Travel Journal

Maringa City and Cidgena's Party

(Sunday 15 February 2009) by Brennan-adventures
Hello again folks. It’s nearly a week since we last spoke to you…scary isn’t it!!
We hear things are still pretty awful on the weather front in the U.K. whenever will it end, I cannot remember such a terrible winter!! :-(

Here we are still hot and sticky…upper 30c. Thank goodness for air con at night!! Mikee says I have the room so cold it’s like sleeping in the Arctic, we need a blanket on!!
We travelled to a city called Maringa in the next state….Parana.

Farming in Sao Paulo…. Well what we have seen …Is mostly Sugar cane….which is usually green, but we have seen a dark purple coloured one as well…what is the difference???. No idea - will try to find out. It is also the beef area with two distinct types of cattle, Friesian for milk and the white ones you see in India for meat. The white coloured one is hardy and has no problem in the sun, the Friesian, however, needs protection from the sun and is more susceptible to diseases. The cuts of meat differ in style and name here, they even eat the hump on the white cows… it is a little coarse and fatty for my taste.
The meat is smothered in salt before cooking, so you waken in the middle of the night with your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth!!8-O

Driving through Parana state, again we only saw a little of it, was more hilly and the huge fields…. (So huge the tractor looked like a toy)… had soya, and more crops growing. Very green and some places you’d swear you were in the U.K.

It is so difficult to give you an idea of distances but here goes… When in the U.K. and you are at the coast on a clear day looking to the horizon of the sea/sky that is what the road looks like stretching in front of you driving here, the roads are undulating down into a dip and back up the other side.
The markings on the road are much like the U.K…… double yellow solid line in the middle of the road means no overtaking, broken yellow line your side and solid yellow other side painted in the middle of the road means we can pass if safe other side cannot overtake….Huh !!!

None of this is adhered to. The best way we have found in dealing with Brasil roads is..

1. Lorry approaching from other direction ALWAYS assume a vehicle is passing it even if they have no right.

2. If a Lorry in front of you puts on his left indicator it is safe to pass…. However keep an eye out for him changing it to the right hand indicator which means something approaching you.

3. Best to peep out before committing to pass a lorry as you’ve no idea what length they are…… some are the equivalent of 2 articulated Lorries joined together…. There is no sign on the rear of the lorry telling you this.

4. Not assuming vehicles behind will wait for you to pass before passing you !!! That one is the biggest danger as other drivers just go and force the traffic approaching them to slow down.

5. Approaching traffic overtaking and on your carriageway…. Do not assume they will tuck back into their side, most of them will play “chicken”…. Braking and flashing headlights is the best option to make yourself visible.

6. Always driving with headlights on…. The heat on the tarmac gives a heat haze that makes it difficult to see anything at a distance… headlights make you visible.

7. Never drive out of the cities at night.

This is sounding like my work……Am I turning into an obsessive compulsive???:-?

There are also things you scan ahead for………… pot holes…. Not the little tiddly things in the U.K. Humungous big ones the size of dinner plates and around 3-4 inches deep. When travelling at 110km per hour you see them about 4m in front of you…. Mostly it’s a grip on the wheel a bracing of the body and a grimace that gets you there safely.
You can imagine a 6 hour journey can feel like 10 hours with all this concentration….apart from driving on the right hand side of the road !!

Well Maringa city is a very green city, lots of tree lined streets, dual or triple carriageways.

The traffic lights have a great countdown system where either the red or the green light falls slowly to the bottom, saves the “ God - will it change to red scenario”
There are 3 huge parks and lots of green areas within the city. It seems a rich city with 3 huge shopping malls for at least 3 floors filled with designer clothes, shoes, and jewellery shops.
The top floors of these malls have the restaurant area with loads of differing types of food. It’s a good way to eat cheaply.

We were trying to change some money again !! We tried Banco do Brasil, firstly I couldn’t get in as I was making the metal detector go off… I only had metal in my bra or clips in my hair. The security guard had everything out of my handbag and I showed him there was no weapon inside before the door was allowed to revolve.
Once inside we headed to the second floor, Took a ticket then sat…and sat…and sat for1 hour. There is a system here that allows over 60’s, pregnant women, infirm persons or people with children under 5 to skip to the front of the queue…. We were sorely tempted to pay to use a child!!! ….I am sure it doesn’t happen.

After waiting we were told no they do not change Sterling… nobody wants our money!!!
Next thought Cambio…. We managed to find 2 tourist ones, talk about rip off. The decision was not to use them.
We then found there is Cambio’s in two of the shopping malls…… So off to there, where thankfully there was no trouble.

Now our journey back was fraught with mishaps, The signs on Brasillian roads are a little like the U.S.A. In the respect when you see the sign you turn, no advanced warning……. We had the problem there was no sign!! Luckily Mikee has a really good nose, and can sense which way we should be heading… me I would end up in Argentina.
You do realise however when driving through the smaller towns that you’re on the wrong road when the dogs lie on the highway!!!

In one town we saw nearly every street before spotting a lorry turning into a road we has missed to our left, which turned out to be the main road !!!
Now I do most of the driving while Mikee navigates - this works well until we get into the city, when I then revert back to being a learner. I do not know my right from my left !!!….. Us ladies do have a problem with it, especially when concentrating on the motorbikes whizzing either side of you. Mikee gets so cross when I turn right thinking it’s left… maybe its something to do with driving on the other side of the road… It drives him scats!! Still we get there in the end.:-|

On our way home we filled up with gasoline about 80km from Ilha Solteira. We got out of the car to use the toilet and there was petrol piddling out the bottom of the car. I was told not to worry it had just been overfilled…. Now we had been getting a petrol smell inside the car for a day or two, but I bow to superior knowledge!!!
We got back here and I dropped Mikee off at the Uni. I came home parked the car and the petrol was still piddling out…… I now suspected it was more that overfilling……. so off to the garage.
I was told the problem was Overfilling….what is it with these men and overfilling??? I explained I had driven 80km and when parked on a slope the petrol piddled out…. Are you impressed with my language skills in Portuguese?? Well if you had actually seen me it was mostly done with spurious words and hand gestures ………still 2 hours later we had been fitted with replacement joint which had cracked and was the culprit… Overfilling!! >:-)

We were out to the local………well not sure what to call it… we sit in the street and have beer and nibbles, while talking about the week that has passed. There were all the amigos again, plus some faces we know from the “Ho-tery”. That is the Rotary to us English.
I find it so difficult to remember all the names of the hotary people ....still it was a good night. We headed for home around 10-30pm then passing one of our neighbours houses were invited in for a drink there.:-\
This morning neither of us could get out of bed until 10am!
Tonight another birthday party (Cidgena's) starting at 9pm, bet the sweet is served around midnight!!!
Well will go now and deal with e-mails and thing various.
Laur xx


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