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Brazil

Day 71: Blumenau to Pomerode

Michael Palin - BrazilIf Blumenau is proud of its German heritage then nearby Pomerode is obsessed with it. If you've got it, flaunt it, and they do, welcoming visitors to 'the Most German City in Brazil'.

The most German city in Brazil is about half an hour's drive up the valley due north of Blumenau. At first the road passes a monotonous succession of suburban clutter. Car showrooms, filling stations, builders' yards full of blue swimming pool shells stacked high against the walls. When we turn off the main road the countryside changes and we're amongst gently undulating hills with lush green meadows studded, incongruously, with palm trees and stands of sugar cane, like a tropical Bavaria. They call this stretch of the Itajaí River the European Valley.

Pomerode, so named because its founders came mainly from Pomerania, sets out its stall very quickly. The main road has to pass through a recently built arched gateway, and as soon as it enters the town the surface changes to cobbles. There is a tourist office inside a brick tower and a crude statue, dated 1974 and dedicated to the pioneiros alemães – the German pioneers who first arrived here in 1863. Of the 27,000 inhabitants nearly seventy percent have German ancestry and the majority still speak the Pommersch dialect. The local religion is sixty-three percent Lutheran.

Even the sport here is German. At the Hermann Weege Stadium, a rather grand name for what's little more than a sports field, the town is hosting an international Punhobol tournament. Punhobol is a game similar to volleyball, played with five on each side of a net over which a ball has to be hit using only the fists. The Germans call it Faustball or Fistball. Apparently it originated in Italy in the sixteenth century and is now played largely by Swiss, Austrians, Germans and South American countries where there is a German presence, particularly Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.

All these nations are represented here as part of a three-day veterans' world championship which Pomerode is proudly hosting. The veterans begin at thirty-five, but there are one or two playing whose flowing white hair must put them at sixty or more. Herwig, an Austrian IT engineer, is here playing for his country. He likes the game.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Brazil
  • Chapter: Day 71: Blumenau to Pomerode
  • Country/sea: Brazil
  • Place: Pomerode
  • Book page no: 293

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