Today we woke up bright and early for our plane ride to Curitiba. Groggy eyed and a little tired we arrived at the airport. Everyone noticed a major cultural difference in security. For domestic flights in Brazil, very little security searching is done. With this, we arrived in Curitiba ready for a busy day. We checked in at the Mercure Hotel in downtown Curitiba. After getting organized in our rooms, we met a woman named Mariloce, who is a professor in Curitiba. She was here to tour us around the new city. Within minutes, we were already seeing differences from Rio. Almost everyone remarked on how open the city felt. The streets were wide, trees were abundant and one student claimed “a much cleaner feel.”
With zero knowledge about Curitiba, we took the RBT, rapid bus transit, into point zero of the city. The rapid bus transit is meant to feel like a subway system for buses. Jaime Lerner, the mayor of Curitiba implemented this system. It is the reason that Curitiba stands out. The United Nations are setting up rapid bus transits in many cities now. They were very fast and efficient. One bus can hold up to 250 people, with the newest bus carrying 270 at one time. Afterwards, with our newfound admiration, we boarded a tour bus. We claimed the back of the bus, got our sunscreen out and prepared for some beautiful views. The tour bus allowed us to get off the bus four times to experience tourist sites on our feet. With our four stop, we saw multiple parks, a waterfall and botanical gardens. All of these stops create the openness that Curitiba is known for.
One of the coolest places of the entire trip was the Oscar Niemeyer Museum. It was built by the famous architect and looks out over the city.
While the sites were beautiful, we drove past a neighborhood where every house for 5 blocks had an electrical fence or barbed wire on top of its walls. We discussed what it did to the city and came to the conclusion that it shuts people out, the opposite of urban inclusivity. We compared the park to the closed gate community. Alison made us think by saying, which do you feel more safe with, more people or less people? The relationship between the park and closed gate community is the exact same way. The park, with all the people that visit, is far safer because the amount of people available for help is an infinite amount more than one person living in a house.
Our bus ride back into the city took much more time than usual. The Curitiba community was out throwing a party! In Curitiba, beginning four Sundays before Carnival, they party in preparation. Hundreds of people filled squares and created an awesome scene to watch.
As we returned to the hotel, everyone was weary from a long day and the pasta for dinner hit home for the entire group. We look forward to meeting with Jaime Lerner, mayor of Curitiba tomorrow.