I am reblogging this because I like anything and everything about Brazil!!

Couch Surfing Canadian

Now for a keen observer, online stalker or my mother you will notice a few days were lost between cities, it's fine pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!!

Salvador and the Bahia state have a lot of history. Salvador was the first landing point of Portuguese, therefore it was the centre of the economy because of sugar production and was an area of competition with the Dutch. It was also the focal point for brazilian slavery that has created very high African Brazilian population composing nearly a third of the current population. It currently has less economic power but the experiences of its past are visible in the city and the people.

As you may recall it was a long bus ride to Salvador but my gracious host met me at home and after a shower myself, my host and his roommate went out for drinks and…

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Post-a-day (Dec. 8) – My first memory

The prompt for December 8 was:
What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

I think my earliest memory was of nursery school (what preschool was called in those days). It was my first taste of what I considered injustice. The strength of my emotion – especially embarrassment – is why I remember it.

I had the habit of imitating other children, especially those I admired. This habit got me into trouble sometimes. The teacher was reading a story. At the end of the story, one of the little girls sitting in front of me clapped one time. The teacher told her not to do that, but in the next moment – I couldn’t help myself, I just had to do it too – CLAP!

My punishment was not just a simple talking to. I had to go sit in a corner with my face toward the wall, isolated from the rest of the class. I was mortified! Embarrassed, mad, upset about getting dirty from sitting on the bare floor in my dress, and a little scared, too, because right in front of me was a spider web and in the web was the spider! I didn’t recoil, though, or shout out. I watched it for a minute or two. The spider was still constructing her web – the thread trailed behind her as her feet stepped delicately on the thin strands in front of her. Since then, I have never been afraid of spiders.

I don’t know how long they made me sit there. I only remember how unfair I thought it was that the other little girl clapped and didn’t get punished, but I did. Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances – perhaps that was the only thing she did wrong all day, while I had received several warnings and scoldings. I had trouble letting go of an emotion, but I think what calmed me down that day was watching the spider spin her web.

Post-a-day (Dec. 24) – Interview with an ornament

The prompt was to write an interview with an inanimate object. I am a few days late getting to this, because I’ve been so busy with the holiday! But today I had time for some fun, so here goes:

Reporter: Welcome to our show, Interview of the Week! Now that the Christmas tree has been put up and decorated with all the ornaments, KLB News has chosen one of the ornaments as the tree’s Most Beautiful Ornament 2012.

(Ooohs and aaahs, and a few grumbles, can be heard all around the Christmas tree).

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Reporter: How does it feel to be chosen the Most Beautiful Ornament of 2012?

IMAG0111Ornament: Well, I think there are a lot of beautiful ornaments on this tree, and any of them could have been chosen as the most beautiful.

Reporter: Indeed, it was a difficult choice with so much competition! Even so, are you enjoying being singled out?

Ornament: Well, I have always been happy to do my job for a few weeks each year, adding beauty to this family’s living room, but I consider it a team effort. What about Most Sentimental Ornament? Or Funniest Ornament? Or …

Reporter: Those are great categories for future ornament competitions.  Tell our viewers a little more about your life.

Ornament: Well, I was purchased by the human female of this house a few years ago. She was delighted to add me to the tree. I enjoyed adorning the tree and getting to know a whole lot of new people – er – ornaments, that is! Each of us is unique yet we all have something in common: to add beauty to this Christmas tree and this family’s life for about three weeks a year. This family doesn’t put their tree up early; they usually don’t get around to it until about a week before Christmas. They are busy, you know.

Reporter: How do you feel when you are taken off the tree and put away?

Ornament: Sad, very sad. My box is very comfortable, but I am alone in it and don’t have a chance to chat with my fellow ornaments. Mostly I sleep, which is what ornaments are supposed to do when they are not being used.

Reporter: Where does your family store you?

Ornament: I have my own little box that is put inside a large bin with a bunch of other ornaments. The bin, like all the Christmas decorations in this house, are stored in the basement, in a little room that is quite cold. It’s better than it used to be, though. Some of the ornaments were destroyed when the family stored us in cardboard boxes. Mice got into the storage area and chewed on some of the ornaments! The plastic bins have firm-fitting lids so that never happens anymore.

Reporter: Do you like hanging on an artificial tree or would you prefer a real tree?

Ornament: Well, I have never experienced adorning a real tree, but many of my fellow ornaments have. They said that the family used to get one every year, but then their kids grew up and they didn’t want to deal with all the fallen pine needles. What they said they liked was the wonderful smell of the pine, of being so close to something alive – er – at least recently alive. I would feel sad, though, to watch the tree slowly die. So fresh when it’s first put up, but then slowly it dries up and its needles become brittle. The ornaments didn’t like that part because the dry needles scratched them.

Reporter: I can imagine. I have seen how the freshly fallen trees dry up in heated homes. When my family put the dried up tree outside, it scratched our arms and face.

Ornament: Didn’t you feel sad when that happened?

Reporter: Yes, I did – but mainly because it meant Christmas was really over and we were going back to our normal routine. Meaning, I had to go back to school!

Ornament: Yes, I always feel sentimental when the holiday season is over. Such a beautiful time! And the time when all of us have the chance to shine in all our glory!

Reporter: And be appreciated.

Ornament: Oh, yes, definitely.

Reporter: Well, thanks for talking to me and congratulations on being selected Most Beautiful Ornament 2012!

Ornament: Thank you, it was my pleasure.

Reporter: And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the folks out there. Hope you have enjoyed our show today!

Post-a-day: Living abroad for a year

The prompt was: If you were asked to spend a year living in a different location, where would you choose and why?

Spending a year living elsewhere is something I always dream of, and in fact I have lived abroad before, so this prompt is a bit of a no-brainer for me! Of course I would choose Brazil, which I consider my second home. I speak Portuguese, I have friends there, I know the culture (more or less), I love the food – in other words, I feel comfortable there.

Within Brazil, there are certain areas I would prefer to live. One is Rio, where I have relatives. São Paulo state would be OK too, but not the city of São Paulo.

But my favorite would be Curitiba, farther south. I love that city and its climate. As a fair-skinned North American, I get pegged as a tourist or a foreigner in most areas of Brazil, but in Curitiba, people don’t stare at me or think I’m a tourist because I’m too white. I blend in with the Polish, German and Italian immigrants that settled there a century ago. Also I have dear friends in Curitiba. It is the first Brazilian city I came to know when I spent a summer there in 1971, and I stayed with a family. I have kept in contact with them and know they would welcome and help me in any way.

In the winter, it gets a little cold in Curitiba, though nothing like where I live in the United States. Every couple of decades they may even get a dusting of snow! It feels colder than it really is because people don’t have heat in their homes. It’s too expensive to build a house with heating for just a couple of months a year.

There are beautiful, unusual pine trees in Curitiba and in Paraná state. The scientific name for this tree is “araucaria” but is also known as pinheiro paranaense, because they are native to the state of Parana, of which Curitiba is the capital. Instead of the branches slanting downward to make more or less the shape of a V, the pinheiro paranaense has branches that reach upward, creating the effect of an umbrella turned inside out. These trees are unique and one of my favorite sights in Curitiba.

Pinheiro do ParanáPinheiro do Paraná

"Araucarias" in Curitiba's historical district
“Araucarias” in Curitiba’s historical district

curitiba-garibaldi

Curitiba is a large city of almost 2 million inhabitants, and has the fourth largest economy in Brazil. However, it is very easy to get around due to its integrated public transportation system. In the downtown area, some streets are closed to vehicle traffic, where pedestrians are at leisure to shop, go to a cafe or meet friends. The city also has many beautiful parks.

Partial view of Curitiba's pedestrian mall on Rua das Flores
Partial view of Curitiba’s pedestrian mall on Rua das Flores
You can get just about anywhere in Curitiba using public transportation.
You can get just about anywhere in Curitiba using public transportation.

Curitiba-Biodiversité-urbaine-pacaepinheirosThe animal in the foreground of this picture is a “paca”, a large, peaceful rodent native to South America.

Also, some of the World Cup 2014 games will be played in Curitiba!

curitiba-worldcupposter

Curitiba is definitely a “green” city. Back in the 1970s, a forward thinking mayor, Jaime Lerner, who had studied in the U.S. had a vision for transforming the downtown. As someone who had been to Curitiba before that, and then again after, the transformation was amazing. The efficient bus transportation system, the pedestrian mall, the many parks. Concern for the care of the environment has long been the norm in Curitiba.

If I could spend a year in Curitiba, not only would I be content, but I might seriously consider never coming back home!

Please note none of the pictures above were taken by me. I found them online.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

I took this picture on March 21, way too early for this tree to be blossoming here in Illinois! We had an early spring with temperatures in the 80s in March, and those warm days encouraged plants to bloom. I think this unusual weather was symptomatic of climate change! However, I love the warm weather and could not waste a lunch hour inside on a beautiful day. During my walk, I came upon this tree.

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