🇬🇧 GG: This morning, when I looked out of the car window, while our friend drove us through the beautiful wine valley (vale do vinhedo del Rio Grande del Sul), I thought, the landscape looks like the land of plenty. The same impression I had in Rio. Because the City’s location is just stunning, at one of the most beautiful bays of the world and surrounded by a multitude of well-shaped green hills.
Also the Santa Catarina Island, where we went next, is rather not poor of beauty with it’s 42 beaches, white sands, 2 lagoons, huge trees, colorful flowers and green hills.
Similar thoughts I had during the 6hour bus ride (the most luxury in my life) from Floripa to Porto Alegre. Outside there was a juicy green landscape, nice houses, lagoons surrounded by mountains (looking like lakes), healthy looking cattle and horses, everything looked really idyllic. The area we visited yesterday (Serra Gaúcha) and the wine valley we saw today also was very lovely, bucolic. I will come back to this in a moment.
This part of the State Rio Grande del Sul, where we are now, was mainly settled by Germans and Italians, who were hired in the 19th century to cultivate the wild land. So Brazil sent people to Europe, to poor rural areas, to aquire farmers willing to leave their country for a better life. Our friend, who knows very well the history of the area told us that the Brazilian emperor Don Pedro II tried to give to the immigrants lots in a landscape similiar to what they are used to. But what I see and experience is, that, even if some of the lagoons we saw remind a bit the ‘Starnberger See’ in Bavaria and the heights and shapes of the hills might be corresponding to any German ‘Mittelgebirge’, so the plants and especially the climate do not.
Since I am here now, I am remembering a novel I read 1 or 2 years ago, you know, this kind of non-ambitous pageturner you like to read sometimes in your holidays or at christmas time to relax and to dream on other countries, to learn a bit about history and maybe to follow a passionate love story, style ‘gone with the wind’? So the book I am thinking about was written by a German writer using the Brazilian sounding pseudonym Ana Veloso. She uses to write historical love novels which take place in Brazil (I just googled her and found out, that her books are international bestsellers) – I think, my sister gave me the first one for a long train ride through Germany. Normally it’s not the kind of books I read, but I liked it, I found this kind of introduction into Brazilian history, entwined around an intense on-and-off love story very entertaining, so meanwhile I read 2 of them (the other one on christmas holidays). One of the books (‘das Mädchen am Rio Paraíso’) describes how German immigrants came from a very poor area (I think it was the Hundsrück) to settle in Rio Grande del Sul. What I remember is that the farmers arrived full of hope, often having many hungry children, and they were not prepared for the new place, neither for the climatic conditions nor for the tropical vegetation they had to struggle with. So bearing this novel in mind, I visited yesterday an immigration Park in Petropolis, which is a kind of open-air museum, which I found emotionally touching. Because at the moment, the climatic conditions that we experience are a bit extreme, and I can reenact the migrant’s feelings and physical discomfort when they realized in what they had got into here in Brazil…
(The church of the German settlers in the open-air museum)
In these few days we had tropical heat, extreme dampness, even mist (in summer!) and intense cloudbursts. Somehow this wheather also contributes to the notion of abundance.
The rain and the sun of course are in a high measure responsible for the abundance of the nature.
For the eyes it is amazing to see all these shades of green, these lush, succulent looking plants and trees and, as mentioned above, the brightly colored flowers and impressive, eyestrinking trees exuberantly adorned with yellow, pink and purple flowers. And (this is, what reminds me the US, and my stay in Texas):everything seems to be big(ger)! The trees, the flowers, the leaves. Next week we will go to see the Iguazu falls, I am sure, this will also add to the impression of everything being big, and abundant.
In connection to this theme, I also have to mention food. Abundant seafood and wonderful oysters in Floripa, very tasty fruits everywhere (and, as it seems, they are always served as a part of the breakfast), huge and tasty salad leaves (the rucola is very aromatic!), big pieces of beef for barbecue, homemade cakes baked with love from our hosts, generous buffets (buffets are very common here), and: rodízio, today’s summit of abundance.
What means, that waiters come continously with different plates to your table and offer you a big variety of food, so one moment they bring you chicken, and when you just started to eat it, there is already the next waiter coming with a plate of beef, 2 minutes later they bring Spaghetti bolognese while you still enjoy the steak, and sometimes there are even two waiters coming with different plates, and everything looking delicious. In the beginning I didn’t know how it works and I took a bit of everything and then I understood, that this will never stop and that my plate (and my stomach) will be getting fuller and fuller, when I don’t refuse the offers. Even when I told the waiters in all languages I know, that it is enough, they kept on bringing new dishes, and only after 3-4 useless trials, they gave up.
(maniok, an important vegetable in Brazil)
The food is mainly very good, especially the vegetables, risotti and beef, but there are 2 extremes that I don’t like to much, this that many things are to sweet (in cakes and sweets) or to salty (fish, saussage, ham, cheese, meat). This we have been stating from the very first day (in Rio) on. Abundance of sugar and of salt. Surprisingly, food is not spicy at all.
Last but not least I have to mention the abundance of hospitality we are experiencing here in the South. Our Brazilian friends are very generous and don’t bother driving long distances to bring us to the most beautiful places. In Floripa, as our hotel room was bad, our friend shared her apartment with us, leaving to us the nicer room. Also here in Sao Leopoldo, our friends moved to a smaller room in order to give us their beautiful air-conditioned sleeping room. I feel a little bit bad about the fact that they are having very hot in the night and we even don’t use the AC vey often (only sometime when we wake up in the night and it is to hot to sleep). So our friend here cares very much about our well being on every level. He cooks deliciously, he and his friend bake typical cakes, they do churrasco (BBQ),
prepare very good breakfasts, serve Caipirinha and Mate tea, and do all to show and explain the essence of their rich and interesting culture.
Thank you so much for this opulence, Brazil and Brazilians!