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Month: September 2012

São Paulo.

São Paulo.

Day 83

Well it certainly is a big city. From the top of the 37th floor of one of the buildings in Centro we couldn’t see where the skyscrapers ended.

Keia and I arrived at the rodoviária in São Paulo around 6am on Friday.  We took a cab straight to John’s apartment and passed out for a couple of hours before going to explore the city.  São Paulo has a lot of culture, as in museums and galleries, restaurants and nightclubs.  We started out by taking a cab downtown and walking through Pinacoteca (art museum), Estação de Luz (a very old and ornate train station that is still in use), and Museo de Língua Portuguesa.  It felt more like being in a big city in the United States to me.  If you can imagine “Brazil goes to New York” on a slightly more… unorganized, yet equally grandiose level.  We also hit up the Mercado Municipal where we filled up on fruits upon fruits upon fruits.  The vendor just wouldn’t let us walk away without trying one more sweet, exotic piece of produce.  I think I tried a wider variety of fruits in that half hour than I might have in my entire life.  By the time we headed upstairs for an infamous mortadella sandwich, we were all too full to actually eat anything, so we headed back to the apartment by way of MASP (another famous art museum that’ll have to wait until our next trip for a look-around inside).  That night we headed back to Centro to dine at a restaurant near Augusta Street, where we went out later on with some more friends.  The picanha was fabulous and the music at the boate afterward was too.

Day two took us first to the neighborhood of Liberdade.  There is a lot of Japanese culture there, and on weekends there is a market going on in the streets.  We ate some traditional street food and drank some bubble tea before leaving for the Jardins District of SP.  Rua Oscar Freire is known for having some of the most fashionable (and expensive) stores and restaurants in the city.  It is apparent as soon as you step out of the car.  The shoe stores were like a playground (for me and Keia anyway) and I could curl up in the café of any one of the bookstores for hours if I had the chance.  We walked around until just before sunset, and on the way home we stopped at Hotel Unique (pronounced in Portuguese “Oo-ni-key”) to go up to the rooftop bar and get another view of the city.  The hotel was luxurious, and designed by someone famous whose name I can’t remember amongst all of the other famous architects’ works we encountered.  It was a day of sights, not like the amazing natural wonders we have here in Rio, but a different kind of man-made elegance.  We headed back to the apartment and ordered pizza for dinner (with tomato sauce!) while we got ready for the party that night.  John’s friends trickled in as the night went on, and we got to meet a lot of people from all over the world who are now living in SP.  It is something Keia and I have to consider as we start the great job hunt.  There is a demand for engineers here in Brazil, and after taking the time to learn the language, the opportunities seem endless if we’re brave enough to take advantage of them.  It’ll be interesting to see what this next year brings.

Sunday we woke up late and caught the bus back to Rio.  It’s about a 6 hour drive, so we were home in enough time to unpack and settle back in to life before this week was officially underway.  It’s going to be a really busy one with all the schoolwork we have coming up and the English classes we’ll be starting to teach.  I’ll do my best to stay updated though.

Love,

Molly

Parabéns!

Parabéns!

Day 78

My word, it was hot today! Up to 39 degrees Centigrade, which- if you translate it the easy way- comes out to 108 degrees Fahrenheit, or- if you translate it Dad’s more accurate way- is 102.2 degrees (and turns out to be exact).  Everyone says that Summer is on it’s way, which worries me because if it has yet to truly arrive we are going to be miserable in this un-air conditioned room on the third floor for the next couple of months.  So far it’s not quite as humid as I remember Florida being, mas gente, vai.

More breaking news this week: the banks (at least in Rio, not sure about all of Brazil) are now on strike!  We can still pull money out of the ATM’s, and I now have a CPF so it shouldn’t really affect us to much, but it was pretty funny when we heard and Silvana looked up only to ask, “De novo?” (“Again?”).

Lately, some things are starting to be easier to say in Portuguese than in English.  Keia made a promise that started today- she won’t be speaking any English (even on her blog) except with her parents for the next month (when her parents will arrive here in Rio).  Everywhere we read and hear about learning languages says that if you really want to make it to that next level, to fluency, it is necessary to go that extra step and speak nothing but the language you are trying to learn. I’m up for doing it with her; it’s easier to stay in Portuguese when the two of us are on the same page, but don’t worry, friends you can still Skype me too.  Now that we’re busier with school and don’t see some of our other exchange student friends as much, we’re speaking less English as well.  Another exception we’ll have to this no English rule in the coming weeks is rather exciting.  A friend I met over the weekend has an English school here in Rio geared specifically toward pilots who need to pass an English exam.  His business has expanded to include classes for Flight Attendants and also those who need to learn English for business purposes.  He was looking for more teachers as a few of his will be leaving in the coming weeks, so Keia and I offered, and it looks like we’ve got the job and a way to earn a little spending money for the rest of our stay!  We’ll plan out our first classes after we get back from São Paulo this weekend, and hopefully we’ll start next week.

Last night in the pousada was Fabio’s birthday!  Upstairs we had a little party for him with salgados, some of the neighbors, and a whoooole lot of cake.  They sing some really fun songs for birthdays here that I need to learn (and which include lots of clapping).  I included some pictures down below.

Have a good night!

Molly

My Life!

My Life!

Day 75

This was just one of those weekends, where everything I did in a day made me seriously take a look and my life and left me in disbelief that it’s real!  Friday night we had another “Girls’ Night” at Amanda and Luciana’s apartment.  Amanda made an absolutely delicious stroganoff and we all sat around eating and drinking and talking for a couple of hours before meeting the gang in Lapa.   It was a relatively early night (a.k.a we got back to the house by about 330am), since we knew we wanted to hike Trilha Dois Irmãos (“Two Brothers Trail” which leads to the twin peaks of the mountains at the end of Ipanema) in the morning.  My roommate, Silvana, and I woke up and went to meet the group in front of the ponto policial at the entrance to the pacified favela named Vidigal.  The trail starts at the very top of the favela, so we took “moto-taxis” (which are pretty much exactly what they sound like- little taxi motorbikes- and a LOT of fun) all the way up and started the hike.  There were about 10-15 people in our group, most of them from CS and unfamiliar to me.  There were a couple of really great vistas before we reached the top, and the hike was a fairly quick one- maybe an hour to summit.  When we finished there was an amazing 360 degree view of Rio.  It’s not the highest point from which to see everything, but I think it was my favorite view so far.  On one side was the coast and the city, where the density of people is so obvious and you can pick out all of the familiar sites; on the other side just the great expansive ocean with boats and beautiful little islands dotting the water.  Without stopping to take pictures all the way down, it probably took half the tip to get back to the beginning of the trail.  I was on a tight schedule to meet up with John (the UVA grad now working for Google in São Paulo), so I took a wild taxi ride to Lagoa to meet him.  I have never heard music quite like that in my life.. and I’m not sure I want to again.

John and the group all arrived at the lake within about 10 minutes of each other, and Marquinhos with his boat was ready and waiting to take us out wakeboarding.  I used to wakeboard every summer at camp, but it’s been about 5 years so I was fairly nervous.  It took me about 3 starts to get up and back into it, and man! It is a workout like I did not remember.  After about 5 minutes of being toted around behind the boat I was exhausted, but it was still as insanely fun as I remember.  John and his friends were all getting some insane height by the time we left and the sun was setting.  It was pretty neat to see Rio from the inside of Lagoa, which is pretty surrounded by all of the biggest mountains in the area.  We walked to Ipanema and sat on the beach with a caipirinha afterwards, before going home to get washed up and head to Joe’s new apartment for a “house-warming party.”  We left Joe’s early to go to a “boate” in Barra da Tijuca- yes, that place that’s pretty and has some cool stuff but is really far away- which was fun but not quite enough for it to be more than just a one-time thing.

There were a lot of festivities going on this morning: fairs, and markets, and performances, and musicians, but I just spent the day my favorite way to pass Sundays- relaxing on the beach with friends.  Afterward we ate the first pizza I have had here with tomato sauce on it!  It was at… get ready this is anti-climactic: Dominoes!  I was happy anyway, plus Keia and I split a delightful and doce (sweet) tapioca on the way home for dessert.  I hear the pizza in São Paulo is wonderful and inexpensive, and I can’t wait to try it next week!  John invited us to come and stay at his place making it the perfect opportunity to see the city, which we really should do at least once while we’re here.  We’ll leave by bus on Friday, and it’s about a 6-7 hour drive. I still want to do a lot of traveling here, but transportation gets expensive and there is some schoolwork to be done, so I’m not sure where else we’ll go before December comes.

We’ve gotten into a rhythm with classes, so I haven’t written much about school, but our Capstone project is moving along, we have a lot of reading to do, and the next two weeks will be much more intense.  We have a project due and our first official exam the first week of October.  Since we’re learning queueing theory, I collected data at a little (and very busy) French bakery in Copacabana.  It’s tough, collecting my own data and not knowing exactly how I’m going to use it yet, but I’m going back in the morning to collect some more.  Also, I just realized I left this out for the last couple of weeks: *NEWS FLASH* THE STRIKE HAS ENDED!  Not that it really matters or applies to us anymore, and because it still wasn’t on the exact terms the professors want, but a technicality, there will likely be another strike next year.  Anyway, Friday I spent the entire day at Fundão (in the now open library), finally really sitting down and studying.  Being in a library felt really nice.  Tomorrow too I’ll head to ENCE before our night class to study some more.  Yesssss, I am still a giant nerd.  I also started the job search (at least on CAVlink- UVA’s main job posting board), and although I still don’t know what I want to do after graduation or where I want to live, everyone at UVA will be interviewing soon and it is exciting to think about.  As is the fact that Charles officially booked a ticket to come see me!  He’ll be here just before my mom gets here in October, during the Fall Break at UVA.  We booked a place for the week in Ipanema and another in Santa Teresa for a couple of days, and I’m so excited to see him!  For now, I’m going to turn in for the night 🙂

Molly

A quick summary:

A quick summary:

Day 70

I promised I would write a little bit more about our recent trip to Búzios, so here goes:  Our plan got put together fairly last minute, and last Friday (Sept. 7) was Brazil’s Independence Day, so everyone was on vacation and traveling at the same time.  We managed to book a bus out of Rio for Friday afternoon, only to discover that the one thing that actually runs on time in Brazil are the buses.  We missed the 3:04, but managed to get put on the 5 o’clock to Búzios and arrived at the hostel around 8pm.  Since we were running late, the hostel had booked over us and ended up putting us in a pousada across the street, which I think turned out to be even better.  We got ready and took a van to the center of the town (which work the same way they do in Rio- hooray for vans saving us everywhere!)  which is on one of the main beaches along with all of the shops, restaurants, and clubs gathered together within a few blocks.

Since we got in at night it was a little difficult to make out the lay of the land, but in the morning Dad and I got up, had breakfast, and got out to take a walk to Praia de Geribá.  We spent some time exploring the rock outcroppings and taking in the ocean before the others joined us and we went back to Centro to figure out how to spend the day.  From the center up to the horn of Búzios there are little beaches tucked away on the shore.  Most of them are very quaint, some are little harbors, and all of them are beautiful.  Our friends took a water taxi up to Praia de Azeidinha while Dad and I walked the path through all of the beaches from Praia de Canto up to them and stopped for lunch on the way.  That night Daddy stayed in and the rest of the group checked out David Guetta’s famous nightclub named Privilége.  The entire weekend I kind of felt like a movie star because Búzios just seems like it is probably one of those places Hollywood stars are pictured in bikinis on vacation in the tabloids.

On Sunday our bus back to Rio wasn’t scheduled to leave until 8:30pm, so we packed up for a day at the beach. Dad and I had bought tickets for a boat cruise the day before.  We left the dock at Centro in the early afternoon and spent a couple of hours riding around to the different islands and beaches and riding the slide into the water off of the back of the boat!  The coast is windy and there are more mosquitoes than it seems like there are in Rio.  I was surprised at the vegetation too, which was desert-like, rocky and dotted with cacti and all.  Of course we were particularly early to catch the bus home, which ended up leaving an hour late and taking two extra hours in traffic to arrive back in Rio.  The city bus from the rodoviária (bus terminal) only had standing space, and with all of our bags, exhausted at 2:30 in the morning it made for quite the wild ride back to Copacabana.

Yesterday, Daddy packed up his bags and we spent one last afternoon together on the beach.  Ribamar made us an Amazonian breakfast of fried bananas with cinnamon and toasted sandwiches with the bananas and egg (and maybe cheese?) on it.  Delicious.  I’ll be doing my best to get back into my cooking and exercising routine… until Mom comes to visit next month!  It was difficult adjusting back to having class and realizing all the work I need to do in these next few weeks.  Tomorrow will be a day for cracking down and getting back to “real life.”  We’ll see how that goes…

Molly

Búzios = Paradise

Búzios = Paradise

Day 69

We made it back from Búzios, and it’s Dad’s last day here in Brazil.  He flies out tonight around 10pm, so we’re going to go enjoy the beach one last time before he leaves.  Here are some pictures from our “feriado” (vacation).  I’ll update you all on the rest of the trip later on this afternoon or tomorrow.

Love,

Molly & Johnny

Aaaaand they’re off!

Aaaaand they’re off!

Day 66

The week has been a busy one.  Every morning Dad and I wake up and have a leisurely breakfast together before letting the craziness of the day take over.  Monday I had class late at night, so we spent the day in Santa Teresa exploring the neighborhood and visiting the couple of museums there are up on the hill.  Unfortunately, only Chácara do Céu was open, but it’s neighboring museum, Parque das Ruinas, was not.  Wednesday seems to be the “Day of All Museums” as they’re all open then and usually free, but Mondays and Tuesdays are hit or miss in my experience.  The views from up there are always stunning, and we walked back from Santa Teresa toward ENCE by way of a path we had never discovered before and that had monkeys running along the telephone wires on the way down!

Tuesday, I went back to ENCE in the morning for class, and when I got back the day had turned cloudy so Dad and I decided to go explore all of the neat buildings in Centro a little bit and head to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niterói (Contemporary Art Museum in the city across the bay).  I had never been to the other side of the bay, so we took the ferry over around 3pm, walked around the museum, had a coffee in the stunning little restaurant underneath it and found a place near the beach in Niterói for dinner.  A huge number of people who live in Niterói (the ferries accommodate 900 people sitting and 400 people standing on each one) commute across the bay to Rio every day, and it just seems like it would be such an odd thing for your daily commute to include a boat ride!

Dad brought with him on this trip a lot of the information about the Brazilian side of the Kampmann family, so after dinner we made a few phone calls and actually got to speak with one of our relatives still living in the southern part of Brazil.  The phone call fell through about 5 minutes in, but that was enough to explain who I was and get an email address. Man, talking to someone who is related to you, and yet does not even speak the same language is quite an interesting experience.  Dad and I were planning a trip earlier in the week to Foz do Iguaçu to see the waterfall from the Brazilian side and potentially visit whatever family we have whom we could contact in the area.  Unfortunately, air fares went up and we didn’t hear back from any relatives in time to make it work out, but I think it is something that will definitely happen in the future.  In the mean time, Dad and I spent another day walking the entire beach, getting CPFs (a Brazilian identification number, essentially), and planning a trip to Búzios for this weekend with about 6 of my friends instead.  Tomorrow (now today, Sept. 7) is Brazilian Independence Day, so no one has classes or work and a lot of people are traveling to take advantage of the long weekend.  I’m sure we’ll have a lot more photos when we get back.  The crystal clear water in Búzios is supposed to be utterly breathtaking, and I hear there is some good nightlife as well.  We’ll see how well Dad hangs in there, so far he’s been doing great!  I think he would stay for a lot longer if he could..

Love to all, Molly

Forces to be reckoned with

Forces to be reckoned with

allllllllmost Day 62

I figured I better not go too long without an update, because Dad and I have done quite a lot of activities since he got here just two days ago!  For the most part, the pictures speak for themselves, but I’ll give a quick rundown of what we’ve been up to.

First of all, Dona Maria and Ribamar have been really cute about making sure there is fresh fruit in cut up in the fridge and place settings in the dining room for Dad to have breakfast.  We’ve been getting up around 9 or 10, having something to eat together upstairs and then leaving for adventures around 11 or 12.  I had heard of a way to hike up to the Christ statue on Corcovado, and since I’d already been there by way of guided tour, I thought a trek up the mountain would be a better way to see the monument.  Saturday Dad and I took the metro and his first real Rio bus ride to Parque Lage where the trail begins.  Parque Lage is near Jardim Botânico and nearly like another botanical garden itself.  It evidently used to be a man’s property and mansion, which he made into an art school and park for public use.  The weather was absolutely beautiful on Saturday, so there were birthday parties for 6 year-olds and young families all over the place.  The old mansion has a little cafe inside that serves brunch and some student artwork was up in the gallery.  We could peer into a couple of the classrooms and see the art supply shop.  It really made me want to do some art again, maybe even take a class there while I’m here.  The hike itself started inside Parque Lage and pretty much ran nearly two miles up in the sky.  The first half was steep, but rather leisurely compared to the second half.  Getting to the top really felt like an accomplishment by the time we made it past the bonde tracks and were standing at the foot of the statue looking out over all of Rio de Janeiro.  We took our time and took more pictures before trying to figure out how to get back down the hill without resorting to going down the way we came.  That was when things got really Brazilian.  The parking lot attendant told us that all of the taxis up top were occupied waiting for specific return passengers and that the train would cost and still only just bring us to the bottom of the hill.  Then he offered us a ride for R$60 all the way to Copacabana, and while I’m pretty sure he would have done it for R$40 if I had been on my toes, we took the deal and settled in for the ride of our lives.  I thought the bus drivers were scary before I met this guy.  We made it home safely though, showered up and went out to dinner at a little restaurant down the street in Copa with Kevin, Joe, and Keia.  I don’t know if it’s just Dad being here, but all the food we’ve eaten has been a lot better than what I remember of the first two months.  After dinner was Luciana’s first performance with her band at a bar in Catete.  We went to support and have fun and even though it was a little louder and lasted a lot longer than I had expected, Dad hung in there and Luciana sounded awesome!

As Sundays are still the beach day of all beach days, we naturally went to Ipanema (posto 9 of course) and spent the day with my friends relaxing and enjoying the surf.  The water was freeeeezing, but the body surfing was worth it.  We just don’t get waves like that on the Gulf Coast.  We walked through both the “Hippie Fair” (in Ipanema, sells art and things) and the Sunday fair (in Copa, sells food) and had another really great meal near the pousada. Tomorrow I don’t have class until around 8:30pm, so we’re planning to go explore Santa Teresa and the couple of parks there that I haven’t gotten a chance to go inside yet.  The weather is supposed to stay good, and hopefully it does for the rest of the week because we’re trying to plan a trip either to the falls at Iguaçu or Búzios for next weekend.  Sept. 7 is Brazil’s independence day, so we’ll have off of school and everyone is on vacation.   I think Dad is ready to settle down and stay in Rio for a while, he’s been enjoying it so much.  If anyone else is up for a visit, I’d be glad to host you!  Ribamar said all I need to do is learn a little bit of French and Spanish and I’m ready to be a regular “guia brasileira do Rio” (Brazilian tour guide of Rio).

Love,
Molly

The Daddy Has Landed.

The Daddy Has Landed.

Day 59

I can’t believe he’s actually here!  Dad arrived in Rio safe and sound this morning around 10am.  I took the bus to meet him, and everything worked out absolutely perfectly finding him at the airport.  I was running about an hour late, but there are some things you can count on in Brazil, and so his plane was running about an hour late as well.  We took the bus back and stopped for a really delicious lunch at a restaurant on my street and near the beachfront I had never tried before.  Afterward we went to the pousada and got Dad all settled in.  I cannot BELIEVE the number of goodies he brought me!   I’m telling you though, four jars of peanut butter, full packages of crackers, three jars of salsa, he had to have cleared out the Clif Bar aisle at the grocery store, a new laptop battery, a scientific calculator older than I am, chocolates, things my mom sent along too and the list goes on- what more could a girl want?  We spent the afternoon walking the beach from Copacabana to the end of Ipanema and back (almost 7 miles!).  We drank coconut milk (which neither of us really like very much, but it just seemed like the right thing to do) and watched the sunset from Arpoador.  We got dinner at a quilo restaurant and talked with family back home.  Dad had a long trip, so we’re taking it easy tonight and planning on an early walk on the beach after breakfast then lunch with some of my friends and a hike in the afternoon before Luciana’s band performs tomorrow night.

After Keia and I helped Joe move last week (to a secluded and awesome little apartment with two really nice roommates), we walked around the “Hippie Fair” that happens every Sunday near the metro station in Ipanema.  The artwork at these fairs is incredible.  I bought a tiny little painting from a older vendor who just adored Keia and myself and talking with us.  I think I even ended up paying  more than the old man asked since he couldn’t make change, but it didn’t matter because it was worth it just to meet him.  There was also a kid’s samba block performing their routine on the street corner across from the fair.  I’m always amazed when dancers and other performers remember such long, intricate routines like that.  On Tuesday we went to a party where the live band played samba music for the first half of the show, and for the first time I felt like I could really samba!  It really is a good workout, but once the move clicks I can see why it is so much fun.

Thursday morning we had another meeting with Professor Orlando at UFRJ about our project.  We presented our project from last semester and some of the more recent research we’ve done to support the new direction of our project to his group of Masters’ Degree students… in Portuguese!  Everyone was really impressed, and for the last couple of weeks I feel like my speaking skills are really improving again!  I’ll probably reach another plateau, but for now I’m just trying to continue to speak as much as possible in Portuguese.  I think it has helped that some new people moved into the pousada with whom Keia, our roommates, and I are becoming fast friends.  We have another little group here now that gels really well, and it is a lot of fun to just go out for a couple of drinks at the bar around the corner or a party nearby and come home all together.

Still looking for a library, or at least a semi-quiet place with internet nearby to get some real work done.  I haven’t really accomplished much studying at all since I’ve gotten here, and it’s tough to make myself with deadlines so far away and so many other interesting things to do.  I think our classes at ENCE are going to be tough, but maybe the most useful topics in our whole Systems Engineering curriculum.  I’m also starting to scan the job postings on cavlink because the realization that I’m still a 4th year, even though I’m not at UVA, just hit me recently.  Days pass slowly here a lot of the time, but life is moving at one hell of a pace.

Molly