The train company seats the various groups mixed together at tables in the restaurant. We ate with a couple from Curitiba who were in our train car and a young single lady from Såo Paulo. The Curitiba couple spoke as much English as we did Portuguese (almost none). The girl from Såo Paulo spoke perfect English. For some reason she remained silent for 10 minutes or so while we used a few words and pantomimed to the others. We also spoke to some Americans at the next table, 5 guys from North Carolina who were just finishing their meal. The restaurant manager from Belgium also stopped by to speak to all in English and Portuguese. This was a very international place indeed. At some point the young lady decided to speak and helped from time to time with translations. The wait staff brought out plates of salad and crab croquettes with more available upon request. Our table had more of both. Then they showed us how to prepare the barreado, which took each of us some practice. The food was good and plentiful, and included in our train fare - except for beverages. We all had bottled water, as it was about 100 degrees F outside, and close to 90 inside. After lunch we were free to walk around the town for about 45 minutes. We saw cars parked everywhere there was space and people parked everywhere there was shade. A few blocks down the road we came to the river, where teenagers were swimming and diving in to beat the summer heat. This is a small town, but as a tourist destination it had over 20 restaurants - and all of them were full today.
Our tour group from the train was loaded onto a silver Renault van that had seen better days. The seats were adequate, if hard, but the suspension and air conditioning were not. 30 hot minutes later we arrived at the town of Antonina, a port city on the Paranagua Bay that was about the size of Morretes. Unlike Morretes, this place was totally deserted - a ghost town. It had several houses, small factories, and churches that are of historical significance, and our tour guide, Terezinha, explained each one in detail - first in Portuguese and then in English. We stopped for photos, noting that the nearby bay helped to reduce the heat, but added to the humidity. Check out the photos:
After Antonita we headed up the old highway through the rainforest to go back to Curitba. The van was equipped with a flat screen TV, upon which was playing American rock music videos for reasons unknown. The Brazilians in the van all went to sleep, and I tried to follow suit. But the old highway, for at least half the distance, was paved with granite cobblestones. The journey did nothing to improve the marginal suspension on the van, and it was a real rocking and rolling experience to go with the rock and roll music videos. The scenery was beautiful, and we stopped near the top, where the air was blissfully cool, to take a few last photos. I added in a few train photos as well, since there were so many good ones.
We returned to the train/bus station in Curitiba where Mauro was waiting. He suggested we go ahead and buy the tickets to travel onward to Foz do Iguaçu for the following day to save time. He allowed me to do the transaction myself, even though the ticket agent spoke no English. Still, it was easy to accomplish, and both K and Mauro checked everything to make sure it was correct. We now have two tickets to travel onward tomorrow night on an overnight leito (luxury) bus complete with full beds for sleeping. Scheduled to leave at 10PM tomorrow!