Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

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New pictures posted…

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I just posted several new pictures to my Flickr page, and will continue to post at least 8 or 12 a day. With encouragement from a few pro photographer friends, I’ve actively looked for interesting angles during the last trip, and it seems to have worked well.

Also, here’s my updated World66 status:


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I’m starting to play around with uploading photos to Flickr and showing the last 5 or so on the left here. Pardon our dust, you may have to reload to see the latest version.

Update: seems to work OK now…


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Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost state in Brazil. It was settled in the 1800s by Italian and German immigrants, and the effects of that are still very much in evidence today. Gramado, where we’ve stayed over the Carnaval weekend, is a small town with 28,000 people that now lives mostly from tourism and hosts a famous South American film festival.

In most other parts of Brazil you can expect a town this size to barely have paved streets. In contrast, Gramado has dozens of first-class hotels, broadband Internet everywhere, upscale boutiques and many well-kept tourist attractions. It feels much like a prosperous tourist town in, say, Southern Germany.

Except for the sun and the tropical plants, this photo of an apartment building looks very European. Here’s a shot of the downtown shopping district:

The tree on the left is a “Paraná Pine” (Araucaria Angustifolia), the local variety of pine. I’ve seen much larger ones in the nearby parks. The fellow walking towards me is clad in the common clothes of the rural gaúcho (pronounced gah-OOsho or, by the locals, gah-OOtsho).

A well-known gaúcho specialty is the chimarrão, the local variety of mate tea. It’s traditionally drunk in a special cup made from a gourd and with a metal straw that has a disk-shaped strainer at the end. Here’s the chimarrão set our bus driver carried around with him:

Once the gourd is properly set up and packed, it’s replenished periodically with hot water from the thermos bottle. It’s very tasty and invigorating. Since it has high caffeine content it ought to be useful for programming…

Re: Off we go…

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From early morning to late afternoon temperatures currently vary between 25 and 35 degrees celsius; it’s so-called “good weather”, meaning no clouds are seen during daytime, and so I stay indoors most of the time. The best time to visit the beach, for my skin type at least, is after 5PM.

Yesterday afternoon we took a bus into the city and of course, with all that heat, coconut water is the preferred drink. Here’s where that comes from:

this bunch is almost ripe for drinking. Here’s a typical beach street scene:

notice the coconut payphone icon_smile.gif. Turning to the right, here’s a bunch of them lined up on the counter (we usually ask for a frozen coconut, though):

The proprietor demonstrates the proper technique for opening a coconut:

after which it looks like this:

notice that it’s full to the brim; in fact, the water is usually under pressure, so you have to be careful. At this stage it’s nearly transparent, and it’s drunk with a straw. After drinking one can ask to have it opened, and eat the flesh with a knife or spoon:

this one was halfway ripe. Unripe coconuts have only a thin, jelly-like layer inside, while ripe coconuts – the kind one usually sees in the US – have about double that thickness of flesh.

After my post on young coconuts some months ago I’ve always wanted to show you folks how this is done here in Brazil. Ah yes, and each coconut costs R$1,00 (about US$0.30) on the street; at a market it would cost about half of that.

Re: Off we go…

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The hotel is quite large, there are over sixty “chalets”, small cottages with a single bedroom and shower. Most of these are actually split into two units. They’re distributed along two roads on the northern third of the hotel area. On the southern third there’s a dozen small buildings with 9 or 12 apartments in each. In the middle third are the public areas: reception, restaurants, swimming pools and so forth. A small creek forms a lake near the pool, and in the back there’s an exit onto the beach.

The beaches in this area are quite shallow, you can walk in for perhaps 200m until you lose footing. The water is amazingly warm, from 27 to 30 Celsius even in the evening. And you can walk for dozens of kilometers either north or south. Here’s a photo of our cottage:

And here’s one of the view from there:

In front is the lake, the water is very dark due to natural iron salts. To the right are the pools and the main restaurant. The sea is visible in the distance.

Re: Off we go…

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Here we are at the Arraial Canabrava Resort Hotel, which seems to be the official name. They’re just installing Internet access, in a month or two guests should have a separate room for getting on, but for now I’m sitting in a little back room next to the reception. It was down when we arrived, but was fixed today; so I’m downloading e-mail and whatnot while I type this.

The flight from Belo Horizonte to Ilhéus took about 90 minutes. Here’s a photo of Ilhéus during the final approach:

The landing strip is the dark (nearly horizontal) band near the wingtip, and the paintbrush-shaped peninsula with beaches at the lower end (where the paint would be) is a local landmark.

Digital Imagery

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Although Max Lyons has been in the news these days for his Gigapixel image of Bryce Canyon, his image gallery is well worth a longer visit.

I was particularly taken by the photographs of the Canadian Rockies, the Southwest Deserts, and the Sierra Nevada… all places where I’ve been. I can attest they really look like that, although my own results were far more modest. Highly recommended!

Right in my own neighborhood I noticed a strange trend for names of real estate agencies:

I wonder which marketing genius dreamed these up… icon_rolleyes.gif

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