The final week of May I spent in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state. From Foz do Iguaçu I took a 21 hour bus ride that, after a vehicle breakdown and wait for replacement, lasted almost 24 hours .
The climate from Foz do Iguaçu to Porto Alegre is subtropical. I’ve never seen as much green foliage as on this journey. At one of the trip’s many stops was a sculpture exhibition by Katielly Lanzini. The models seemed out of place, surrounding a dimly lit concrete bus station stairway.
Katielly Lanzini dinosaur sculptures at Chapecó Prefecture bus station in Santa Catarina
After crawling in Porto Alegre’s evening peak hour traffic, the replacement bus eventually arrived to the terminal. Not a major tourist destination, I came to Porto Alegre to see Marcio and Kamyla, friends I met in December at Marizá Epicentro.
An outdoor poster asking families to eliminate standing water, part of the Brazilian government’s campaign against the mosquito-borne zika virus
At Porto Alegre I had a trip milestone – my first food poisoning. Two months in Bolivia could not do what my return to Brazil did. I’m unsure what caused the illness but I suspect food eaten at a roadside restaurant. Thanks to Marcio and Kamyla for their support during my 48 hours in bed.
Marcio and Kamyla run a business, Besouro Criollo, that promotes sustainable development techniques including ecological effluent treatment, composting and urban horticulture.
Many plants grow in both the lounge room (pictured) and office of Marcio and Kamyla’s small apartment, evidence of their belief in urban horticulture and sustainability
With Marcio, Eduarda (Marcio’s daughter) and Kamyla at a Porto Alegre cafe
Enjoying a hot, pisco-infused mulled wine in cool, overcast weather at a Porto Alegre park
Unique to Brazil, the country’s south shares several similarities with its Argentinian and Uruguayan neighbours including a culture of barbecues and love for the herbal tea mate.
Churrasco is the Brazilian term for barbecue and I was lucky enough to enjoy a churrasco cooked by Marcio at his family’s house. Marcio’s grandfather was still cooking churrascos in his 90’s and only stopped a few years ago. Leftover meat is traditionally consumed the following day chopped fine and combined with rice.
Watched by his grandfather, Marcio salts skewered beef prior to grilling
Beef cuts, chicken hearts and Brazilian sausages cooking above the coals in a churrasqueira (barbecue grill)
With Marcio, his grandparents and Eduarda
Grilled meat and potatoes. At a churrasco the cooked food is gradually brought to the table so it is always eaten hot
While in Porto Alegre I received my first Brazilian haircut from Marcio’s barber of decades.
Having my hair cut by the barber who has cut Marcio’s hair for as long as he can remember
A highlight of my visit to Porto Alegre was the markets. These included the Saturday morning ecological market, the temporary farmers market in the city centre and the Mercado Público Central (Public Central Market).
Produce stalls at Porto Alegre’s Public Central Market
This Public Central Market stall specialises in the herbal tea mate and churrasco accessories
The Paraná pine seed, here seen at Porto Alegre’s Public Central Market, is eaten boiled
My week with Marcio and Kamyla soon ended and it was time to fly north to Salvador and warmer weather.