Day 27 -- Curitiba
24 Jul 2007
|Day 27 -- Tuesday, July 24 -- Curitiba
Today is my last full day in Brazil. I had two goals for the day. In the morning I wanted to visit "Rue das Flores", which according to my guide book was a pedestrian-only street downtown with many interesting shops. In the afternoon, I wanted to take the bus to Sao Paulo. Those seemed like simple goals. They would both prove to be difficult.
I checked out of my hotel (leaving my luggage to collect later) and hailed a taxi. I handed the driver a piece of paper with the words "Rue das Flores". (Recall that I had given up trying to pronounce any Portuguese words.) In reasonably good English, he greeted me and asked what I wanted to do there. I said I just wanted to walk along the street and visit the stores. Off we went.
It should have been less than a mile away. He drove for what seemed to me to be more than a mile, dropped me off, and drove away. I read each of the street signs nearby. None of them said "Rue des Flores". Sigh.
I roamed around a little but was unsuccessful at finding it. I stopped some locals and showed them my paper with the words "Rue des Flores". They gave a rather long description (in Portuguese), presumably telling me how to get there. Fortunately for me, most Brazilians communicate with their hands as much as with their words. I wandered off in the direction they seemed to be indicating. After a few blocks with no success, I found a policeman and showed him the paper. He pointed in roughly the same direction as my previous helpers. So, I continued further.
I did find a nice cathedral and visited it briefly. I did find lots of interesting stores. But, I still couldn't find "Rue des Flores". Sigh.
I had a craving for a donut, which I haven't had since leaving the U.S. almost a month ago. I found a bakery and what looked like a donut. A sign next to it said "rosquinhas". So, I typed "rosquinhas" into my pocket translator. It responded "tiny doughnut". Perfect. I indicated to the salesman that I wanted only one (they were priced by the kilogram). It was delicious, exactly what I wanted.
But, still no "Rue des Flores". I found two older gentlemen and showed them my paper. They indicated that I was standing on "Rue des Flores". I thanked them and went back to the corner. The sign said "R. XV de Novembro". I'm assuming something important happened on the 15th of November, perhaps like our 4th of July. But, it certainly didn't say "Rue des Flores"!
After trying several more streets, I found what appeared to be the sales office for a local tourist bus. I asked them where "Rue des Flores" was. They said it was here. So, I guess I must have found it. But, I would have preferred to have seen a sign that said "Rue des Flores".
Having given up on finding such a sign, I checked my bus ticket for the exact departure time. Hmmm. It's not where I expected it to be. Hmmm. I don't seem to have it.
I took a taxi back to my hotel, got my luggage and looked for the ticket. I can't find it.
With a little effort, I convinced the bellhop to accompany me to my previous room to look for it. We checked everywhere, including the wastebaskets. No ticket.
This is going to be a problem. I went to a information both where I knew that the woman spoke English. I explained my plight and asked here to write, in Portuguese, "I've lost my ticket". I took that paper to the ticket office and showed it to them. As a side effect of my doing everything in writing, I had precise information from when I'd bought the ticket. I had requested a seat on the 12:30 Executivo bus and had been assigned seat number 19.
There was a lot of discussion (in Portuguese) but no indication of a solution. Eventually, she indicated that I should return at 12:10. I have no idea why that would help but I indicated that I would.
I grabbed a bite to eat and came back at precisely 12:10. The same agent saw me and went into the back room.
Much later she came out and asked me for the credit card that I had used to purchase the ticket. (Don't ask how we had this discussion with no common language; just remember that I said the Brazilians use their hands to communicate.) Then, she went back into the back room.
Eventually, she reappeared with the charge slip that I had signed the previous evening. She carefully compared the number on my card with the number on the charge slip. When they matched, I guess she figured I must be me. So, she gave me a duplicate boarding pass and off I went with 3 minutes to spare.
The rest of the day was uneventful, just a very long (7 hour) bus ride in a very comfortable seat.
Despite these problems, I really liked Curitiba. If I had to live in Brazil, I think I'd like to live in Curitiba. Unlike the larger cities, there doesn't seem to be a crime problem here. Unlike the smaller cities, the homes and businesses are a lot like at home. If you changed all the signs to English, this could pass as "Any Town, USA".
P.S.: Much later I discovered what had become of my missing ticket. It was still in the shirt pocket from when I'd bought it. But, the shirt was in my dirty laundry bag. That's the one place I hadn't checked.