Well, it has been a busy couple of days. We were able to sleep in yesterday and got started around 11. We went to the "shoppings", as Brazilians call it. There is a wonderful market with fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, seafood, and anything else you can imagine. We had a great lunch there. I had something called a pastel camaraio rei, which is basically a really good shrimp Hot Pocket. The food here is amazing, and I plan an upcoming post just on that. I am a foodie and am in heaven with all the new flavors. After the market, we went to Rue 25 Marco, which is a street with lots of shops with everything imaginable. Some say love is the international language, maybe so. Some say music, which I wouldn't argue with. But the real international language is shopping. My Portuguese is, shall we say, "developing", but I have had no problem communicating in that realm!
After the shoppings, we prepared to attend an induction of a new club in Sao Paulo. I thought it would be a nice little dinner and speech and whatnot. Again, Rotarians love to get their party on! This was a formal event with white glove service and every imaginable luxury. We met many nice people, including my host Tais' father, who is a longtime Rotarian, and Daniela Kaidei, a woman whos father was a longtime Rotarian with the strong desire to start this particular club. Unfortunately, he passed away two years ago, but her mother decided to continue the vision and is a founding member of this club. I have attached pictures of these two beautiful women. Daniela is a mechanical engineer with Novartis and travels the world. She's got a beach house near Santos and has invited us to visit while we are there. Sweet!
We began today with the Rotary meeting of my host, Tais. This club is all female except for two men, and everyone is a professional at the top of her game. Tais is the incoming President, and there are many lawyers, two designers, an architect a painter, a teacher and other business owners. It was impressive to say the least. See those pix as well.
We continued to a beautiful church, where we were able to get our rosary beads blessed by the priest. I have some pix from there, so there is proof that the roof doesn't fall in when I walk into a church. I am a good Catholic girl! Also, we took a few snaps inside (as were other people), and got a sort of stern talking-to by an elderly Brazilian lady. Since she was speaking Portuguese and we are still learning, we think we got cussed out and prayed for at the same time. Go figure. We also visited the Sao Paulo Museum of Art briefly, but we will return there on Tuesday to see a Brazilian orchestra. We saw the work of a wonderful artist, Vik Muniz, who is my new favorite.
After a great lunch at a bakery (where they weigh your plate and charged based on that. Tell me if THAT's not a wake-up call), we went to GRAACC (pronounced gra-key), which is the St. Jude's of Brazil. It is a hospital for children with cancer. I have to say that I had to prepare myself, because I am a softie when it comes to children, and sick children can break your heart. Especially since I have a young niece and an arriving nephew, and I would not want them to have any suffering like that in their lives. But this was a wonderful, cheerful place. They have a 70-80% cure rate, and it is a well-run hospital. The surprising thing is that it is run mainly by volunteers at al levels. It was started 18 years as the dream of Dr. Petrilli, who we met, and for whom this work is a passion. I am always inspired by people like that, and it confirms for me that the decision I made to change course career-wise was the right one, no matter how scary it was. Sometimes you just have to step out on faith. When I let go and let God, I got a great job and am in Brazil. We met the Development Director, who gave us some amazing stats and some great ideas. I am including pix of Dr. Petrilli and the volunteers who run the hospital, including Maria, a lawyer (Brazil has a ton of lawyers!) who has been volunteering there for 16 years.
Tonight is Tais' 30th birthday, so I may go with her and Renato and family for pizza. If not, I will collapse shortly and talk to all of you later. However, I want to end this post with a quote from Vik Muniz that touched my heart: "The brain doesn't pluck its ideas from the flowerbed of idleness. It is above all through the interaction with material, through work, through effort, and ultimately through failure that we nourish our source of ideas."