Day 12 & 13: Dourados to Campo Grande – A meeting with the world’s largest rodent, the Catholic Church and Japanese-Brazilian Culture

The worlds largest rodent, the Capivara

After sleeping in the most comfortble bed (seriously) since my arrival in Brazil I was eager to continue my trip to the Capital of Matto Grosso do Sul, Campo Grande. But not before…

…paying a visit to the local natural park which was just a 5 minutes drive from my AirBnB. Besides interesting birds which I never saw before in my life I found a big family of Capibaras, basically huge hamsters, lol. They are apparently the largest species of any rodents in the world and boy… they are huge… like the size of small pigs. They are absolutely cool and I just could not get enough of them. Some would just lay lazy in the sun while others were taking a bath in the small lake. Little birds were sitting on the rodents, making the perfect opportunity for a picture 🙂

Next I was planning to visit an Indigenous tribe close by to Dourados which was on my way to Campo Grande. I typed in the direction into both GPS and started my ride while after 30 minutes I still did not see anything related to my planned visit. After finding the next opportunity to stop my bike I checked my GPS and of course… I typed in the wrong route!!! Argh….!!! Fail!!!! I was not bothered anymore to drive back and continued my route through… what else… exciting agricultural landscapes, lol.

After achieving half of my trip I decided to make a short break at a “rescue station”, called CCR. I guess it is similar to “ADAC” in Germany but this is just a guess. One of the guys was coming over to check out my ride and was obviously interested what a “Gringo” would be doing in this area. After explaining him my plan, he invited me over into the station and a glass of fresh water. I gladly followed his invite and we were having a nice chat before continuing my trip.

Arriving in Campo Grande, I visited the Feira of the town to get an impression on the fusion of Japanese and Brazilian food. Brazil has the largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan and I am still wondering how these two cultures can barely fit together. On the one hand side “perfection” and on the other hand side “a creative mess”, lol.

Along an alley with tons of Asian food stalls, It was not easy to choose one. In the end I decided to go for the least pretty looking one but full of Asian people. It was a good decision. I ordered Soba noodles and Gyoza which were absolutely delicious.

There were a couple of differences I found pretty interesting and which I saw nowhere else before:

1. The size of the Gyozas were at least double the size of normal Gyozas and would have been already absolutely sufficient 🙂 I guess, adopted to the Brazilian taste (a lot of meat inside).

2. The owners of the food stall (Japanese origin) were eating their dinner with a FORK!!!!!! WHAT????? Seriously, this is the first time I am seeing Asians eating their Soba noodles with a fork… a fork… A FORK!!!!! Lol! Maybe I just spent too much time in Asia and am simply ignorant and full of stereotypes 😀

3. Usually, Asians and especially Japanese are pretty shy and also often politely reserved. Here it was just the opposite and I would have hired the Japanese father of the family as the Sales Person of the year! Actively gesticulating, making jokes and trying successfully to gain new customers. I was impressed!

On my way back to the hostel I passed several churches along my way and if you did not know it… Brazil is the world’s largest catholic nation. It is incredible to see on the one hand side the feira (get together for complete families – from children to grandparents – having their dinners), samba bars (where people dance), Cervejarias (where people just have a beer), gas stations (where people not only fill up their vehicles but also watch football) and on the other hand side churches (where people come together to pray). Highly interesting.

I also found an interesting article in Forbes (Catholic Shrinkage: Has Brazil given up on Jesus?), indicating a significant loss in “memberships”. From what I am seeing I can’t really confirm this trend… Religion is everywhere and highly important.

Route from Dorados to Campo Grande