Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 12: Itanhandu to Cachoeira Paulista

Getting up, having breakfast, backing our bags, buying provisions... by day 12 this had turned routine and we could have done this in our sleep. Thanks to the description in our book on the Estrada Real it was easy to find the first signpost and we took off in direction of Passa Quatro, where we would meet our CS friend Fabricio.

Passa Quatro - cross four - is a pretty funny name for a place so we did some research and it turned out it was called this by the early bandeirantes as they had to cross the river four times to reach the place. We didn´t have to cross any rivers - but a horrible little village between Itanhandu and Passa Quatro that has an estimated chicken - man ratio of about 400:1. It really stinks and seeing the chicken suffer in their tiny cages, one above the other really made us sick.
So for those of you living in Brazil - avoid those cheap eggs from Itanhandu. Try to get free range or organic ones...

Passa Quatro is a lovely little city. Most of the buildings on main street are historical and the milkman on his horse drawn carriage and helped by a small black boy adds to the colonial athmosphere of the place. We stopped in a bakery across from the bus station (I think it was the only one in Passa Quatro ;-)) and soon Fabricio came to greet us. What a wonderful surprise - in the middle of rural Minas Gerais we found a real ´cosmopolite´ and ´polyglotte´! Fabricio speaks about five languages and it full of energy, jokes, ´esprit´... even though we had just met it was sad to say goodbye and we promised each other to keep in touch and spend more time together in the future.

In Passa Quatro we found a signpost but it was not easy to tell, in which direction it was pointing. We asked around and it seemed to be the easiest way to just follow the railroad tracks. Steam train ´Maria fumaca´ (literally Smoke Maria) only leaves on certain days of the weeks so we had the tracks all for ourselves.

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