06 October 2014


Back in our New York apartment days, Mark and I befriended a Finn who lived right across the hall from us. I had never met anyone from Finland before, so for me she was fairly exotic. We called her Liisa-with-two-i’s, to distinguish her from another friend of ours, a native American Lisa-with-one-i. Liisa-with-two-i’s was a journalist, and she more than once flew off to Brazil on assignment. What was the interest in Brazil? Well, we all found ourselves in Brazil at the same time once, and Mark and I finally learned just what that interest was. Seems that, for the Finnish press, there was a perpetually intriguing story in the little town of Penedo, halfway between Rio and São Paulo. Penedo was the first Finnish colony in Brazil, with a cultural influence that is still going strong today.

Last week Mark and I were driving to São Paulo, some nine hours by car from Búzios. We like to break these drives up and dawdle a bit, so we made that halfway stop in Penedo, too. What a strange place. What a funny place. What a Finnish place.

First up is Little Finland, modeled on villages and stores back in the home country:

And of course there's Finnish this and Finnish that, everywhere you look:

Not to mention one of the best exports from Finland, properly honored in the Museum of Finland:
Finished with Finland, and back on the open road, heading to the highlands of São Paulo:

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