Sunday, May 19, 2013

Waiting for the bus

We all have our luggage and our waiting for the bus to pick us up in about 40 minutes.

Brazil's First Breakfast Back in the US

Dulce de leche tapioca cake brought back from Brazil!!

Sweet Dreams Chris

If only the rest of us could sleep so easily on a plane !!

Back in the United States!

Our international flight made it in safely and we are picking up our bags in the baggage claim area. Now it's just a 5 hour bus ride and we are home from this big adventure.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Just before leaving today, we had the chance to take drumming lessons with one of Salvador's best known Samba drummers. We went to his house, built on a steep hillside in a favela, and walked down several sets of steep and winding stairs, to find ourselves in a fully modern recording studio filled with traditional African drums and instruments. We sat in a circle as we learned about each instrument and had the chance to try them out. We learned 4 of the main beats, for Samba, for Condomble, the main Ghanian beat, and a special rhythm that's local to Salvador. It was a lot of fun, and lets just say that some of us were quicker than others to pick up on the patterns...

Afterward, we have a couple hours now of free time before we leave for the airport. Most students went out shopping for last minute gifts. We have some in the hotel pool. We are all packed up and ready to go. We should be home by mid-afternoon on Sunday. It will definitely be hard to say goodbye to Brazil; this has been an amazing class and an absolutely wonderful group of students. It's been such a pleasure to travel together and share so many new experiences. It's truly been fantastic.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Our last full day in Brazil

We had free time today, and students were out all over the city.

We had people visiting the famous Bom Fin church, known as the church of miracles. This is a church that has served a poor neighborhood since it was built several hundred years ago and is known as a place for healing. Inside the church is a special miracle room filled with photos of people who are sick, photos of diseased or injured body parts, and hundreds of full size wax replicas of body parts such as feet and hands. The wax body parts line the ceiling completely. Outside the church, the iron fencing is covered in thousands of bright colored ribbons. These ribbons come in multiple colors, each of which represents an area of life such as love, money, work, family, etc. People tie ribbons on the church or on their wrists and make wishes and prayers. All over this city almost every person we see has a ribbon on her/his wrist.

Most of our students went to the market. Many friends and family members back home will certainly be getting some lovely gifts from that market today!

Some students took the giant outdoor elevator from the market in the lower city up to the old Pelourhino neighborhood. This giant elevator links the two levels of the city; it was built in Art Deco style almost 100 years ago, and is packed with locals who use it to get around.

In the Pelourinho, Chris and Jasmine went to a traditional street food cart to buy the local fried acarajes. These savory donut-type buns have bean flour mixed in to make them thick and dense. They are cut in half and filled with things like little crawfish still in the shell, rice, tomatoes, etc. Acarajes are sold by traditional bahianas, the older African women who still wear the African style clothing--long cotton skirts, blouses with puffy sleeves, and headscarves, all in solid white or else in really bright colors.

In the Pelourinho, we ran into a large drumming performance, and stopped to see the drum troupe play an incredibly spirited set of songs. Many of the drummers were kids. The bigger kids were playing drums made out of large metal drum barrels. They hefted their drums above their heads to the beat; they were ridiculously coordinated and strong. The crowd danced along and laughed and clapped. It was so fun!

On our way back, we saw a group of men practicing the Brazilian martial art, capoeira. We watched for a while as the men slowly kicked and ducked and spun and hit in perfect coordination while several other men drummed a beat. Then they invited us to try! Lauren got up there, and so did Bri. Jasmine too. Ella could not be persuaded. But even Mariam went to try it out!

Kayleigh, Natalie, and Sam managed to have an adventure on the local buses today. I believe they saw a rather large swathe of the city, in fact...

Most of the students ate dinner around the hotel tonight; there is a little street market outside. People are starting to pack and think about home. Tomorrow we have a drumming session for half the group, while the other half will learn to cook maqueca. And then we leave for the airport at 3:30 on our way home.

The Running Chronicles - Final Edition

Since I last updated the running chronicles, we have run in the Amazon ( from one one end of our lodge to the other since running in the jungle was not an option). After we got to Salvador we have run every day. Our hotel is across from the beach and there is a nice side walk along which we have been joined by many other people walking or jogging.

The sun rises by 5:30 and already by then there are quite a few people out and about. By 6:15, the sidewalk is positively crowded and as Tia said, it's like Mario Kart out there.

The sea here is a bit rougher and there are many more rocks. The beach is not very wide but that means we can hear the sea and the waves crashing on shore as we run which makes it more interesting. There is a lighthouse about half a mile up which we pass on our route. There is also always a group of elderly gentlemen playing a game of volleyball with what looks like an elongated birdie (what is used for badminton). There are 3 or 4 fishermen usually casting nets in the water, a few kayaks, a group of serious swimmers doing laps in the sea and assorted vendors and bystanders on the sidewalk. All in all, a lot of activity for 6 a.m. ! Today, Jaz and I decided to blend with locals; at the end of our run we took off our running shoes and swam in the sea to cool off. Quite invigorating.

Sadly all good things must come to an end. Tomorrow is our last day in Brazil and our last run in the morning. It promises to be a full house as Shadae, Tia, Jaz and I have planned to meet bright and early at 5:30 a.m. If only we can keep this up after we get back home....