Day Five

Today our drive deeper into the country's southwest continues. There is little to slow us down insofar as attractions are concerned. If we can use an analogy familiar to Americans if we think of the area we've left behind as New York (Rio being the most happening and hippest of Brazil's cities) we are now headed into their Iowa. This rural region is relatively empty people-wise with farm towns sprinkled along the farmscape rather far apart from each other. As the miles roll by underneath our wimpy Fiat we have but ample time to contemplate this "Midwest" counterpart. The soil is so very red, and the foliage on it so green, that dirt roads leading off into the distance appear as bloody scratches into the living earth. I try, but there is little the camera can do to convey this contrast as vividly as being there. The trucks ahead kick up enormous dust clouds that enshroud is in a dirty fog that is probably equal parts red micro-minerals and animal shit. Luckily we have the luxury of AC so that we can shutter ourselves out of both dust clouds and noxious fumes alike but its use comes at a steep cost of robbing the little engine of more of its meager might. Only the flattest sections of road gives me the chance to go into fifth gear as hilly areas mean I'm always rowing between third and fourth with frequent dips into second. I simply can't imagine this car with an automatic transmission being driveable. Thank god we have no Fiats here in the States. Let's hope it stays that way!

The day's drive comes to an end in a small city called Iturama. After a shower to freshen up we take a stroll around town. I don't know why but I get the strong impression that Brazil has a much larger share of its population in the 15-30 demographic than any other country I've been to yet. And tonight all of them have spilled into the streets to celebrate another (routine) ass-kicking in soccer to the hopeless South Koreans. This being a World Cup year the celebrations are a little livelier and feistier and all the youth wear their flags' yellow and green and party in the streets, on the sidewalks and out of their balconies. They sing and rejoice driving around their hatchbacks or while standng stillor while riding their horse-drawn carts that tomorrow will be used to plow the fields and haul produce. We return to the hotel and the friendly staff have made us an amazing banquet for two across some half dozen dishes. We looked at them with a mixture of incredulity and gratefulness and tore into the buffet but only managed to dent the overflowing supply of food. We trust that the leftovers were not thrown out. Oh, and the bill? 20 reals which comes to something like twelve dollars!

With stretched bellies we hit the sack and so closes our fifth day of travel.

Day 6