24 October 2010

Trip to Curitiba

Two weeks ago tomorrow, Carlie and I made a trip to Curitiba, the capital city of the state of Paraná, Brazil.  It was in this city that I first served as a young missionary in 1964.  

The flight to Curitiba took about an hour, and we arrived there with enough time to go to church.  I was particularly interested in doing this, since it was the same church building that I attended as a young missionary.  The pictures below are of that chapel, and the small house (casinha) that I lived in when in Curitiba in 1964 and again in 1966.

45 years ago, however, there were no other building in close proximity to the chapel.  Today, there is a large hospital right next door.

I also have included a photo of the baptismal font in the chapel.  I don't recall it when I was living here many years ago, and suspect that it has been renovated.  The scene is of Joseph Smith being baptized by Oliver Cowdery on May 15, 1829.

On Monday morning, Carlie and I, along with another missionary couple, had arranged to take a 3 1/2 hour train ride to Paranaguá, on the Atlantic coast of Brazil. It is a distance of approximately 65 miles. The pictures below will give you an idea of what it was like to take this slow ride through the mountains that lie between Curitiba and the Atlantic ocean.

The above picture is of all the tourists boarding the train in Curitiba, followed by a photo of Carlie preparing to board the train. Across the row from her are Dennis and Lavinia Aldridge from Reno, Nevada.  They are currently serving as humanitarian missionaries in São Paulo, and arrived in Brazil a few days after we did in March of this year. They made the trip with us to Curitiba. Dennis was also a missionary in Curitiba; however, he came about five years after I did.

Curitiba is known for the beautiful pine trees that are prolific throughout in the city as well as throughout the state of Paraná.  In fact, the name Curitiba is a Tupi-Guarani word which is translated to mean "Pine Nut Land".  This specific variety of pine tree is called Auraçária. I took several other pictures of these beautiful trees which I have not seen in any other place here in the south of Brazil.

When the train arrived in the small town of Morretes (see above), we offboarded and got on a bus that took us to the small port city of Antonina.  It was at this port that many of the Italian immigrants first arrived in Paraná in the 19th century. The following two photos are of Antonina; one is of the Catholic Church that was built in 1715, on a hill overlooking the port; the other is a view of the bay and the Atlantic ocean.

The bottom three states of Brazil (Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul) are heavily populated by europeans immigrants. Waves of these immigrants started arriving after 1850, mainly Germans, Italians, Poles and Ukranians. There still exist many cities that are almost exclusively inhabited by descendants of these early immigrants. 

Due to the difficulty in traversing the heavily forested mountains that border Southern Brazil, most of the early immigrants built their homes and cities along the coast. With the exception of catholic monks who began their missionary labors among the indigenous peoples, no serious  effort was made by the immigrants to forge their way into Brazil's interior. 

In 1873, african slaves were used to construct a cobblestone trail that still remains to this day. The cobblestones were originally ballast from the slave ships and the other ships that brought immigrants to their new home.  Our trip back to Curitiba was by bus over this cobblestone trail, and boy were we glad to finally get back on a paved highway!

Back in Curitiba we spent the next day touring the city,  Carlie and I both believe that Curitiba is the most beautiful city we have visited in Brazil.  It is extremely well planned and modern, and has a European feel to it.

The following pictures are of some of the sights in Curitiba.

Behind us is Curitiba's Botanical Gardens. Expansive and well laid out, it is full of beautiful plant life.  There are many walkways and resting areas.  There is also a large Velodrome connected to the Botanical Gardens. The structure below is filled with many exotic plants.

Curitiba is also well known for its beautiful parks and wonderful museums. The picture below is of Praça Tiradentes, in the center of the city. Curitiba has about 3.2 million inhabitants. When I first arrived here in 1965, it had about 800,00 inhabitants. When I first arrived, I lived in an apartment building right behind the large catholic cathedral shown below.

The following pictures are of some of the public transportation in Curitiba, including one of many bus stops in Curitiba.  They are really quite unique!

Here is another picture of the Catholic Cathedral on Praça Tiradentes in the center of Curitiba.

We also had an opportunity to visit a beautiful art museum, known as the Oscar Nemeyer Museum. It is often just referred to as "the Eye."

Our final day in Curitiba was spent visiting the Curitiba Temple, which was under construction when we visited Brazil in 2006.  The following are only a few of the photos we took of this beautiful, sacred temple.

To the back side of the temple is a huge Auraçária Pine that symbolically spreads its protective branches from one side of the temple to the other.