Saturday, April 08, 2006

Southern Brazil: bored out of my skull

I got on a plane from Fortaleza to Porto Alegre yesterday at 6:35 am, and, needless to say, was a total zombie. I had uncomfortable, neck-cramping, on-and-off bouts of sleep until I landed in Guarulhos (SP) and realized I had 10 minutes to make my connection to Porto Alegre. The check-in woman in Fortaleza had said that although I had to change planes in São Paulo, I wouldn't have to re-check my luggage, but, shockingly, the airline did not see the need to send my luggage on to Porto Alegre. So, when I landed in POA and discovered my bag had not arrived, I did not handle it as well as I probably could have. I already felt like crap on a stick from lack of sleep and wine hangover, I was lonely, and Porto Alegre is ugly, so I had to fight back tears when they told me my luggage would take another 3 hours to arrive.

I checked into a depressing hotel, the Continental, across the street from the bus station, got into bed, cried a little, and then fell asleep. I woke up when they called to say my luggage had arrived. Then, I spent the rest of the day feeling lonely and mopey and watching stupid, dubbed movies on TV. The highlight of the night was when "Videos Increveis" came on and I got to see a fat kid being pulled out of a manhole. I definitely needed the good night's rest, and woke up at 7:30 feeling considerably more chipper. I had a nice breakfast and checked out of the hotel by 10, then walked across the street to the rodoviaria and bought a ticket to Gramado.

Gramado is 115 km away from Porto Alegre, a little mountain resort town at 825 km elevation. It reminds me of Frankenmuth, MI, which is a cheesy German-style town with lots of fried chicken-n-strudel houses, except Gramado has a fake-Swiss theme and an overabundance of of fondue joints. I am staying at the youth hostel, which is a little series of cottages at the edge of town, very cute, very clean. After checking in, I walked the mile into the town center and wandered around for about 20 minutes before concluding that Gramado is the kind of place you come if you are: a) married b) over 55, c) toting several children, and/or d) really, really, really like fondue.

Since there is nothing for a single girl to do here besides buy tea-towels and eat ice cream, I walked into the internet café (which was filled with 15 year old boys with piercings playing adventure games online) and have been here for the last hour. I am starting to get the feeling that this next week in Rio Grande do Sul is going to be a looooooooooong one, and am really tempted to change my flight and go to Buenos Aires earlier. It seems a shame to throw away all the reservations I made (a ranch! a winery!) but the idea of spending the next week alone, surrounded by elderly people with fanny packs, is not appealing. Oof.

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