While Haley and I were stretching out legs on a much needed break from the bicycle built for two, we saw a crowd of people gathering by the Venice Skate Park and decided to check it out. If you are acquainted with my family, you know that my sister has a knack for running into the rich and famous anytime she lands in NY or LA. On this particular occasion, the subject of all the commotion turned out to be Bruce Willis and crew, shooting his new police-chase thriller, Going Under. While we didn't get to actually hear the dialogue, we did get to jump into one scene and cheer on a juggling clown. Check out some shots from behind the scenes:
Since my arrival in Brazil, I have been blessed to be surrounded by some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered. From new colleagues to parents, I have been offered a bounty of services, rides, and advice. The community at PACA is tight-knit and everyone takes care of each other. It is comforting to be so far away from home and yet be welcomed into other families as one of their own. A few weeks after school started, I was invited to go to Parque Ibirapuera with the family of one of my students. Living on campus, any excuse to get off campus is welcome and getting to interact with a student in another setting is always fun!
Parque Ibirapuera is massive. While reminiscent of Central Park, there seemed to be a lot more diversity. There was a marching band (which made me miss college football), an outdoor yoga class, several living statues, various types of trees, a Japanese garden, miles of bike path and several museums.
My summer back in the States flew by, as usual. It was a wonderful time, filled with visits from friends both near and far. Despite the added task of planning a wedding in six weeks (more on that later), I managed to get away for a couple of weekends with my family.
Our first destination was our home away from home, Venice Beach. Over the years, we've seen it grow and change, but many of the people stay the same (i.e. the artist above). This particular weekend was the 4th of July, which meant an extra helping of street performers, free spirits, and...Bruce Willis. Nothing beats a morning of people watching and a breakfast burrito from the Candle Cafe, which you subsequently have to work off with a nice long ride down the beach from Sea Mist Bike Rentals. Haley and I tried out a bicycle built for two but in case you're thinking about getting one for yourself, it is a lot harder than it looks, particularly on a holiday weekend with clueless tourists walking all over the bike path.
Somehow, we made it past the stream of tourists who seemed intent on causing destruction and caught the beginning of the Mr. & Mrs. Muscle Beach competition. The crowd, as is the norm now, was completely focused on the day's activities.
As the weeks ticked down until the end of school, and my travel date, I got more and more restless in the city. So, we packed up the little red fox and headed to Monte Siao, a small town across the border in the state of Minas. They are known for their knit sweaters and hand-crafted pottery. We enjoyed the vibrant blue skies while wandering around town. Best of all, we finally got some real dishes for Felipe's house!
You can find more information on the pottery here at Porcelana Monte Sião.
We drove to Punta Del Este without a plan and were greeted with deep blue skies, intriguing architecture, and empty beaches! If you have the time, there are a number of quaint coastal towns worth stopping at between Montevideo and Punta Del Este. We roughly followed this guide to a Uruguayan road trip and weren't disappointed. Even though many of the restaurants and shops were closed due to the winter season, we still enjoyed a leisurely day at the beach.
On a side note, did you know it´s illegal in the country of Uruguay for a restaurant to provide salt on the table except for at the patron's request? It was passed as a health initiave from the new president because supposedly, when you see the salt, you´re more likely to use it. We still asked for it at every meal.