“Mark! Why did you take my hair clip?”
“… I thought it was a candy…”
“Seriously? And even if it had been a candy that for some reason I felt like hiding with my shampoo and soap, didn’t you have enough sweets today? I mean, what did you eat? … The last dulce de leche croissant in the bus… and two cream-and-chocolate profiteroles… ice cream… the doce I bought you… pop corn… et merde!”
“I had a ham croissant too!”
Awesome. But I can’t blame Mark, we kind of starved in Chuy/Chuí and we entered Brasil tired and hungry. We’re getting used to a new country and nutrition wasn’t exactly a priority today.
Besides, Pelotas’s got a sweet tooth. The city is famous for the doces de Pelotas, dozens of different bite-size pastries mostly made from condensed milk, cream, nuts, chocolate, coconut and other sweet ingredients. They were brought over by the first Portuguese immigrants in the 18th century and you can find quindim, bem casado, ninho, camafeu, papo de anjo, olho de sogra, pastel de Santa Clara, panelinha de coco, trouxas de amêndoas, fatia de braga, queijadinha, broinha de coco, beijinho de coco and many other doces around the city.
Yes, I learned the names of these doces.
Yes, I ain’t no doces virgin.
Metaphorically speaking, Pelotas is also a sweet stop. I call it the “Arica effect.” Arica is Chile’s Northernmost city, and honestly, it’s a pretty unremarkable place. But it was twice our first Chilean city after a long stretch in Bolivia, and compared to the rural highlands or dirty La Paz, it felt like paradise. It was safe! There were fridges! Food wasn’t covered with flies! Showers had water! There were modern supermarkets!
After Chuy/Chui, Pelotas felt like a normal place with the basic conveniences we needed. This is one of the most relaxed and sedate Brazilian cities I visited. It’s a strange mix of cowboys’ boots and Havaianas sandals in town, as the main industry is agriculture but it’s still a big city with universities and a large commercial centre for the rural areas. If it wasn’t for the language and a few Brazilian quirks, I would have thought I was still in Uruguay. Sun-baked cobblestone-paved streets, colourful buildings, a central market, mellow people…
At night, we joined locals at the Mercado Central for the last concert of the free 8º Festival Internacional Sesc de Música. We had no idea there was a festival going on. Travelers’ luck!
We have yet another bus to catch tomorrow but it was a nice relaxing stop.