Pomerode: unexpected “kleines Deutschland” in Brazil

The flags at the town gate to Pomerode proclaim, in German and Portuguese, “Our Small Germany”.

The town gate, with tourist information office, at the southern entrance to Pomerode. The yellow and red flags say 'Unser kleines Deutschland'.

The town gate, with tourist information office, at the southern entrance to Pomerode. The yellow and red flags say ‘Unser kleines Deutschland’.

One of the many businesses in Pomerode with a German name.

One of the many businesses in Pomerode with a German name.

 

We spent a few relaxing days in Pomerode in the Santa Catarina province of southern Brazil. If Berta hadn’t needed some work done we probably wouldn’t have gone there. As it was, we had a recommendation for a German speaking truck mechanic in Blumenau, a city we had visited on our last trip (and didn’t overly like). When we came there on a Wednesday and explained our problems, we were told that they wouldn’t have time until the next Monday. So what to do other than wait?

Pomerode is roughly 30 kilometres north of Blumenau. We recently found a lovely book, ‘Brazil’ by Michael Palin [Amazon Affiliate link], where (among many other destinations) he described his visit to this so very German community. This was enough to make us curious. It sounded like a good place to go and wait for our mechanic appointment.

To our surprise we found a free camping place in iOverlander (an app listing camping locations used by other overlanders like us). It is in a municipal park with the added bonus of free WiFi. That sold it to us.

Camping in Pomerode - with some really big Brazilian rigs.

Camping in Pomerode – with some really big Brazilian rigs.

We’re glad we went. We had a good time; got some work done; Yasha managed to Skype with family and friends; and we had time to explore our surrounds.

Here are some things we found in Pomerode

Pomerode is a neat and clean town.

The streets are in better nick than in many other parts of Brazil. Many streets in the centre of town are cobbled; but properly cobbled instead of those bumpy jobs they seem to be doing everywhere else in Brazil.

The first settlers came here from Pommern , a region which covers the north-east of Germany and north-west of Poland.

You see a lot of very ‘German-looking’ people.

Almost every second business has a German name.

Most people communicate in Portuguese with each other, but occasionally we passed a group chatting in German. The German they speak is sometimes rather difficult for us to understand.

Many of the houses (old and new) look very German in style. I was wondering if some people still visit Germany regularly and come back with house design ideas.

A typical old half-timbered German style house, now a restaurant in Pomerode.

A typical old half-timbered German style house, now a restaurant in Pomerode.

Old houses are often built in the typical German ‘Fachwerk’ style. To the north of the city is a drive which follows a river valley called ‘Rota do Enxaimel’ – ‘enxaimel’ being Portuguese for ‘Fachwerk’ (or ‘half-timbered’ in English).

A farm along the 'Rota do Enxaimel', the Route of 'Fachwerk'.

A farm along the ‘Rota do Enxaimel’, the Route of ‘Fachwerk’.

The vast majority of houses are rather neat and freshly painted, with a green lawn around and often with flowering planter boxes in front.

There’s certainly evidence of money in this region.

You hardly see any old bombs of cars. Instead you see many clean new cars, quite a few German Mercedes and Audi. There are many many old VW Beetles in this town. Most of them are lovingly cared for.

An absolutely beautifully restored classic VW Beetle in front of the 'Curry Wurst' snack bar in Pomerode.

An absolutely beautifully restored classic VW Beetle in front of the ‘Curry Wurst’ snack bar in Pomerode.

One of the many VW Beetles (or 'Fusca' as they are called in Brazil) - proudly stating on the back 'Pomer Volks'.

One of the many VW Beetles (or ‘Fusca’ as they are called in Brazil) – proudly stating on the back ‘Pomer Volks’.

 

Click thumbnails below for a larger images!

These observations in Pomerode surprised us and sometimes made us giggle quietly

To understand some of the remarks in the following list you need to know that I, Juergen, am German born and raised but never really felt that ‘German’. Now that I have lived in Australia for well over 20 years, I have even more distance to typical ‘German-ness’.

People seem very diligent, ‘fleissig’ as we say in German. Well, let’s say they seem to be very German in their work attitude.

There seem to be a lot of small factories for a town of some 30,000 people.

We left the municipal park on Saturday because there was a large party planned for that night. To our surprise, the ‘working bees’ all turned up at, or before, 8 in the morning. By lunchtime they had everything set up and were gone! When we returned at lunchtime the next day everything was completely cleaned up.

Everywhere we noticed sign boards in German or two languages, German and Portuguese. That certainly made me giggle quite frequently.

German style beer, this one is called 'Wunder Bier' - it makes you wonder...

German style beer, this one is called ‘Wunder Bier’ – it makes you wonder…

Beer in this region is always labelled ‘bier’, the German spelling. You find names like ‘Schornstein Bier’ (Chimney beer), ‘Eisenbahn Bier’ (Railway beer), and the best was ‘Wunder Bier’ (Wonder beer – which really made us wonder…).

The biggest bakery in town is called ‘Torten Paradies’ – German for ‘cake paradise’.

In the local supermarket we bought a surprisingly good baked cheese cake.

The supermarket also had a large section of smoked smallgoods – sausages and the like.

 
The baked cheesecake we found at the supermarket bakery. It doesn't look like much but it was yummy. We'll be back for more!

The baked cheesecake we found at the supermarket bakery. It doesn’t look like much but it was yummy. We’ll be back for more!

The Restaurant 'Siedlertal' (Settler's Valley) was packed during Sunday lunch. To the left their band playing German 'Volksmusik' complete with some yodelling.

The Restaurant ‘Siedlertal’ (Settler’s Valley) was packed during Sunday lunch. To the left their band playing German ‘Volksmusik’ complete with some yodelling.

 

We saw quite a few natural red heads (unexpected for Brazil).

One day, when we were walking the streets, a strong smell of cooking ‘Sauerkraut’ (the oh-so-typical German style pickled cabbage) filled our nostrils.

I heard a band playing German ‘oom-pah-pah’ music at a restaurant. The musicians were dressed up in shorts (Lederhosen lookalikes) and felt hats.

The band at Restaurant 'Siedlertal', playing German 'Volksmusik' complete with some yodelling. Even their outfits were made to look typically Bavarian. Only their slight accent was a give-away that I was in Brazil.

The band at Restaurant ‘Siedlertal’, playing German ‘Volksmusik’ complete with some yodelling. Even their outfits were made to look typically Bavarian. Only their slight accent was a give-away that I was in Brazil.

The funniest occurrence was probably a ute (pick-up truck) driving past us one day: he had an enormous sound system with speakers built into the load tray, which is rather typical for Brazil. There was ‘oom-pah-pah’ music coming from the speakers – not rap or reggaeton as you would normally expect.

There is a small bar next to the southern town gate advertising “Curry Wurst” – such a typical German snack.

When we passed this place they had their stereo tuned to a German radio station. It came complete with German news, German weather, and the German ‘Stau Report’ (traffic jams on the autobahn in Germany).

Whenever we ran into any communication problems (since we don’t speak Portuguese), be it at the tourist office, the bakery, looking for directions, people would always ask if we could speak German – for Yasha that doesn’t always come so easily… Also at the municipal park we were given all instructions in German. Sometimes they would start speaking in German just by looking at us.

Another house in a very German style along the 'Rota do Enxaimel'. Can you see the cute motor scooter in the middle of the photo?

Another house in a very German style along the ‘Rota do Enxaimel’. Can you see the cute motor scooter in the middle of the photo?

 

This ease with German was the reason to come here in the first place. I felt that to be able to clearly communicate our issues with Berta, I needed a mechanic I could really talk with.

Have you come across similarly authentic immigrant roots elsewhere in the world?
We’ve previously posted about unexpected German-ness in the Americas . This post continues the theme.


 
If this post inspires you somehow to visit Brazil, we recommend Michael Palin: BRAZIL
Michael Palin‘s book ‘Brazil’
. This beautiful book will convince you to go! BRAZIL is an almost timeless book, with brilliant full-page photographs, which was produced alongside a multi-part BBC television series. Michael Palin describes personal impressions from several trips to Brazil, in his typically light and humorous style…
Find Michael Palin‘s ‘Brazil’ on AMAZON !
[ Affiliate link – but you won’t pay a Cent more. Thank you for your support! ]
 
 

Juergen

webmaster, main photographer & driver, second cook and only husband at dare2go.com. Freelance web designer with nearly 20 years of experience at webbeetle.com.au

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4 Responses

  1. Donna Janke says:

    How unusual to find such a German town like Pomerode in Brazil. I would have chuckled in a few places too. How long has the town existed? It’s surprising that it would remain so “German”.

    • Juergen says:

      Pomerode was recognised as a town in 1863. That would be around 6 to 7 generations ago… But many arrived later and migration to Brazil is still continuing, although for the last decade in smaller numbers.

  2. We would have never guessed this would be found in Brazil. Love the buildings that you captured, it looks like a street in Germany was transplanted here. What a unique experience!

    • Juergen says:

      Yes, it really looks like houses from Germany transplanted into Brazil. Since I posted this I have been thinking: I believe some Chinese parts of particular places (San Francisco, Sydney, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, etc.) retain a similar ethnic authenticity.

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