Wandering Thoughts

November 1, 2008


Filed under: Going Places — terence @ 2:58 pm

If you take the bus from Porto Alegre, you can travel to the town of Gramado in less than two hours. The journey will take you up into the highlands of Rio Grande Del Sur where it can snow in winter and where you will wonder if you’re actually in Brazil at all.

Gramado was settled by Germans and Italians, and if you keep your ears open you can still hear locals speaking dialects of one or other language. Gramado is also clean, relaxed and, well, almost orderly. Elegant A-frame houses stand comfortable distances from wide clean streets.

One my third day there the friend who I was visiting took me to see the local favela. Tipped over the edge of a bank, it still wasn’t the sort of place anyone would choose to live. But it was small, and the shacks almost looked like houses. And, for once, it was hard to feel intimidated.

“So I guess,” I said as I turned to my friend, “that crime is not really an issue here.”

Crime was certainly an issue for me. Raised on horror stories of Brazilian violence I had coaxed myself into a state of barely suppressed anxiety by the time I arrived in the country. This had started to ebb now that I’d actually been there a couple of weeks and nothing horrid had happened, but I was ready to let it return at the slightest provocation.

“Oh, no,” my friend replied. “Crime is still a problem here. In the weekend thieves catch the buses up from Porto Alegre to rob the tourists.”

Relieved it was a Wednesday, and pondering the migratory supply and demand of criminal activity, I let myself relax again as we drove out of town towards a local national park.



  1. Are they hydrangeas? I’ve always associated them with old ladies rather than favelas.

    Comment by sarah — November 2, 2008 @ 6:41 pm

  2. Trust me Sarah, that’s one bad-arsed bunch of hydrangeas. Woe betide any old lady who tried to mess with this lot…

    Comment by terence — November 2, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

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