Serra Catarinense: Where the Apples Come From
November 27, 2011 1 Comment
By Rob Packer
“The hills step off into whiteness” —Sylvia Plath, 1965
I’ve recently been reading a fair bit of English and German Romantic poetry and can’t work out why. The ticking clock of coming close to 30? Homesickness for a Europe that seems to be sabotaging itself? Or perhaps it was just a trip two weeks ago to the Serra Geral Catarinense.
The Serra Geral, a mountain range in the southeastern corner of Santa Catarina, looks like the kind of place the stereotyped Romantic would have written about: expansive green valleys, mountains with crags and rock arches, waterfalls, farmland and, all the while, wrapped in mist or fog. In fact, it all seemed a bit like Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.
Perhaps the fog shouldn’t have been much of a surprise: a lot of the trees were covered with mossy epiphytes, making it look like a cloud forest. At the same time, the water for the sheer number of waterfalls the area had to come from somewhere.
As well as the scenery, Urubici is also known in Santa Catarina for its yerba mate (called chimarrão in Brazil, but not a patch on the bitterer Argentine variety) and its apples, which need cold weather to grow—this is also the part of Brazil where it sometimes snows.
In the end, it really did involve a fair bit of effort to appreciate the strangely un-Brazilian-looking scenery: sometimes—like at one of the region’s best-known sites—a mountaintop arch, you really could see nothing but fog. But in the brief moments when the mist did clear, the green mountain valleys and rivers were spectacular.