Monday, March 5, 2012

Enjoyable time in Santa Catalina

After going back to Rio de Janeiro for the bus to Sao Paulo, we were lucky to catch a night bus to the latter city. It was early morning when we reached Sao Paulo. In order not to let the host wait for too long, we went for the more expensive bus instead of the cheaper but later bus. After four hours we were in Joinville, a town with some German ethnicity.

In the bus station we were not sure how to use the coin phone, we were blessed to find a phone that could allow us calling the number for 3 seconds but our host Eduardo could see the call display and call back. He is an energetic guy in early twenties and interested in Chinese culture. Before we went to his home we went to supermarket for grocery of the coming meals. The grocery was cheaper than that in the main cities and we bought the ingredients for fried noodle.

It was a middle class house with a good kitchen (we felt fortunate about that). Eduardo’s parents, Sergio and Rosemary were welcoming. There was also an old friendly dog, but with pity his hindlegs were not well. There was also a talkative Brazilian parrot. After not resting well since the Ilhe Grande trip the home was a good place for our rest and also knowing more about local life in Santa Catalina, a nourished province with much agricultural and industrial activities. So we started the call to ask the parcel (more importantly the passports, water tank and the fuel bottle) sent from Hong Kong.

In these eleven days we did not do much except updating the blog, living a family life, helping the mother doing the household chores. Although she said that she enjoyed making the home and the garden, we saw that her job was not easy, not to say that she was just having a break from her teaching job. We imagined that she would have a much harder time when housework and teaching job come together. Unlike our family, the guys in the house did less household chore as we observed. We did most of the cooking (lunch and dinner) and dish cleaning, as long as we were at home, to alleviate her load. She was quite loaded these days as her mother was depressed and in poor health. She had to stay with her mother for a few nights. There was not much cooking done by them and they used to have bread for dinner. Our coming did add some favour to their dinning practice. I made ox tongue, river fish in sweet and sour sauce, orange chicken. They still like our fried noodles the best.

We also note that Eduardo’s paternal grand mother was a very energetic artist in her eighties but heart of an eighteen. Her painting on the tea-set in kitchen fascinated us that we were so eager to visit her. She was so excited when seeing us, also of the trip in May to Germany with Eduardo. Couchsurfing of the grandmother and grandson would be an interesting scene. Good luck to them.

As for touring, we did not do much. We only visited the center of Joinville, with some German architectures but were transformed into shops and stayed vacant that made the small city quite boring. More exciting was the Sao Francisco do Sul, although smaller, with french style houses still alive with residents, also the beaches were nearby giving enough transquity. There we also had buffet livre in a local club next to the sea, and tried the new dessert. It was a thick sago jelly made with red wine.

With Eduardo’s guiding we also went to Porto Belo, a coastline with beaches connected with hiking trails., similar to Ihre Grande but the beaches of the latter were better. I did some swimming in the cool water and took mussels with Eduardo in the quiet mussel farm. The mussels were attached in the floaters (from primitive plastic bottles to more advanced buoyancy) in the water and picking them was not difficult, we just had to find the larger ones. We finally got around ten that gave us a good fresh dinner. We heard that seafood in Brazil was expensive although the ocean was resourceful and anyone could catch fish as long as having tools.

The most enjoyable trip was the hiking in Monte Crista, which included many streams and hills. It was raining and the camping was not an easy one. I felt fortunate that our gear was giving us more comfort (except Maria’s rucksack which I liked to try and got myself in her shoes) and Maria was keeping high spirit in unfavorable situation. It is a blessing that I met and united with her and we could go for adventures. In this trip we also met Victor, Eduardo’s brother-like close friend since childhood. He enjoyed whiskey along the trip and we could have whiskey in the rainy day in tent; it was a good experience.

After the hike there were certainly lots of cleaning to do, especially the stove that burnt kerosene. After changing the plug the flame burnt better with some blue flames but still yellow smoky flames at the end. Cleaning was fine to me as long as we were lucky to have a sunny day afterward that we can clean and dry things quickly. However, more frustrating was that our courier mail was one day delay, wasting us a day of waiting and worse we were charged 120 Reais of tax (about 600 HKD). The delivery guy also said it was robbery and our goods was worth only 450HKD. We were so reluctant and upset to have everything paid double here. Later we found that postage should be cheaper in Uruguay., but our trip to Paraguay would be northerly while we wanted to go south for Patagonia.

At the last night of our southern Brazil, we finally tried the barbecue (called churrasco). Although it was a little expensive (50 reais with drink per person), we had some favourite picks including the fillet of mignon, grilled pineapple, grilled wildpig, gruco the back lump of ox, which was very tender but with pity it was overcooked. Here a lot of salt was used for grill and there was too much oil and overdoing. No wonder high blood pressure was a serious health problem here. 

On the last day at Eduardo home we made river fish in sweet and sour sauce. His mother was less interested in learning due to its complexity and boneliness of the fish. However, it tasted alright with the sweetness from cherry. We were happy that the grandmother, who came for lunch, enjoyed it and the fried noodle. We hope that another fish in the fridge is well cooked.

The trip leaving the home to the bus terminal was quite an adventure because of traffic and we arrived at only 5 minutes before the planned bus arrival. Lucky to us that it arrived less. We should have used the waiting time to warp my rucksack with cover, so as to save the trouble later.

What an enjoyable experience in Joinville and Santa Catalina. Next time when we come again we should drive a car and go around. It is so resourceful, from hill to beach. Thanks so much to Eduardo and his family and we shall keep in touch.

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