The prompt was: If you were asked to spend a year living in a different location, where would you choose and why?
Spending a year living elsewhere is something I always dream of, and in fact I have lived abroad before, so this prompt is a bit of a no-brainer for me! Of course I would choose Brazil, which I consider my second home. I speak Portuguese, I have friends there, I know the culture (more or less), I love the food – in other words, I feel comfortable there.
Within Brazil, there are certain areas I would prefer to live. One is Rio, where I have relatives. São Paulo state would be OK too, but not the city of São Paulo.
But my favorite would be Curitiba, farther south. I love that city and its climate. As a fair-skinned North American, I get pegged as a tourist or a foreigner in most areas of Brazil, but in Curitiba, people don’t stare at me or think I’m a tourist because I’m too white. I blend in with the Polish, German and Italian immigrants that settled there a century ago. Also I have dear friends in Curitiba. It is the first Brazilian city I came to know when I spent a summer there in 1971, and I stayed with a family. I have kept in contact with them and know they would welcome and help me in any way.
In the winter, it gets a little cold in Curitiba, though nothing like where I live in the United States. Every couple of decades they may even get a dusting of snow! It feels colder than it really is because people don’t have heat in their homes. It’s too expensive to build a house with heating for just a couple of months a year.
There are beautiful, unusual pine trees in Curitiba and in Paraná state. The scientific name for this tree is “araucaria” but is also known as pinheiro paranaense, because they are native to the state of Parana, of which Curitiba is the capital. Instead of the branches slanting downward to make more or less the shape of a V, the pinheiro paranaense has branches that reach upward, creating the effect of an umbrella turned inside out. These trees are unique and one of my favorite sights in Curitiba.
Curitiba is a large city of almost 2 million inhabitants, and has the fourth largest economy in Brazil. However, it is very easy to get around due to its integrated public transportation system. In the downtown area, some streets are closed to vehicle traffic, where pedestrians are at leisure to shop, go to a cafe or meet friends. The city also has many beautiful parks.
Also, some of the World Cup 2014 games will be played in Curitiba!
Curitiba is definitely a “green” city. Back in the 1970s, a forward thinking mayor, Jaime Lerner, who had studied in the U.S. had a vision for transforming the downtown. As someone who had been to Curitiba before that, and then again after, the transformation was amazing. The efficient bus transportation system, the pedestrian mall, the many parks. Concern for the care of the environment has long been the norm in Curitiba.
If I could spend a year in Curitiba, not only would I be content, but I might seriously consider never coming back home!
Please note none of the pictures above were taken by me. I found them online.