São Borjas, Brazil, has a population: 60,000. It is located at the eastern border of the Southern Region, across the Uruguay River from Santo Tomé, Argentina. Two former Brazilian Presidents were born here so the city was nicknamed "Land of Presidents". The city has two museums of former Presidents artifacts in their own former homes. There are two other museums, one that displays local artifacts from the town's history and the other display early missionary and indigenous collections. The main church at the center plaza is interesting not because of its antiquity, its not old, but because it reminds me of hobbit houses, check out the pic in the photo album. (Note: The São Borja sign above is not my pic, I walked all over this city and couldn't find that sign, I think it must be located somewhere out on one of the roads entering the city.)
The history talks about a group of seven men, all Jesuit priests, who helped and shelted the Guaraní people in the middle of the 17th century. The first of those men was São Borja. The town was founded in 1687 and named for General São Francisco de Borja. At the time of founding, it had a population of 195, but by 1707, there were more than 2800 people in the town.
São Borjas has a humid subtropical climate. The average daytime high of 26° C (78° F), and the nightly average low of 17° C (62° F). The city's elevation averages 123 meters (404 feet). The driest month is August, with 103 mm (4 inches) of rain. In October, the precipitation averages 218 mm (8 inches).
So, my impressions: It's a decent small city, nothing to get excited about, but has everything needed to live well. The one problem for me, and anyone who doesn't speak Portuguese - is just that, Portuguese is the one and only language you will find here. I spoke to many people in shops, stores, and restaurants, and not a single one could speak anything other than Portuguese. It reminded me of people in the US who don't think its necessary to learn another language because they already speak the most commonly spoken language in the world (while not exactly true, that is what they believe). It just comes across as egotistic, or selfish, or maybe there's another word for it, right now I can't think of one, but it's not necessarily a good attitude to take. Their lack of a desire to learn another language surprised me. And, when I used Spanish with them, as it is remotely related to Portuguese, they had as much difficulty understanding me as I did them, and when they did figure out what I was saying, did they help me learn Portuguese? No. Not a single word from anyone that would have help me. I believe that attitude is pretty much the same everywhere, but here, there was something different in their response. I haven't figured it out yet. And, I don't think I'll spend too much time bothering to do so, tomorrow I will be going to Uruguay where they speak Spanish. These two days here in this part of Brazil has been enough.
My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, and Chile, passing through Argentina, visiting Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. And, now that I have visited more than 30 towns/cities, I've decided I will probably want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.
My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I am not visiting tourist attractions or archeological sites, etc, those will have to wait for another trip through South America.
At this point in my journey, I had ten towns on my Top 10 list, but I narrowed it down to four:
- Encarnación, Paraguay
- Tingo Maria, Perú
- Moyobamba, Perú
- Catamayo, Ecuador
- Puyo, Ecuador
In my travels in Ecuador, I visited 32 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 26 towns/cities; in Chile, only five towns; and in Argentina, I visited 14 towns. I visited 12 cities in Paraguay, and in Brazil, just one (so far).
Next up: Artigas, Uruguay.