A Picture of

Curitiba

You can’t see the university from here.

This is Curitiba. The capital of the state of Paraná, in southern Brazil. The federal university I teach in (Universidade Federal do Paraná) is the oldest university in Brazil, though it was founded in 1912. 

Right down this street, on the other side of this small hill.

You can’t see the university from here, though. Right below those beautiful clouds.

When the main building was raised, on the other side of this hill, there was literally nothing here, where I was standing when I took this photo. Nothing at all. It is said they decided to make the building facing this wasteland, instead of the old city center, to make it very clear that this university was looking towards the future.

A few decades later, the germans had arrived, the first new migrants to be enticed by the promise that southern Brazil had a weather they could endure, and land, lots of land under starry skies above. They would have a central role in developing a comercial and intelectual “elite” in the city, and in the university.

You can’t see the places where they settled down in the city from here, though. They would have mostly been behind me, and to my left. Close by…

This picture was taken before 5 P.M. On a weekday.

The university is closed. The city is slowly trying to come back to pre-Covid routines.

I was walking my dog. On a break from online meetings, classes, tutoring sessions. The future our “founding fathers” would never have imagined. 

You can’t see my appartment from here, though. It is right behind this tallest building to the left.

A ways away. By the way…

Can you see on the corner what has been left by someone who spent their night on the sidewalk?

The Germans who came in the 1870s are all in the cemetery up a second hill. Close by. But you can’t see it from here. The founders of what would turn out to be the shamefully recent first university in the country are all gone, but most of them had the time to see some of the future of the city their building was facing.

At that moment, Curitiba had less than fifty thousand souls. Today, we’re close to two million. And one of them had to sleep on the street, with no masks, no protection, on this brave new future we’re now living through.