Our First Hitchhiking Adventure in Brazil
We stood there for about twenty minutes when a truck pulled over. The driver was headed to São Paulo and gave us a ride to a junction. The sun was scorching hot, and the cars were speeding by so fast that even if they wanted to stop, they couldn’t. Fortunately, a couple stopped for us. They were going through Curitiba to another city. The driver was a policeman, and the girl was a makeup artist. During the journey, we chatted a lot and listened to music.
The road turned out to be incredibly beautiful. Everything around us was lush and overgrown with jungles. The weather was rainy, making the greenery vibrant and shiny. We crossed a pass while driving through dense fog and then a solid wall of rain. It poured like we had entered a waterfall. But a bit lower, the weather cleared up again. The folks didn’t enter Curitiba, and they dropped us off about ten kilometers from the city. We had to call an Uber from there.
What to do in Curitiba
The Botanical Garden
The next day, we decided to explore the city. We walked almost through the entire city. Along the way, we didn’t come across anything interesting except for the stylish and unique bus stops. After an hour and a half, we arrived at the botanical garden.
It was a weekday, but it seemed as crowded as on a weekend. We also noticed quite a few tourists. It’s no wonder, as this is the most popular place in Curitiba and the city’s pride.
The Botanical Garden of Curitiba resembles a large city park with a plethora of trees and plants from not only all over Brazil but the entire world. At the heart of the park, there’s a massive two-story glass greenhouse with a rather unusual and intriguing architectural design. Inside, it’s a tropical paradise and incredibly beautiful!
We simply strolled along the park’s numerous pathways. Some people sat at cafes, some relaxed by the lake, and others, like us, admired the various plants and flowers. The weather was excellent, and there was no rush to go anywhere.
But in Brazil, especially in big cities, it’s better not to wander around unfamiliar places after dark. So we decided to head back home, but on a different route. And who would have thought that the journey back home would turn out to be so frightening.
First, we passed through an area where everything was surrounded by high fences topped with barbed wire and broken glass. We encountered various characters in some places who didn’t seem like the kind you’d want to cross paths with. Then we walked along a relatively lively road, where we could relax a bit. It led us to homeless people. This was one of the few moments during our travels when we paused to find another route. We had to detour around these folks a bit.
Then we had to cross a bridge with the scariest view of the surrounding infrastructure: an abandoned sports complex with a swimming pool, like something out of a horror movie, all covered in eerie graffiti. While Vasya was filming all of this on his phone, I looked around in fear. “The most important thing is to cross this bridge quickly, so no one comes out to meet us!” I thought. But just as I had that thought, a gang of some unruly individuals was coming towards us.
That’s when it got a bit scarier, but we kept our faces composed and tried not to show any signs of fear. We were almost there, and now we were getting closer to people and civilization. How wonderful that we managed to get there before it got too dark. Here, it was relatively safe, and there were people on the streets. When we saw a wedding photoshoot happening outside a church, it felt completely peaceful. A couple more streets and we would be home, and that was enough adventure for one day.
The next day, Bruno and I strolled through the city center and visited a market. The market was very interesting and had a great atmosphere, with lots of people selling various items. Krishna devotees chanted praises to their god, hippies sold bracelets – it was like a typical market. Bruno told us that this place turns into a hangout spot in the evenings, with many young people.
However, it also attracts drug dealers, homeless individuals, and drug addicts, so it can be quite dangerous. “In fact, in cultural centers in all Brazilian cities, it can become dangerous in the evenings,” he added. After the market, we went to an ice cream café and got ourselves a cone of this delightful treat. A little later, we went with Bruno and his girlfriend Marina to Tangua Park to see the capybaras.
The weather on that day wasn’t very sunny, but it was pleasant to take a walk through the forest, watch the monkeys, and the capybaras. Has anyone ever heard of such animals? I, for one, learned about them for the first time in Curitiba. They resemble large beavers or mummy trolls from an old Soviet cartoon. Amazing creatures! They live right in the city park and roam among people, showing no fear of them. Of course, they’re not entirely wild; you could say they are semi-wild. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to observe them.
Those little monkeys that look like little devils also surprised us. They have such a look as if they’re about to jump out of the bushes and surprise you. But they are also very cute and harmless, used to people who sometimes feed them by hand.
We really liked this city. There are many parks here. The downtown area is relatively safe, and the city itself is quite beautiful. Even though you can see it in a couple of days, we felt like we didn’t have enough time. On our way to the bus station the next morning, we wished we could stay longer to explore and take more photographs. After Curitiba, we headed towards the border with Paraguay, and it was a challenging journey with its own adventures, which we’ll share in our next post.
With love from Brazil, Vasya and Nastya