Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First Impressions


I married a Brasilian. A kind, wonderful, patient, Brasilian.
Throughout the first years of our marriage, everything was American in our lives simply because he came to America wanting the American experience. But little by little, I began to wonder what it would be like to visit Brasil. And so, in 2003, after suffering years and years of my incessant whining, my husband finally decided that his sanity was important to him and acquiesced. We planned our (my) very first trip to Southern Brasil. Since that first magical trip, we returned two more times and on the fourth time, it stuck…we moved to Santa Catarina, Brasil. This first blog is just an introduction to what my first impressions were on that first trip. Subsequent blogs will give you a first-hand look at what it is like to actually travel and ultimately live in Brasil. You won’t be disappointed.

They say that half the fun of traveling is getting to the destination. Well, when one travels on a Brasilian airliner, that is certainly true. The party begins as soon as you board, especially if you are traveling with Brasilians going home. They are a gregarious bunch, friendly, inquisitive, talkative. You make friends instantly. Almost as soon as you are in the air, the air service starts. Brasilian airline companies do not charge extra for anything—that’s right, including alcohol. In fact, they seem to enjoy giving it away. You get snacks, meals, snacks and more meals. And, if it is a night flight, and it’s 1 a.m. and you can’t sleep, there are even midnight snacks for the asking. Kinda like a cruise in the air, without a boat and without water, of course. It is a bit uncomfortable trying to get some sleep on the plane, and therefore, I prefer traveling by day, if you can find a day flight to Sao Paulo. But if not, there is plenty of time when you land to catch a nap before sightseeing.

When we got to our final destination, Curitiba (Cur-it-chee-bah) in the state of Parana, I was so impressed. Although only a small airport, it was very clean and easy to navigate. We went through customs with no trouble at all. And then, the realization…I WAS IN BRASIL! I couldn’t wait to get out and explore.

On our first night, we stayed in a town called Jaragua do Sul (Jer-ah-gua doe sool), where my husband’s sister lives. It is situated in the State of Santa Catarina and is one of the richest cities in the state. It is in a valley surrounded by mountains and boasts many different cultural heritages, including Italian, German, Polish and Hungarian. Many of the buildings are constructed in the German style in this area, and except for everyone speaking Portuguese, you would think that you had landed in the middle of Europe. It is at this point that I wish I could tell you what is inside of me when I think of this first trip. Never was I so excited to be somewhere as I was in this place. Maybe it was the newness, the difference from America, the unconditional kindness of everyone I met, the smells, the sounds, I can’t tell you, but I felt as if I were home.

I’ll leave you with that. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the hotels, the restaurants, and the food. And I’ll try and give as many pictures and links as I can to keep you coming back for more.

Till then, ciao!