World Travel

Laranjeiras, Neopolis, Penedo

26 February: It's obvious that we were in a low-end pousada from the quality of the breakfast. There were too many flies for my liking, I just had some bread, butter and coffee. We set out to find the tourist office, we land up at the Casa do Tradic�o, which is a very large old building with no separating walls within, just one big open space. There's a stage somewhere in the middle. No people around. Near another exit we find some men, they help us with a map and briefly explain the nearby sights of Laranjeiras. We set off to explore the town, it's very photogenic, with a number of churches, colonial buildings, interesting-looking people.

This guy delivers gas cylinders. Taking a rest from work. Guys and a dog sitting on the church steps at Laranjeiras, wondering how to start their day
This guy delivers gas cylinders. Taking a rest from work.
Guys and a dog sitting on the church steps at Laranjeiras, wondering how to start their day
Laranjeiras street Laranjeiras house
Laranjeiras street
Laranjeiras house
Laranjeiras house Laranjeiras church
Laranjeiras house
Laranjeiras church
Laranjeiras school kids sharing a giggle Laranjeiras scene
Laranjeiras school kids sharing a giggle
Laranjeiras scene
Laranjeiras house Santa Ana church at Laranjeiras
Laranjeiras house
Santa Ana church at Laranjeiras
At Santa Ana church Santa Ana church
At Santa Ana church
Santa Ana church
View over Laranjeiras Laranjeiras church
View over Laranjeiras
Laranjeiras church
Laranjeiras square Laranjeiras
Laranjeiras square
Laranjeiras

Laranjeiras is surrounded by three hills with churches on them. We buy some water and Coke, then visit the church of Santa Ana on a small nearby hill. It's closed, desolate. We try another shot at finding the tourist office, they can indeed arrange a visit to an old sugar mill which is several kilometers from town. We need to be there before 12, so we set off right away, the gatekeeper of the factory's already informed and sends someone to guide us in.

Truck delivering sugarcane. The roads leading to the sugar mill are littered with sugarcane fallen during delivery Sugarcane at the factory ready for processing
Truck delivering sugarcane. The roads leading to the sugar mill are littered with sugarcane fallen during delivery
Sugarcane at the factory ready for processing
The sugar mill There's lot of steam, noise and strong smells inside the sugar mill
The sugar mill
There's lot of steam, noise and strong smells inside the sugar mill
Huge vats in the sugar mill Processing inside sugar mill
Huge vats in the sugar mill
Processing inside sugar mill
Monitoring instruments on one of the huge vats inside the sugar mill Annewien got a kilo of sugar as a gift
Monitoring instruments on one of the huge vats inside the sugar mill
A kilo of sugar as a gift
The sugar alcohol factory, this is the fermenting vat. The smell almost knocked me down Liquid pouring into the fermenting vat
The sugar alcohol factory, this is the fermenting vat. The smell almost knocked me down
Liquid pouring into the fermenting vat

At the chemical lab we meet Antonio Cruz who would guide us through the factory. He learned English at University but can't really converse, so we stick to Brazilian. We start in the main factory, from when sugar cane is unloaded, crushed, squeezed, juice-separation, sulphur bleaching, acid removal with Calcium Hydroxide, crystallization, separation of non-crystallized juice for alcohol production. The factory's atmosphere is amazing: steam, noise and heat's everywhere and the smells are overpowering at times!

At the end, the sugar is packed into 1, 2 or 50 kg bags, a 1kg bag is given to take along! (all the way back to Switzerland!). In another adjacent building we see the steam plant and the water purification setup. A bit off is the alcohol distillery, where the juice is fermented with yeast and nitrate and phosphor needs to be added to keep the yeast happy. Huge bubby vats emit a very strong smell. There are a number of distilling columns, where 50%, 95% and (with additional chemicals) near 100% pure alcohol condenses. Apparently the sugar plant produces surplus electricity and water and can supply the adjacent village as well. It's a great visit, recommended!

Church outside Laranjeiras on the way to sugar mill It's an old church..
Church outside Laranjeiras on the way to sugar mill
It's an old church..
Laranjeiras kid Laranjeiras hilltop church
Laranjeiras kid
Laranjeiras hilltop church
View over Laranjeiras from hilltop church Laranjeiras from above
View over Laranjeiras from hilltop church
Laranjeiras from above

We drive on to Neopolis, which turns out to be rather unimpressive with a church and a long line of locals lining up outside the lottery office. To continue to Penedo, we need to take a ferry. While on the boat, we read the LP and discover that Penedo apparently has some great Pousadas, so we quickly decide to stay the night there. We check Pousada Colonial which overlooks the river and get the best room in the place (Room 21)! The second floor view with the river-sunset is spectacular! The room is simple but elegant, with a wooden plank-floor, nice large windows and even a balcony. Apparently it was built by a Dutchman several centuries ago. We walk though town, it's a real highlight, such a charming place! Have dinner after sunset at Forte da Rachoeira, expensive but great food! We then reconfirm our return flight. The night with the a/c was a bit on the cool side.

They actually have motorbike taxis in this part of the country! This ferry brought us from Neopolis to Penedo over the Rio S�o Francisco
They actually have motorbike taxis in this part of the country!
This ferry brought us from Neopolis to Penedo over the Rio S�o Francisco
Ferry detail Penedo with it's most beautiful church, Igreja da Senhora das Correntes. Right next to is is the Pousada Colonial
Ferry detail
Penedo with it's most beautiful church, Igreja da Senhora das Correntes. Right next to is is the Pousada Colonial
Fisherman in Penedo Sunset over Penedo
Fisherman in Penedo
Sunset over Penedo
View from our hotel room in Penedo onto the Rio S�o Francisco Sunset from our hotel room!
View from our hotel room in Penedo onto the Rio S�o Francisco
Sunset from our hotel room!
Continue to 27.2 Penedo to Olinda