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While in Brazil, I had a chance to visit its southernmost state – Rio Grande do Sul.

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From Sao Paulo, we flew to Porto Alegre which is the capital of the state. The airport has on its walls these large-scale mosaics of life on the Pampas. They are black-and-white pictures made with thousands of colored tiles. So it is best to view these pictures a little further away than usual. The word Pampas came from the Quechua word, pampa, meaning “plain”.

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Commercial cattle ranching began in the second half of the 18th century. These are the lowlands where the gauchos live. Gaucho or gaúcho is an equivalent of the North American cowboy.

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Gauchos were historically nomadic, and lived in the Pampas, the plain that extends north from Patagonia, bounded on the west by the Andes and extending on the east to Uruguay and the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.

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In the past, these nomadic riders lived by hunting wild cattle. Most gauchos were of mixed Spanish, Portuguese, Moorish Arab/Berber and Amerindian ancestry.

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I did not see any gaucho or large flightless birds (the Rhea). But I met a member of the military police who flagged our vehicle down to check if we were wearing seat belts. We all were.

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Given the abundance of cattle, on the first two days we were in the area, we ate at different churrascarias – various cuts of beef non-stop until you say no – “Alcatra yes, Picanha yes …”

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One of the best tasting and unexpected item I ate at the churrascarias was not meat but a fruit – a pineapple lightly dusted with cinnamon and gently roasted on embers – served warm and juicy, sliced directly off the skewer like the meats. It was deliciously sweet. Too bad I did not have my camera with me.

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It was a nice spring day – comfortably warm and breezy.

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Most of these pictures were taken from a moving vehicle so they may be a little blurred. But what I really wanted to capture are the shapes of the trees. Due to the way the branches are organized around the main trunk,  the resulting shapes are uncommon in the areas where I lived.

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The Pampas landscape is endlessly flat and the land is fertile.

gaucho-2Pampas, cattle, gauchos, grilled steaks, what a place !

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