Forgive me, someone, for I have sinned. No, we didn’t do that—we are too tired at the end of the day. Still, I broke one of the Ten Commandments; the part about stealing. I stole a knife at the food court because I’m tired of using the spoon (also stolen) to butter my bread. Wait: I have an excuse. I would totally buy a knife but I can’t find just one knife and I don’t want to buy a set. And it was hard to bring one from Canada, I didn’t want to be that traveler carrying a knife in a backpack, would have looked awfully suspicious in this day and age where carrying water past security is considered a crime.
One day, I shall return to Natal and bring the knife back. But considering all the churches Mark drag me into on a daily basis, I think God can forgive me.Dude, it’s just so much easier to spread butter with a knife!
Why am I buttering bread? Well, because in most of hotels, breakfast is included. Café da manhã here is an elaborate and tasty affair of sweet breads with jam and savoury items like ham, cheese, eggs or sausage. Of course, small portions of butter and offered. Unfortunately, I am not a morning person. At this time of the day, all I need is coffee. I’m also busy giving Mark jam sandwich (and supervising consumption of sandwich, Mark you eat the bread too, don’t just lick the jam off it…). So I save a few portions of butter and have a snack later on when I’m actually hungry.
Backpacking 101 also involves doing laundry in the shower. Our clothes are dirty at the end of the day and even if we bring them to the lavandaria once in a while, I’d rather wash them as we go. I don’t carry a lot of clothes as you may have noticed from the pictures (it’s not your imagination, I do wear the same t-shirts all the time).
Backpacking also means planning the next step late at night, forgetting a regional time change and missing the free breakfast at the hotel, realizing that all businesses close early and that nothing is open when you are actually hungry…
… which is what happened to us in Curitiba (and in São Paulo as well!).
We’ve been to Curitiba once, in 2009. I think we stayed there one night and I couldn’t remember much about the city. I could picture the main square with vendors selling sugar cane juice, I knew that it rained, that it was a Sunday and everything was closed, that the city had funky bus stops and that we had pizza three times. That was it. It was just a stop along the way, we didn’t do much.
This time, Curitiba was alive and busy. It felt strange to be in a big city again, in a urban setting without a beach. The sidewalks are paved, there are pedestrian streets, libraries, office buildings. The funny bus stops are still here, I love them. They give the city a futuristic feel: step into the magical tube and be transported somewhere else! Okay, “somewhere else” may not be the dreamland that it part of my fantasy but still, cooler bus stops ever.
Mark couldn’t believe the city didn’t have a beach (map reading skills seriously lacking) but I assured him we would find churches. Indeed, it didn’t take long to stumble upon the Catedral Basílica Menor Nossa Senhora da Luz, then the Paróquia Bom Jesus dos Perdões, then a church that wasn’t a church but… a church full of Christian art pieces. “Not a church,” Mark professed. “Just an old building. Oh, Jesus!” By that, he actually meant Jesus, the guy pinned on a cross. We spend the day exploring each street, each avenue, each praça.
Then we got hungry and started to look for a restaurant, the comida por kilo kind that pleases each of us. Closed, closed, closed. Apparently, the cut-off time for restaurant was 3 p.m., not 6 p.m. Everything was closed but the usual lanchonetes/bars selling salgados. We found the famous Rua 24 horas, an enclosed street full of small snack bars, but when I asked if it was actually open 24 hours, the guy looked at me, puzzled and said: “no! Why?” The guys ended up at Subway, I ended up at the padaria buying bread. Once again, I was glad to have a knife and single-serve packs of butter.
The following morning was hell. For some mysterious reason, Mark woke up at 6 a.m. We had all slept late the night before and we couldn’t think straight which was rather inconvenient considering we had to decide where to go next. The hotel room was a crying mess, Feng caught a cold and Mark had a stomach bug. There are times when I think Mark is the most wonderful child in the world and Feng is my true soul mate—that morning, I would have told them to go to hell, both of them. Oh wait. I think I did. Sometime it’s hard to be together 24/7. We aren’t always one the same page and we get on each other’s nerves.
We tried to make the most of the day. We headed to the Mercado Municipal, located in the neighborhood where we had stayed last time, in 2009. A trip down memory lane… we found our old hotel, the bus station, the laundry service we had used… and then the market, a very modern and sterile building with overpriced food. Ah. I guess that market appeals to tourists and rich residents but I like markets a bit messier, a bit rougher.
One more landmark to check out: the Oi Tower that supposedly offered a panoramic view of the city. It wasn’t very impressive from the bottom, just a round tower with antenna. It was built in 1991 and it did feel thirty-year-old. The view was nicer than I had expected though, especially with the blue sky and clouds. Plus, I was half asleep by then, I could hear Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb playing in my head.
Pretty much all businesses had started to close around noon on Saturday so our expectations for food were low, plus Mark’s stomach bug. We came back to the hotel, sat Mark in front of Brazilian cartoons and got to work. Where were we going, when, how.
Work done. Tickets booked.
Time to start another chapter in this trip.