Day Ten

We're inching closer now back to Rio, back home to end this fascinating trip. Everywhere we go we see Brazil flags waving, green and yellow streamers hanging from power lines, teenagers blaring trumpets and shouting happily. It's like an American 4th of July and Superbowl rolled into one except every single day. If I had to describe their nature in one word it would be "festive". I've never seen this much nationalism and youthful energy in the three dozen plus countries I've been to. They are immensely proud to be Brazilian and most everyone we come across is happy and lively.

We zip along the highway at a death-defying 60 miles an hour. At this speed the rental car's engine is screaming at a Formula One pitch, redlining for all I know... Well I *would* know if I had a tachometer but I don't. And I don't really care either. I just push the pedal to the metal and cross my fingers the poor machine won't fly itself apart in the middle of nowhere. We come into Curitiba, a city with a skyline of what from a distance looks like hundreds of dominoes stacked just right for an entertaining flash at the flick of a celestial finger. These dominoes are highrise condos of about 30-40 storeys none much different in height or shape than the other. They are so closely packed together that I can almost visualize one condo's neihbour stretching his or her hand to the other for a cup of sugar.

After being predictably stuck in the city for an hour or so - remember the general lack of signage or anything like ring roads and bypasses, we at last make it to the other side to continue on our way.

Tonight we have taken a side road off the main highway and made it into a little gem of a seaside town called Iguape. While the ocean is obscured by the dark, since we've arrived post sunset, the town has a central square lined by a very picturesque array of two-storey colonial houses and a big church. Tonight all its under-40 residents are celebrating the latest soccer win with street partying and the flag waving and trumpeting. We buy some churros (that'll be dinner tonight) and people watch for a half hour before going to bed.

Day 11