Curitiba and Ilha do Mel
I am no longer a lone traveller as Stew arrived on Wednesday to explore Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina with me. I´m pretty sure it´s for the Argentinian steak, it sounds so good I would travel that far for the Argentinian steak, but I am certainly not complaining. There are many benefits to travelling with your boyfriend- you have a water carrier, you have someone to carry any heavy items for you (more explained later), and I now have someone with a far better camera than I would dare carry around South America, to take pictures of me. There´s obviously the other stuff of sharing experiences with someone else, but don´t worry, I won´t bore you with that. On a serious note -I´m not very good at holding the camera out in front of me and taking pictures of myself, including the background, so when I eventually upload photos you may now get some of my whole body rather than just close ups of my face.
So the final day in Sao Paulo was spent visting the football museum at the Corinthian´s ground. I perhaps didn´t appreciate as much of the football knowledge and facts as Stew did but it was very interactive and we did get to look completely touristy/ English aka. other language illiterate, with our little headsets to translate everything into English. We then got the most Sushi you can imagine for the equivalent of 10 pounds in Liberdade, HURRAY! At last something cheap in Sao Paulo.
From the big city back to something smaller, Curitiba. A nice city but certainly not the most exciting place I have travelled to so far. On the plus side the hostel was amazing, so amazing we decided to stay an extra night. Our own little wooden cabin, private bathroom, swimming pool just outside our room- it was pure luxury compared to Sao Paulo. The journey to Curitiba however was not luxurious as we got stuck with the 'SNORTER' in front of us. I know you occasionally have a sniffle but PLEASE get a tissue, there is a toilet on the bus if you really need one. The snorting was made worse with the fact he reclined his seat, and because this was the cheaper bus this meant that he was pratically on top of our laps. My wish was granted however when we made our stop at the gas station and he did not get back on, I suppose I´m not that harsh and hope that he actually meant to get off at that stop, but then a snorter is no loss to any of us.
Getting to the hostel in Curitiba was a bit of a pain, 1. due to Stew´s stupid blue hand luggage bag that was sooo heavy and annoying to carry and 2. we really couldn´t find our way to the bus stop. It seems that single female travellers have it easier in some ways in that we are far more likely to be shown directions. Stew´s attempts at asking for directions have been received with shrugs of the shoulder, mine with small maps drawn or being escorted to where I need to go and Stew follows behind.
We mooched around the sights of Curitiba, the Cathedral, the many parks including those with Toocons, The Sunday Market with literally 1000 stalls selling every kind of craft imaginable and Rua das Flores where we managed to get on some local Brazilian TV while playing chequers. There is however an impossible task in Curitiba- finding a supermarket. They must have the highest ratio of pharmacy per square kilometer in the world, and therefore live of shampoo. We however needed some water and some food and it literally took hours until we walked past a Mercado.
On our final day in Curitiba we decided to rent out the hostel bikes and cycle to one of the parks. Stew was going to take me in the swan boats on the lake, very romantic, but doomed to failure. We had cycled an hour and were waiting at a crossroads, the lights had just turned green and I went to go across. Half falling off my bike I thought the chain had fallen off, however after further inspection the wheel had buckled (and I thought I had lost a few pounds recently). So we then had the joyful task of getting the bike back to the hostel, 1 hour away. I really don´t know how I would have managed to get the bile back by myself but luckily Stew was there to carry my bike and I wheeled his. I was pretty worn out when we finally reached the hostel so I probably wouldn´t have been returning to England if I had had to carry the bike.
I don´t know if I can put into words quite how amazing Ilha do Mel is, think honey moon destination where it is slightly out of season so still really warm but you only meet about 3 locals on your 5 hour walk/exploration of the island. After our coach trip from Curitiba to Paranagua we needed to take the 2 hour boat ride to the island. Slightly choppy, and the boat was packed with goods from the mainland, but we put our feet on the sand by 5pm. As it is out of season they seem to jump on any tourists and an old woman and two men swiftly tried to tempt us with alternative accommodation to the hostel we had booked. We however eventually managed to find our hostel and pushed our way through all of the other people staying there, (zero), to our room. We therefore have the breakfast, bar, pool table, table football, deck which we can sit out on and sunbathe etc. all to ourselves. It´s a hard life!
So we are just about to go out for dinner in the only restaurant that is actually open on the island in this season after a day of walking and a lot of rock climbing. A few of the climbs that we did were a bit testing, (Ponta da Nha Pina), but very exciting and you understood why there were ropes to hang onto mid climb. The hawks here have also given us a good excuse to get our binoculars out, very geeky I know, and the shells along Praia da Boia and Farol das Encantadas are so beautiful and intricate they look unreal. We may have collected a few but I don´t know if we are supposed to as the island is 80% an Eological Station, 12% a State Park.
More exploring tomorrow!