November 3, 2015

Climb Every Mountain

Saturday morning bright and early we set out to hike Pico do Jaragua with the kids' Portuguese tutor. I'm not sure if it was hard for me because of the elevation or heat or my exercise routine consists of walking with Tymon about 5 times a week or what....but there was a lot of UP going on. Here I am a few days later and the top of my gluts are finally feeling back to normal.

I think the top attractions on this hike are the monkeys and of course the Tarzan vines, which all of the kids loved. Except Kira. She didn't try it. But she was definitely interested in having a little monkey eat out of her hand. They are so cute when they take their little hands on either side of the hand feeding them and hold it ever so delicately. Not all were so friendly. The ones that weren't interested in interaction let us know by being stand-offish.

This little caterpillar pictured will someday no doubt be one of the great moths that frequent our home. Here are two more that have come since our first encounter with the butterfly of death aka Black Witch Moth.

Sphinx and Black Witch Moths

November 2, 2015

Brazilian Barbeque

If you've never been to a Brazilian barbeque restaurant (churrascaria), you should go. For those of you in the Seattle area, there's one on Lake Union and in Factoria. Tymon and I went to the one in Factoria next to the mall last February. It's fantastic and the atmosphere is so fun.

So just imagine every kind of meat you've thought of and more...well, of the beef, pork, chicken. lamb sausage varieties and seasoned to perfection. The waiter brings it to your table and you choose whether you want a rare or more medium cut. As he carves, you take some little tongs and pinch the top of the cut while he finishes the cut. Then you put it on your plate.

Did I tell you the best part? It's all you can eat. Each table has a little sign on it that says, "yes, please" or "no thanks" and that's how they know to keep coming back or when to hold off. I should say, though, sometimes they don't care what your sign says. They just keep coming.

For Children's Day a few weeks ago (and here I thought every day was children's day), we went to a park and then out for dinner. It was the first time our children have ever eaten in a churrascaria. They loved it. Just when I thought we were all done, Jocelyn and Jett would get more meat. At this particular restaurant the girls were so excited about the tiny toilet and sink in the restroom. They seriously went in, did their business and came out and got me to come back in with them so they could show it off.

Something totally wild to me is how many people were in this park just hanging out. Check out this crowd. They're picnic goers. We didn't see any events taking place...unless you count pick up games of soccer or a bunch of hippies playing their guitars.  

We actually meant to go to a park just up the street from this one that has a hike up to an overlook so you can see the entire city of Sao Paulo. At first we didn't realize we were in the wrong place and were looking around for the trail head. We went down one path only to see a group of 15 or so young people practicing a dance. We almost walked right through them but then realized the trail curved a little and was blocked off by a fence.

The trip wasn't an entire waste. We did find the Tropic of Capricorn line. And capiburas. A bird protecting her eggs that she laid in the grass. Oh, and some old bamboo thickets. And we had dinner. Go visit a churrascaria and post your photos. It'll be like a little tribute to our friendship. Ha ha ha. But seriously. Do it.

November 1, 2015

Modern Day Pioneers: Halloween in Brazil

Halloween. I've long thought this fabulous holiday should spread across the world. It doesn't seem right to keep this one to ourselves. I was pleasantly surprised this week to find that some Brazilians celebrate Halloween. 

According to the clerk at the party/costume shop, Halloween started in Brazil in 2010. He said it had something to do with Chinese imports coming to Brazil. And, every year since it has been gaining in popularity. 

I checked it out online and found that mostly English classes are the ones to teach Brazilians how Halloween works. At our kids' school, our girls (aged 4 and 7) wore costumes to school, had a party and did some trick or treating. Our 9 year old colored some Halloween pictures in English class, our 10 year old was supposed to watch a Halloween movie but there were some technical difficulties and it didn't happen. For our 12 year old, it basically wasn't a big deal and no activities were planned.

So there is a congregation of our church in Sao Paulo with a high percentage of Americans living in it. We find out that they were planning a Trunk or Treat party complete with a chili and cornbread cook off. And because we're pretty much Parents of the Year, we crashed the party.

We brought some rolls (with some corn added to them) and decorated our trunk with a couple of gory heads without bodies as well as passed out little treat bags to the kids. The kids loved it and we felt very welcome in what by nature can be an awkward situation...since we knew no one. 

Several people talked to us and thought we must have come from the American school which was nearby. We'd never heard of it. The kids spoke English and made many friends. Graeden, who for the first time in his life is struggling with school (or rather Portuguese) was amazed that a kid had lived in Sao Paulo for 4 years and didn't speak Portuguese beyond simple greetings. I'm grateful for Graeden's discovery. He's a bright boy and is making progress in communication. Just not as fast as he likes. And he just saw one end of the spectrum. The end he thought he was on. But now knows he isn't.

 So when a few of our new friends found out we were actively looking for places to move in their area of Sao Paulo, they invited us to move into their ward. Like 7 different people. I haven't felt so welcome in church, well, ever. And it wasn't even Sunday.

And now we need to decide if we'd rather live near some of our fellow expats or if we choose a more Brazilian neighborhood. There seem to be advantages to both options.

Back to Halloween...we hadn't planned on trick or treaters, but a few came by at 3:30pm. I didn't realize that would happen and found out after they were sent away empty handed. I quickly got our leftover stash from the Trunk or Treat party out and started setting up shop for Graeden to manage while we took the other kids out around our neighborhood.

So what's funny about Brazilian Halloween? The kids don't dress up. A few had face paint on, but otherwise they were costume-less. To see a group of 8 or 10 kids going from house to house with just grocery sacks to hold their loot was hilarious. Like they didn't quite understand what Halloween was all about. We rang the bells to several homes but only a handful were prepared with treats. Even a few who weren't prepared found something to give. That's what's being a Halloween Pioneer in Brazil is all about, right? Building awareness. Maybe these families will participate more fully next year?

Another awesome thing is that the kids don't go trick or treating at night. I like that. Not only are there more hours in the afternoon to get candy, you don't worry about running over kids in the street on a dark and rainy night...which is exactly what I understand Seattle got for weather last night.

The Brazilians loved seeing our kids in costumes. One lady and her husband stopped their car next to us on the street and told us to come to their house. She was going to make a cake. We went looking for their house about an hour later, but unfortunately, couldn't find it. Another couple must have seen us from a side street while we were talking and came running up to us just to give the kids candy. They were adorable.

When we got back to the house, Jett stayed outside (with our body-less heads hanging from the trees) and scared kids who came by. Then he'd give them a treat. Ha ha ha, that's exactly the kind of education these kids need in order to understand the spirit of the holiday. 

Next year, we'll have to plan our Halloween a little more thoroughly. It'll be easier now that we have a general idea of what is expected. And by expected, I mean we don't have to do anything. Most don't celebrate. But we did have maybe 35 or 40 Brazilian kids trick or treat at our house. That's an impressive number to me...especially considering Halloween is a foreign holiday.
Design by April Showers