the next one through, thus completed our entry into Argentina. 

We made our way to the Garden Stone Hostel...something we haven't done for over 30+ years...yes there were no double rooms available for the night and Elaine was game for the 5 person split dorm.  The hostel is on the outskirts of town, nice and quiet so it is not your normal 19-28 year old backpacker.  Very nice garden with a pool, so not too hard to take. Visited with a number of other travellers, Brit couple heading to a BA Gaucho festival, Hungarian dude looking for good meat and an Aussie couple looking for a good time.  We decided we needed to have meat for dinner Argentina style...we were not dissappointed..OMG  what decidance.. ended up with a meat hangover!  Not only the meat, but everything else served with dinner was absolutely scrumptious.  We may be eating a little lighter tomorrow evening.   Said goodnight to Elaine then went off to the guys dorm....lets see how the night goes..more next post!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you guys are definitely getting up close and personal with the wildlife. ;)

    Glad to hear the journey is still as entertaining as it was at the outset, more so now, I would suppose, as it's no longer on such familiar ground.