The leaving of Rio was made easier knowing that we would return for a few days to join Beth, Joe and the CAFOD group before flying home.
Curitiba city was a great surprise first of all flat as a pancake with roads and streets that are straight and intersect at right angles and a drop in temperature which took us completely by surprise. Our courier conveyed her horror at our lack of layers. Not wanting to look the complete mad English men we put on a brave face and said it was just like an English summer and perfectly fine for us. Later I resorted to wearing one of Keith’s T-shirts as a vest ! Keith described the effect as looking as though I was ready to turn out with Norwich City football team.
Trains are rare in Brazil, the line we were to travel this Sunday morning is important for transporting cereals to the coast. But the train we boarded was for transporting tourist on a spectacular four hour journey over the mountains and through the Atlantic forest to the once important port of Morretes; now a preserved town which trades in tourists providing pretty restaurants , an open market and street entertainment. The train, not a youngster heaved and clawed itself over the mountains, giving unforgettable views especially from the rim of a horseshoe gorge that revealed miles and miles of forestry as far as the eye could see; the vastness and beauty of that natural creation will be an abiding memory. .
Arriving at Morretes our guide Lorenzo took us to lunch on a balcony overlooking the town and river, we had the local dish of borreados helped along with the local wine. It felt like something from a Graeme Green novel. Our guide was friendly and engaging , giving us many insights into the locality and also into the wider politics of Brazil. His opinion was that the present government is neglecting the middle class in favour of production workers, himself once a teacher he told a tale of the neglect of the education system ; a story we have heard often. However a different story was that of the movement of the three southern states to become independent. I had read and heard of this spoken of with contempt by those in Rio, but to hear the reasons for independence spoken of so passionately was intriguing.
Our journey back to Curitiba by car led us to the lovely town of Antoninhas , similar to Morretes it is preserved and has become a tourist centre, providing much needed employment. Brazil exports chicken to mainly China and it is from here that it begins its seaward journey.
Continuing our jouney we began to experienced heavy traffic , ever thickening thick fog and torrential rain as we intermittently crawled and hurtled at breakneck speed over the mountains, none of the above slowed the progress of our oft yawning driver. At one stage I wondered how the emergency services would reach us when we crashed! The delays were mostly caused by huge waggons inching their way to the top of mountains.
Here to tell the tale of our unforgettable day in the Atlantic Forrest.