São Borja, Brazil - Polarsteps

São Borjas, Brazil, has a population of about 60,000. It is located at the eastern border of the Southern Region, across the Uruguay River from Santo Tomé, Argentina. Two former Brazilian Presidents were born here so the city was nicknamed the "Land of Presidents". The city has two museums of former Presidents' artifacts in their own former homes. There are two other museums, one that displays local artifacts from the town's history, and the other displays early missionary and indigenous collections. The main church at the central plaza is interesting not because of its antiquity, it's not old, but because it reminds me of hobbit houses. The history talks about a group of seven men, all Jesuit priests, who helped and sheltered the Guaraní people in the middle of the 17th century. The first of those men was São Borja. The town was founded in 1687 and named for General São Francisco de Borja. At the time of its founding, it had a population of 195, but by 1707, there were more than 2800 people in the town. So, my impressions: It's a decent small city, nothing to get excited about, but has everything needed to live well. The one problem for me, and anyone who doesn't speak Portuguese - is just that, Portuguese is the one and only language you will find here. I spoke to many people in shops, stores, and restaurants, and not a single one could speak anything other than Portuguese. It reminded me of people in the US who don't think it's necessary to learn another language because they already speak the most commonly spoken language in the world (while not exactly true, that is what they believe). It just comes across as egotistic, selfish, or maybe there's another word for it, right now I can't think of one, but it's not necessarily a good attitude to take. Here in Brazil, the lack of a desire to learn another language, especially Spanish, surprised me. And, when I used Spanish with them, as it is remotely related to Portuguese, they had as much difficulty understanding me as I did them, and when they did figure out what I was saying, did they help me learn Portuguese? No. Not a single word from anyone that would have helped me. I believe that attitude is pretty much the same everywhere, but here, there was something different in their response.
  1. ChipW
  2. My South America Journey
  3. São Borja