I think everyone has, at one point or another, met someone or been someplace in which they felt they had been there forever yet it had only been a few days. Curitiba is that place for me. I’ve been here a little over two weeks now but it feels as though I’ve been here for an eternity. Maybe it’s the little things that remind me of Rio like the obvious language difference between here and the United States. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I actually feel at home here.
Curitiba itself is a pretty big city. It reminds me of a little Chicago without the lakefront. It has a diverse population, and a lot of cultural sights and influences. Parks are prevalent in this city, and people are out on the streets. Public transport is a mainstay. The city itself is very clean, much more so than Rio. There are tall buildings all around the central area, although it seems as though more of them are condominiums than office buildings, but I can’t be sure of that right now. Below you can find some pictures of one of the parks I visited with Milena and her friends Marcelo and Wagner. I really hope to visit many more places around the city as there are some excellent places to photograph.
They say Curitiba is a “model city” for South America. They stress recycling and seem to want to be as “green” as possible. There are always people working to clean up the streets. The other day I saw the garbage truck going by, and the man on the back was literally sprinting from house to house throwing the bags in. My first thought was “that guy must have crazy cardio”. The second was “wow, now I see why everything is so clean here”.
The people of Curitiba as a whole have been very welcoming to me. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been told by literally everyone I have spoke with about the city that the people here are closed off. When I say closed off, I don’t mean rude. They just aren’t really looking to make new friends or go out of their way to meet new people. I have found that to be completely untrue, with one caveat. I think I’m at an advantage when it comes to people opening up to me, because people here love to speak English.
In Rio it seemed as if no one wanted to speak English, or if anything (and I can identify with this) they were too embarrassed of their language skills to give it a go. I constantly find myself not talking at all or speaking very quietly because of this. Here, it seems that everyone I come in contact wants to practice their English, no matter how rudimentary it may be. To go along with that, no matter how good their English is (and many of the people I’ve come into contact with can speak very well), they always think that their English is the worst on the planet. Again, I can identify here too, because although my Portuguese has improved leaps and bounds just in the past few weeks, I’m constantly selling myself short on how well I can speak.
The selection of bars and restaurants is also great. There is literally something for everyone. There are of course churrascarias and per kilo buffets, and probably too many fast food restaurants to give me any chance of always eating clean. Pizza is very popular here, and I can’t wait to provide everyone with a review of a place that boasts chicago style pizza, aptly named “Michigan Avenue Pizza”. I’ve been to a pretty diverse selection of restaurants so far, as my girlfriend has good taste and tries her hardest to keep me away from all the junk I would love to shove down my throat. I have snuck off to McDonald’s and had a big mac though, and there is actually a fast food place named Giraffas. For those of you that know me personally, you’ll understand why this is a big deal. After Anderson Silva’s newest commercial for Burger King Brazil I pretty much have to go have a meal there as well. If you haven’t seen this commercial you need to stop what you’re doing and youtube it right now. Well, after you finish reading this post and leave me a comment anyway.
All in all, Curitiba has been a great experience so far. I really look forward to spending a lot of time here. The question I am asked most is how long I’ll stay here. The answer is always “I don’t know”, because I really don’t. I’m only hoping that I can extend my stay for quite a long time. Later this week I will post my first thoughts on where I’m training at (CM System), and tomorrow I’ll be heading back to Rio de Janeiro to visit some friends and get some good training in. To give you a taste of what training is like here in Curitiba, I’ve posted a video below that I took of a Muay Thai class in the morning my first week here. Feel free to send me any questions, comments, or suggestions in the comments below.