Oi! (That means hi in Portuguese),
I feel like I have been in outer space for the last week or so, because I have not had wi-fi access. I am not on my computer right now, so I can't post the great pix I've taken. I will do it as soon as I can. When I last posted, I was leaving the Rotary District Conference in Lindoia, a beautiful countryside town in Brazil. We proceeded to ABC, which is a suburb of Sao Paulo. It's called ABC because it is an area consisting of three areas names after saints-Sao Andre, Sao Bernardo and Sao Caetano. It's sort of like the Ark-La-Tex. I was matched with a WONDERFUL host family in Sao Caetano: Sandra, who is a lawyer with her own practice and her great kids, Victor, who's 15 (future NBA player and diplomat; his English is impeccable) and Estela, age 10 who is a cutie pie. I have been staying with them for the last week and they are truly people that I think will be in my life forever. Sandra's parents also hosted another of my teammates, Ariej, and so we spent some time at her parents' house during the week. Her relationship with her mae (pronounced "my", or mother) and pais (pronounced "pie"or father) reminds me of the relationship I have with my parents. Miss you guys. Ma, I'm going to want some gumbo when I get home.-) I also got to see Tais, my first host sister, at a Rotary meeting this week. I have been really lucky to meet and be hosted by some wonderful people who have shown me wonderful Brazilian hospitality!
By the way, Sao Paulo and the surrounding area experience a wicked cold spell last week. It got down into the low 40's. Apparently, this is the coldest snap in 40 years. I guess we brought the cold. It's still pretty cool here. It's weird, because it is winter here, and I'll go home to 90+ degree weather! Gotta love a Louisiana summer!
We visited a number of Rotary meetings and vocations in ABC during last week. On Saturday, Crystal and I went to another state in Brazil, Minas Gerais, to a city called Pocos de Caldas. It was about a four hour drive and it was really fun. We had visited a school earlier in the week called Edouard Gomes, and it is a really great place where kids are encouraged in real-life endeavors. We met with a group of high school students (schools in Brazil are typically K-12) at the school who have started an ONG, or what we would call a non-profit in the States. They were so impressive! Check out their website at http://www.oosfera.jindo.com/ . We traveled to Pocos de Caldas to visit a glass factory with an ONG component and to wander around the city. Visiting a glass factory does not on its face sound very cool, but these were artisans and it was fascinating. The city was beautiful as well, and it was a nice change of pace. Our team leader and other group members made other plans for the day with their host families, but Crys and I decided to go, since it was something new and had already been planned. I'm so glad we went. The kids were great; really trying to practice their English and asking us the cutest questions about American culture. You could tell that they were very excited to have the "Americanos" with them. They know a lot about the NBA and Sex and the City, which is at the same time cool and disturbing!
Today we transferred to Santos, which is a seaside city an hour from Sao Paulo and ABC. Crystal and I are being hosted by Luciana, who was a member of the Brazilian team that we exchanged with. She is showing us a great time! She's got three kids, her daughter Bruni, who is 18 and makes a mean brigadhera, and two sons, Cauan, who is 14 and loves tennis, and Igor, who is ten and sooo cute! She has a beautiful home, and she and Felipe, another Brazil team member have just gotten pizza for us. Brazilian pizza is a work of art!
I will post pix when I can. Thanks for the comments. I am happy to be here, but I miss home and my normal life! We're here for three days and then four days at the beach. Aaahhhhhhh! I am still pinching myself at having been blessed with such a wonderful opportunity. Oh, and I think I speak Portuguese now, too! Thanks for reading, I will post again soon!