Curitiba a Morretes, Paraná, Brazil

Down Paraná, on Board the Train Serra do Mar

Coconut plantation at the foot of Serra do Mar
Airy View
Graceful Trail
Sales Platform
Rocha Pombo snack bar
Amphibious Fishing
Barreado Table
Bridge Disabled
High Fishing
Miniature Tour
Crafts by Carmen Maria
Banana in Barreado
Unmissable View
Floating II
Church of Morretes
Nhundiaquara Pedregoso
Viçosa Bromeliad
For more than two centuries, only a winding and narrow road connected Curitiba to the coast. Until, in 1885, a French company opened a 110 km railway. We walked along it to Morretes, the final station for passengers today. 40km from the original coastal terminus of Paranaguá.

At 935 meters above sea level, even in the middle of the Southern Hemisphere's summer, we woke up again in a cloudy and cool Curitiba.

It is in this climate that we arrive at the departure station. If in historical terms, the train became known as Serra do Mar, the company that operates it called it Trem Serra Verde, in accordance with the predominant tone of the journey.

When the locomotive moves back towards the second carriage, we realize how much they both clash.

A few railway employees attach the machine to the carriage, decorated with a promotional painting of the most famous drink in the world. They are both red.

The third turns out to be blue. The following ones, finally, have the chlorophyllin tone that we would, however, delve into.

Boarding ends. A hostess equipped with a microphone inaugurates a presentation and speech that would continue outside. The locomotive pulls through the train.

In a short time, we left the semi-rural surroundings, somewhat uncharacteristic of the capital of Paraná. In another case, we entered tight gorges, conquered by engineering on the slopes, but which the abundant vegetation claimed and concealed.

A thicket of large ferns and even bromeliads brushes the carriages.

Serra do Mar Below, towards the South Atlantic

The train begins its abrupt descent. It lies in a low fog with intermittent density, taking us through a dizzying gorge and into the wild heart of Serra do Mar.

As we saw it, lined with tropical vegetation, furrowed by a few waterfalls and even lagoons that painted it white, that mountain range was a tiny section.

A stretch of mountainous and vegetation that extended for almost 1500km, starting in the distant state of Rio de Janeiro and passing through the states of São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.

The Paraná zenith of Serra do Mar, measuring almost 1878m, was somewhere around there. The fog would hardly reveal it, much less the tunnel we were in, excavated in a rock dyed by lichens and moss.

It was the first in a sequence of fourteen and thirty bridges and viaducts essential to the flow of compositions along the 110km of the railway original and complete.

Due to its boldness, one viaduct in particular, that of Presidente Carvalho (president of the state of Paraná during construction), added above a cliff and which leads to another unexpected tunnel, became the train's trademark.

Soon, we passed there, astonished by the vastness of the valley to the right, intrigued as to what the side of the darkness had in store for us.

Even if not so vertiginous, what we find is more Serra do Mar, steep, capricious, in which the train of the same name snaked towards the Atlantic.

Serra do Mar train, Paraná, airy viewAt intervals, the composition slowed down, almost came to a standstill.

Marumbi Mountain Range. A Section of the Immense Serra do Mar

It stopped completely at the base of Pico and the Marumbi mountain range. There, we see a group of hikers disembarking loaded with backpacks.

They were going to start a demanding walk to the top of the mountain range, made up of seven rocky peaks, but full of vegetation: Boa Vista, Gigante, Ponta do Tigre, Esfinge, Torre dos Sinos, Abrolhos and Facãozinho.

We, and the remaining passengers, were approaching the four-hour journey and the final station of Morretes.

These four hours that we spent in recreational and panoramic mode are the result of an ambitious and hard-working undertaking that took five years.

Before the Serra do Mar Train, the Winding Estrada da Graciosa

Due to the reporting we carried out in the region, we traveled along the Estrada da Graciosa, completed in 1873 (12 years before the Serra do Mar Train) and which, at that time, was the only connection between the Plateau of Paranaense and Morretes and the seashore. sea.

As historic as it is elegant, the road maintains much of the original boardwalk, overlapping the trails previously used by indigenous people and the paths widened by the drovers who drove cattle from the high interior to the coast.

In those dozen years, Estrada da Graciosa helped farmers and cattle breeders transport their goods to Paranaguá.

However, it proved to be too steep, winding and complicated to dispatch them in large quantities quickly.

As such, a series of influential personalities and commercial interests in newly independent Brazil requested imperial concessions to build a complementary railway.

Due to financial and operational difficulties, the first two attempts failed.

The Serra do Mar Railway Megalomaniac Project

The third came from a French company, Compagnie Generalle des Chemins de Fer Bresiliens, led in Brazil by the Italian Antonio Ferrucci whose main credential was his participation in the Suez Canal.

This company finally obtained the necessary imperial concession.

In 1880, with the presence of Emperor Dom Pedro II, the works were inaugurated, carried out by around 9000 free workers.

Despite the fact that, at that time, slavery persisted in Brazil.

The works quickly proved challenging. As António Ferrucci concluded, they were too risky. Buildings collapsed.

The most notable was the Rochedinho section, replaced by the bold and emblematic Viaduto Presidente Carvalho.

Unhappy with this and other setbacks, in 1882, António Ferrucci ended up abandoning the project. Taking his place was João Teixeira Soares, a Brazilian railway engineer, partner of Compagnie Generalle des Chemins de Fer Bresiliens.

Under his leadership, the integral railway opened in 1885, with due pomp and circumstance.

And, to ruin the party, protests from cart drivers and workers who, until then, ensured the transport of cargo on carts along Estrada da Graciosa.

Anyway, Flat Earths and the Morretes Terminal Station

The composition is made on flat lands between Serra do Mar and the South Atlantic.

Slow down.

Stop at the Morretes station, just eight meters above sea level. Once disembarked, we realized the probable meaning of the name.

The town has a privileged view of the Marumbi mountain range and this view of the mountains was popularized as Morretes.

The title of the city was, however, the subject of dispute, sometimes being considered Nhundiaquara (fish + hole) – the Tupi-Guarani term that defines the local river – sometimes becoming Morretes.

Morretes prevailed as the baptism of the town founded by miners from São Paulo who settled in the XNUMXth century in search of gold. Other settlers and families followed.

And then, the Church that built its temple there, in these days, white, with blue frames consistent with the sky from which the seven hills stand out in the distance.

In Morretes, we discover the picturesque centuries-old houses, aligned with the river bank.

Barreado, Morretes flavor, originating in the Azores

We settle in the most famous restaurant, refreshed by the dark stream, which we have a view of through the arcades of one of the town's several colonial mansions.

There we enjoyed the city's typical dish, barreado, short for barreada meat, the way it was slowly cooked in sturdy clay pots that can withstand cooking for twenty hours or more.

As you would expect, like Brazilian feijoada in general, barreado also has its origins in Portugal.

They took it to the south of Brazil, during the XNUMXth century, by Azorean emigrants who are said to have begun to spread that unique way of cooking beef, accompanied by rice, cassava flour, banana, with the flavor enriched by everything more than just part of the recipe.

Barreado has always proven to be a heavy but invigorating meal.

The drovers got used to asking for it when they arrived on their journey from the highlands of Paraná.

To the era of tropeirismo, Morretes remained prolific, full of businesses that served the people of the coast and those who, like the Tropeiros, arrived from the Paraná Plateau.

Its wealth was reinforced by the fact that businessmen based around the port of Paranaguá had installed processing plants there to process the increasingly sought-after yerba mate, grinding structures that separated the branches and powder from the plant's valuable leaves.

Now, as ironic as it may sound, the arrival of the Serra do Mar Train in Morretes ended this profitable process and the town's protagonism.

A railway bridge over the Nhundiaquara River remains as an iron testimony to this decline.

Today, Morretes is mainly responsible for fame and tourist benefits. Paranaguá, its wide bay and port took over everything else. Paranaguá is, however, a whole other story.

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The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
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Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
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