Thirty kilometres to the north of Blumenau, POMERODE is probably the most German “city” in Brazil. Not only are ninety percent of its 25,000 widely dispersed inhabitants descended from German immigrants, but eighty percent of the município’s population continue to speak the language. Unlike in Blumenau, in Pomerode German continues to thrive and is spoken just about everywhere, although in schools it takes second place to Portuguese. There are several reasons for this: almost all the immigrants – who arrived in the 1860s – came from Pomerania, and therefore did not face the problem of mixing with other immigrants speaking often mutually unintelligible dialects; as ninety percent of the population are Lutheran, German was retained for the act of worship; and, until recently, Pomerode was isolated by poor roads and communication links. This isolation has all but ended, though. The road to Blumenau is now excellent, buses are frequent, car ownership is common and televisions are universal. However, despite the changes, German looks more entrenched than ever. The language has been reintroduced into the local school curriculum, cultural groups thrive and, where the government has exerted pressure, it has been to encourage the language’s survival.

Pomerode is renowned for its festivals, the chief of which is the Festa Pomerana, a celebration of local industry and culture held annually for ten days, usually from around January 7. Most of the events take place on the outskirts of town, on Rua XV de Novembro, about 1km from the tourist office, and during the day thousands of people from neighbouring cities descend on Pomerode to sample the local food, attend the song and dance performances and visit the commercial fair. By late afternoon, though, the day-trippers leave and the Festa Pomerana comes alive as the colonos from the surrounding areas transform the festivities into a truly popular event. Local and visiting bands play German and Brazilian music, and dancing continues long into the night. In July, Pomerode organizes the smaller, though similar, Winterfest.

There are more regular festivities too, as every Saturday the local hunting clubs take turns to host dances. Visitors are always made to feel welcome, and details of the week’s venue are displayed on posters around town, or ask at the tourist office. As many of the clubs are located in the município’s outlying reaches, a bus is laid on, leaving from outside the post office on Rua XV de Novembro.

The main activity for visitors, other than attending the town’s famous festivals and dances, is walking. Pomerode has Santa Catarina’s greatest concentration of proudly preserved nineteenth- and early twentieth-century enxaimel farm buildings, the largest number found in the município’s Wunderwald district. To reach them, cross the bridge near the Lutheran church, turn left and continue walking along the road for about twenty minutes, then turn right just before a bridge across a small stream. If you’re feeling energetic, return to the main road and cross the bridge, walk on another hundred metres or so and turn left along the Testo Alto road; about 3km up the steep valley, you’ll arrive at the Cascata Cristalina, where you’ll be able to cool off under the tiny waterfall or use the swimming pool.

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