21-Dec-2002 -- I've been itching to visit a confluence since my GPS arrived here in Brazil in the hands of a friend, and 25S, 49W is the closest to our base in Curitiba. However, we decided to wait until we made another trip up to visit a convent whose mission we support, and with Christmas approaching, we made the trip up on 21 December.
My wife, my daughter and I started off plenty early, but our progress was delayed by some seasonal "traffic" in the supermarket where we stopped to buy some provisions for the missionary work we are supporting. We followed the road through Colombo that the first visitors mentioned, and stopped for an extremely pleasant lunch at a winery restaurant -Vinicola Passargana - between Colombo and Bocaiuva (I didn't rate the wine, but the food was excellent, and the setting inside a working winery was magical). By this point, we were running late enough that we passed through Bocaiuva a little after we were supposed to arrive at the convent there, and we still had 30km (each way) of goto distance to cover on some pretty winding road.
We were well-guided by our predecessors to the site - their instructions were accurate, although the paving of the main road to the confluence has since been completed all the way from Bocaiuva do Sul to the crossroads they mention (with the exception of a few pontes estreitas - narrow bridges - which apparently were left out of the budget to pave the road. So, in the middle of a very nice modern stretch of 2-lane highway, you have to stop, roll back to gravel, and cross over the old bridges across Rio Capivari (x2) and Rio Santana, which must be a reasonable reflection of the condition of the road before it was paved. If the road hadn't since been paved, I am not sure we would have attempted this confluence on this particular journey.
We kept passing very old houses that the locals seemed to use as bars, but we never came to a crossroad until, as the previous visitors noted, we were almost 10km from the confluence. There is indeed a very old house there (see pictures). One road is marked to some caves (grutas), while the road to the confluence is marked "Ouro Fino - 8km". It's a well-made dirt road through some wild, but inhabited countryside. Most of the industry in these parts is logging, and we had a couple narrow squeezes past some log trucks en route.
The GPS kept getting closer, and about 1.3 km from the confluence, we came to an intersection where the road forks left or carries on straight past a large stone pillar. Believing we might be trespassing, and having no note of the turn on the website, we took the turn, which shortly took us further from the confluence. We righted our error, but not before we came across a site worth the diversion - just up the road was a large charcoal works, full of oval brick huts smoking around the edges. It looked like a scene from Powaqqatsi. Unfortunately, no photo - we were frustratingly late for our engagement and, at that point, nearly ready to give up, although we did decide to try the road past the brick pillar.
This was the correct road, and it didn't appear, after the first turn, to be anything private. We carried on the last 1.2km to the confluence, which was right on the road. While at the confluence several vehicles drove past. I don't think we made it as far as Ouro Fino (we did pass through a small settlement with a shop and a phone), but it could be said that probably a hundred people per day pass by that point, evidently few recognising its "significance".
As we were already over 1-1/2 hours late (the new road is good, but still twists through some very mountainous terrain, and there are plenty of slow-moving logging vehicles on the road, even at the weekend), we quickly made the pictures, including the GPS shot right at the confluence point, and drove back to Bocaiuva as quickly as we could, arriving with apologies only 2-1/2 hours late. Still, the sisters were actually happy for our delay as it had let them get on with some visits that were very meaningful to them, and we all spent an enjoyable evening in the spirit of the season.
It made for a long day, especially for our daughter, who endured the bumps and jolts of the last 10km with typical (sleeping) aplomb, but it was definitely a memorable way to start visiting confluences.