Monday, January 20, 2014

Road trip!! - Place where the fish stop, black creek and Portinari's hometown - São Paulo state

Countryside of São Paulo state and sugar cane

I have always loved a road trip. When I was in my twenties, I crossed the US at least four times, and was introduced to places like Pella, Iowa (home of a lot of Dutch stuff. And people), Winnemucca, Nevada (lost the free roll of quarters from the Super 8) and Lincoln, Nebraska which I hope to insult no one by saying that I drove quickly through. My trusty car almost overheated crossing from Arizona to California, and another car years later almost said no to the Rockies. 

This weekend, BH, the twins, my parents and I got into the monster truck, also known as BH's SUV and drove around São Paulo state. We did have a goal in mind which was the baptism of BH's niece (BH is the godfather) in Ribeirão Preto. Can I translate as Black Creek? Yes.  But on the way, we decided to visit the Place where Fish Stop (Piracicaba) because we enjoy melting.  

The highway from São Paulo, Bandeirantes, changes from urban, to rolling green hills within thirty minutes of leaving São Paulo. Piracicaba is about 2 hours from São Paulo,  a busily growing city of almost a half million. I have posted about it before, and I must say that I enjoyed it once again. 
Place where fish stop
Acerola and orange juice along muddy river

We again lunched along the swift-moving brown river, walked across the new bridge and visited my brother-in-law's house. We also drove through ESALQ, which is the agricultural college and visited its small and somewhat sad agricultural museum. It was not part of my museum challenge. I also got bit by three incredibly cranky ants and am still itching.

ESALQ main building. Yes, blurry.

Empty little museum between shows.

On our way from Piracicaba to Ribeirão Preto, the beauty of the clouds and the road kept us all fairly silent (okay, so the twins were watching American Dragon on the ipad, not the clouds). On both sides, oranges and sugarcane fields gave way to eucalyptus and then ceded once again to sugarcane. The huge cumulus clouds reminded me of Colorado clouds. A rainstorm closed down the view of the roadway after São Carlos, but only after we saw the Statue of Liberty attached to a store.

Statue of Liberty and impending storm

It took us almost two and a half hours from Piracicaba to Ribeirão Preto, between a small directional error and the rain. We arrived at BH's small family farm at almost 8:30 pm and piled out of the car. The family farm is in Brodowski, on a small hill above sweltering, valley-dwelling Ribeirão Preto and is only a few kilometers from Candido Portinari's hometown and museum. If you don't know Portinari, I suggest taking a look. The museum is also worth a trip.

On the morning of the baptism, we got a huge flat tire entering into the city. I suggested that it had to do with BH, the agnostic, being named the godfather to his niece. In any case, the baptism was held up until we could all 6 of us be ferried over in BH's father's car. After the baptism (tomorrow's post), we got the tire fixed but quickly gave up on any real tourism in Ribeirão Preto--it was topping 35 degrees Celsius/ 95 Fahrenheit. We went to get a beer, like any self-respecting Ribeirão Pretano. Nope, not at Pinguim. More on that later, too.

Beat that cloud, Colorado

Back on the road again on Sunday afternoon, I was again impressed by the rolling hills of the interior of São Paulo. Not big mountains, but curving roads through dark green sugar cane fields. Back through the eucalyptus forests of Santa Rita de Passa Quatro (love this name! Cannot translate it. Saint Rita of Four Passes? I looked it up. There's no translation--it was named for a nearby creek).

Eucalyptus trees as far as the eye can see

Many expats here don't drive. That doesn't mean you need to miss out--there's a good bus line with Cometa from Rodoviaria Tiete to Ribeirão Preto. I highly recommend it. On Wednesday, I'll tell you where to get that beer. Don't drink and drive...or you will find yourself in the newest viewpoint from Ribeirão Preto to Brodowski...a prison...

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