Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ciao Brazil

Ciao Brazil and oi the US of A. In case your portuguese is as rusty as mine, that means goodbye Brazil and hello US of A. I am officially back in Buckeye but wanted to recount the events of the second half of the trip because I didn't have internet access.

Day 6: Tuesday (Argentinian side of Foz)
We started this day with an amazing tour of Itaupu, the world's largest hydroelectric dam on the Parana River. The tour was amazing--the dam is split between Paraguay and Brazil and when I say split I mean exactly 50/50. 10 of the 20 turbines are in Paraguay and 10 are in Brazil. Half of the control room and computers are in Paraguay and half are in Brazil and so on and so forth even as far as the number of employees and managers. 50 percent of the electricity generated is owned by Paraguay and 50 percent is owned by Brazil. Paraguay only uses 5% and then sells the remaining 45% that they own to Brazil. Of this 5% of energy generated, it takes care of 90 percent of Paraguay's energy demand. Of the 95 percent of the dam energy that Brazil utilizes, it takes care of only 20 percent of Brazil's need.

Following the dam tour, Amanda and I crossed the Brazil-Argentine border to view the Argentinian side of Foz. This too was amazing, but I would have to say that viewing the Falls from the Brazil side was better. We got a much closer view of the Falls and it was almost as if we were standing on top of them. When we were finishing our tour, we ran into this group of four guys from England that we had run into once a day for the past several days. They had come to Argentina the day before but were heading to the bus station to take a bus to Florianopolis--same as us. They were a fun group to bump into and it was quite ironic how similar our schedules turned out to be.

Our driver, Marley, dropped us off at the bus station in Foz and we set out on a 14 hour bus ride to Florianopolis. Doesn't that just spell f-u-n?

Days 7-9: Wednesday through Friday (Florianopolis and Santa Catarina Island)
After a gloriously short bus ride to Florianopolis (I joke, I joke, there is nothing short about 14 hours on a bus) we rented a car and set out for Santa Catarina Island. I forget the exact number but there are a ton of beaches on this island which is yet another popular vacation spot for both Brazilians and Argentinians. After selecting a quaint pousada right on the beach, we spent the majority of our time just relaxing, reading and walking on the beach. The weather was a bit overcast, but we also had our fair share of sun. The only bit of sunburn I walked away with was on the tops of my feet and I'm pretty sure it just may be close to a third degree burn...or at least a second! :) Yikes! All three of us looked pretty funny with our sunburned feet.

Amanda's friend, Josie, met up with us on Thursday morning and spent time with us. She was great--her husband will continue studying at Purdue through July when he too will return to Brazil. She was a fun tour guide and we had a chance to check out the beaches on the eastern shore of the island which are pretty famous in Latin America as great surfing spots. We headed to the southern most tip and had coffee and ice cream (yes, in one sitting!) at a cute cafe called the Sweet Fisherman. The beaches were small and cute, and it was fun seeing the small differences between them all. And we ended up seeing our English buddies again- once crossing a street and then again on Praia Mole (Mole Beach).

Day 10: Saturday (Sao Paulo)
We woke up early and boarded a flight to head to Sao Paolo. Kirsten flew out in the early afternoon but Amanda and I navigated the city. As a little background, Sao Paolo is the world's third largest metropolic with roughly 20 million residents. Like other large cities in developing countries there is a striking comparison between the very rich and the very poor. More rich people own helicopeters in Sao Paolo than rich people in New York City. Needless to say, after spending all of our days in the swamp and cute country towns, I wasn't too excited about the smog and traffic. It proved to be a nice change of pace though--we used the Metro system to get around and wound up seeing the Se (sp) Cathedral, an old train station (don't know the name), the Museum of the Portuguese Language (really cool), and then the ritzy area known as Paulista. The people watching was great, and at times a little overwhelming.

All in all, the trip was amazing and I praise God for his traveling mercies and such great health for all three of us. Brazilians are such a welcoming and friendly people that I would come back again...actually I hope many more times! I loved listening to the Portuguese language and now have an interest in maybe learning it someday. I would encourage all of you to visit if you ever get the chance! I will be posting pictures and several short video clips this week...keep checking back!!

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