Porto Alegre
After acquiring the visas on Wednesday, we ran up to Brasilian customs to make sure there wasn't anything else we needed to cross in the morning. We were told that everything was in order, and in the morning they would just fill out the bike documents, and there was no charge. When we arrived bright and early, we found that this was all true, but that the agent taking care of this for us had only been on the job for two weeks. After nearly two hours of our proofreading and his retyping of the two documents, and several trips to the copy machine, we were finally on our way. The first 200 miles into Brasil from Chuy is traveled mostly by a few trucks, and the road is in pretty rough shape. In fact it is about the worst paved road that we have encountered. It improves near Pelotas, but by the time we got there and stopped for lunch we found that Karen had bent both rims on a bad dip that she had hit at nearly full speed. The tires were still holding air, and the bike was handling fine, but we were beginning to wonder if Brasil was jinxed for us. Porto Alegre began to dispel these fears. The people there were almost the exact opposite of those we had met in Chuy. They were genuinely friendly, with a relaxed and helpful attitude. We had decided to blow through Porto Alegre and head straight to Curitiba. We ended up staying two days.
Everything about Porto Alegre is colorful, from its pedestrian malls (top), to its spotless market (center). The mercado is an ideal place for a relaxed afternoon lunch in any of its numerous restaurants. The one above featured this soothing jazz duo.
It seemed almost odd to see an Anglican Episcopal Cathedral of this size in predominantly Catholic Latinamerica. The scenes depicted on the front are made up of brilliant, almost irridescent, mosaic with pieces no larger than a fingernail.