Friday, April 24, 2009


AAAAAAAAAAHHH! I am just thinking of how it is going to be like to return to "reality". It's going to be so weird. I think it is safe to say that returning is going to be more of a shock than coming here. I'm trying just to focus on the "moment" now but the thought that in nearly two and a half months I will be on a plane flying back keeps finding a way to creep up on me. And airports to me are pretty much the same everywhere, so when I get to Canada is it really going to feel like it or is it just going to feel oddly like I am still in Brasil? Will the transition not be drastic enough? Will I wake up in my bed at night expecting to hear the comforting sound of the wolf hound sleeping outside my window? Or expect to see a ghekko on the wall spying on me while I watch T.V? Or the familiar sound of the bedroom door creaking open as my host mom wakes me to eat breakfast? I don't know. It seems that everything that used to be strange and foreign has now transformed to become familiar, secure. Maybe it's going to be like waking up from a very long, very intense dream. A dream that I will try to make last for as long as I can, but never quite be able to venture back to in the same way again. But life changes and I (you as well) just have to learn to live with the uncertainty of it, embracing that each moment is a new one. Remembering that with change there are most likely growing pains and everything may not be perfectly beautiful, not all butterflies are, but the important thing is what you learned in the end; how to fly.

Photo: A picture I took of a butterfly on a stranger's arm at the Foz do Iguaçu.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Canadian Goose Went South!

Wow, it has been a while, first I need to start by saying:

HAPPY EASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got back from a trip to the South of Brasil! I visited many different cities, even some other countries, not to mention met a lot of other exchange students. The photo above is of me and my friends from Mexico, France, Germany, and the United States! Down in the south, Easter is a really big deal because there is a large European influence so that is why we are "bunnified". They also make chocolate in the south which I had the pleasure of going to one of the factories. Where I got free chocolate and got to see the largest chocolate bunny in the world.
I got to visit the "Foz do Iguaçu" which are HUGE waterfalls that connect Brasil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Because of this I got to go to both Paraguay and Argentina!

There are five million people in Paraguay, the majority of which have a standard of living below the middle class. As soon as we crossed the bridge over the large river that seperates it from Brasil, I could definately see how Paraguay was uniquely different from Brasil. It had a dusty street-vender feel with markets lining the roads. Paraguay is known for its low prices and actually its "fakes" (for example a puma purse that isn't a real puma purse). Walking down the street many people approached me trying to convince me to buy socks. That's right, socks. Everywhere I went. They weren't even the hardcore kind of socks, they were ankle socks. My question was, why would a tourist's first need be to buy a pair of nike socks, especially in the blistering heat? And when they were wearing flipflops. Well apparentally there had to be some reason because it won some other exchange students over. The funny thing is, I had thought that I had wanted to buy "a cultural item" of Paraguay. Looking back now I realize that "the cultural item" would have to be a pair of socks. I just thought it was funny, but it's okay, I like socks. I am a sock person. I even have some fuzzy ones. Maybe I should have bought some...hmmm.
We just shopped in Paraguay and I guess I must have been a little overwhelmed by all the stuff because all I ended up buying was lipgloss. Even though it came in a bag that said "keychain, made in Korea". Kids at school were dumbfounded that I didn't buy more, they must think I am crazy or something for not giving into the deals down there. What can I say, I guess I am just not the biggest shopper.

So that was Paraguay. In Argentina we went and saw the waterfalls of course. Then we did some more shopping. It was duty free. Again I just bought some make-up (eyeliner) and some skiddles. There was a store that had American candy that you can't get here. So that was nice to have a familiar taste in my mouth. You know, taste the rainbow. Oh that reminds me, at all the waterfalls we went to there were beautiful rainbows where the water crashed, along with many butterflies. Oh and there were also these vultures that circle the top of the waterfalls to watch for when an animal falls over so they can dive down and get the dead meat. There were also these rodent things that were common in the area. They remind me a little of raccoons. they are not afriad of people and know how to work the tourists. They will steal the food out of your hands, that is all I have to say. :)

We also went on a Safari where at the end we got into boats until we came to the meeting of all the falls and then went underneath them! At one moment I was on the side of Argentina and the next I was back in Brasil. The water was colder than you'd think, but I dried quickly. It was an amazing experience, so refreshing, and so breathtakingly beautiful. When we were going back and the wind was blowing in my face and I couldn't hear anything, it was just such a great moment where I was just so thankful to be there. Trying to soak it all in. On the safari there were these HUGE blue butterflies. I always saw them in movies but to see them flying in their natural surroundings was just awesome.

I also went to the beach one time in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina. It's nickname is "Floripa". One time I body surfed and caught a wave perfectly. I just floated with it like I was part of it and it took me really far! You have to get it just right or else you will be too fast or too slow and miss it. The water was a little colder (as was the later part of the trip, mainly in Porto Alegre) the Canadian in me adapted pretty quick. All of us also went sandboarding on the sand dunes! when I stood on the top of them I could see the ocean and then more dunes and some foliage off in the distance. It was very beautiful as well. Well pretty much, the south was just very beautiful in general. Sandboarding can be compared to snowboarding, but with the exception that it is done on sand (obvious. I have never been snowboarding in my life which is kind of funny considering where I come from. I have been sandboarding but not snowboarding! It was really fun and also really scary all at the same time. I even went off a sand jump....but a really small one.

Another time we stayed at a hotel that backed onto a lake (I think translated it was called the "black lake") and we went on a boat to the other side where we walked to see another waterfall (and I swam in the water!). We then ate FRESH shrimp and fish at the restaurant. It was very delicious. They think that some people got sick from the shrimp, but I ate a lot and was perfectly okay so that was lucky. We also went to this place where they used to grind grain (or something of the sort). As a tradition they still do it every year!

Before I started on my Rotary trip I stayed in Belo Horizonte with the Exchange student Coordinator for about four days. He gave like a tour of the city and I also went to Ouro Preto (which is an antique mining city) and into a mine! I found out that the state I live in, "Minas Gerais" actually translates to "General Mines". Referring to all the mines that are present. It is rich in gold and diamonds for example. That is also why it is more populated because people came here many years ago to make a profit. Slaves were also used a lot. I can't believe that I didn't make that connection before about the translation! I knew that there was lots of mining, I should have looked at the name more closely! Anyway, I thought it was neat.

Here are some places that we visited:
Curitiba, Iguazu Falls, Gramado, Canela, Paraguay, Argentina, Florianopolis, Porto Alegre, I am pretty sure the list goes on but these were the main destinations. Here is a link to Ouro Preto if you would like to check it out:

I am sorry for how "stream of consciousness" style this entry is and I hope that you could follow it! I just did and saw so many things! I don't know where to start. I have many stories as well. I will write more in another blog about my trip.Brasil is a big, diverse, beautiful country!

<3 Emily

P.S - here is a picture of me at the Foz do Iguaçu (this is a smaller waterfall! Look up "La Garganta del Diablo" That was huge!!)