May 11, 2010

Rio Grande do Sul

It rained all day today, but I was warm and dry thanks to my rain gear.  It is very beautiful open country here, but the rain makes it hard to take any pictures.  I got lucky with this one, I had just pulled off during a brief respite from the rain when these gauchos appeared on the hill above the road.  
This cat below I saw in downtown Cruz Alta, where I am overnighting, so he might be a 'farmacia gaucho', or not, apparently to be a gaucho in South America is not as romantic as being a cowboy in AB, according to wikipedia, gauchos are considered by many South Americans to be a troublesome pain in the.., which come to think of it, could also apply to cowboys back home.


Guachos are famous for consuming mate, a collection of herbs that may consist of coca leaves among others, ground up and put in a pot with hot water, like tea, except that mate pot is filled to the top with the green stuff.  The mixture is consumed through a metal straw that has a filter thingy at the bottom to sift out the leaves.
Cruz Alta has even made a statue of a mate pot. 


When you go to the gas pump in Brazil you get to choose between grades of gasoline, diesel, and pure alcohol.  Gas is very expensive, a Real is worth about 58 cents, so premium, which I use if it is available, is costing about 1.60 a liter.
What I need for Brazil is a bike that will run on beer, figuring in the deposit refund.....

Brazil is turning out to be a great visit.  The no Portuguese thing is turning out to be less of a problem than I thought it would be.  I say something in Spanish and about half the time it is understood, which is about the same performance my Spanish has where they speak Spanish.  I get a totally incomprehensible response, which is also par for the course so far, as there are so many regional Spanish dialects, I can never really understand anybody anywhere anyway. 

The food is good too, for lunch just about every restaurant serves 'buffet livre', which in Alberta would be called a smorg.  You load up your plate with whatever you want, they weigh it (if they have a scale) and you pay for what you have chosen, or just a flat rate if there is no scale.  The typical choices are rice, beef, pork, chicken, various vegetables, salad items, and beans, very nice, and no problems with interpreting menus.

The countryside is consists of wide open vistas, meaning that there is plenty to see, the roads are excellent and traffic is light, couldn't be better, I don't even mind the cool weather and the rain, as sooner or later I will be in the hot desert again, thinking that a bit of cold weather would be very nice indeed.
More pix.



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