Saturday, 30 January 2010


Trivia question - which is the worlds oldest airline?
TUESDAY 26 JANAURY – Alex has bought us tickets for the 0955hrs Garcia bus to Londrina, R67.30 (£24).   Some roads are closed due to flooding so we leave in plenty of time but the traffic is worse than expected.  Luckily all Brazilians drive like Grand Prix drivers so with Ayrton Senna (Gisele) at the wheel we make it through arriving with a couple of minutes to spare.  It is a more comfortable coach with a wider gap between seats and leg and foot rests.  Again the countryside is much like England but much more of it.   Drinking water is supplied and although there is a toilet on board we make a couple of stops.  Each time entering the building you are given either a sheet or plastic card on which to record purchases before heading to the check out.  Even just to go to the bathroom you must take a card, walk all the way through the restaurant and shops and hand it in before leaving.  This time we are only 30 minute late arriving in Londrina at 1830hrs.  The bus station is
amazing, 2 floors with the top floor round with glass windows on all sides looking out to the bus stands.  Taking the exit ramp we are approached by a couple of lads.  Franco (John because he looks like John Lennon) is our host Kilda’s son and Gabriel (Bola because he has a big belly) his friend.  Just get into the car before it starts raining again.  Kilda lives in a bungalow near the city airport.  She is the same age as me, was married to an Italian and has 3 children, her 2 girls living in Italy.  She is a sworn language interpreter.   There are another couple of lads at the house “Gu” (Gustav) who works with Kilda as a translator and “Bastian” (Sebastian) a friend of Franco’s.  Gu is cooking a Thai curry and it is superb.  Kilda’s friend Einida, from Rio, is also joining us so with 8 around the table it is quite a rowdy meal.  After eating the youngsters all head off clubbing leaving the 4 of us to chat.

WEDNESDAY 27 JANUARY – Our son David’s 31st birthday but without wi-fi we have to settle for E-mailing a greeting.  Kilda who was born here takes us on a sightseeing tour of Londrina “little London”, named by founders including Arthur Thomas.  There is an attractive lake here split into many sections but it is very muddy from the rains.  The firemen are checking to see whether there is enough visibility for them to do some of their exercises underwater as they want to check out a new video camera.  We see horses and carts in the city, poor people trying to salvage useful things that homeowners throw out.  Londrina was once the biggest coffee producer in the world and at the edge of the city we see huge empty warehouses and a rusty train on the railway line.  All was abandoned after the bushes were lost to frost.  The Japanese immigrant workers remained and there is now a Japanese commemorative square.  As the city is only 70 years old the cathedral is very modern and has a very steep “A” frame shape.  Other points of interest are the original Oscar Niemeyer designed bus station and the “English” style train station with museum.  Kilda invites us to a friend’s birthday party in a bar.  We set out just before 10pm in the pouring rain.  None of the other guests speak English but of course we have a good interpreter so manage brief chats.  In the background is a band with drums and guitarist paid for by the obligatory R4 (£1.40) pp cover charge. 

THURSDAY 28 JANAURY – As usual I get up first but we are starting to get a bit worried about Steve’s lethargy and need for so much sleep.  Originally we were putting it down to the pain in his hand stopping him sleeping properly at night but now feel there may be something else going on.  Today Kilda’s sister in law and housekeeper Abigail wants to cook us a traditional meal for lunch, whilst my cottage pie will put in an appearance tonight, so we make a supermarket run.   You may wonder why I make so many cottage pies when we don’t eat them all that often in England - I know I can almost always get the ingredients, it makes a change from the ubiquitous rice and beans and if people are late for dinner (which is almost always the case) the meal can just sit in the oven.  Abigail’s meal is “vaca atolado” which Kilda translates to “drowning cow”.   Chunks of beef in a sticky puree of “mandioca” (cassava) which Steve proclaims to be the tastiest food he has had in Brazil.  Late afternoon we join Kilda for a ride up to the University where she has been teaching.  She is taking early retirement and has to sign off so quite a momentous occasion.  In the campus we see one of the original pioneer homes and also a scale model of a wooden church.  Return in another downpour.  On TV we see news about the problems caused by the unprecedented rain in South America, the rail line to Machu Picchu has collapsed and people are being rescued from Aguascalientes by helicopter.  Early evening we are joined by Couchsurfer Marcio and his girlfriend Polline from a nearby town. They saw we were in the area and sent me a message hoping to meet us so Kilda suggested we invite them over for dinner.  My meal was originally prepared for 5 people but somehow manages to serve 11 of us as Franco’s friends Gabriel and Guilherme and Abigail and her sons Gabriel and Matheus join us.  

FRIDAY 29 JANAURY – I usually wake when I hear Abigail arrive and chat to Kilda but today find I wake at ¼ to 10.  Abigail has been out since 5am getting in line to get her son Gabriel a national identity card so he can go to a different school.  Only 80 are issued each day whilst 1000’s wish to apply.  She arrives back around 11am having been the first to get one.  I join them for a drive to the new school to register.  Kilda takes me to a couple of fruit and veg markets to explain the different produce.  She buys some “xuxu” which Abigail will puree with flour and bake in the oven.  Another person in the store obviously speaks English and understands what is happening because at the checkout she asks Kilda why she is buying “xuxu” for us as it is like a “hole in the wall” and tasteless compared to others things she could have bought!  At another stall Kilda asks for “pinha” a kind of fruit that looks like a mini artichoke.  She asks the stallholder to pick some good ones for her English friend who has never tried them before and he jokes that he could give us anything as we would be none the wiser.  Abigail cooks up the “xuxu” in a kind of soufflé and it is very tasty.   Kilda is joined by Gu for our drive to Maringa.  Unfortunately it is raining for most of the journey but we arrive in sunshine at the tree lined city.  Fernando meets up with us and we follow him to his home.  He lives with his parents but his Mum is away in USA for the birth of her first granddaughter.   His Dad Valdevino speaks no English but seems pleased to have us as visitors.  Bruno his brother speaks quite a lot of English and is a computer programmer.  Early evening Fernando takes us for a drive around the city.  There is a magnificent modern cathedral with the highest spire in Latin America, around 400m.  The nearby park is closed at the moment as the resident wild monkeys are sick but we walk part of the perimeter and are amazed at the sheer number and age group of people using the outdoor gym equipment.  We return to watch some TV before Fernando heads out for the evening, at 11pm!

Trivia answer - KLM is the worlds' oldest airline established in 1919. 


Ruth said...

Sounds like you having no problem finding couchsurfing in Brazil. That is great, and tey all sound like a lot of fun.

Steve & Glen Swatman said...

Brazilians are amazing, best country we have ever visited for hosts - the people are just so friendly.

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