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.

The Royal Flush @ BSR Cable Park

Over the summer, you might have seen this epic video circling the internet. It features masses of cool hipster types flying through the air into an emerald pond. I was surprised to learn that not only was something so cool in Texas, it was just down the street from Baylor, at BSR Cable Park. As my birthday is smack dab in the hottest of Texas months, I knew that this was where we would celebrate!

I expected to see a stereotypical water park when we pulled in. But, what we saw was more of a water wonderland. The main attraction of the park is a large lake with cables strung around that pull wake boarders around and over jumps without the use of a boat. I'm not much into water sports so perhaps this thing is common but it seemed so cool! There was a smaller pond for those who were less experienced to get in some practice before heading out into the big waters.

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The only negative part of our experience was the entrance fee payment. It was a rather complicated process that was not clearly marked and involved the internet, which was sparse. Before being allowed to pay the entrance fee, you have to fill out and submit a waver via the website. However, it was difficult to get connected out there. There was a paper option but that involved waiting in a long line with everyone else who was looking to rent other equipment as well. So, fill out the waiver before you go!

We opted for the package that included access to the lazy river (single and double floats provided free of charge). This lazy river was the definition of lazy, as in barely moving, but with a free afternoon and no plans, it provided welcome relief from the Royal Flush.

From the edge of the pond, the slides of the Royal flush don't look too daunting.The Royal flush has three different sized slides ranging from a dip in the water to an atomic explosion.

Haley and I chose the middle slide for starters. From up above, the slide takes on a bit of a different look. Let me just say that you get some SERIOUS air. With a massive line of people watching, water rushing in your face, and an inability to see what was coming next,  it was rather hard to concentrate on a proper landing and it was painful! On our second round, we built up courage to fly down the middle but gathered some advice from more seasoned sliders before we hit the slope. Though still inducing slight pain that did last for several hours, it was much better than the previous run. (Action shots of Haley and I courtesy of Debbie).

Though may slide-goers seemed to think that flying downhill at breakneck speeds with technology attached was a good idea, we heard countless stories of GoPro selfie sticks and brand new Apple watches resting at the bottom of the lake. One genius, though, had the brilliant idea to secure his selfie stick into a pool noodle so that in the inevitable event of a water crash, he hadn't lost his self indulgent footage. If you're into that sort of thing, it seemed like a good idea.

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Next time you find yourself in the midst of a sweltering hot Texas summer, I would highly recommend a trip to BSR Cable park for a cool off. You can even rent a cabin, lakeside, to be first out on the water in the morning.

Mardi Gras World | New Orleans | Louisiana

Since we hadn't been to New Orleans since we were little kids, Haley and I decided to head to one of the most touristy places in the city: Mardi Gras World. Normally I avoid places that involve organized tours but in this particular instance, it was really interesting to not only see the giant, colorful floats but also get a behind-the-scenes look at the artists at work!

After viewing the prop masters at work, we headed off to the warehouse to view some of the previous years' props and floats. Haley had a talent for mimicking the poses of some of our favorites!

New Orleans | Louisiana

Shortly after returning from our Californian adventure, Haley and I took off for a week to a place we hadn't visited since our childhood: New Orleans. The architecture. The music. The food. Oh my goodness, the food. We had a fabulous time exploring the Big Easy!