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Brazil: Cataracts, Donauschwaben & Camilla's Camp

May 2023


Shopping Paradise Ciudad del Este

To replace our disappeared laptop, we took a cab from Camping International in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil across the Bridge of Friendship to the shopping paradise of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.
What's going on there in the more than 3,500 shops is very special. An unbelievable hustle and bustle and crowds in the countless centers.

It's good if you've done your research beforehand and have a clear idea of what you want. Only a few devices are effectively displayed. We wanted to pay our purchased equipment in cash with US dollars. But there we had made the calculation without the tricky cashier. She didn't accept more than half of the dollar bills that we presented, reason traces of usage.
The return trip with our cab took forever because of the extreme border traffic. Street vendors offer all kinds of things, even Viagra. But there was no customs control at the border. Wouldn't be possible either, the traffic would come to a complete standstill, which nobody wants.

Foz do Iguacu

Iguaçu Waterfalls

The Iguazú Waterfalls consist of 20 larger waterfalls as well as more than 200 smaller ones on an extension of more than 2 kilometers. Most of them are around 60 meters high. The larger panoramic view is from the Brazilian side. The main waterfall is called "Devil's Gulch" and is a U-shaped gorge 150 meters wide. During high water, as a result of erosion triggered by deforestation in Brazil, the water turns a striking brown.
The falls were included in the list of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World in 2011.
The wonder is shrouded in veil - but it can't be ignored: The floodwaters cascading down the Iguaçu Falls fill the air with loud booms and thunderous spray.


The 5 Villages of the Danube Swabians in Entre Rios Brazil

In wars around 1700 AD, the Habsburgs conquered large areas of land in south-eastern Europe, particularly along the lower Danube and where it flows into the Black Sea. To settle these areas, mainly Swabians from today's Baden-Württemberg were recruited. These built up a new existence with agriculture.
After the end of the First World War in 1918, the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy broke up and the territories, which had been under one government until then, were distributed to different countries (Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia).
Things got even worse at the end of the Second World War, when Russia recaptured the Eastern Front and the Danube Swabians were expelled from their territories by the thousands or, in some cases, horrifically murdered. Survivors of this expulsion lived for seven years in 900 emergency shelters in Austria.
Many of the Danube Swabians still cherished the hope of returning to their homeland.

In 1951, Swiss humanitarian aid for Europe organized an alternative living project on a voluntary basis in Brazil. The aim was to colonize large areas there, to use them for agriculture and to establish a cooperative for the marketing of agricultural products. 500 families, 2446 Danube Swabians, applied and saw a way into a new future.


The selection criteria were:
- Primarily farmers and craftsmen, with preference given to families with many children.
- Applicants who had been involved in political or war crimes were not admitted.
- The Brazilian authorities have also allowed elderly people to emigrate.
- As a condition of participating in the project, the applicant should become a member of the cooperative and do community work for 1 year.

Seven ships took them across the Atlantic to southern Brazil, to Entre Rios near the city of Guarapuava. What they found there was jungle and no infrastructure whatsoever.

"The first found death, the second had hardship, and the third found bread."

From the beginning, it was determined that colonization would take place through the cooperative system. They founded the agricultural cooperative Agrária, which still exists today, and managed to overcome many obstacles through solidarity, strength and perseverance.
Still in Austria it was decided to form five villages like a chessboard, rather than staying on scattered farms. Each plot of land was half a hectare. The plot offered enough space for the construction of storage rooms, stables, vineyards/vines, orchards and gardens. 30 to 40 m of space was left for road construction. On the outskirts of the village, each family received 1 hectare of land, which was used as pasture.

Entre Rios

In 1953 the distribution of the lands began, which each settler family could then farm independently, each farmer owned about 25 to 30 hectares of land. The period for payment of the lands was six years, with the first year as a grace period.
The system of chessboard land division, which did not take into account the topography, became one of the mistakes of the settlement work. Since plots were allocated by lot, the quality of production depended more on luck than on the farmer's work and knowledge. In the first years there were severe crop failures, so that by 1970 more than half of the families had left Entre Rios.

They nevertheless wrote one of the most remarkable stories about German immigration to Brazil. The Entre Rios district became the only community of Danube Swabians still existing today, like the one that once existed in Southeastern Europe. They kept their language, their dialects and their traditions. This gave rise to the name "Die Donauschwaben".

Camillas Camp in Entre Rios

Camilla's Camp in Entre Rios

We spent a week in the mostly German-speaking Entre Rios at Camilla's Camp with Caroline and Walter. The camp is located below their modern, newly built house, in a terraced garden with a fishpond. Water, electricity and absolutely clean sanitary facilities. Comfortable pergola with barbecue and refrigerator.
On Mother's Day, we enjoyed a good lunch with Walter's family with about 2,000 citizens of Entre Rios at the modern event center.
Walter is the owner of a crop-spraying plane. He sprays fields with it in the region Entre Rios, but also in Sao Paulo.
On a trip to his farm 60 kilometers away, he told us many interesting things about the Danube Swabians.

Brot Cafe in Entre Rios 2

Bread & Cafe Restaurant in Entre Rios

Walter's wife Caroline is the owner of the above restaurant. Daily lunch buffet and an afternoon buffet on Saturdays. The dessert buffet is an absolute hit. The restaurant is therefore also very well attended. Here we have taken some calories to us - super delicious!