I have started a new blog to document my time in Paraguay this summer. Please check it out!
Beijos & Besos!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This past weekend my roommate from Rio, Marina, came and visited me!! It was marvelous to see her, catch up on our lives, and use her as an excuse to do some touristy stuff in Salvador. Also, a completely unexpected surprise from an old friend, Avery Welkin. He and I grew up in the Olympia Quaker Meeting, but I had not seen him in years! It was great to see him and catch up on about seven years of each others lives.
Pictures to come!
Happy Thanksgiving! (I made sticky buns today with Danielle! If you don't know what those are, you are seriously missing out and need to visit my grandma to learn her art. I'm still learning.)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
November 12-15 I went to a National Park called Chapada Diamantina (Diamond Plateau), inland from my city of Salvador. It was beautiful and wonderful to get out of the city. Unfortunately, due to lack of infrastructure and park development, you have to pay guides to take you almost everywhere and can't just go wandering. There aren't maps or marked trails most of the time, which made me realize how much I miss the national parks and trails in the states! However, I had a great time and swam in waterfalls, hiked, explored caves, avoided caterpillars falling from the sky, and saw some breathtaking views. I would really like to go back sometime with all my backpacking gear and go on a trip! Not enough time or money this time...
Entering the cave Gruta da Lapa Doce
The view of the main valley from the top of Pai Inacio
Hiking through the Gruta da Lapa Doce
Crazy caterpillar, one of HUNDREDS on the ground, falling from trees, crawling up my leg...
On top of Pai Inacio
Our group! Gabriel, Cosme, me, Antoinette, Maria
Cosme, me, and Antoinette at Riberão do Meio at sunset
Our 14 year old guide on Saturday, Ricardo
DELICIOUS breakfast at home. I will definitely miss this about Brazil!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
It was another successful weekend here in Salvador that left me giggling quite a few times. Here are some of the peculiarities I encountered:
Since Brazil does not celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving, there are no guidelines as to when Christmas decorations can go up. So starting the last week of October, red, green, and brown decorations have gone up. Trees, candy canes, snowflakes (no matter that the majority of Brazilians have never seen snow), and reindeer. And today, ladies and gentlemen, Papai Noel (Santa Claus) came to Salvador!!! I saw him myself. And he was white.
Danielle and I in matching Santa outfits
Santa dancing Rebolation!
Brazilian bras do not have cup sizes. There's just one number, completely different than from the states where I'm a 34, here I'm a 42. I have no idea what it's measuring and the cups are hit and miss. Needless to say, I will be waiting until my return to the states to buy more sutiãs.
The HUGE industrious ants in the grassy place by the road in front of my house have created permanent pathways through the grass. Their routes never change and I have passed many people worried about my sanity as I leap and bound on tip-toe through the ants in order to not get bitten. Those things are DANGEROUS! My foot swelled up so big once from an ant-bite I couldn't walk!
I have to do a presentation (in Portuguese) for my political science of a minimum of 45 minutes comparing the governmental systems of China, North Korea, and Cuba. (I only write in my blog when I have tons of school work to do. Extremely bad habit!)
Love to you all! I'm excited to see you when I get back!! January 2nd in Olympia!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I had a long weekend this week with no classes on Monday or Tuesday. Danielle and I took advantage of these five free days to go to Itacaré, a small coastal town about six hours south of Salvador. My friend Ryan told me it was great so we caught the bus at 5am on Friday morning to go. It was beautiful!! An amazing combination of many beaches, rainforest, and interesting people. We stayed at a hostel with a great group of people: 3 Brazilians, 1 Frenchwoman, 1 German woman, 2 Australians, 1 Argentinean, and us, the 2 blond girls from the states. We swam, hiked, ate delicious food, cooked, talked about world politics, played cards, discussed Brazil's societal and political problems, laughed a lot, danced on the beach, trespassed on private property to find waterfalls at 6am, experimented new foods, and made wonderful friends.
Dinner day 1. So nice to be able to cook for ourselves for a change! (all of our food in Salvador is prepared for us by maids.)
Day 2: Praia de Resende (above) and
Praia da Tiririca (below. we were cold...not good since there will probably be snow in Washington when I get back!)
Day 4: trespassing at Cachoeira de Tijuipe (above)
Day 4: our last sunset in Itacaré at Praia da Concha
My future home!
It was wonderful to spend so much time out of the city and outside. Danielle and I thought it was hilarious that they expect everyone to hire guides to bring them to the farther beaches (about a 1 hour walk from the city center), especially two gringas. There was no way we were going to pay someone to walk us along a clearly marked path to the beach, but everyone we asked for directions told us we needed a guide. How I miss national parks in the states! It is difficult to enjoy being back in Salvador now with classes, pollution, and violence to worry about. It was the perfect relaxing trip though and I wish I could go back again before I leave!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
So not much is new here in Brazil. The second round of elections for Brazil's new president are Sunday so we'll see how that plays out. Things have become very routine here for me, so I forget what interests you all back home. But here are the highlights from the past couple weeks:
I finished midterms today!
Black Eyed Peas concert!
Guitar jam sessions on the beach with Brazilian friends!
Gorgeous, sunny beach days!
Amazing Political Science professor (he studied abroad in Chile during the military dictatorship there)!
Dancing to music blasted from car speakers in a parking lot on the beach in the rain!
Package from home! (chocolate chips for chocolate chip banana bread!)
Reading books from my childhood in Portuguese with the children in the library where I volunteer!
Best Mexican food in Salvador!
Riding along the coast on a motorcycle!
Learning how to make brigadeiro! (traditional Brazilian dessert. condensed milk, butter, chocolate. YES)
Showing a Polish volunteer around the city!
Planning my future! (Nicaragua? Washington DC? Ecuador? Berkeley?)
Registering for classes back at Pacific for next semester and looking for a place to live have me missing home a lot! But two more months and I'm there!!
Love to you all!
PS. Movie you should ALL watch: Onibus 174. It's about a bus hostage situation in Rio in 2000 and gives the social background and reasoning that this event occurred. You can find it on Google Videos with English subtitles. I highly recommend it.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Well time flies on study abroad. I now only have three more months in Brazil! But I have been loving it so much and living it up recently! I am currently procrastinating on large amounts of school work to write you all, never good, but sometimes necessary for my sanity.
I have been learning cooking secrets from Lucia and will hopefully not be such a failure in the kitchen when I make it back to the states in January. I am going to be meeting up with my parents and Sierra in Ecuador for Christmas and New Years with my host family there!! I am extremely excited and will cook something delicious for everyone. I have dance class every Saturday and I have been dancing a lot outside of class as well. It's been wonderful and so much fun to actually know the steps now as well! My dance group had a fundraiser on the 26th called Forro dos Sonhos (meaning dance of dreams). We combined it with my friend Marco's birthday party and I danced for five hours straight. The pictures below are from that day.
My friend Tauá, amazing forro dancer and friend from school who introduced me to the group where I take classes, Forrozeando.
Friends from dance class (L-R): Luis Pedro, Danielle, me, Marco (the birthday boy), and Fernando (one of the dance teachers)
Pedro, Marco, and I at Forro dos Sonhos
I went to my first pagode and axe concert last Friday, popular music from my state of Bahia. It was CRAZY dancing, full of beautiful people, and great music. This made my third weekend in a row of more than six hours of straight dancing!! I will definitely miss all of that when I get back to the states. I feel like the northern hemisphere has yet to realize how dancing can be a great way to enjoy life.
My internship is also going very well. I am helping coordinate an essay writing contest for children of African descent, organizing the placement and arrival of a volunteer from Poland, and various other projects. It's become very apparent to me how difficult continuity and organization is with an organization run by volunteers coming in and out, but I'm staying on top of things as best I can and balancing it with school work.
Classes are great, but the next couple weeks are actually pretty stressful. Academics in another language is complicated, so we'll see how I manage to figure it all out.
I love you all and hope that things are good state-side for all of you. I have been following the attempted "coup" in Ecuador closely as well as the disturbing number of suicides in the states. It's scary and complicated to be a young person and I hope that we are able to band together in order to show support for those trying to understand their lot in life and find a place for themselves to grow and love in safety.
Take your light out from under the bushel basket!