Well, almost a week after being home, I finally made it through my Google Reader. Having all those hundreds of blogs unread was really stressing me out. Whew!
Brazil was simply amazing. If it weren’t for missing Tim and Took as much as I did, I may have never left. And I’m truly sorry I wasn’t able to bring you with me as planned, it turned out I had very little internet connection while I was there, and when I did have it, it was verrrrrry slow and irritating. So I ended up taking a vacation from the internet. If you haven’t done that at some point this century, I recommend it highly. It feels good to detach yourself from the interwebs every now and again. I had forgotten there’s a whole world out there in non-digital format! And that world? It was filled with delicious food, warm people, and plenty of sunshine.
I think I came back 20 pounds heavier, though. I had no idea the food would be so good. In fact, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to eat a thing. As far as meat goes, I only eat chicken, and if you don’t already know, South America is very meat-centric. But I was able to get by with consuming plenty of beans and rice, delicious chicken, lots of fresh fruit and juices, and plenty of sweets. As much as I enjoyed every bit of food I put into my mouth, my stomach is happy to be back. My stomach does not like Brazil as much as I do.
The first week there, we held our meetings in a lodge just outside the national park Serra do Cipó, where we are doing some work. It’s ironic we met in such a beautiful setting, because the only time I stepped outside was to go down the river above, and I only did that twice. So as much as I was told to take as many pictures as possible, sadly, you wouldn’t have wanted to see them because they would have been of meetings. But that river above? I swam in it my second day there and was the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I’ve never lived somewhere where the rivers didn’t shock you to death with their cold at first touch and never quite make it to the point where they’re enjoyable. Although not necessarily warm, it was very inviting and comfortable to be in. I had to tear myself away to give a presentation that some people slept through (I was apparently very compelling), and I would have rather had just stayed in the river.
The last day of the meetings, we had a chance to explore the park a bit and it was the best part of my trip. We took a long bumpy 4-wheeled drive deeper into the park and hiked into a waterfall. As much as I enjoyed the river by the lodge, the river at the end of the hike provided me with such bliss, it has now become my happy place in my mind when I need to escape reality. Even though it was colder than the one by the lodge, it was just so….refreshing. I wish I were better with words to be able to describe it’s effect on me, but maybe describing it as my happy place is enough.
I’m sorry, I had no intention of swimming in the river while trying to keep my camera dry, so it was left behind and there are no photos. I’m sorry you can’t see the picture in my head. It would be your happy place, too, if you could. But it was right in the middle of this canyon:
After the meetings ended, we headed to Lagoa Santa where I said goodbye to my American and Bolivian colleagues and stayed behind to spend some time in our Brazilian office. Before continuing working, I had the chance to explore the town of Ouro Preto. Let’s pause for a moment to look at photos of this incredible town:
Founded because of gold, this has to be the most beautiful, historic town I have ever been to. In every direction you turn, there is a church that was built in the late 1700’s and roofs every color imaginable. The city palette and cobblestone streets make you feel like you’re in a storybook. I wish I had been there alone and not with two men. I would’ve spent hours ducking in and out of stores filled with handcrafts, I would’ve sat in a cafe on a corner and watched the people go by. Instead, I was with two men – one a colleague and one a board member – and that didn’t allow for my freedom necessarily. At one point we spent a good hour perusing a museum on the history of Brazilian currency. It was thrilling, let me tell you. Then, about half-way through the day in Ouro Preto, I started to miss Tim tremendously and was ready to leave. I know that sounds ridiculous and bratty, but it was just such a romantic city, it felt wrong to be there with two men that weren’t my husband. I wanted my husband and I to be checking into a bed and breakfast hidden down a sweet side street and wandering the cobblestone streets holding his hands and stealing kisses by blooming flowers. When we finally left, I promised myself I’d be back with Tim and I’d soak in every last bit of that city.
The next few days were spent boringly working in the office (have you noticed yet that I only had that one day off in Ouro Preto, and it was spent with a colleague and board member? That is not a day off in my book, just saying). But I did get to meet this guy:
That guy right there is the world’s biggest rodent (ROUS anyone?), a capybara. And I swear to you, I wanted to bring him right home with me the second I saw him. Poor guy was blind. Usually they’ve very social animals and they run in packs, but I’m assuming this little guy was being shunned because he could no longer see and was a bit elderly from what I could tell. I know there’s no way for you to tell this, but he’s the size of a dog. A medium sized dog, not a little one, and this is where he lives his life:
Not too rough of a life, really. I’m glad they live there and not in the streets and walls like our rodents here do. Could you imagine coming home and seeing that on your counter? Although, if it were me, I’d probably just make it my pet. But I’m a bit strange when it comes to animals. Have you noticed that yet?
Anyway, I know there aren’t very many exciting pictures, and I barely make an appearance in any of them…it was hard to want to bring my camera out when I was so exhausted from working. But you need to trust me when I say you need to go to Brazil as soon as possible. Even though I was working every day I was there, it was still absolutely incredible, and nothing like I thought it would be. I want to go back and spend a month exploring with Tim. Unlike other Latin American countries I have been to, Brazilians don’t make you feel uncomfortable because you’re an American tourist. They welome you with open arms and kisses on the cheeks. They laugh in good nature when you say you don’t speak Portuguese, they don’t get annoyed at you like so many other cultures do. And the food alone is worth going for. I wish I could describe to you what about it makes it so delicious, but I have absolutely no idea. I would love to go back and learn how to cook from a native. I also wish I would have taken pictures of the food to show you. They are very proud of their food and it shows incredibly.
So basically: go now. Go as soon as you can, you won’t regret it. And also? As much as I loved it, it’s nice to be back. I missed you guys.