Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Lages, Santa Catarina, Mile 334, November 23, 2010
Very little of import happened yesterday. It stopped raining about noon, and, had I not already left my clothes to be washed, I would have left yesterday. O well. I took the bike out in the afternoon and rode around town for a few miles, and read the second 25 cent book I had brought with me. I had found a very good Italian restuarant a few blocks from my hotel, and Sunday night I had an excellent lasagna; last night an excellent pizza. The lasagna was funny, because it was served in what ammounted to a deep dish pizza tray, and cut into four slices like it was a pizza. It tasted good...
Once in town, I went in search of an ATM, since I was running low on Reais, again. This is not as easy as it may seem; not all Brazilian banks are linked into the CIRRUS system that my credit union uses. I went looking for a Banco Bradesco, who I knew would accept my ATM card, but did not find one. After trying Banco do Brasil and Santander unsucsessfully, I went into a HSBC, and their ATM worked. I have now taken out R$1,730 on this trip, and have had $1,020 disappear from my account. This works out to a rate of 1.70 to one. I am hoping to make it to the Uruguayan border in another seven or eight days; at this exchange rate, the sooner the better.
Lages is the biggest city I have been in yet (not counting Curitiba), and probably has 100,000 inhabitants or so. There is a nice plaza and cathedral downtown, and it looks to be a prosperous place.
The State of Santa Catarina, incidentally, is one of 26 Brazilian States. Considering that Brazil has a larger land area than the 48 continental United States, that means the average Brazilian State is almost twice the size as the average American State. Santa Catarina is slightly smaller than average, but it is still quite big, say the size of Missouri. Rio Grande do Sul, which is coming up next, is actually significantly BIGGER than Uruguay, and is somewhere between double and triple the size of Santa Catarina. However, my time in RS will be a straight shot down the coast to the Uruguayan border, instead of the meander I have been doing here in SC, so my distance travelled there should actually be less than what I will end up travelling in Santa Catarina.
Having read (and discarded) all the books I brought with me, I wandered into a book store in search of more. The prices were incredible. A Portuguese translation of ¨Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow¨ was going for about 12 dollars, for a paperback with less than 200 pages. ¨A Brief History of the 20th Century¨ was almost $30 US. I am going to go back to the hotel and ask them if they know of any used book stores near here.