THE mystery of Portuguese - Serras Gauchas translates into cowboy hills. Except in the restaurants, I never saw a cowboy in these hills. Gaucho is masculine but in Serra Gaucha is feminine because Serra is feminine - this is pronounced Ga USH o - how am I ever to remember these things?
Back to travel - After the side trip on Maria Fumaça, we drove out into the countryside around Bento Gonçalves. This area is predominately German/Italian in heritage. There is no mistaking the differences between Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande de Sul. The houses are painted in bright oranges, yellows and blues. The vineyards are impeccably kept, streets of the cities clean - everything has the feeling of prosperity and loving care.
I think the loving care is more important than the prosperity. Even the most basic homes have a coat of paint, flowers in front of the house and a garden including grape vines in the back. These small gardens and the rolling green hills reminds me of Italy.
For the Christmas season though, it was in the mid-upper 70s in the day, the sun was bright and hot, the nights in the low 70s - for me, a Michigander, these temperatures are not at all giving the feeling of Christmas.