11-Apr-2004 -- Easter Sunday - what better way to spend it than hunting for another Degree Confluence in the beautiful countryside of southern Brazil?
Brendan (my son) and I packed our equipment in the morning. Our goal was CP 29ºS 054ºW, some 150km. south of our home town of Santa Rosa in Rio Grande do Sul. However, looking south we saw black thunder clouds building up. Looking east, the weather was still clear, and we changed our target to 28ºS 053ºW, some 170 km. east of Santa Rosa, and set off at 11:00.
We stopped 80 km. from home, in a petrol station in the town of São Martinho, for lunch. This was a "churrasco", a traditional meal in Rio Grande do Sul which includes every imaginable kind of meat roasted on long swords over charcoal, and more than 20 side dishes of rice, salads and other delicacies, served to appetite. All this cost us US$2.50 per head, plus drinks!
We proceeded towards the Confluence Point, turning S at Palmeira das Missões and then SE on a dirt road heading for Chapada, 20 km. further on. After passing through the village of Boi Preto (Black Steer) and before Chapada, there was a left turn with a signpost for the village of Santana. This seemed to be the right direction, and further on we turned right again for Vila Rica.
Suddenly we found our path blocked by a river, with a wooden raft tied to the bank. This turned out to be the Rio da Várzea (River of the Marsh), and the boat operator and his two sons quickly appeared from their home to attend us ( link to photo 7) . We parked on the raft and were literally pulled across the river on a cable by the two sons. We then gave a lift to their father who was off to play cards with his friends in the Social Centre of Vila Rica.
From there the GPS showed that we were rapidly approaching the CP, among the rolling hills covered with soya just harvested or soon to be harvested. As we climbed a hill, the CP was 200m to our right, and we found a lane leading up into the field on that side. We drove up to the high point of the field and were within 20m of the CP.
We were rewarded with stunning views of the countryside and also of an approaching rain storm which would be very welcome after the recent drought. We photographed the GPS showing the exact position of the CP and an altitude of 520m ( link to photo 6) , and then took photos of the cardinal points and one of the general area. And then an amazing happening - my son Brendan, wearing his funny Irish hat, found that the Easter bunny had left a large chocolate egg for him in a nearby pile of rocks! How did he know we would be there?
For curiosity, we keyed into the GPS a GOTO 28ºS 054ºW, which we had visited last week, and the distance shown was 98.5 km.
We set out for home by a slightly different route, getting back to the tarmac road without crossing the river by raft. All along the route home, the fields of soya were being harvested ( link to photo 8) in the afternoon sun, a pleasing sight for all who depend on agriculture in this region for their living.