After a dark period of not leaving my apartment, showering, or changing my clothes for three days, I decided I needed to get out of Rio Preto or I was going to spiral into a deep depression. I talked to a friend living in Curitiba, in the state of Parana, and booked a flight.
I saw approximately 3.5 hot men in the Campinas airport during my layover and my spirits were immediately lifted. Also, during the beginning of my four-hour layover there, I spotted a Minnesota Vikings hat with an owner who wasn’t speaking Portuguese. I asked the hat owner and friend where they were from, and they said Sweden. I got some overpriced Pao de Quejo and cafe and they invited me to sit down with them while we ate. The boys told me they were coming from Rio de Janeiro, heading to Florianopolis, and that they were five days into a year-long trek around the world. Side note: How do people get money to do these things? I met an Australian couple in a hostel in Sao Paulo who were doing the same thing. Either they’re trust fund babies or really good at not spending money. If it’s the latter I want to know their secret. Anyway, we chatted for an hour, then they were off. They shook my hand as they left and didn’t ask me for my name so they could add me on facebook, two refreshing things that haven’t happened in a while.
Upon arrival in Curitiba I was freezing. I had no idea Curitiba was a good 30 degrees colder than Rio Preto, and I’d packed lots of sundresses and tank tops. I went to a brecho (thrift store) the next day and bought a jean jacket that could’ve been the exact one I had in the late 90s.
I instantly felt like I fit in Curitiba, and briefly lamented the Fulbright gods that hadn’t placed me there. The weather sucks, about like I imagine it would in Seattle, but the city has so many cool things that it’s worth it. It has the feel of a city without being claustrophobic, a charmingly dilapidated historical downtown area, pedestrian streets, enough cobblestone to break an ankle, loud, underground bars and clubs, American-style cafes where you can sit for hours reading (! I almost cried with joy), dark beer, sebos (used book stores), brechos, and zombies. There were an unusual number of janked out homeless-ers stumbling around. And not the kind of homeless that are homeless because of a turn of bad luck but they’ll get back on their feet, the kind that are drugged out of their minds on tainted crack and will mug you with a dirty kitchen knife in broad daylight. Which brings me to a Brazil observation: no one here will help you. One of the biggest safety differences I feel between here and the U.S. isn’t the fact that you’re more likely to get stolen from here, it’s the fact that no one will lift a finger to stop the thief or help you out. Which makes me lose a little faith in humanity.
I went to a club that was the most perfect venue to get your freak on, in my opinion: underground, bass loud enough to give you heart palpitations, tasty drinks, quarters close enough they encourage frotting, and an epileptic’s nightmare-worth of strobe lights. But they were oddly playing the worst music from the year I was in 8th grade. Which is cute and funny for about 2 minutes, but my friend and I quickly headed onto the next bar. We still aren’t sure if that music is cool in Brazil, or if the others there were equally confused.
We went to Brooklyn Cafe, a coffee shop American-style with owners who used to live in Brooklyn. I feel like a sell-out having my favorite coffee shop so far in Brazil be an Americanish one, but it is. You can get good food, coffee, dark beer, and wifi and sit in a corner working or reading for hours. I’ve tried in vain to find a workspace like that in Rio Preto. Here’s to hoping there’s one to find.
All in all, spending time with a good friend and visiting a new place with things that interest me was extremely refreshing and exactly what I needed. I left with a backpack full of old new books and clothes and a better outlook on my time here. Even the cold was welcome after sweating non-stop for the last month. I hope to visit again someday. My trip made me cherish my Brazil friends and motivated me to travel whenever I can, so I’ve made plans to visit Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto over Easter weekend.