Sitting Room

Friday, June 15, 2007

Around Curitiba - On foot to Roça Nova

Photo from the Serra Verde Express, the Train Passenger Concession Holder. This is the railway I will be talking about in this posting. Am I exagerating?

I literally walked to the Roça Nova area of Piraquara. I took the very local integrated bus to Roseira and got off about five kilometers from the Piraquara Bus Terminal on the intersection of the very long Nova Tirol Rural Route (RR – or Estrada or still Rua do Nova Tirol) with the RR Antônio Brudeck. From there I was safely taken to Roça Nova by my map and my feet using my pair of worn Kildare shoes – not walking shoes.

Roça Nova – that means New Clearing – is on the border of Piraquara’s nowhere with the where-in-the-heck-am-I area of the Curitiba Metropolitan Area – CMA or AMC. I have been tempting to think that Roça Nova has about 10 houses on the left side of the tracks and about four or five on the right side of the Paranaguá – Curitiba railroad track. There is also a Pousada nearby but apparently I missed its entrance gate. It is called Pousada Berço das Águas that means Water Cradle. Everything in this area is linked to the water element.

There is no restaurant in Roça Nova. No shop. No café. No bar. There is a Brasil para Cristo (Brazil for Christ) Church though. No where to sleep – except for the Pousada I mentioned above. If the area has a soul it must the train. Mainly cargo trains – several a day. But there is one daily passenger train that passes through and by Roça Nova on its way to Morretes – 38 kilometers (23.6 miles) downhill.

Roça Nova’s most important thing is the tunnel – the first of 13 tunnels that the traveler will meet on the way between Curitiba and the Port City of Paranagua. The 110-kilometer railroad built between 1880 and 1885 is seen as an engineering wonder . But it is between Roça Nova and Morretes – the 23.6-mile stretch – that is responsible for the title of Wonder of Engineering. Besides the 13 tunnels there are 71 bridges to be negotiated by the train driver – is it driver?

I felt a little depressed in the locality of Roça Nova. I had been there one day before with my grandsons. We took the bus circular bus from Piraquara. I never had the intention of getting off there because transportation is limited. There are only three buses to get there and back. 6:30 a.m, 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. The buses do not stop there. So if you go on the 6:30 a.m bus you have to stay there until 12:30 or 6:30 p.m. But on the first trip I took the circular bus was unable to cross the track and complete the circle. There was a long train laying there waiting for the tracks to clear downhill – which means another train was coming up.

I felt bad because the old station has been abondoned. The houses are empty and broken apart. The paint has peeled off. The place looks like a ghost town – on the side of the railway. I am not writing this to make trouble for the Train Company, local authorities or businessmen. I just want so say that there is room for improving the area and helping preserve the railway culture, the railway itself and its way of life and besides that creating wealth or a better survival tool for the local people. I understand that cargo train companies deal with very concrete, serious and dangerous products. The railway is responsibe for taking to the Port of Paranagua most of Brazil’s production of grains, soybeans, oils, fuel, containers and other heavyweights. The tourism “industry” has been associated with “playing” and fun for so long that these companies are not very enthusiat to see drunk tourists crossing train tracks in a place that looks to be firmly rooted in the outreaches of nowhere.

The walk to Roça Nova from the RR Nova Tirol was very interesting. It is scenic. Quiet. Peaceful doted with small properties and trees. I saw good examples of Paraná Pine forests. I even saw a blue jay flying among araucaria trees. Saw hawks and several species of birds. The area is good for bicycling around. Really interesting and highly recommendable. The way back by the RR of the Monkeys (Estrada dos Macacos) seemed to be a little bit more hard pressed by development. There are some larger properties one of which seemed to me to be over manicured and seemingly difficult to keep – must belong to someone with money. Another one brought me back to the harsh reality of the agricultural world – the land had been clearead in order to make way to something that looked like oat to me. I took a picture and shot a little film showing the border between the Aracuaria pines and the bare productive land. This road will cross the track back in a place where development is happening thanks to the poor. River level land is being occupied by shelters, small houses and a new neighborhood is sprouting, Piraquara is sprawling. I was afraid to continue walking. Is it safe? I asked an older lady sitting by one of the new houses. Se said it was OK but suggested that I took a detour through the neighborhood. There is a bus stop right up there. The people I met along the way were nice. I finally boarded the bus coming from São Cristovão for the last kilometers into town. I will go back to Roça Nova these days. But before that I will take the train ride. Cheers!

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