Brazil! That great land, as big as all the rest of South America would certainly be better known and more visited if Portuguese were not so hard to learn. In fact, it's not the language that is difficult, it's the pronunciation! The Portuguese grammar and vocabulary is very much like Spanish. Portuguese would be just as easy to learn if it were pronounced as it is written like Spanish. But it's not! Portuguese is a latin idiom but the sounds represented by the roman alphabet are different than those recognized by any other latin tongue. To mention only a couple of examples, "R" is pronounced like "H" and "S" can be pronounced like an "S", like a "Z", like "SH" or like "J" depending of where it is. I personally find this very frustrating for I can read Portuguese with ease but I can't understand the spoken language, let alone speak it.
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Here's what a Brazilian "leito" bus looks like. The wide seats recline almost completely to form a bed with full length leg support. They are more expensive but they really are comfortable.
Here is a small village half way between Foz do Iguaçu and Florianopolis on the Atlantic coast.
And closer to Florianopolis, one of several well kept and prosperous looking homesteads established by German and Italian immigrants who settled in Santa Catarina province in the 19th century.
Florianopolis is a charming city spreading out from both sides of the three bridges joining the 50 x 20 km Santa Catarina Island to the mainland . It is the capital of Santa Catarina Province and has some industries on the mainland side but its main attraction is the Island's 40 beautiful beaches.
In spite of all the vacationers, I managed to find a room for only 7 US$ at the Hotel Cruzeiro on rua Conselheiro Mafra downtown.
Here is another view of the colourful Mafra street.
Mafra is a friendly street where it is pleasant to stroll, even at night.
Close by is the Florianopolis market complex whose inner courtyard is filled with busy cafes and restaurants.
Atmosphere is the secret, this place has atmosphere and the people love it.
Of course, a good lively band helps to create a great atmosphere.
The market is a real market. Here is one of the stalls inside.
The other end of the market courtyard opens onto this quiet Praça with a fountain.
I liked what I saw but I did not stay very long because of the language problem. This was my third trip in Brazil. I can read Portuguese with ease but I still have difficulty with the pronunciation. I felt comfortable with Spanish after three months of total immersion in that language and I was just too lazy to make the effort to adjust to Brazilian so I rushed through to get to Uruguay.
It's a pity that I'm so lazy. There is so much to see in Brazil that I should spend 6 months here to master the language.
The coast both north and south of Santa Catarina Island is an endless succession of great beaches. It's the Côte d'Azur, the Costa de Sol and the Algarve of Brazil.
I took this shot of a small banana farm through the bus window on my way to Porto Alegre. The express bus was full so I took the slow "pingo-pingo" that took 10 hours instead of 6.
Porto Alegre is a big modern city of over a million with an important freshwater port. It is Brazil's sixth largest city. I stayed at the Hotel Rechim on Av. Júlio de Castilhos not far from the rodoviária (bus station).
This is Porto Alegre's City Hall with the Talavera de la Reina fountain in front.
Porto Alegre's central market is just next to the city Hall at the western end of Av. Júlio de Castilhos.
Open air stalls next to the enclosed market.
A bit of colour...
I stayed only one night in Porto Alegre before the 8 hour ride to Chui on the Uruguay border.
Southern Brazil definitely looks prosperous. That's probably due to the hard working and thrifty German immigrants that developed this area.