Friday, July 19, 2013

Peru-Brazil 2013 – Day 32 – A hard travel day

I am beginning to think renting a car and driving was not such a chili red-hot idea. Brazil is just too big! The roads are OK (a 7 in a 1 to 10 scale), but are handicapped by (1) the mountainous quality of the landscape, which causes them to meander and go up and down; (2) the fact that they are narrow, one- or two-lane roads, so passing is difficult; and (3) the large number of slow, heavily loaded trucks, which accelerate on the downhill and make passing difficult, and then crawl in the upslope when passing is dangerous because the vehicles in the opposing lane are careening down the slope like banshees. In other words, it is just like driving in la libre in Mexico. Thinking in la libre (“the free” highway that in Mexico has been largely overwhelmed by the toll highways), reminds me that the highways here are toll, so a day of hard driving is likely to cost something like 60 or 80 reais (US$30 to US$40).

Annie and I have been trying all sorts of things to keep ourselves entertained. She has learned to play Adivinar el Personaje (Guess the Character) and stomped me with Mother Nature. I, in turn, almost stomped her with Amelia Bedelia. Then she taught me Twenty Questions, and I stomped her with a speed-limit road sign.

We have driven across some beautiful country. Now and then we cross across true mountains, but for the best part of the day we have been crossing a landscape of hills, where vast plantations of bananas are operated. Other use of the landscape is seasonal pasture (we happen to be in the season when the pastures are green, so it is very soothing to see them extending as far as the eye can see), and cattle grazing (definitely happy Brazilian cows).

From a geologic point of view, in the morning we drove through the sedimentary foothills of the Paraná Basalts Plateau, where some limestone units have given their name to the Rio Cavernoso or the Caverna del Diablo. Most of the day was spent driving through the eroded basaltic plateau, which has been a thrill because the Paraná basalts were erupted shortly before South America and Africa separated from each other, so one half of the province is here, in Southern Brazil, whereas the other half is now in western Africa. This is thus hallowed ground as far as Plate Tectonics and geology are concerned.

We arrived at the town of Cascavel around 9:30 pm, rather tired and ready to hole for the night. My Portuguese is good enough by know to ask for a good hotel (but not good enough to further elaborate that we need something that is good but not very expensive), so we got directed to one of the best hotels, and had to pay top reais for a room (170 reais, or US$85). We need to try to get to our resting place earlier, so we can search for better deals.
Anyway, we are now less than 200 km from Foz de Iguaçú, and look forward to seeing the famous cataracts early tomorrow.

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