Curitiba is a breeze of fresh air. Not literally—despite its reputation as one of Brazil’s coolest city, it’s still over 30º C—but it’s a relaxing pit stop. I call it the “not-not city”—not too dangerous, not too humid, not too exciting, not too expensive, not too difficult. We reached a geographical and metaphorical plateau, far from the beach, for once. It’s okay. We needed a break.
Going back to a city we visited before is an interesting memory challenge. I kind of know my way around yet I’ve been to dozens of other cities since then and I have to load the right files from my human hard drive. I have vivid pictures of various places in my mind, it’s just a matter of putting them back into context—the 24/24 padaria that saved my life when we arrived late at night from Natal, the futuristic bus stops, the pedestrian street, a posh shopping mall somewhere, the Rua 24 Horas … oh yeah, that street. One day, I bought some food from this small mall full of restaurants and bars.
“It’s convenient to have a street with businesses open 24/24,” I noted when paying for my purchase.
The cashier looked at me, puzzled. “Why do you think it’s open 24/24? It closes at 10 p.m.,” he corrected me.
Duh. Brazilian logic.
But these snapshots are sometimes misleading, they don’t depict the full and accurate picture. I still have to find my way around. Snapshots are just an impression of something brief or transitory. For instance, it was cold last time in Curitiba. Well, this year, it’s hot. We are in a different hotel, in a different part of the city. There is an Asian influence I hadn’t noticed before—all the lanchonetes seem to be owned by Chinese and there are many Japanese restaurants and products.
One thing hasn’t changed—Curitiba shuts down early and it’s hard to find food at night. Luckily, we were a couple of blocks from Shopping Estação, a large modern mall open until 10 p.m. For such a large city, Curitiba has very few supermarkets, which was a surprise to us since Porto Alegre, Florianópolis and Balneário Camboriú had very nice supermarkets from different companies all over the city. Maybe this is how it works in the state of Paraná —Walmart, cleverly hidden under the brand Mercadorama, took over the capital city.
We visited the Museu Oscar Niemeyer and the Torre Panorâmica, rested, did the laundry, worked and walked around. If I put it like that, it doesn’t sound exciting. Yet, it was just what we needed to get ready for the final leg of the trip that will include a bit of craziness.