Friday, April 28, 2006
To help us not feel so lazy, we have been climbing the stairs of their apartment building (12 stories). They live on the tenth floor and have a great view of the city surrounding them. There is an insane amount of buildings going up for new apartments. I have no idea where the people are coming from. I have never seen new developments so crazy.
This morning, our tour was of a very very poor neighborhood. They have a small church, about the size of a living room, that serves 30 members. The church is trying to build a new church (rather than using an old garage) but they can't seem to come to a consensus on where to build it. They neighborhood is one where you don't leave your home after 5:30 and ifyou do, get somebody to walk with you. On the way to this church, we also sall "Favelas" along the way. Favelas are essentially homes for the poorest of poor and are made out of cardboard.
There is a drastic difference between the population in Brazil. There is the very wealthy class, a very small upper middle-class, and then the poor, dirt poor, and poorest of poor. The mode of transportation for most people is probably walking becuase a car is too expensive for most people. Some families (three or four) may combine all of their money to buy a car to use between all of them. Many folks use the deadly motorcycle (not kidding.. one of THE highest causes for death in Brazi and if you saw how they drove, you'd think that motorcycles in the States was child play) becuase they get better gas mileage and cost less. WE have seen many horse and buggies and several FAMILIES all riding on ONE bicycle (three people on one bicycle, I think they could get more people and I just haven't seen it yet). Brazil definitely has it's work cut out for them in order to improve the livings for many people. Unfortunately, there is still a bit of corruption and the wealthiest seem to get the best treatment from the government.
Brasilia is the National capital of Brazil. We could definitely tell on our flight to Brasilia that we were going to the land of politicians. It was built completely from scratch about 46 years ago. There isn't any manufacturing near the city, so EVERYTHING has to be imported from other parts of Brazil. Needless to say, the cost of living is the highest in the Nation. There isn't much to do here other than work. The climate is a bit dryer and the temps a bit warmer. I guess that is one draw, otherwise, Kevin & I have yet to figure out why people WANT to live here.
We will be heading to Sao Paulo on Sunday. It sounds like we'll have our own personal tour guides while there too. Marina has already sent a list of places we want to see to her Niece. We are looking forward to seeing another city.
Love and God Bless,
Kristine (and Kevin)
p.s. Kevin has been severly beaten for posting that horrible picture of me. Even if he thinks it was funny, it's a good thing I love him so much!
Monday, April 24, 2006
Marina and her helper, Donna Maria,working on lunch and the dishes. Not once did Donna Maria allow me to wash the dishes. I could dry, but she wasn't about to let me wash, even if the dishes were dirtied by only Kevin & I. You rarely see Marina out of the kitchen and if she is, she's gone to town to get some vegetables for her next creation. Marina makes cheese to sell with the help of Iraci. It's almost an art and the efficienty these two have in the kitchen is amazing. Mom - you thought I was bad at making lots of dirty dishes, you haven't seen anything yet until you've met Marina! She is really good at it!
Every morning and evening, just as any good farmer does, Iluir and Chebie milk Floyd & Marina's cows. The milk the cows without any machinery. Floyd & Marina's motto is sustainablity. They milk the cows to sell the milk to a few people andfor their own use. The milk's primary purpose is to be made into cheese, yogurt, ricotta, etc. They don't use machinery becuase it costs to much and also requires more maintenance. Many people in Brazil cannot afford expensive machinery and they (Floyd & marina) are showing how to farm and make money in a sustainable fashion.
Chebie is training these two oxen to take back to his own farm this fall. He and his family has spent the last three years working to raise money for use on their own farm. They use these oxen to plow the fields, etc.
A calf tied with it's mother in waiting to be milked.
Dulci, Terazinia and I after our last day of Yoga together. Dulci (in pink) is the instructor. EVery class, Marina and I prayed that she wouldn't start pulling on us to get us into the position. She makes sure you get the position, even if it required something going out of place later. She was a fun instructor and we had a nice time. I now know some brazilian yoga words! Every Monday & Thursday morning for a month, I joined these ladies to help strengthen my body and stretch me out!
Kevin & I enjoyed spending our month with such wonderful people. We have both come away with some great ideas as to how we want to change how we live in order to be good stewards of the earth, good stewards to friends and family, and good christians.
-Kristine (and Kevin)
Saturday, April 22, 2006
The first week Kristine and I were at the farm, Reverend Floyd Grady mentioned that he wanted to remodel his porch. One of the farm workers, Iluir (pr. eelueer), came by to offer his advice...
He said the job could be done in 3-4 days, which pleased the Reverend's ears, so deconstruction commenced immediately. Iluir, his brother, Idonir, and I dismantled everything in a couple of hours.
Pastor Floyd and I went to town the next day to price building materials. The Reverend wanted to keep things inexpensive, but also wanted to have the job done right. So, from the get go it was clear that expectations were set too high. A day later we called Ismael, a constructor and member of a local church, to see if he'd like to oversee the work. I think this was partly due to indecision on what building materials needed to be bought (and how much), and partly to give some work to Ismael. He came to the farm to have dinner, decide what building materials were needed, and to give cost and time estimates. The cost estimate must have fit the budget because Ismael was hired to oversee what he said would be a five-day job.
I'll let the pictures give you an idea of how the porch was constructed. I mainly mixed and hauled a lot of concrete...
We were able to pour and brick the foundation, put the roof on, lay the initial concrete slab (the tile was placed in a second slab on the first), and put up the brick for the walls in 5 days. Kristine and I headed out that Sunday for Foz do Iquaçu, and Ismael was supposed to come back the next week to finish the job up in 1 or 2 days. Well...we got back the next Saturday to find them still working. Just yesterday Ismael came back again to plaster the outside walls:
I completed my portion of the job by doing a good share of the painting:
A nice (but not perfect) little room that took about 17 days to build. Ismael (from northeastern Brasil) noted that something like this is more than a lot of people have. The climate in this part of the region gets below freezing for about 1.5 months out of the year, yet 99% of homes are not heated. Something to think about the next time you are arguing about the temperature on the thermastat.
Kristine lent her handiwork to whatever Marina would have her do (mostly helping in the kitchen, and a variety of other chores). She wasn't as eager to pose for the camera I was, but I managed to steal the camera when nobody was looking:
That'll probably get me banned from writing blogs again for a while. Look forward to news from Kristine!
Thursday, April 20, 2006
And jump for all you're worth!"
"Oh, don't forget the flotation devices. They're the only thing that'll keep you from sinking.
This site is dedicated to those folks that know the world really has gone crazy and are looking for help floating. Life is too serious and some days it sneaks up on us and steals our enthusiasm. Hey, don't believe me - just read the headlines tomorrow morning or watch the evening news. But let's not dwell on that stuff because this site is not about doom and gloom.
Following my suggestions will lead to un-tolded riches - herds of friends - a physique that Arnold Schwarzenegger will envy - and special savings coupons at your local McDonalds. Ok, maybe not, but it will help you deal with the issues you're facing daily that just suck you dry of energy, enthusiasm, and motivation."
He also has pages entitled "My Funny Stuff" and "Crack Me Up". I have also attached the link to the left side of our blogsite. Hope you enjoy it! I'm sure he would love to hear about your enjoyment too. You can find his email address in the website.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
It's hard to believe that two months of our trip have essentially passed by! We are getting geard up for the last half of our travels. I'm almost certain the remainder of the trip will fly by because we'll be changing directions so much!
- 25-Apr: Stay with Irene & Michael in Brasilia, Brazil.
- 30-Apr: Stay with Marina's sister in São Paulo, Brazil.
- 7-May: Fly to Manaus, Brazil, the gateway to the Amazon.
- 8-May: Fly to Tefe, Brazil, and on to the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve
- 11-May: Fly back to Manaus, Brazil
- 13-May: Fly to Rio, Brazil (Hit the beach for at least one day, Kevin says a half day).
- 17-May: Fly to Cusco, Peru... if Varig Airlines is still in business!
- While in Peru: Trek the Choqueuirao Trail and either the Salcantay Trek up to Machu Picchu or the Ausagante Trek at insane elevations!! :) We may just take the train up to Machu Picchu and save the trekking for some of the cooler hikes in the area.
- 11-Jun: Return to Denver & await the arrival of Peanut (Adam & Annie's little one).
Kristine (and Kevin)
Monday, April 17, 2006
Easter Traditions. Marina and I had a great time showing the kids how to paint their eggs for egg hunting. They did a pretty good job. In Brazil, the eggs are emptied of their yolks before coloring. They then make candied peanuts (caramelized sugar coating) and put that inside the emptied and painted eggs. So, Brazilian children get more sugar besides just their Easter basket. The kids had a wonderful time trying to find the eggs. Before they painted the eggs (before easter) and found the eggs (on Easter) Floyd & Marina shared the story about Christ and why Easter is so special. The picture attached of the kids shows how well they listened to Pastor Floyd.
Kevin & I had a wonderful Easter Celebration with our family away from home. Kevin even played Canasta with the boys after dinner. I got to help with the clean up!!
Thursday, April 13, 2006
You may have thought that we dropped off the face of the earth for a couple of weeks, or maybe you just don't read the blogsite (shame on you). I am again priveleged to update you on the sensational events of the last couple of weeks.
Last update, you found out that we were in Foz do Iguaçu, a town near the border of Brasil, Argentina, and Paraguay. There are also towns across the border in the other cities...blah blah blah. You don't think this story sounds exciting? It's not knocking you off your seat, yet? Or are you just wondering why there is a little tail on my "c" in "Iguaçu?" OK, for those of you who want to have a quick rundown of the area with some pictures, see the almighty Wikipedia:
Now we can move onto more interesting things - mainly the story that goes with the headline.
Before embarking on this adventure to South America, I was warned by my Master's adviser, Dr. Weldon Lodwick, that the driving in Brasil would be crazy. In this way, my expectations were set rather high. I thought I'd get to see cars on the sidewalks and motorcycles driving up over the tops of cars, but so far nothing has satiated my thirst for crazy driving (probably created by hours in front of a Playstation playing Need For Speed or Road Rash or some other racing game) until...I got on the public bus system.
The pickups and dropoffs alone are enough to keep the weak from riding - bus drivers approach a stop at 15-20mph and will only stop if someone runs out to the curb frantically waving their arms. The driver will then reluctantly come to a screeching halt. If you are on the bus, then you must grab onto whatever you can to prevent yourself from being projected into the neighboring country. Alas, I'm only teasing you with the standard behaviors. What would one of these bus drivers do if he (don't think I'm being sexist here - it takes testosterone to drive this way) was really cutting loose? If he woke up that morning and was unconcerned about living another day? If he thought he was Rubens Barrichello or some other Brasilian Formula 1 racer?
We took a (public) bus from Foz do Iguaçu to Puerto Iguazu (read the link above if you get confused) to visit the Argentinan side of the falls. To do this we must pass through a Argentinan border station (remember the mangy dog story?). We approached the station on a two-lane road with a generous shoulder on either side and encountered a long line of cars waiting to get through to Argentina. The bus driver does not hesitate to pull into the shoulder and start driving past the row of cars. Again, this is just SOP; perhaps amusing the first time you see it, but is old hat after that. His plan was thwarted, however, as he was stopped by a brave tree that had grown into the path of the shoulder. Adjacent to the tree is a semi-truck waiting patiently in line. I watch the bus driver shut off the engine, get out of the bus, and run over to talk with the truck driver. "Old pals," I naively think. The bus driver comes jogging back to the bus as the semi-truck begins to pull into the shoulder (past the tree). Our bus then pulls into the space left by the truck. Now, I'm completely prepared for the bus driver to follow the semi down and continue along the shoulder of the road. What I wasn't prepared for, and what actually happened, was the bus driver turns into the lane of oncoming traffic and drives straight over to the shoulder on the other side of the road. We proceed along this shoulder until we get to the front of the line and then cut back through oncoming traffic, bully our way past the cars in the front of the line and pull up to the border station. I guess you just need to think outside of the box to drive like that...or be a user in the drug trade. I congratulated the driver as we got off the bus. He shrugged like it was nothing and I walked into the border station on shaky legs.
We got back to the farm safe and sound to find that the porch project had been extended from the original 5-day completion time to 14-days. So, my work has continued a bit, though we are all finished with concrete work. (Mainly, I've just been painting.) Now I'm a slacker because I took some time to write to you about this little story. I hope it was worth it! I'll let Kristine write the next blog so that you read some actual news.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Kristine's short term memory seems to have no solid recollection of some of the past humor-at-her-expense that may have been published by me on the blog site. That's an awkward sentence. Let's shorten that one up...um...: Kristine...forgave...me. There, much more readable and even the New York Times would probably let that one print.
First headline: American Almost Gets Brutally Beaten By Brazilian Riot Police. You might think the title is long, but is acceptable due to the clever alliteration that I was able to use. The scene is a Brazilian soccer game, which takes place between two top Porto Alegre teams (one of which is a national champion) who have not played each other in 70 years. We found out on our way out the door that the local police were "worried about the situation." We were told not to worry because we were being chaparoned by one of the farm workers who "is a good fighter" in the words of Reverand Floyd Grady. Our bodygard had joked a few days earlier that he wouldn't take us unless we rooted for Gremio, which had blue-colored jerseys. They were playing the Colorado (red colored jerseys). Once seated in the stands I concluded that he shouldn't have been joking at all. We were seated in one of the three Gremio sections. 99.9% of these fans wore not only blue, but the blue jerseys of their team. I'm pretty sure that if I'd been wearing red I would have been made into a human sacrifice. Hopefully I would have the common sense to just take off my shirt and light it on fire as if I was only joking. These fans chanted, sang, screamed for 3 hours straight. The first hour was before the game even began. Ticker tape (still rolled up) was thrown into the crowd so that it could be thrown out (preferably unrolling as it is thrown) sometime during the game. Also, many fans had sparklers, smoke fireworks, bang fireworks, etc. "Wait a minute," you say, "there was mass quantities of paper AND fire?" "Yes," I would reply. "Wouldn't the paper catch fire?," you ask. "Most probably," would be my modest response. Indeed the ticker tape that was thrown over the "moat" (as Kristine dubbed the hole that seperated the stands from the track and soccer field) some of which was set on fire before being thrown, and then creating a mini-bonfire for the amusement of everyone but the staff which were working feverishly to stamp out the rubber soles of their shoes. But, I stray from the original story. The game ended. Score: 0-0. No overtime, which I think was a wise decision given how worked up the fans had already become. As we left, the thought struck me that we probably should have coughed up a little more dinero to park outside of the Gremio section of the stands instead of down the street. Because, you see, in order to get back to the car we had to walk past the section of the Colorado team, who had amassed various objects to throw at anybody passing by that was wearing anything but red. We dodged the half full beer cups and who knows what else, and wove our way around fights that had broken out in the street, which the riot police were quickly trying to extinguish. We had just arrived back at the car when a crazy Gremio fan with face paint being chased by a cop with a knight stick ran straight into me. He bounced off of me, leaving me face to face with an angry cop who had his knight stick raised over his head as if he was going to hit the nearest thing that moved. He paused momentarily (my heart missed at least one beat) before he pushed me to gain momentum in the other direction. So, that's the story. We made it safely back. Plenty other things to say about the game, but there's the highlights.
Kristine and I are in Foz Do Iquacu. We visited the worlds largest hydroelectric power plant today and will visit waterfalls that are supposed to be more magnificent than Niagra tomorrow. Hope that spices up your day job! We'll keep you posted.