Tuesday, August 26, 2008

kart racing

i haven't had as much fun on a go-kart since my grandparents brought one home to my sister and me after she made the honor roll in grade school. and she's my older sister. it seems as though kart racing is a prevalent pasttime here, so some of us went to the track after work last thursday. most of the others were terrified of my driving skills since they have never seen me drive here (they think i can't drive). i didn't crash, but i'm not exactly felipe massa either. what a great time... and the socializing afterwards at giovannetti helped wind down after after the adrenaline rush.

pocos de caldas

pocos de caldes is in sao paulo's neighboring state of minas gerais, and i went there this past weekend. it's another one of those small hamlets in brasil where people from sao paulo go for the weekend - how i imagine the US might have been back in the 40s and 50s (people milling around a mountainous town gawking at a sundial, hedges that spell out 'pocos de caldas', and an old school hotel that houses an indoor pool filled with the healing, sulfuric hot waters from pools deep in the bowels of the long-dormant volcano upon which the city is perched). the town even has enclosed bucket cars that take weekenders up to the apex of a mountain on the edge of the city where visitors get an up-close view of cristo redentor (a smaller version of the one in rio). i have seen several of these throughout my travels around brasil, so watch for a future blog with photos of the different versions.

i was invited for lunch in pocos by the family of a colleague, and i discovered mulberries. i believe i can eat my weight in mulberries. but i digress.. pocos has monkeys that eat bananas from your hand, waterfalls by the roadside, and incredible ice cream. however, the region is known for it's cheese - mmm good. hopefully, these types of hamlets can avoid becoming over-commercialized like so many old school US towns from yesteryear.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

some updates

  • i have been in portuguese classes now for a few weeks - 3 x per week - so the language is beginning to take hold
  • i have found that i am most proficient at greeting everyone, wishing people a good weekend, and thanking everyone profusely as these are the words that come to me naturally now
  • they tell me when you start dreaming in another language then you are really learning - well, i guess i'm not quite there yet. seems as though my classes begin too early in the morning for much dreaming about anything
  • i walk everywhere around cambui
  • the dawgs are rated #1 in the states (futbol americano), so i'll catch at least the alabama game while i'm there in september

o casamento de simone e marcello

marcello & simone with andrea & fernando noemi & henrique partaking

simone and marcello got married. on 08/08/08 at 08:08 pm. well, almost. i took a van/short bus to the wedding and reception with some friends (even a few of the wedding party were with us on the bus), but rain and heavy Friday traffic delayed our grand arrival in vinhedo - a hamlet outside campinas. at any rate, simone arrived at the church in a grand, classic white car. the ceremony was complete with movie soundtrack tunes (think score from star wars and lion king tune for entry of flower girl and ring bearer). now that I think about it, the music goes along with the announcement which was in the form of a movie film announcement.

the reception site, lagoa santa rita overlooked a lake (hence lagoa). they really went all out with formal tables set, a huge buffet spread, hired bartenders with specialty drinks just for the occasion, a band, and a huge screen for videos. at some point well into the night, the party favors came out with boas for the ladies, crazy sunglasses, wigs, etc, etc. it was a great time. all the best for marcello and simone!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ilhabela - literally, beautiful island

i decided to take the bus. all the way to the coast to an island called ilhabela. it was an adventure - i took the bus
from campinas (navigated 3 stations), a ferry to ilhabela from sao sebastiao, and accepted a lift to my posada (small hotel) from a great couple i met on the ferry over. it is winter here, but the weather was perfect. the pics speak for themselves on this post. when you come to brasil, make sure you allow time for this trip.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

foods I grew up with...

as luck would have it, I had the best meal since I've been in brazil in lindoia @ a roadside restaurant. the name pururuca is the name of the pork once it is cooked and the whole pig is deep fried. the restaurant also had homemade potato chips like I grew up with. well, i didn't really grow up with the deep fried pork, but it was cooked in vinegar which reminded me of my family's traditional christmas eve meal. Brida was my family's house keeper/nanny/3rd grandmother growing up (btw.. she's still there) - so I was right at home with this comfort food.

now for foods that I didn't grow up with... I went to a churrascaria this week. fogo de chao popularized the idea in the states. the concept is the same, but the meat is better here. typical meats such as picanha are served, but I also tried chicken hearts and a variation of the world's largest rodent (the capybara) which was kinda spicy but tasty.

Friday, July 18, 2008

aguas de lindoia

so I finally left campinas... but only after taking a colleague to the hospital for some sort of rash she picked up. like I was of any help. for example, she is from little rock, arkansas - so when the doctor walked into the waiting room (and I use the term loosely), he called for little rock. he actually thought that was her name. rock-ito is now her name.

once i got away, it was like a good road trip. it was interesting traveling through the region towards minas gerais and experiencing lindoia and aguas de lindoia. the views are great from the 'naked mountain' (no trees for you wandering minds) and there is even a smaller replica of cristo redentor overlooking the little alpine village. huh? yes, there is a european style village in brazil. this region is known for it's queijo minas (cheese) and doces (sweet jam-like spread eaten with said cheese).

learned more portuguese - most notably the difference between apple and pasta) and i picked up yet another language teacher. mariana's uncle and his family were there in aguas, too, and he spoke little to no english. therefore, I had the makings of an interested teacher. definitely the most interesting thing to which he introduced me and the other two guys [rafael and bruno (his son)] - the making of cachaca (used to make caipirinhas). it is one of brazil's most shining accomplished creations (liquor from sugar cane). that, and the radioactive water they insisted I try from -- naturally, aguas de lindoia.