We arrived in Canela, Brazil in early March of 2020. We planned to stay a couple of weeks to have some repairs done on the roof of the camper. We had about two weeks of freedom in the city. Then the world changed and a global epidemic was declared. This promptly closed the land borders of South America. The city of Canela went into lockdown and our lives began to change. I explained much of it in the last post. If you click here, it will open that post for you to review. https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2020/08/20/why-are-you-still-in-brazil/
When we made these plans, we knew the camper would be in the shop during repairs. So we rented a very cute little house in this mountain town. Our house offered us all the comforts we would need and had a great yard for the dogs to hang out in.
Because we were having the camper worked on, we had to remove ALL of our belongings from the camper. This meant that we carried in all our food, utensils and dishes and piled them all over the kitchen.
Fortunately our rental had a small garage that would hold our stuff, safe from weather and theft.There we piled all our miscellaneous belongings, cushions, pillows and mattress. The camper needed to be completely empty for the work ahead.
The house even had a washing machine that was also a dryer, I didn’t know such a machine existed!! But Geneva really enjoyed hanging the laundry out in the back yard on the clotheslines, so sunny afternoons were laundry days.
The first week (before the lockdown began) we found the local farmers market. We went on a Saturday morning and had great food prepared there, and bought interesting and delicious stuff to take home. But then the farmers market closed.
When we settled in to the house in March, we thought it was a temporary arrangement. But days stretched into weeks and weeks into months. Initially we felt that we should stay completely shut-in so we found things to entertain ourselves inside. We did a few puzzles.
And we tried a few new recipes. Mike prepared some yummy stuff on the skottle and Geneva experimented with making orange marmalade from the oranges the neighbor shared from their tree. As you can see, Pacha was more interested in the meatballs than the marmalade.
We also used some of the oranges to make our own fresh squeezed orange juice. To serve with a delicious breakfast of leftovers and a precious, rare can of green enchilada sauce.
Breakfast is a pretty important meal for us. We usually try to make something hearty and healthy and delicious. Here is another special meal created from whatever ingredients we could come up with.
When we did go out, we wore our masks, kept our distance and sanitized properly. Each store entrance had a sanitization station and a person taking temperatures. There was an expectation of distancing in line and new plastic barriers were erected for cashiers.
Then as we became more comfortable with being out, we started walking further and exploring parts of the city. One of our favorite walks was the the area we called Lake Park. This little lake has ducks, a playground, and wide open recreation spaces. The dogs loved being off leash and running around the park.
Canela is a very beautiful city with amazing trees called auracaria or pinheiro scattered all around. They always captivate me with there candelabra arms and stately appearance. Watch for them in the photos of this post and the next few posts about this region of Brazil. They are famous and protected in this region.
Quarantine time seemed to go on forever. The clock in the sewing room illustrated it perfectly. It’s quarantime……..
And speaking of sewing, we were able to borrow a sewing machine from the neighbors. So Geneva mended everything with a hole. She patched and cleaned up the jeans and even modified a few other items. She also sewed a lot of dog beds, but that will be in another post.
She also upcycled yogurt containers, plastic bottles and glass jars to make a wide variety of planters and bird feeders. The planters were placed out on the front fence with a “FREE” sign. Over eighteen different plants left with folks from the sidewalk. Her other plant project was her little herb garden. She clipped and maintained it so she could dry the sage, oregano, cilantro and mint and then add them to our spice containers.
The larger bottles were upcycled into bird feeders and they became very popular. As did the little hummingbird feeders we purchased. It was a daily task refilling the feeders, and it helped keep us occupied.
Mike tackled the HUGE project of painting the inside of the camper. He began by bringing every cabinet door to the rental (the camper was still in the repair shop) and removing all the hardware. Then he prepped the surfaces and put many coats of paint on the doors. Later he would paint the cabinet faces and the interior of the camper. A blog post will come out soon which will show the process. Here are some photos of the work.
On a particularly warm day our city exploration took us to the Ruinas Cassino or Casino Ruins. Apparently this place was a big deal at one time. It is built on a high hill, overlooking the city. But now gambling is illegal in all of Brazil and these concrete and brick walls host only graffiti and a well hidden geocache.
We were starting to learn the rhythms of the city. We captured a few photos that will help you see what a typical street may look like in this little city in Brazil named Canela. Construction is ongoing, as the city is developing the tourism services. Street dogs are friendly, and can smell a “to-go” bag on a pedestrian!
This little video shows Mike carrying Nica in a backpack (she hurt her foot and is a drama princess). I am sharing it because when you watch it you can see the city street around us as we walk. You may have to watch it twice, because the first time you will be laughing at Nica in a backpack!!
No collection of Canela photos would be complete without the iconic, stone church that is the focus of the tourism in this city. At night and during special times, the church is lit up with various colors. We can just see the spire from our house.
Since we didn’t have the truck, we learned that it was easy to walk everywhere we needed to go. Usually we combined our shopping trips with a dog walk, the dogs loved exploring the town. When shopping, one of us would wait outside with the dogs, while the other one went in to shop. Here are a couple of photos of Mike waiting outside with our dogs and a few street dogs.
Sometimes we went shopping without the dogs. And they were always waiting to greet us enthusiastically when we came home. Either peering at us from the upper deck, watching for us in the side yard or racing out the front door to say hello.
Canela is a very dog-friendly city. We were allowed to take the dogs into some stores, restaurants and tourist shops. This burger place was one of our favorites to visit before everything closed down.
The dogs loved their time in the yard. They had a full collection of toys to be thrown, chased and chewed. Occasionally they received bones from the market. Sometimes they wrestled and attacked each other. A couple of times they dug holes in the yard. And of course, Nica regularly tried to play with rocks. But often they just relaxed on the deck and watched the world go by.
Because we were living in the Southern Hemisphere we experienced winter and fall during the months of June, July and August. Initially the temperatures were mild. But the mountain city became very cold at night. We learned to purchase firewood, build fires and even tried to heat with the old wood stove once.
Just as winter began to settle in, Pacha developed an infection on her tummy. We cleaned it and watched it closely, but it was clear that it needed veterinary attention. We found an excellent local vet who determined that he needed to perform a small surgery to find the cause. The infection was caused by the material used for her spay stitches (over a year ago). It was a plastic line that was not supposed to be left in there! Here are some graphic photos…… (and photos of her recovering)
The winter months made our surroundings in Canela look different. The city streets were foggy and wet. The humidity turned to fog and brought a quiet and calm over the area. And then….. one night…… it happened……the cold air and moisture turned into snow and ice!
The cold also changed the dog routines. Some mornings were reserved for cuddles in bed. And sometimes it was so cold that Nica refused to get out from under the covers, just sticking out her nose to smell breakfast. When they did go outside, they wore little jackets and sat in the sun to stay warm. And darkness came early in the July winter, yet Nica still wanted to go outside and play at the time we call “throw-thirty” (usually about 5:30 every day).
We continued our activities around the house. Mike cooked more delicious stuff on the skottle and Geneva learned to make homemade red and green salsa. We even gathered up all the soap slivers and made “recycled” soap bars!
Many special days and holidays were celebrated during our time of living in Canela. We had our wedding anniversary (May 2, 2004) and went out to a fun dinner at the nearby Gramado Hard Rock Cafe. The local plaza was decorated for Easter and we enjoyed the Pascoa (Easter)with some special donuts being sold as a local fundraiser.
Then things started to warm up and we enjoyed Geneva’s birthday dinner at a fondue restaurant.
Then came Halloween, which isn’t a big deal in Brazil. But we prepared a little jack-o-lantern for display. Then after halloween we cannibalized it into a yummy pumpkin pie using the Omnia Oven stoptop baker! So delicious…..
As the heat continued in Canela and the Serra Region, the holiday of Thanksgiving arrived. This one is not at all celebrated by Brazilians (check your American history) but our friends were coming for a visit. And they wanted to try an American Thanksgiving dinner. So we shopped and searched and substituted anything we could and made a full spread. It was a lot of fun to prepare and to share with our special friends.
And finally, at the height of summer, it was time for Papa Noel and the Natal season. Yep, Christmas comes to Brazil in the heat of summer time. There is no snow, but they fake it with some fancy selfie booths and displays in the central plaza.
Throughout this time, our lives went on. We got the camper back from the repair shop. Mike finished the painting inside the camper and it turned out amazing. He also did some suspension rebuild work on the front end.
We did normal stuff like ordering pizza, getting new glasses, receiving a Fedex delivery, wrestling on the couch, taking long summer naps with the fan on, enjoying summer flowers, listening to the possum in the attic and even hiding under the stairs to cool off on the tile floor.
The heat of summer had us all searching for places to relax in the shade. We purchased a handmade bench from a local man and Geneva made a cushion and pillows for it. Pacha and Nica enjoyed it greatly, and sometimes they let us sit there. We also hung our hammock in the cool, corner of the front patio. This became a shady respite from the heat.
We took long walks in the nearby green-space known as Park Palacio. This huge, fenced area has amazing trees, flowers and other fineries of nature. Here is a collection of various things we noticed while walking through this park with the dogs.
But I cannot introduce you to our time in Canela without telling you about our neighbors. These people are really the reason we stayed in this little house for so long. We could not have found such wonderful people in any other location. On one side lives a family that has a home business. They make custom printed gifts and party decorations. The daughter (in her 20’s) speaks English and also teaches English online as well as working in the family business. She helped us with medical appointments, printing tasks and more than I can even describe. We had a special system of exchanging food and treats over the fence. It was great to share what I was making, and to sample their delicious cooking. They also have an adorable little dog named Morena. If you look closely you can see her in this photo of their house. The other neighbors live in the converted garage of our rental. Their house is actually inside the main yard. That means that whenever their daughter is outside, she was inevitably interacting with the dogs. This quickly grew into a truly loving relationship. This special young girl spent hours talking to us (did we mention that the language is Portuguese and we don’t speak it!)
But the dogs learned to listen for her voice in the yard. Because if she was out there, she would throw their toys, feed them cookies and give them love and attention. This went on every day. And each night they came in exhausted from their time with their neighbor friend. One of our treasured gifts from Canela is the family portrait that was made for us by this young girl.
One weekend we were invited to join friends for a BBQ at their house. This was a terrific opportunity for Mike to learn the churrascaria technique of cooking meat on a sword over an open fire. The beef, the salads, the desert and the company were all perfect!
The various experiences, locations, people and opportunities that I have shared with you here are what made our time in Canela so incredibly special. This became our home for over ten months. There is much more for us to share with you, but I hope this little glimpse of life in Brazil has been interesting for you. Watch for new posts, coming soon. And remember you can sign up to receive the posts directly. (go to the home page and click “follow”). You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram- just search for “It’s not a slow car, it’s a fast house”.