Organic Design (blog)
|Posted by Nad on 14 de maio de 2014 at 15h58min|
|On Monday Beth and Eduardo went to the neighbours, Antonio and Donna Belinha to buy some eggs because Eduardo wanted to do home made pasta for lunch tomorrow. Since Eduardo had also bought Polenta for breakfast we decided that we should have an Italian day! This also meant we could have coffee for breakfast since it would be a special occasion and because they'd also bought milk with the eggs :-) Eduardo is of Italian decent and showed us the traditional way to make really nice pasta and polenta. In addition to all this nice traditional food, Italian day involves shouting loudly at each other in an Italian accent while waving the hands around a lot!
|Posted by Nad on 14 de maio de 2014 at 15h33min|
|Eduardo's a civil engineer and knows heaps about concrete and how to use it really efficiently. His arrival was really timely because we'd just bought a sack of cement for a few projects around the land, but we haven't worked with concrete before and didn't know the best proportions and how much sand and rock we could get away with adding to the mixture. The most urgent job was to make a better solution to the south-west fence because the sack of rocks idea really hasn't worked and is also very messy.
My new idea was to make a long concrete pole with wire hooks all the way along it. The bar would sit on the river bed under the fence going all the way across and then vertical lengths of barbed wire could attach to the fence and the hooks in the concrete bar.
We started by carrying all the cement and tools to the site which is quite difficult because it's very muddy. Beth and I were amazed that Eduardo walked through the grass and the forest in bare feet! this was really inspirational for us because in New Zealand we have bare feet all the time, and feel that it's really important to be in contact with the Earth and it's also really good for raising awareness and for the nervous system. We'd thought that this was something that really wasn't practical in Brazil due to all the poisonous spiders and caterpillars, scorpians and snakes, but Eduardo had the attitude that as long as you're aware and can see where you're putting your feet there's no problem! so we're going to start being in bare feet a lot more now :-)
When we got there, I made a trench in the ground as a mould for the concrete and filled it with lengths of twisted wire for reinforcing. Eduardo and Barry collected stones and sand for the mixture, then we mixed it all up with water, poured it into the mould, evened it all out with a trowel and stuck loops of wire into it for attaching the fence to. Now we just have to leave it for four days and then try and manoeuvre it into position!
|Posted by Nad on 14 de maio de 2014 at 15h02min|
|My long time friend from New Zealand, Barry, arrived on Saturday the 10th. He's been cycle touring around Brazil for a few weeks, he started in Rio and cycled over 1000km to our place, visiting São Paulo, Florianópolis and Cambará on the way here. He also invited his friend Eduardo from Caxias to come too who he met on one of the cycle touring sites, Eduardo arrived the next day on Sunday the 11th.
It was really good to catch up with Barry who I hadn't seen for a few years, and great to meet Eduardo who's really local to us and shares so many ideas and values in common with us! they taught us a lot about how to cycle more efficiently to go further while expending less energy, and what the best and lightest weight clothes, tents and sleeping bags are.
After Barry cleared a spot in the bracken, they pitched their tents ready to settle in for the week :-) I installed some hooks for them to hang their bikes on since we have mice around who love to chew plastic and rubber things!
|Posted by Nad on 1 de maio de 2014 at 15h45min|
|We were only back two days and then we saw a cow in the garden! how could this possibly be when the whole land is fenced off now?! by the time we'd got our boots on it had disappeared and we couldn't find it anywhere. But the next day there were two more! this time I ran after them when they ran off, and I followed them through the forest to the south-west corner of the land where it turns out there's no fence across the river!
It's a difficult area to fence because the banks are a metre or so high and there's nothing very low to attach fencing wire to. We decided it needed to be fenced off asap, so I got to work on it straight away. First I put a normal four-wire fence across joining the existing fences, and then to fill in the metre or so of gap in the river below this new section, I connected vertical pieces of wire attached to four sacks of rocks sitting on the river bed. The best ones are made with wire mesh, but we only had enough for two, so another is plastic mesh with some wire to support it and one is a large chunk of metal pipe.
It was a really horrible job! it was a cold overcast day and I had to wade into the mud and cold water which filled up my boots. Every time I needed to attach wire to the east side, I had to walk about 50 metres up stream to get to a point where I could get up the bank, then go back and attach the barbed wire all with soaking trousers, socks and boots!
|Posted by Nad on 26 de abril de 2014 at 15h48min|
|We have at least five kinds of bees on our land - apart from the usual honey bees and bumble bees we also have carpenter bees, tiny black bees and tiny blue bees. Today I finally got some good shots of the tiny blue ones which range from about 5mm to 1cm long. The flower it's pollinating is Basil which is a very small flower about 5mm in diameter. The Basil and Chia have really taken off in our garden and are absolutely alive with many kinds of butterflies and all the different types of bees. This is really nice to see considering there's so many bees dying around the world from pesticide consumption and monoculture farming which makes their immune systems weak as they need a variety of different pollens to be strong and healthy.
|Posted by Nad on 24 de abril de 2014 at 18h20min|
|We finally got back to the land yesterday! we caught a plane from Brasília to Porto Alegre which took less than two hours (it would have been 36 hours on the bus!), and then got the next bus from there to Canela which was only about twenty minutes after we arrived (buses to Canela leave every hour from the airport). The plan was to stay the night in Canela at Donna Eloi's who owns the main front house at the place we used to rent in Canela, and then meet with our neighbours who were going to be in Canela the next day and could drive us back to the land.
Unfortunately that didn't quite work out because the neighbours ended up not going to Canela, so we had to stay another night and arrange something else. It turned out that our old flat is empty so we actually stayed in there for a couple of nights :-) As a back up plan we called our truck guy Tonho to arrange going back with him and ordering a whole bunch of wood and roofing panels etc to take with us, but again the plan fell through! This time because it rained the whole night which would mean the roads were too muddy for the truck! So we decided to just leave the heavy stuff we didn't need at Donna Eloi's and get the bus to Vaca Velha and walk back.
It was a bit nerve racking because in winter the days are short and we needed to make good time to get there before dark. We made it just as light was fading and needed to use our cell phones to light the way through the forest at the end! Everything was ok with the house and we got a good night's sleep :-)
The next day we were quite surprised to see how much the vege patch had taken off! And also to see that all five bananas that Beth's parents had brought a couple of months ago had taken off - we thought only one had survived! Here's some photo's showing the vege patch in January compared to now, and one of the bananas.
The really big bushes which weren't even visible before the holiday are Chia which we're growing to harvest the seeds from as they're very healthy and good for digestion. They're currently the centre of attention in the vege patch which hundreds of bees, ladybugs, butterflies and other insects all over them. In particular the red butterflies really like them and there must be at least twenty on each bush. Here's a couple of photos showing some of them.
|Posted by Nad on 12 de abril de 2014 at 17h23min|
|I hadn't heard anything from Mum and Dad well after they should haven arrived, so I sent a worried email. A few hours later they replied with the following final holiday drama!
What a journey home!!!!! We got on the plane at Santiago as planned at 11.55pm, there was a bit of revving and the plane moved away from the terminal, then the captain said we seem to have a mechanical problem we are going back to the terminal. Well we sat there for about 3 hours and then he said that we were going to a hotel for the night. That meant we had to get our luggage off the plane, go through customs and immigration and then get to the hotel. So at 4,30am we got to bed with the alarm set for 8.30am as we had to be at breakfast by 10.30. They were supposed to pick us all up at midday, but of course they didn't arrive until nearly 12.30. Anyway, we then got on the plane to take off at 4.10, however after a few revs and such like the captain said he was sorry but there was the same problem as before and they were waiting for the mechanic everyone burst into spontaneous laughing. Eventually after 2.5 hours, we took off, everyone cheered and clapped lol!
|Posted by Nad on 30 de março de 2014 at 16h59min|
|On Monday the 29th we arrived in Brasília, the capital of Brazil. Beth and I arrived in the morning after more than twenty four hours on the bus. We arrived later than expected too because our bus arrived in Curitiba nearly two hours late due to being held up by a protest. The protest was in São José, a small city just south-east of Curitiba, which has a very dangerous stretch of motorway that a girl had gotten run over on a few days prior. Then during the protest which was occurring just as our bus was on its way through one of the protesters was run over and killed too!! well at least the protest should have made a very clear statement about how dangerous that section of the road is! Here's a picture of the route for our last leg of the journey, and a hazy photo of the sunrise taken through the bus window which matches our mood at the time!
Brasília and its District are located in the Central-West region of the country, along a plateau known as Planalto Central. It has a population of about 3.6 million, making it the fourth largest city in Brazil.
As the national capital, Brasília is the seat of all three branches of the Brazilian government, legislative, judicial and executive. The city also hosts the headquarters of many Brazilian companies. Planning policies such as the location of residential buildings around expansive urban areas, as well as building the city around large avenues and dividing it into sectors, have sparked a debate and reflection on life in big cities in the 20th century. The city's design divides it into numbered blocks as well as sectors for specified activities, such as the Hotel Sector, the Banking Sector or the Embassy Sector.
The city was planned and developed in 1956 with Lúcio Costa as the principal urban planner and Oscar Niemeyer as the principal architect (see also the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba). On April 22 of 1960, it formally became Brazil's national capital. Viewed from above, the main portion of the city resembles an airplane or a butterfly as can be seen in the following image (click on the image too see more detail). For more information about the city and it's interesting structure, see our Brasília category.
Mum and Dad arrived later in the evening and we stayed for our first night all together at Beth's parents house. The house is about an hour out of the main city in Brasília on about ten hectares of land. It's a very hot climate there so they're growing lots of tropical fruit. They also have chickens for eggs and cows for milk and grow sugar cane and corn.
Beth needed some time to get centred and catch up on silence and meditation, but her sister Rosie (pronounced "Horzie") kindly offered to take Mum and Dad out on some of the visitor tours and learn about the city and some of it's most important features and buildings.
One of the outings Rosie took us on was to the Palácio do Congresso Nacional (National Congress Palace) and the Palácio Itamaraty (Foreign Ministry Palace) which were both designed by Oscar Niemeyer. The first photo shows the Congress Palace which looks very interesting from the outside but is (in my opinion) pretty ugly and "boxie" on the inside. The tour through this building was a couple of hours long and guided by a very energetic and passionate women who really seemed to enjoy explaining all the details of the governmental process. Unfortunately they don't have English guides on weekends so we understood very little and Rosie could only translate the most important points as there was a great deal of information delivered continuously and rapidly!
The Palácio Itamaraty was an awesome building, one of Niemeyer masterpieces in my opinion, the bottom floor is a 2200 square metre area without any support columns - that's about ten times the size of Mum and Dads whole house! This room is almost empty apart from a small permanent stone seating area with a interactive art piece in the middle (the photos below show a configuration Rosie and I had just made - some of the layers were stuck so we have to make the most natural shape we could that passed through the immovable ones :-) and a pool with Amazon plants in it at the far end. The building has three floors and contains many huge conference and guest rooms containing many amazing art works, the golden one shown below is called the screaming woman and is on the top floor over looking the other buildings.
We went to quite a number of different restaurants and markets, but one really worth a mention is the Sebinho book shop and café. This is a really nice place to spend a few hours when in Brasília. It's a second hand book shop and has a huge range in English, Portuguese, French, German and more. There's plenty of seating both inside and outside with lots of shade and a very nice café so you can eat drink and read as long as you like. Mum and Dad bought a stack of books and we read for an hour or so while we had coffee and beer. They have wifi too, so I was able to get a bit of work done while the others read their new books :-)
On Sunday night we all had dinner together (Except for Rosie's partner Bizerril who couldn't make it that night). The first picture shows Beth's parents in the middle, Beth's oldest sister Patrícia and her partner Nelson on the left, Beth with the middle sister Rosana and of course Mum and Dad on the right. I'm not in that picture as I'm taking the photo. Later Mum had a special announcement for the family - her original wedding ring was too small for her and so had been kept aside for a special occasion, and last night at dinner when we were all together she gave it to Beth :-)
The holiday's rapidly drawing to an end now with only two full days left before Mum and Dad begin their flight back to New Zealand :-( Dad took everyone out to lunch at a buffet called Mungai that's considered to be one of the best restaurants in Brasília. It was very spacious and there was a very wide range of quite typical northern dishes, with some quite strange ones such as snake's armpits (there's a lot of barren desert in the north, so they have to eat anything they can find!) This was the second time that all ten of us had been together at once, and the first time we could get a photo since one of the waiters was able to take it for us :-) After that we all went our separate ways, with Mum, Dad, Beth and I going for a relaxing walk around the botanical gardens. Mum wanted an ice cream to cool down and she couldn't understand what it said on the packet, but got it anyway since it looked nice. When she tried it it tasted quite odd, so she asked us to translate it, and we found that it was a guava and cheese ice block!!!
It's the 10th of April today, Mum & Dad's last day in Brazil. They really enjoyed it over here seeing such a variety of cities and nature with all the similarities and differences compared with New Zealand. They were really happy meeting this new side of the family too, and Beth and I were so happy to see how well everyone got along together even through the difficult language barrier!
We travelled around seven regions together over the last six weeks which has been more than 4,000km! But as you can see from the maps below, Brazil is enormous and our travels have barely scratched the surface! Another holiday or two will be required to explore more of the north east and Amazonian regions of the country :-)
We all got up at 8am to have breakfast and to say some final goodbyes and then left for the airport at about 9am so we'd have plenty of time before their flight at midday. The check-in process was a lot quicker than expected taking only about 5 minutes, so we spent our last hour or so together at a café in the airport and then said a final goodbye at the departure gate. Hopefully it won't be too long before Beth and I are over in NZ for a visit and maybe some of the Brazilian side of the family will come over while we're there too :-)
|Posted by Nad on 24 de março de 2014 at 17h00min|
|We arrived at our hotel in Curitiba at about 8am on the morning of Monday the 24th after a trip of about ten hours from Foz do Iguaçu. The hotel is located right in the main centre next to the Mueller shopping mall, there were some other choices for hotels and pousadas in nicer areas, but we decided that it would be more convenient to be located right in the centre so it was very easy to get to all the places we wanted to see. We only have four days in Curitiba, but Beth and I lived here for a year so we know it pretty well and can get around quickly. Curitiba is our favourite city in Brazil and being here again we realised how much we miss it :-) Curitiba is planned very well and has great support for getting around on bikes or walking. They have a bike lane (which we call "bikee lanee" to pronounce it the way Brazilians do when they say it in English!) which has a nice portion about 10km long that runs north-south perpendicular to all the traffic along a water way. It goes past some nice bosques (small forests) and other interesting places. The transport system in Curitiba is all done by buses and the main roads are made with a wide lane in the centre which is just for buses (they're very convenient for cyclists too, but it's important to remember that it's made for buses not cyclists!). Many of the main buses are very long articulated ones composed of three segments as shown in the picture below.
The start of this nice segment of bikee lanee is only about 5 minutes walk from our hotel so we went for a walk for an hour or so shortly after we arrived and had breakfast. We wandered along bikee lanee for about 20 minutes until we reached the Bosque do Papa which has some replicas of old Polish settlers houses and a nice walk through the small forest which leads to the Museu Oscar Niemeyer, but we didn't go there because it's closed on Mondays. So instead we went to our favourite café in Curitiba, Caffè Fruttato which has excellent coffee, nice and affordable sandwiches and pastries and a really nice garden with a pond containing huge gold fishes and a big turtle :-)
For lunch we wanted to go to our favourite Chinese vegetarian buffet but it had closed down :-( so we had to search for something else and eventually found another more typical buffet that was quite nice and reasonably priced. In the evening we went for a walk around the old historic centre of Curitiba which still has a lot of the original buildings and is paved with cobblestones. We then went to our favourite restaurant, the Brooklyn Coffee Shop, for dinner. Unfortunately Brooklyn has gone down hill a lot, our favourite vege burger was no longer anything special but had gone up a bit to R$18, and the tap beer was flat :-( at least the brownie and ice cream was still very good and Dad and Mum were happy with their burger and Caeser salad.
On our second day in Curitiba we caught the bus to São Lourenço which is the neighbourhood we rented our first flat in Brazil. We visited our old neighbours to say hi and then walked about 15 minutes to Parque Livre.
We then had some lunch and visited "grandpa" who has a great variety of ice cream flavoured with real fruit. We then walked across to Bosque Alemão which is a park built in honour of the German immigrants who began to settle in the city in the early 19th century. In the park visitors can walk on the trail of Hansel and Gretel and reach the gingerbread and candy house, where usually on Saturday afternoons children listen to tales told by the witch.
In the evening Mum and Dad went to the mall next to the hotel for dinner as it has a big food hall in it with a variety of options, and we went to a little pizza place we've been wanting to visit for a couple of years :-) It's a very interesting place because it has no proper name or brand and makes pizzas a very traditional Italian way. There's even been a news item about them. The next day, Beth and I had a day to ourselves and Mum and Dad went on the tourist bus which travels in a loop via twenty seven different places in Curitiba. For a fixed price of R$29 you can get off at five different places and then get on the next bus that goes by to see the next places. They go by every twenty minutes or so. They stopped at Jardim Botanico (botanical gardens) and Parque Tangua and got some shots of the buildings in memory of the Ukrainian settlers.
On our last day together in Curitiba we went for lunch at a Chinese buffet that was our favourite before we found the vegetarian one we tried to go to a couple of days earlier but found it closed down. This one doesn't have as nicer ambiance and isn't vegetarian-only, but it is exceptional value at only R$8.50 (about NZ$5) for all you can eat! and does have a very wide range of food including many kinds of fruit and vegetables, sushi, various rice and pasta dishes, deep fried prawns and fish and much more :-) on the way to lunch we went via the open market so Mum could get some more chia seeds. The market has a huge range of specific goods such as seeds, herbs and peppers as well as all the usual fruits and vegetables.
The next morning Beth and I had to catch the bus very early for a long twenty four hour trip to Brasília, but Mum and Dad had an extra day in Curitiba as they were catching the plane the next evening instead which is only about an hour and a half! While we were sitting in the bus they did a walk around the historical centre guided by a friend of one of the receptionists of the hotel named Rafael. They visited a lot of the same places we'd already seen, but their guide knew everything about the history of the buildings which Mum and Dad found very interesting. One of the interesting things Rafael pointed out was that the Polish settlers houses shown above are not replicas but were the actual original houses that were dismantled and transported to the memorial park!
|Posted by Nad on 22 de março de 2014 at 10h25min|
|We arrived in Foz do Iguaçu about 9:30am and got a taxi to our pousada to drop off all our gear. The bus trip was over 15 hours but it was comfortable and we were all able to get a fair bit of sleep on the way. Mum and Dad paid extra for very spacious seats on the lower level of the bus which fold all the way down so they could stretch out to sleep more easily (and they also got blankets and free biscuits!), but Beth and I opted for the cheap seats at the top :-) Luckily our rooms at the pousada hadn't been previously occupied so we were able to go in to them straight away and have a shower etc.
We decided that since the weather was a bit drizzly and we were off to a late start it would be best to go to the bird park first. I was kicking myself because I really wanted to get some awesome shots of the birds and butterflies this time but I left the camera at home and Dad's one isn't very good for high quality close shots :-( The falls on the Brazilian side are nothing special compared to the Argentinian side, but the bird park is awesome! there's many exotic birds like Macaws and Tucans and you can go right into the enclosures with them! The last row of pictures below are from our previous trip here a couple of years ago since we had our good camera with us that time, and also the queue to hold the blue Macaw looked to be about an hour long! The light brown birds shown in the third row below with the tuft of feathers on the top of their beaks are Seriemas which we have on our land. That guy looking disapprovingly at me being bitten by the Tucan is a park attendant, he didn't realise that I had previously survived a pampas fox bite so was worried that I could be hurt.
It's not only birds though, they also have a reptile area with snakes, crocodiles and lizards, and a really cool butterfly and humming bird enclosure that you can go into and be surrounded by many colourful butterflies which often land on you. Unfortunately we couldn't get any decent shots with the small snapshot camera, but I managed to get one of a big blue butterfly that landed on a guys shoe :-) The last shot below was actually taken on our land, but I've added it here because it's one of the kinds that were in the enclosure (and also there was space for one more photo!)
On our first full day in Foz, Mum, Dad and Beth all went to Puerto Iguazú in Argentina to see the falls which are far more impressive from the Argentinian side than the Brazilian side. Unfortunately I had to stay behind because I had to catch up on some work, but Beth and I came a couple of years ago and saw both sides then. The falls had a completely different character about them this time, there was much more water and it was very muddy. Here's a few of the best shots Dad got of the falls on the Argentinian side, we have some more here including those taken on our last trip. The first photo is from our trip two years ago, and the second from yesterday so you can see the difference in the character of the water.
As well as the falls themselves there's a lot of interesting animals, lizards and insects to see and interact with there. The main animal attraction are the Coatis, one of which is shown in the first picture below. When we came last time they were very cheeky and would put on performances for people to entice them to feed them, and would even go through people's bags when they weren't looking to get nuts, chocolate, bags of chips and anything else they could find. This was all quite cute and entertaining, but now there are signs everywhere saying that they should not be fed because their attitude has become more aggressive. They've even been biting people and some of them are known to carry rabies which is something that even the most hardy of pampas fox survivors need to avoid at all costs!
On the last day Mum and Dad decided to go on their own to see the Brazilian side of the falls which turned out to be a really good idea because they got to see a lot of the parts of the falls that they had missed the day before because they hadn't had time to do the lower trail on the Argentinian side. Even though the Brazilian side doesn't get as close up to this part it's still an amazing sight to see, and might even be just down to personal taste as to whether one side is better than the other or not, so it's probably best to see both sides just in case :-) Here's some of the best photos from the Brazilian side, again there are more in the category for Foz do Iguaçu here including those from our last trip.
While Mum and Dad were out looking at the Brazilian side, Beth and I did some investigations of our own about Foz do Iguaçu - we found that there's a nice beer made locally called Chopp Promalcer which we had with a chwarma and a pizza on Lebanese bread at a nice little place called Brasaburger. Then on the way back to the hotel we found that there was also ice cream made locally in Foz do Iguaçu too and the two Litre was only R$11 so we went back to the hotel and had some of that before a swim which was very nice. We had to get the bus a few hours later so we still had a lot of ice cream left, but the girls at reception were very happy to help us out with that problem!
We then got a taxi to the main bus terminal and set off about 8pm back to the east again heading for Curitiba about 650km away. The trip was a fair bit shorter this time (about ten hours), in fact the trip to Foz from Florianopolis actually went via Curitiba so we were going back exactly the way we had come. Mum and Dad still were in the comfortable seats on the bottom level with us in the cheap seats at the top again :-)