Monday, September 28, 2009

Southern Adventure

My friend Gabriel had a birthday party this weekend, so Carol invited me to go along with her and some other friends. It so happens that Gabriel lives in Curitiba so I got the chance to become acquainted with southern Brasil for the first time. We road tripped there, as usual, driving all night and arriving very early morning. Unfortunately, we were so tired that we slept Saturday away but the party in the evening was really fun.

The weather on Sunday was beautiful so we decided to visit the temple and Tanguá park after church. It was a nice, relaxing day. I really enjoyed Curitiba, it seems more like a city I could live in.

Curitiba, Brazil Temple

This individual pine behind us, the species is called Araucária, is the reason President Hinckley chose this plot of land for the temple.

We decided to give it a hug.

Just before the storm.

Edifice at Tanguá park

Tanguá park waterfall

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Randomly Materialized Thoughts

It is past 1 am and I am sitting in the student lounge at GV. I just put some finishing touches on our group's 50 page paper for Brazilian Economy. By now we are completely sick of anything that has to do with Brazilian or Indian deforestation issues, but at least we can now talk about the subject in an educated manner. I enjoy our group: Andrea from Italy, Andres from Italy, Camilla from Denmark, Jean-Jacques from France and myself. More papers and final exams to be finished in the next week and a half.

I was essentially wait-listed by Empresa Junior (student organization that provides consulting to smaller-sized companies here), they want to do one more interview but honestly I am beginning to lose interest.

Spent last weekend in Vinhedo (about an hour from here) with Paulo and Keiko whom I became acquainted with on my mission. It was great for many reasons: Vinhedo was sunny, Sao Paulo rarely is; they live in a condominium where houses actually have lawns and stuff, felt like the states; the family environment made me feel like I was relaxing at home for a weekend; Paulo, Keiko and Kimberly are awesome.

I discovered that I REALLY like Sushi. I have been to some excellent all-you-can-eat places over the last couple weeks.

Started playing tennis again but I have yet to play on a clay court. My knee hurt afterward though, could I finally be getting old?

Brazilians are awesome!!!

Going to Curitiba this weekend with friends. Excited to get to know the city and to go on another road trip with the same gang as last time.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009


It appears that time has become blurred to me. I think it is a function of enjoying my stay here and taking advantage of as many activities as possible. I received a few friendly wake-up calls this week reminding me that I have been silent for almost 3 weeks...I could have sworn it was more like 10 days. I have much to tell.

Have I mentioned how awesomely social Brazilians are? I have been appreciative and impressed by this. It seems that every time I meet someone new the introduction ends in being invited to a party.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting Carol, Samara, and Thais. They are all about my age, really cool girls and we have been having a lot of fun lately...clubs, restaurants, rockband, a weekend at the beach and much more. Thais studies fashion and has a final project coming up at the end of the year. I am going to be one of her runway models which I think is pretty sweet. The outfit is nearly finished...I got a sneak peak of it a few days ago...I will be sure to document the event.

My semester here is divided into 2 modules. The first one finishes in 3 weeks, I can't believe I am so close to final exams already. With professors being gone and the swine flu thing at the beginning things have been all over the place. My classes are great though, I like all of them.

Some other fun events over the last couple weeks:

-When we were leaving a club I found 100 reais on the ground ($55 US). Decided it would best to recirculate it into the economy and made some good purchases. Included in these purchases are some sweet Oakey sunglasses. No, that isn't a misspelling, but I can't tell the difference from the real ones so it's all good :)

-Played Rockband and unlocked "Everlong". I miss that game, glad that Carol has it.

-Went to the São Paulo temple. First time doing a session in Português. Very enjoyable.

-Went to another soccer game. The best place to learn all the swear words in a foreign language is definitely a soccer game. The home team won again, we painted our faces and had a great time.

-All-you-can-eat Sushi at Liberdade, the Japanese district of São Paulo. Sooooooooooooo good.

-Took the metrô during rush hour. This is as much an adventure as anything else. Pushing is allowed and expected. Lines don't really exist either, more of a free-for-all.

-Bought my plane ticket to Bahia in November. It will be great to go back and visit the mission, but even better to be able to hit up the beaches this time.

The highlight of the last few weeks, though, was definitely this past weekend. Our trip to Ubatuba and Paraty, two beach towns on the literal norte of São Paulo and sul of Rio de Janiero.

Day 1 - We left São Paulo a little after midnight in a 3 car caravan. Road trips are always a blast with friends. We joked, talked, planned our vacation and sang along with the tunes of Jimmy Eat World, Weezer, Los Hermanos, Regina Speckter, and Cansei de Ser Sexy, just to name a few. Upon our arrival at the house in Ubatuba a little before 5 am, we discovered that the lady responsible for the rental did not leave a key. Carol made a few calls, got a hold of a key from who-knows-who and by 7 am we were finally in the house. It got better though. There was no electricity, thus no hot water, not really much of anything. That didn't come until later in the afternoon. Thanks for prepping the house, rental company...not! It takes a lot more than that to dampen our spirits though, after all, we were at the beach. We spent the afternoon at two beaches. Lázaro was very calm and good for swimming and family. Next to it is Sununga beach which was having a surf competition sponsored by Red Bull. The waves were insane and coming from all directions so you couldn't really enter the water to swim. At dusk we stopped by Vermelho beach and Valério took Natália out (his surfboard) and tried to catch some waves but it got dark pretty fast. That night we went into the city center of Ubatuba and grabbed a bite to eat. Brazil dominated Argentina, 3-1 (in Argentina mind you), as part of the world cup qualifiers. It was shown on a huge projector at the mall we were eating at and a huge crowd gathered to cheer their team on. Good times.

Day 2- Somewhat cloudy but not cold. I had slept in a hammock that night. As cool as it seems, a hammock does not make a great bed. Plus you are exposed to the elements. I probably killed a million mosquitoes during the night. We ate breakfast and began the day at Trindade beach. I didn't go in the water but just chilled under an umbrella, played some Uno and enjoyed conversation. Later in the afternoon we drove about 70 km north to the city of Paraty. The city is very old and charming. I would guess most buildings there are from the 17th century or earlier. A lot of Portuguese influence can be seen throughout the city. We headed home after sunset and had a churrasco for dinner. I maintain there is no better meal than a churrasco (Brazilian barbeque). Good food, friends and the beach--it was great.

Day 3- The weather was spectacular, not a cloud in the sky. Our agenda for the day was Félix beach and Promirim Island. Félix was by far my favorite beach of the trip, it was so pretty and there are even some rocks that are fun to jump off. We found some dude to take us to Promirim Island which is a couple kilometers off the coast. I guess it is his business but it sure wasn't very official. Just one boat, a sign by a lawn chair, and no official waiting list so it was a battle with other tourists to get a ride. The island was amazing and we just relaxed there for the afternoon. I even did a little hiking (barefoot) through the brush to get out on a huge rock face. The view was definitely worth it. Near sundown, the first group of us took the boat back to Félix beach. I was in the second group. We waited for the guy to come back and get us...and waited...and waited...and waited. Finally we decided he wasn't coming back so we talked with dude B whose route is to another beach and he agreed to take us back to the mainland. I was ready to create our own version of LOST should we get left on the island. Then dude B on the way back said that dude A had left people on the island before, whether that is true or whether he was trying to take away clients I am not sure. I am sure, however, that it is smart, especially in third world countries, to only pay for a service after it has been rendered. When we got back to Félix we saw the other guy in his boat near the shore. I guess his motor burned or something...whatevs. We packed up and headed back to the house for another churrasco. This time I included some grilled delicious. The lady came during dinner to lock up but we told her since we really didn't have a place Friday night, due to the key and electricity episode, we deserved Monday night in exchange and we got it. We left about 1 am that night trying to avoid traffic...yeah right. It was stop and go through the hills until we finally got to the interstate. There are so many people in São Paulo that planning around traffic doesn't really exist. It was worse for some friends of ours though--a 4 hour trip became a 10 hour trip due to traffic. We rocked out some more on the way home and arrived very early morning. Poor Samara and Carol had to go right to work afterward. Thanks so much, Carol, for driving!!!

Samara and I chillin'

Friendly neighborhood turkey.

The roads were centuries old.

Our group in Paraty, só zoeira!

Practice photo shoot.

Valerio is the king of churrasco...I helped a little

This was the boat guy's business set-up.

On our way to the island... high seas.

A true surfer...

This was the most comfortable chair ever.

Still some more pics to come.........................