Dennis and I spent hours last night trying to figure out what to do with our upcoming free time. In the month of November, I have several days off from school during which we plan to see more of this country. Tomorrow we’re going to Sao Paulo for the weekend to take in some art, music, Starbucks, and Gregorian Chants, and next weekend we’re jetting off to Rio. The following weekend I have four days in a row. And with four days, we can really go somewhere. Rio and SP are all well and good for just two days. But four? Herein lies the problem. With all of Brazil untouched by these two gringos, our destinations are infinite.
So we’re enlisting your help. There are five possibilities, spread widely throughout the country. Here’s a little blurb from our favorite expert, Ms. Lonely Planet, about each of the locations.
Brasilia–“Capital of the Third Millennium. In 1883 an Italian priest, John Bosco, prophesied that a new civilization would arise between parallels 15 and 20 and that its capital would be built between parallels 15 and 16, on the edge of an artificial lake. Many consider Brasilia to be taht city, and a number of cults have sprung up in the area.” In addition, when the city was constructed in 1955, it was laid out in the shape of an airplane. Or so I’ve heard. Anyway, Brasilia is smack dab in the middle of things and is a freakishly proper and pristine place. Within the walls of the Distrito Federal (federal district.) Again, so I’ve heard. It would be interesting to see a plane-shaped city, especially if it’s filled with cults.
Belem–“The economic center of the Amazon and the state capital of Para. It’s a lively and absorbing city, with a unique culture derived from its people and the ways of the forest and river. It is animated by the biggest port on the Amazon, where more than half of all cargo carried is timber.” It also has a rich history, complicated by slavery of natives and economic hardship. It’s way far North, south of the mouth of the Amazon River, and apparently has a “burgeoning arts scene.”
Jericoacoara–“an easy place to make new friends–both travelers and locals–and almost everyone ends up staying longer than they planned.” Jericoacoara is located south of Belem, on the coast. It’s known for beautiful beaches and the “majestic Por do Sol (sunset) dune.” My friend went here and it ranks as one of her favorite places in the country. Plus, for me, if there’s a beach, it’s fairly likely I’ll be a nice person.
Porto Alegre–“A colonial backwater [in the south of Brasil] until the late 19th century, when the arrival of Italian and German immigrants transformed the city.” So basically, this is like the Brazilian equivalent of my entire family, my mom’s and my dad’s sides combined. In Porto, there is a vibrant arts and alternative music scene. It seems to be a fairly progressive place as well because from what I understand there is a “well-organized gay and lesbian community that recently won the right to register domestic partnerships.” One more reason why this country rocks. I imagine the food, with the heavy Italian influence, would be pretty good, and as we all know I love food, it’s reason in itself to fly down there.
Curitiba–It’s about a 6-hour drive south of Campinas and on Sundays there’s one of the biggest hippie fairs in the country with artists who know what they’re doing. “The heart of the city has been closed to cars, and green spaces abound…drivers actually stop at red lights and pedestrians can cross streets without fearing for their lives…and the city provides free Internet access at more than 20 locations around the city.” It seems to me this is a safe, quiet place to visit, though, as the Lonely Planet says, “It’s not a beautiful city.” There is, however, a train we can get in Curitiba that will take us to the coast, where there are several islands where we can tromp around on. On these islands there is apparently a huge population of parrots. So…I guess, think Curitiba, think “parrots.”
That’s it: Brasilia, Belem, Jericoacoara, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba. The decision lies firmly in your hands, dear Internet.