November 17, 2005 GMT
Foz do Iguaçu - Curitiba

I fled as soon as I could from the ugly town of Foz do Iguaçu and took the highway which leads directly to Curitiba. I felt like being back to civilization i.e. back to European standards: A well-maintained highway, very good signage, loads of filling stations and toll stations and - McDonalds.

The highway crossed a large part of the southern state of Paraná, which is a beautiful landscape of green, gently rolling hills, with trees, forests, fields, somewhat like the Auvergne or Alsace or similar landscapes in Germany like the Rheingau/Taunus/Westerwald region. Unfortunately for me, Paraná is also a very prosperous region, which means that the highway is full of trucks, especially in the surroundings of the cities.

Since this region looks very European it was no wonder that I met a couple of people with German ancestors. When I stopped at a filling station and spent some time cleaning one of my bags which was full of melted butter (wuerg!), not only the friendly Brazilian personel were very helpful, but also three different fiendly men stopped and talked to me in German (one in a kind of Plattdeutsch, the northern German dialect). However none of them got the idea to invite me to his home (which most of the Argentines I met did), so obviously the German genes work ;-))

When I entered my destination Curitiba, a real tropical thunderstorm broke down on me. Within a few minutes the streets were flooded and I was soaked. Some street crossings were converted to rivers - waiting at the traffic lights, I had to stand in the floods just above the ankles. Luckily I bought new Gore Tex boots just before I started the journey. Although my motoring suit also is Gore Tex, my feet were the only part of me that stayed dry. Finally, I had the most profound river crossing of all my journey not in the Pampas of Argentina or Bolivia but in the flooded streets of Curitiba. And with short interruptions it did not stop raining since I arrived here. Now I understand why Curitiba is such a prosperous place - and why the Germans feel like at home here.

I planned to spend 2 nights in Curitiba since after 10000 km in South America, I needed a complete motorcycle inspection, a new chain with sprockets and new tyres. There is a very friendly BMW motorcycle dealer in Curitiba but he did neither have the sprockets for the chain, nor the right tyres. He did the inspection though, but the chain and tyres were the more important part. However he phoned two (1) other dealers on my further way in Joinville and Florianopolis and arranged that I will get all the replacements there - so in the end he was utterly helpful.

Coming to Brazil I realized that I had forgotten how it feels to be in a country without speaking the language properly. It is really difficult to make yourself understood when e.g. the hotel receptionist does neither speak Spanish nor English. However, everybody is extremely friendly and helpful and tries their best to understand, help and explain. Even the discussions around what has to be done with the motorbike and how, finally was possible although hard work in a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and English.

Posted by Winne Lichtblau at November 17, 2005 03:17 PM GMT
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