What a nice weekend!

Just came home from a really nice trip to the town in which Eder grew up: Santa Cruz do Sul - a beautiful little town (yes 100 000 inhabitants is a little town compared to Porto Alegres 1,5 million). Lots of green trees, cobblestone and nice nature surrounding the town. The town is really a German settlement. If your Portuguese is not that good (mine is not) you'll be just fine speaking German (I am not).

So, on Saturday morning we left Porto Alegre early with two cars heading for Santa Cruz. It's about a two-hour ride, mainly through rice- and tobacco fields. At around ten we arrived at Eder's parents' (and parrot's) new house. They recently sold their big house in which Eder grew up for a smaller house that better serve their new life as retired.

Eder's parents' house



Eder's parents showing Roel the neighborhood from their balcony




















Nice little town


















The Henriqson-family: Eder, Eleni, Dinise, Mario.
Note the christmas decorations.


























A walk around the city soon reveals the German roots of the inhabitants. They look about as fit for the sun as I am (skin color as a pig). The main attraction of the walk was the park in which the yearly Oktoberfest takes place during the first two weeks of Oktober each year. This is a crazy party with 250 000 people (an increase of 150 %) drinking Chopp (the nice Brazilian lager) in german clothing. Eder's father was, before his recent retirement, the manager of the entire spectacle (a full-time job). The thing is that this Oktoberfest has its own, really big, park which is pretty much empty during 50 weeks of the year. The pictures attached show a strangely empty park close to the city centre. On the main street in the city centre the German flags were recently replaced by christmas lightning.

The biggest gothic cathedral in southern
Brazil was finished as late as 1920

























Eder's school





























Main building of the Oktoberfest

Welcome to Germany!
































An Oktoberfest-park without Oktoberfest can look quite empty.
















After a little siesta and a nice time with Eder's parents and sister it was time for the MOAB - the Mother Of All Barbecues!! I joined Eder to buy meat and beer for 18 people (3 kg Picania, 2 kg cow ribs and like a big pile of raw sausages). Around 19 o'clock we met up at Betina's sisters place for an evening with the families of both Eder and Betina. Betina also grew up in the Santa Cruz and it is nice to see how both their families are gathering for these barbecue-evenings (even when no crazy europeans are visiting). So we were 18 people including Betinas sister with husband and son, Betina's mother and grandmother, Betina's uncle with family, Eder's parent and sister with son... was that it? Probably not...

The barbecue experience in Brazil is crazy! First they tease you with the best sausages on the planet until you are almost full (before the dinner really starts... as a mingle-starter) - then they try to kill you with meat (super-good meat!) and finally it is just not fair when they introduce you to the most delicate desserts prepared by Betina's grandmother - just not fair! One thing similar to the Swedish barbecue experience though: the skewers, fire and dead animals are managed by the y-chromosomes...

Betina's brother-in-law Guido, host of the MOAB




















Roel communicating with Betinas grandmother:
1/3 dutch German, 1/3 Spanish and 1/3 gestures

















I think that I was still in a meat-coma when I woke up this Sunday morning. The breakfast fruit salad was just right! But after some calm hours in Eder's parents' house: more nice meat, well prepared by Eder's parents. Once again completely full we took a trip to a nice park in Santa Cruz. A visit to a cave - walking on small paths surrounded by bamboo - and a sting by a naughty little larva: we got really up for a longer hike in some Brazilian nature soon!

Inside the cave
















Siluetts of the gang 
















Finally some nature! Let's go hiking soon!





















That's the naughty larva that I decided to rest my hand on (Eder did the
same with another one). It burned for like 15 minutes and then I was fine.

















Still full after the meat lunch we packed our stuff and went to pick up Betina at her mother's house. There Betina's grandmother was just finishing the niiiicest little pastels/empanada/piroger. So, more food. And then, just before entering the car for the trip home, the remains of yesterday's fabulous desserts were brought to the table.

Vegetarian detox this week. Life in Brazil continues...

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