After discovering Sao Paolo, Marcella and Antonio take us to Sorocaba where we are baptized to the Brazilian lifestyle. We first thought that we would go to the ‘Parque Natural Municipal da Agua Vermelha Joao Cancio Pereira’ or Sorocaba’s Contemporary Art Museum, the Catedral Metropolitana de Sorocaba, the museum of railroad or maybe even the spectacular ‘Jardim botánico Irmaos Vilas Boas’. But no no… at Marcella’s parents we are about to find out what’s Brasilian churrasco all about. Brasil, as many other nations, is proud of its food. While each has a different approach, Brazil and Argentina both claim to be South America’s barbeque champion. Despite the discussion of naming it churrasco or asado, the cuts and the accompaniments, some things are simply the same; the ogre-sized quantities of meat which is best appreciated at a laidback pace. We can easily state that the preparing and the cooking itself is 90% of the experience. Onions spiked on an épée are carefully turned above the vivid fire while an infinite assortment of sizzling meats are judiciously been looked after.
In the mean while the table fills up with all kind of vegetables cut rightfully by the experienced hand of the ‘avó’. With a ‘cerveja Skol’ in the hand a wood oven is lit for the grilled vegetables side dishes.
There is no sitting down at this bacchanal, so as we are talking the wooden cuttings board passes by with all kind of meats nicely cut. Another Skol later the same cutting board passes by with other meat and some grilled vegetables.
Maybe a sporadic fork searches its way to some grilled peppers but for as far as I know seems cutlery just an option. Whilst a new batch of meat is getting to its point, Marcella’s father gives me a private tour on the property explaining all the tricky parts of having and maintaining an orchid garden. With my limited Portuguese I can figure out that it must be very complicated. So here goes my tribute to a man with a passion for beauty and nature. ( Just a tiny selection of the photos I made…)
But before all the Skol, before being part of a Brazilian Churrasco, even before striking any match we went for a moment downtown to take a look at ‘Amabili‘, the patchwork shop of Marcella’s mother, a cute atelier where creativity has no frontiers and where colors brighten the grey city routine. Definitely a place to stop by and inhale some positive energy.
Thanks Antonio, Marcella and all the family for opening your hart and house.
It’s a long ride from Misiones, Argentina till the border. Once passed the border everything changes because this ain’t Argentina anymore… this is Brasil. A nation of superlatives if we talk distances. First we cross the plateau of Guarapuava. The altitudes here vary from 1200 to 900 meters. In this area the original vegetation (Tropical Forest and Araucaria Forest) almost no longer exists. In its place are plantations and pastures. Then the bus finds its way through the area of Ponta Gross, where the altitudes vary between 1200 and 300 meters. The relief is undulating and the vegetation is composed of Araucarias and fields. With the Araucaria Forest endlessly escorting us a long way through the plateau of Curitiba we climb again to altitudes between 1300 and 850 meters. A short stop at the state capital Curitiba and the ride continues leaving Paraná behind us and entering in the state of São Paulo. Although we have 861km behind us, we still have to cross the Serra Do Mar and do another another 417km. It’s this long ride that gives us the chance to get used to the idea that we are at the end of our particular Panamerican Highway journey. And how to end this travel better than a couple of relax days at our local friends Marcela and Antonio. After a 20 hours bus ride we arrive late in São Paulo so we stay the night there in a lovely high floor apartment with stunning night views of this colossal metropolis.
In a 12 million megalopolis as São Paulo pick your fights and only choose some of the things to do/see or do as us and just walk. Just walk this way and then that street and go right at this corner, cross Paulista Avenue at any pedestrian crossing and turn to the left at any other casual side street… loose and find yourself over and over again.
We simply love it. No stress with street maps or opening times of buildings. Suddenly we are walking in a street full of graffiti’s, stand before a church that once stood tall above all but now is overgrown by crystal skyscrapers or find ourselves gaping at the impresive São Paulo Metropolitan Cathedral. Or how about unexpectedly entering an underground bookstore astutely called: “Passagem Literaria Da Consolação”?
Nonetheless there are some things that a traveler must have done in São Paulo. Street markets are all over the city and offer an endless variety of products. Drink, at any time of the day, a Caipirinha in one of the overpopulated bars and feel the vibe of Brasil.
We try all tropical fruits we are able to as we might not find them again in other countries. Each corner offers something to try of São Paulo’s notorious street food, bites such as Coxinha, Pastel, Kibe, Mandioca Frita,… are cheap and keep us energized. It’s our perfect way to try a bit of everything! It’s our way to feel the essence of this vast city.
A collection of over 250 separate cascades located in the exotic subtropical forests of Parque Nacional Iguazú on the Argentinian side and Parque Nacional do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side are unquestionably the world’s most spectacular waterfalls and our next inevitable stop on this journey. These waterfalls flow for a couple of kilometres over cliffs from the upper into the lower Río Iguazú some 70meters below. It’s a trick of nature and mind-boggling what we are looking at, a waterfall not the width of the river but one that is positioned in the length of the river and is actually some kilometres long!
As vast as they are, they kept forgotten in this remote corner of Argentina, and it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that the first visitors arrived. Nevertheless the word spreads around and today the falls are one of the seven natural wonders of the world with about two million visitors each year. Most of the Iguazú Falls are on the Argentine ground, so that is the side we decide to explore and seems also the side best prepared to fully enjoy the spectacle of nature. Different trails bring us close to the edge to have diverse views of the staggering, vertical drop of water and others lead us down to observe the massive quantity of water falling down and spraying up into the air. As that is not enough, Iguazú even offers an island (Isla de San Martín) in the lower Rio Iguazú which is surrounded by this marvel of mother nature. The view and the deafening sound are just indescribable. Different trails through the dense forest give options to observe the exotic wildlive… just in case for those who expect even more! 😉
It’s difficult to explain Iguazú but it certainly does what it’s supposed to do… it gives the visitor some sleepless nights while the brain struggles to absorb each detail and strives to comprehend its greatness.
- The entrance fee for the park is 170 ARS (around 10 euros).
- The main settlement on this side, Puerto Iguazú, lies approximately 18km northwest of the park entrance with a slightly sleepy, villagey feel, though its popularity with backpackers has livened it up a bit in recent years.
- We find a nice hostel for 144 ARS (9 euros) per night for two persons: Residencial Uno Hostel with pretty basic rooms, many sweet dogs walking around and a beautiful swimmingpool.