It’s chilly in Curitiba tonight. I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt but I borrowed Feng’s sweater earlier. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d dig a pair of jeans out of my backpack, but I don’t want to get them dirty. I don’t know when I’ll be able to wash them, then there’s the difficult conundrum of carrying worn-once-didn’t-sweat-in-that-too-much clothes in a backpack—do you put them with clean laundry, dirty laundry, in a separate plastic bag?
I mean, it’s not that cold. It’s probably in the high teens. It’s still hot enough for mosquitoes, who have been munching on my bare feet for thirty minutes now. Smart bug, hiding in a hotel lobby, waiting for a prey, i.e. me.
City dwellers set the pace of life and we have to adapt to places being alive at 2 a.m. or completely dead by 5 p.m. In Curitiba, businesses close early, especially on Friday, which is the day when you prepare to barely open on Saturday and not at all on Sunday. Basically, don’t expect stocked shelves on Fridays. Employees are yawning and business will resume on segunda-feira, the first dia útil of the week, as if the weekend was useless, a black hole all Brazilians fall into.
We went out around 9 p.m. and found the street, the one with the bars and people partying. We didn’t do much, we just wanted to check if some curitibanos were still up.
At 9:30 p.m., we went back to the hotel, where I spent the evening working. In Rio, Buenos Aires, Floripa, Salvador… well, pretty much anywhere else, I’d be walking around late at night, taking pictures, buying street food, observing people. But with cooler weather and not much going on outside, I feel like getting between the sheet, making a wall of pillows (the hotel provided two of them, what a luxury!) and cozy up in my makeshift nest.
I will, later. For now, I have to work.
After all, we’re in one of Curitiba’s many “business hotels,” nice three- or four-star hotels around centro with rooms for $50 or $80. We had a hard time picking a place, they all looked similarly nice. We weren’t disappointed, although the lobby looks like an English pub and this is clearly a place for businessmen, not a shorts-wearing female backpacker.
Curitiba isn’t on the tourist trail. There’s no beach, no crazy Carnival parties, no world-famous football teams, no renewed colonial district, no natural wonder that makes a first-time traveller to Brazil stop in Curitiba. In a way, this city is a bit like Nantes, my French hometown. It’s nice, cheap and friendly, but it’s not special enough to be listed among the must-see French cities.
But I like Curitiba. It’s a good place to deal with Carnival withdrawal, beach withdrawal and you can even take a break from Brazil’s humid and hot weather because it’s said to have the coldest temperatures of all state capital cities. It may be true, at night anyway.
The speciality of Curitiba seems to be the pão de minuta, a kind of shortbread that looks like a giant cookie and comes topped with sugar, chocolate chips or dried fruits. It looks basic but it’s super tasty, lighter than a cookie. Same goes with the broa de fubá, the light cornbread I’m addicted to. This is what Curitiba is to me. At first, you think “just a Brazilian city, nothing special,” but it’s better than you think. People are friendly, for a start. It’s clean, interesting—look at these bus stops!—and it has quite a few sights, including the Museu Oscar Niemeyer or the Passeio Público, a park with a free mini-zoo.
I don’t always need to be wowed, to visit places where you want to mail postcards from just to show off.
I’m happy to chill out in Curitiba.