Destination Florianópolis, capital of the state of Santa Catarina.
A student meeting was organized in the capital of the Brazilian state Santa Catarina.
First travel to Southern Brazil
The first southern trip (June 2005) went from Belo Horizonte to Foz do Iguaçu, via Curitiba and São Paulo It took 14 hours to Curitiba, and more 10 hours to Foz do Iguaçu. I made a short stop of 10 hours in Curitiba, to meet two friends who guided me through the city. In Foz do Iguaçu, I spent four days in total, including one day in neighboring Paraguayan Ciudad del Este, and one day in Argentinean Puerto Uguazu. The return trip went from Foz do Iguaçu to Belo Horizonte, via Londrina and Uberaba, lasting 28 hours (partly due to a flat tire). The routes are indicated in green and red lines, respectively, in the map below this article.
Second travel to Southern Brazil
The second southern trip (April 2007) went from Belo Horizonte to Florianopolis, popularly called Floripa, via Curitiba and São Paulo. A bus trip of 24 hours. The same route was followed on the way back to Belo Horizonte, lasting another 24 hours.
Already in February, I received an invitation from the DA (Diretória Administrativa, administration of students) to accompany students during their travel to Florianópolis. It would be a short stay of only three days in the southern city, and two times 24 hours of bus travel. I hesitated for a long time. The offer sounded tempting, to a remote Brazilian capital. Florianópolis is 1300 km south of Belo Horizonte and enjoys a good reputation as an organizing convention city. How often I had seen several banners, on which huge letters in Comic script were painted, to announce another student meeting in Floripa.
When I noticed the name “Floripa” for the first time, it was not immediately clear to me that it is Florianópolis, the capital of the state of Santa Catarina. But at that time my knowledge of Brazil’s geography was not yet complete. When talking about Florianópolis, you talk about a different Brazil. That is what I was explained. For Mineiros (inhabitants of Minas Gerais), the inhabitants of Floripa appear somewhat stiff and distant, probably due to their European ancestry. The state of Santa Catarina hosts large populations of (descendants of) Germans, Austrians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, and some Dutch. There appear even small communities that are completely isolated from the Brazilian society, and where their culture is well maintained, and where they speak their native language.
I hesitated for a long time, before I decided to join them, at the very last minute. The student president, Lucas, eagerly grabbed his pen and added my name on the list of travelers. I managed to obtain a window seat, on the right side. They knew that already, since my reputation of photographer was already known.
It was Friday afternoon, when we were about to leave. Some of the passengers had troubles due to traffic jams; therefore, the scheduled departure time of 4 PM was delayed for more than three hours. It was still sunny and pleasantly warm in the late afternoon. It was in the final week of April, autumn in Brazil. Almost everyone was using summer clothes. Finally, at 7 PM, the final passengers get in the bus and we left for São Paulo, a bus trip of eight hours. This part of the travel is familiar to me; I already had traveled this route four times. We arrived there at 4 AM, when the majority was sound asleep. Two hours earlier, we had a stopover in Pouso Alegre, at the border between the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo. Pouso Alegre is located in a mountainous region; therefore, it was chilly there.
From São Paulo to Curitiba, the bus travel lasted six hours. We drove along the ‘greenest city of the world’ in the morning; we made a stop in a small city just before Curitiba, and we had our breakfast there. For Curitiba to Florianópolis is another ten hours by bus. Everyone was awake by then, but most of them were still tired of their work and study activities in the past week. There was not much noise inside the bus, but there were relaxed chats, while others were watching DVDs or playing card games. Our bus driver (the same Ricardo who drove us to Salvador, and to São Luís) had stopped at a small restaurant where we could select our hot meal from an elaborate buffet for seven reais (2.5 euro). Most of the dishes were typical for the traditional Brazilian kitchen, but some dishes were more familiar for me: like small sweet and sour pickles, which I had not encountered since my arrival in Brazil, late 2004. Some other dishes appeared more German to me. The dessert was very familiar to me: semolina with currant sauce. Most of my fellow travelers disliked it, I was enjoying this sweet dessert very much.
In the afternoon, we drove on the highway along the coast. Here, the Atlantic Ocean had an azure color. The weak orange color of late afternoon sunshine was reflected by the white houses in small coastal villages. We were almost there …
The map above shows an overview of my two travels to the south of Brazil
Legend: ARG:Argentina/ GO:Goiás/ MG: Minas Gerais/ MS: Mato Grosso
do Sul/ PAR: Paraguay/ PR: Paraná/ RJ: Rio de Janeiro/ RS: Rio Grande
do Sul/ SC: Santa Catarina/ SP: São Paulo.
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom