Protesting The President

For those of you not up-to-date on Brazilian politics, the economic situation here is not good and came about rather recently, mostly due to the election and subsequent re-election of President Dilma Rousseff. Many people here are not happy with her performance as leader. And, what do people do when they disagree with those in power? Stage a protest. This is not, however, intended to be a rant about all of the things that could be done differently, but rather a snapshot behind the political lines here.

As we emerged from the metro onto Avenida Paulista with thousands of other protesters, the first thing that struck me was the atmosphere. Compared to what I have read over the last year about all of the protests going on across America, and the violence and calamity that ensue, I was surprised to see that this protest was not only peaceful but felt almost like a massive block party. If there is one thing that Brazilians know how to do well, it's throw a party. They are never short of loud music and this day, was no exception.

Brazilians take a lot of pride in their country. Generally, when I travel and people learn that I am American, I frequently get questions about American pride and why we have so many darn flags around. But, after living here for a year and a half, I'd say that Brazilians have an equal amount of love for their home. I chose to post images in black and white to put focus on the action taking place, but, were they in color, the bright yellow and green apparel would be exuding Brazilian pride. The sign below reads "Out with Dilma! I want my Brazil back!"

When we had had enough of the crowd for our liking and were trying to make our way down to the next subway stop, I got stuck in the above crowd, next to the above policeman. The police in Brazil tend to strike a bit of fear in the general, law-abiding public and are known for their "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality. With the crime rate here, it's understandable but that's a post for another time. If you look three shots up, you'll see that each police woman's hand is near her weapon. That's just how it is here. Now, imagine being pushed along by a crowd without your feet even touching the ground, trying to keep your head upright while simultaneously avoiding an accidental graze of the gun of the officer in front of you. Ya, stressful.

As a foreigner, some people have told me that Brazilian politics are none of my business but as I will soon be married to a Brazilian and my future children will be half-Brazilian, I do believe that it is appropriate to take an interest in what is going on, to some degree, for them. I am not and will never be Brazilian by blood, but I do hope to one day see Brazil rise up and meet it's potential.

Paranapiacaba | Brazil

To celebrate my return from the States, Felipe and I returned to Paranapiacaba for a day-hike through the lush surroundings. We chose to go on a professionally-guided hike this time; the schedules can be found here, on the Ecotour site.

Since our arrival in the morning, we had noticed several couples wandering around in rather, non-traditional, attire. Since Paranapiacaba is a well-known spot for engagement and wedding pictures, we didn't think anything of it. But, when we returned from the hike, it was like stepping into the twilight zone. Turns out, it was Steamcon 2015.

Parque Ibirapuera | São Paulo | Brazil

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.

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Monte Sião | Brazil

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.

Paraty | Brazil

Before moving to Brazil, I found a blog called tourist2townie, on which Gareth Leonard documents his travels around South America, primarily within Brazil. Once I saw his brief glimpse of Paraty, I knew I had to go there! With a long weekend for Easter, Felipe and I loaded up the little red Fox and headed up the coast.

I would highly recommend finding a local Airbnb and staying just outside of the historical area and meandering your way around the cobblestone streets. I was most excited about stumbling upon Shambhala Asian Day Spa and had what was the most authentic Indonesian massage outside of Indonesia I've tried yet! We only had two days in which we decided to just explore the city but next time, we're on for a boat trip!