Sunday, April 18, 2010

Backpacking in South America - Curitiba

Oh man, a lot has been going on since we got back from our trip!  First of all, I will fill you all in on the last few days of our trip which was the bus ride to Curitiba and the train ride to Morretes.  (This train ride is supposedly the most beautiful train ride you can take in Brazil and its main purpose is to take tourists either to Morretes or further on to Paranagua)

So, after a really nice day in Sao Francisco, we caught the bus early in the morning to Curitiba.  The city itself was pretty nice and we stayed in probably the nicest hotel there of the whole trip!  The room was huge with a small kitchen + stocked fridge, balcony, double bed and single bed, TV, air con - the whole works!  The only downside to being in Curitiba this weekend was that it was Easter and pretty much everything was closed.  We spent Friday afternoon and evening watching streamed clips of Russel Peters and a few English shows we found on the TV.  Our only option for eating was in the mall across the street (which, unbeknownst to us, we would be eating EVERY meal in for the entire weekend).
The next day was one of my most anticipated events of the whole trip.  The Train Ride.  We smartly bought our train tickets the day we arrived in Curitiba, as well as our bus ticket back.  What a good thing we did because we actually lined up to try and change our ticket time once we got to Morretes and were informed that all of the bus times were sold out.  Phew!
So the train ride - I was undecided whether or not we should buy the regular trem ticket (which was already about R$100 each) or the Litorina train (which is the tourist train and 3x the price).  Actually, while I may have been undecided, Ro was not at all.  We took the trem.
Just like on the Litorina, you get a snack box, and unlimited beer and pops and you also get a service attendant.  So for the price, in terms of services, I think the trem is just as good.  The only difference that I can see being plausible is that there are a good, healthy, LACK of spoiled Brazilian children on the Litorina.  Because they are all on the trem.  Oh. My. God.  I'm serious, when your child is clearly VERY fat, STOP FEEDING IT MORE JUNK FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!
The kids who sat in front of us (and their mother) were just about the biggest folgados I have ever seen.  Seeming to have no sense of awareness that there were other passengers on the train, these kids, actually more the mother, chose to take up not just the two benches they had paid for, but four benches, on both sides of the train, which meant they were constantly walking back and forth back and forth with the mother yelling at the daughter to "stop putting your head outside the train!!" basically so she could put her own head outside the train.  The mother was taking picture after picture of nothingness, as far as I could see.  The very fat boy child drank, I think, at least 4 regular cokes in a 3 hour trip PLUS ate his entire snack box (which consisted of at least 6 different types of snack) PLUS asked for another snack box and ate that too.  Every time he started unwrapping another silvery-crinkle wrapper, Ro and I stared at him muttering "don't do it, don't do it, I swear to god you'll regret it when you're 25 and you're still a virgin DON'T DO IT!"   GOD.  It was just too many kids screaming.  Every time the train went through a tunnel it was about 25 kids and their parents screaming 'wooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!"
After like the 10th time of this happening, Ro articulately stated "I swear I'm gonna kill a kid."
Oh, I didn't even mention the 4 year old-ish boy sitting opposite and a little behind us who was hanging off the back of the bench of the poor woman sitting directly across from us.  He was having the time of his life holding on at the top while kicking his way up the back of the seat.  The woman was on the train alone and I think if we had all made eye contact and nodded there might have been some Kung Fu Karate busted out.  To try and help her out I started looking back at the kid (very discreetly, from behind Ro, obviously so his parents couldn't see me) and started opening my eyes really really big at the kid, y'know, just to freak him out.  Then he would stop for a second, captivated and disturbed by the freaky stranger staring at him and then I would start shaking my head with a serious expression. NO.  No boy, don't. do. that.... very slowly.  Eyes still wide.  Mouthing the words "PARA".    hhahahahahahahaha Ro was like "Lindsey, stop scaring the children".  Oh man.  Good times.
So anyway, oh yeah, the train.  The thing I waited 3 whole weeks to go on.  Well, we saw some trees, saw some canopies, saw some rivers, saw some villages.  It was alright.  I felt the train spent more time in tight spaces where you couldn't really see anything rather than in these big magnificent spaces where the view was spectacular.  Or maybe it was just the kids ruining the experience for me.  Hard to say.  Then we got to Morretes which was also just alright.  We did get to eat the local dish called barreado which is beef that is cooked in a clay pot for about 24 hours, which makes it like pulled beef.  Then you mix some farinha de mandioca (cassava flour) with the beef until it's kind of sticky, add the beef juice, some rice and slice some banana on top.  It was really good but REALLY REALLY heavy.  We were dying for a nap when we finished.  Actually, we were so lazy, tired and bored for the rest of the day, Ro suggested we literally count how many steps it would be to the bus terminal.  Like, toe to heel count.  Hahaha.  SO BORED.
The next day we spent the day site-seeing in Curitiba, which is a pretty decent sized city.  We went to the Oscar Niemeyer museum (the guy who built a lot of the cool, funky buildings in Brazil and who designed the capital city's architecture) and after went to the Polish historical village.  Then, we went in search of a churrascaria so we could eat the barbeque that the South of Brazil is famous for but no place was open.  Our last meal ended up being some good ol' reliable McDonalds and Burger King, which we'd been talking about wanting the entire trip.

And so concludes our 3 week long trip to Argentina and the south of Brazil.  There are so many more places that we want to go - the good news is that my mom and sister are coming to visit in one week!!!!! Yayyyy!!!  During those 2 weeks we're going to get a really good look at Rio and will also be able to go visit Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais!!  It's one of the oldest colonial cities, still in tact.

Since this update is so long I'm going to leave a real update for the next day or two - to give you a sneak preview though: I am teaching my first English class tomorrow evening!!!  It's just a trial run, I have 3 trial classes, but if it goes well I'll be hired!!  Woooo hooooo!!!

1 comment:

  1. I've always wondered about that train ride. Thanks for sparing me the ordeal! LOL!

    You will LOVE Ouro Preto. Be sure to take the local bus to Mariana if you want to see more churches. The gold mine (between the two towns) tour is fun. And nearby Congonhas has the most spectacular church with famous sculptures by Aleijadinho.

    I love Minas.


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