29 July 2007

Freezing Fingers

So right now I´m in Porto Alegre, which is the capital of the southernmost state in Brasil. It is FREEZING here. Probably in the 30s or 40s.

Okay so we embarked on our journey throughout the south on Tuesday. We spent the entire day on the bus, from 6 am until midnight. I read Harry Potter 7 and we watched movies. The countryside here is so beautiful. Rolling hills as far as the eye can see. I´ve been taking pictures, don´t you worry. I just had to put on my beanie. Yikes it´s cold!

The next day we went to the Brasilian side of the Iguaçu Falls, which was beautiful and wet. We walked along this trail on the side of the cliff thing to a point down at the bottom of the Devil´s Throat, which is where the huge waterfalls is and the precipitation got us all so wet. I look hideous in my pictures. Really. I´m not in many of them for this reason. (Right now I´m using the McInternet at McDonalds for free! Keane is playing right now. You´ve got to love McDonald´s, really.) There were rainbows everywhere you looked. There aren´t really words to describe it. Sorry. Niagra Falls does not even begin to compare.

Later that day we went to Itaipu, which is the energy plant where they use the falls for electricity. It was pretty boring and I stopped listening to the tour guide. I don´t even listen when it´s in English, so Portuguese is much harder. We crossed over into Paraguay while we were there, because they share the plant. It´s weird because they have to speak some type of Portanhol to communicate there. I would think that that would be difficult. The fun thing about this place was that we had to wear orange hard hats with little hairnets underneath. A couple of the guys broke out and did the Village People dance, which was hilarious. One of the guys, Bret, is growing out a moustache and always wears a bandana and aviator sunglasses. He looks like he stepped right out of the 70s. José also wears the aviators as well. YMCA will never be the same for me.

The next day we went to the Argentine side of the falls. I got my passport stamped again. We walked so much but it was great. I felt like I was in a tropical paradise. It was funny because I didn´t know what language to speak to other people to be polite. I just stuck with Spanish, Portuguese and English depending on the circumstance. Ordering lunch was an adventure. We could pay in reais, so I did, but I had them break a real to give me some pesos. That night we went to a churrascuria and they had these two guys playing for the restaurante. One was playing the harp and the other the guitar. They were Argentinians and so they sung in Spanish. They were so funny and sold a bunch of CDs to our group.

The next day we had an even longer bus ride to get here to Porto Alegre. I should mention that our bus is a bit ghetto and smelly. The bathroom door doesn´t stay shut, so we had to use a blanket to tie to the handles to keep it shut, but it still smells so bad. I try to stay toward the front because of this but it still smells and that gets mixed with the ammonia smell of the air freshener that they spray when it gets bad. always an adventure. Oh and heaters don´t exist here. Down here in Porto Alegre they might, my room does (YAY!) but no where else really.

Church today was good but cold. We started out with sacrament meeting, which was a change. We doubled the attendance there. I think the chapel had a heater, but sunday school was freezing. I really really appreciate the conveniences that we have in the US. I can only imagine how miserable it must be here during the Winter.

Well I think that´s about it. Life is good here. My love for Brasil grows with every day.

22 July 2007

Brasilians, Pancakes and Syrup

Things have been going very well here. We had the great privilege of going to Campinas earlier this week to attend the temple. That area was so beautiful. It sits about two hours north of São Paulo and has all sorts of rolling hills and beautifully colorful houses. I didn´t see any favelas there either. Everything was very clean as well. The temple was BEAUTIFUL. It reminded me of the Timpanogos temple with the architecture. There were six girls who were baptized by José in our group, who sacrificed doing the session to baptize us. While I was waiting for the other girls to be ready to leave, I began talking with a boy in the baptistry chapel. It was his first time at the temple ever. He went for 14 hours in a caravan to come to the temple. He was a recent convert to the Church and is planning on serving a mission in December. I am so amazed at the dedication of people here. They are truly incredible.
After we left the temple, we went to a churrascuria, which is basically an eat all the meat you want while we bring it around on giant skewers. It was SO good. Everyone ate so much, some people ate a little bit too much and they felt it the next day in the form of a meat headache.
Friday Farina and I went with our friend Talita to the Japanese part of town called Liberdade. We went with her sister Thalmydes, her brother, Zeno, and their friends Victor and Marcel. Farina tried a bean popsicle, which actually had beans in it. Needless to say, she didn´t like it. Everyone was really cool and I enjoyed hanging out with them. The radio in the car was all American music and I asked if they have Brasilian music on the radio. Zeno tried to find some, but got frustrated and just whipped out his iPod. Most of his music was American, but at least he speaks English so he can understand what they are saying.
Yesterday we went down to the Mercado Municipal, which is basically a huge indoor market for food. I found a Pastel de Nata and ate one for you, Jen. It was really good. Yum. (Oh, we also had caldo verde again, and pudim again. Ick. My gag reflex finally reacted. I´m going to not have to eat that anymore.) Then Heidi and I split a huge slice of watermelon, which we bought for R$1.50. It was tão bom! There were no seats to be found here, but we ended up finding a little table attached to a group that was vacant. The group happened to be American and they were SOOO excited to find English speakers. They didn´t speak a word of Portuguese. Then we wandered over to 25 de Março, which is a street that has the cheapest shopping in São Paulo. It was so crowded and I felt like I was in NYC again.
After we went and I bought the new Harry Potter book. Luckily, I live in a Portuguese speaking country and the English copies weren´t sold out yet. The portuguese ones don´t come out until September. We saw Transformers, which was really long, but the boys liked it. The cheesy parts were certainly appreciated as well. Something I ate didn´t settle right so I was a bit ill. However later, when my body emptied out my stomach, I felt a LOT better.
Today we sang in church. Ryan Farina AJ and I sang together and Brady played the piano. AJ and Brady were nice enough to come to our ward and help us out. We wang Mais Perto Quero Estar (Nearer My God to Thee). Don´t worry, just forgot the name in English. I think it went well. It was so inspiring to see the members mouthing the words along with us. So many people came up afterword to tell us that that was their favorite hymn. I will really miss the ward here. I ended up staying afterword talking to Zeno, Thalmydes and Marcel for about an hour after church. They all want to practice their English. Tomorrow they want me to try açaí, which is a seed of some sort they mash up into...something.
Right now the family here is making pancakes for the first time. Ryan and Rebecca are teaching them how. They tried syrup for the first time too. Guillerme had THE funniest expression on his face like, `` what is this stuff you are trying to force on me...oh wait...it´s sugar!´´
Life is good here. We leave for our huge trip on Tuesday at 6:00am for our first leg of a mere 18 hours. Wish me luck!

15 July 2007

Public Transportation is My New Best Friend

Hello all! Rio was so amazing. I loved it so much and would definately go back there if given the chance. I loved going up to Cristo Redentor and seeing the view of Rio, but my favorite thing by far was Pão de Açucar, which is a huge rock boulder thing that the discoverers first saw and said it looked like a Sugar Loaf. From the top you can see another, and better, view of Rio. We went up at night and it was incredible. I felt so small. Rio is quite the beautiful city.

So life after Rio has been great still. I really am starting to hate the pollution here. I feel so dirty all of the time. Ick. Farina´s nose won´t stop running because of the pollution. Our Dona continues to make fantastic meals and I really am getting fat here. Really. I´ve started sneakily eating less. All of us are getting fat though. It´s really funny. Did I already mention how Diana only eats desserts here? She´s so predictable at meals it´s hilarious.
I believe I left off on Thursday...nothing really happened then, we all just hung out and ended up walking around a lot.
Friday we had an adventure with public transportation. We planned on going to the São Paulo Zoo, and that was an adventure. We had to take one bus, then the metro and then another bus to get to the Zoo. It took an hour and a half to get there! Ay yai! But the zoo was really fun. Of course, the boys took off without us, which was fine. We walked around the zoo for an hour and then ran into the boys and Dr. Fails. He stopped to talk to us and the boys left him, so he went around the rest of the zoo talking to us and telling us his safari stories of when he went to Moçambique with Study Abroad. He has some great stories. Then we left and it took another hour and half to get home. All standing. Ick. I got really bad motion sickness/headache from it, so I had to lay down the rest of the night and sleep it off, but after that I was just fine!
Yesterday we went to Ebu das Artes, which is basically an open market with all sorts of things to buy. I ended up going around with AJ and Brady the whole day which was really fun. They are both really nice. I think that was my first time ever shopping with boys and they were really funny. They would keep gravitating towards buddhas and samuri swords, etc., when I was looking at necklaces and earrings. Then last night some of the group got together and played some games. Really, it hasn´t been super eventful.
Oh, Wednesday I was able to go do baptisms at the São Paulo Temple. It was our stake´s night and the baptistry was PACKED. At least 100 youth were there. We had to shower before we were baptized, and only did baptisms because other people did the confirmations. There were just too many people there and not enough time. Not the worst problem to have. I am so impressed with the members here. They are incredible.
One thing I am looking forward to is being able to fully understand church again. My comprehension is improving every day and I really can understand most of what people say to me, I just need to expand my vocabulary. Learning another language is HARD! Wow. I had no idea.

06 July 2007


Well, Tuesday and Wednesday proved to be incredibly busy as well. We went to the Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo, which is like their Central Park. It was so beautiful there! Farina and I planned the excursion and I think it went pretty well. We decided to ride bikes, so Jenny and I thought it would be a good idea to ride a tandem bike...yeah right. We had the hardest time getting on that bike. Oh my. It was so funny! Of course, there was a group of young adults watching us attempt at wielding this machine. They laughed so hard at us, but I thought it was funny, so I didn´t really mind that much. Then I was so worried about crashing into things that I didn´t really see the scenery, but, from what I saw, the trees were really tall and skinny and the lake was beautiful. I had a great time there. I took some great photos, but yet again, the internet here is too slow. Oy. I also went to The Human Body exhibit there at the park. It had some really neat things to see. They only used male cadavers, which I found interesting, and the displays were put in a very interesting and educational manner.

After two very long bus rides, we made it home to find out that we had been invited to a pre-game party at our friend Talita´s house. She picked us up and we had some great little snacks (that was our dinner) and went to the São Paulo Futebol Clube game. São Paulo won 1-0 and the only goal was off of a penalty kick, which the goalie made. The fans were so energetic there. The stands were pretty empty for the most part, but the ones who were there were singing chants the whole time and yelling at the refs. I´m very glad that I don´t know Portuguese swear words. Let´s just put it that way. Ignorance is bliss.

Wednesday we went to the city center and went to an art museum. I was a bit too tired to appreciate it, though. They wouldn´t let us sit on the steps or lay down on the huge benches. It was a little odd. After wandering for a bit we went on the bus. Wow. That bus got SOOOO crowded. It was seriously body-holding-body up so that we didn´t fall over. I feel like my personal bubble has greatly diminished. At one point I ended up face-to-face with this guy and that was a bit uncomfortable for me. Always and adventure here.

Thursday we left for Rio at 6:00am, which meant that we needed to leave the house at 5:15 in order to get there by 5:45. The bus ride went from 6 until 3, when we arrived in Rio. Then we were allowed to get out and do whatever. We all went to Copacabana beach, which happens to be only a block away from our hotel room and from the internet cafe I am using right now. That beach is BEAUTIFUL. Wow. Fortunately, I remembered to bring my frisbee, so a bunch of us played Ultimate. That was so much fun for me. I was able to dive for the 1st time. That was a milestone for me.

Today we went to Petrópolis, which was where the Imperial family lived while Brasil was still under Portuguese rule. We went to the palace there and we had to wear these funny slipper things under our shoes. They made it so we were basically sliding around on the floor. Don´t worry, I did some twirls like a figure skater. Then we went around to a couple of different places and saw the house of the man who invented the airplane (no, it wasn´t the Wright brothers). That was something cool that I learned today. We then got stuck in traffic for about 2 1/2-3 hours and now I´m here. I´m so ready to eat!
I wrote this on Monday 2 July.

Sorry it´s been so long! I promise to get pictures up soon, but the computer here is too slow, and I haven´t had time to go up to the Shopping to get internet time there.
Let´s see. Friday I took a nap!! Yay! I´ve not been getting sleep because of the crazy amounts of reading I have to do every day. Oy veh. Then we went to the opera! It was SO great! I loved being able to see such a good performance. It was really funny too. We were in the cheapy top top top top balcony seats, so I couldn´t really see the first Act, but that´s okay. The music was great. The opera was in Italian and the supertitles were in Portuguese, and I was thinking in English. Puxa vida! I was surprised at how much I understood.
Saturday we went to Campus do Jordão. It´s a kind of Swiss town up in the mountains (yes there are mountains) in Brasil. It was beautiful up there. We went up to the very top and you could see for miles! Of course there were a bunch of little shops to rip off all of the tourists there, actually the whole town was a tourist trap, but it was so pretty that it made up for the exorbitant prices. Then when we got down from there we ended up all splitting into groups. It´s been funny because the boys split off from the girls, it´s like we´re in middle school. Seriously. I had a great time with just the girls though.
I ended up spending the whole day with Lauren, Jenny, Diana and Hiedi. Lauren and Jenny both served missions so they were giving me all sorts of advice. Remember to bring handkerchiefs if I go somewhere really warm. I don´t remember when I´ve laughed so hard in my life than with those girls. Really. Our food was so gross at this Italian restaurant we went to. AND they charged us 4 reias per person for this horrible guitar player/singer who was background music. Apparently they like to rip of people at restaurants, because some other people in our group had a similar experience.
Campus is famous for sweaters and chocolate. So I ate some gooood chocolate. Diana kept packing in the sweets. I don´t think she ate anything heathy the whole day. We just laughed at her. Lauren got a bit annoyed because all the food she had the whole day was really disappointing. It was a great day. Although the bus smelled really bad on the way home. That does not bode well for our big road trips...
\n\u003cp\>Sunday church was great. The ward here is amazing. Then we ate lunch and I don´t know what I ate, but I got REALLY sick, and I think the ice cream had some really finely chrushed up nuts in it, so I was both sick and I had an allergic reaction. Don´t worry, I took some Benadryl and everything was under control, but I was really sick the rest of the day. When my Dona found out I was sick she rushed right over and made me some tea for my stomach (she also made some more for today). That woman is a saint, really. I am constantly amazed at the goodness and kindness of the people here.