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Archive for the ‘Brazil 2016’ Category

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I like to set goals before moving to a new country.  Spending 5 months in Brazil this year was no different.  Here’s a review of how I did:

1.  Take forró dance lessons.  I did!  I found a school near my apartment and had classes every Tuesday and Thursday night.  This was basically my only dancing outlet and I was sooooo thankful for it!  (And now back to my regularly-scheduled bachata and salsa obsession…)

(This video is from the June Festivals, before I had taken a single class.  One of the university employees offered to show me how to dance forro on the spot and I did NOT know what I was doing.  I got much better after I actually learned the basic steps – ha!)

2.  Visit Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.  I did!  Read about it here.

3.  See Iguassu Falls.  Yep!  Read about it here.

4.  Visit The Pantanal.  Check!  And I saw a few jaguars too!

5.  Enjoy some beach time.  So many beaches.  I went to Sao Luis, Jericoacoara (probably my favorite), Natal/Galinhos, and Joao Pessoa/Pipa.  Northeastern Brazil is known for having great beaches, and they did not disappoint.

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6.  See Carol.  Hooray!  When I was in Brasilia for the Braz-TESOL conference, I got to meet up with my friend from grad school.  So fun to catch up with her!

7.  Try cashew fruit.  Not only did I get to try cashew fruits, I also had cashew nuts, cashew juice, and cajuina (like a cider, similar to how apple cider is a stronger version of apple juice).

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I think this is the first time that I accomplished all of my goals for a country!  What’s next??

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Jaguar Camp

I stayed in Brazil an extra week after my contract, with my goal being to visit the Pantanal. This wetland area in the southwest of Brazil is a good place to see wildlife, especially jaguars.  I booked myself a 4-day stay at a Jaguar Camp, where we spent each morning and afternoon cruising the riverways looking for animals and birds.

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We saw jaguars 3 of the 4 days I was there!  One jaguar attacked and killed a large caiman in front of our eyes (super exciting) and on my last day we watched another one stroll and swim along the river bank for over an hour and a half!

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We also saw caiman, capybaras, giant river otters, a couple howler monkeys, some deer, a snake, some iguanas and other lizards, and tons of birds.  It was a fun trip.

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On my last day in the area, I booked a day hike to visit Chapada dos Guimarães National Park to see several waterfalls and a cave.  It was refreshing and pretty and made my legs ache in a good way.

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Such a great final adventure in Brazil!

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Foz do Iguaçu

I took a weekend trip to the gigantic waterfalls that lie on the borders between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay:  Foz do Iguaçu (in Portuguese), or Iguazu/Iguassu Falls (in English).  On the Brazilian side I took my first-ever helicopter ride.

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I figured this would be a pretty spectacular view to see from a helicopter.  It was!

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Then I walked around the Brazilian side of the park, which is generally agreed to have better landscape views of the falls:

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I also took a boat ride under one of the 275 waterfalls.  It was even better than a water park ride!

The next day I visited the Argentina side of the falls, which is awesome because you can get closer to some of the waterfalls – right out on top of one of them.

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Seeing and hearing and feeling the power of so much water moving through one place, on either side of the border, was amazing.

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In the listening/speaking class I taught last year at the University of Minnesota, our textbook included a unit entitled “Fascinating Planet.”  That chapter featured national parks and protected areas around the world, including Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil.  I had never heard of this place, but it sounded pretty cool: acres and acres of dazzling white sand dunes, which become dotted with blue and green and turquoise lagoons during the rainy season.

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A few months later, when I accepted an English Language Specialist position to work in northeastern Brazil for 5 months, I realized that I would be living about 7 hours from that national park.  A goal was born: visit Lençóis Maranhenses.

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And I did!  After presenting at a conference in a nearby town, some friends and I drove to the national park, where we enjoyed hiking up and down the dunes and cooling off in several of the lagoons.

It really is a fascinating planet.

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Goals: Brazil Edition

I’m about to move to Teresina, Brazil to spend 5 months training English teachers there through the State Department’s English Language Specialist program.  I like to set goals each time I move to a new country, so here’s the Brazilian version:

1.  Take forró dance lessons.  Forró is both a style of music and type of dance, especially popular in the Northeast of Brazil (where I’ll be) since it’s from that region.  I’ve looked up some videos and it reminds me a little of cumbia, which I can dance a bit.  I’m really excited to try it!  Here’s an example of some basic moves, and here’s one of more advanced dancers.

2.  Visit Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.  I first learned about this park in the listening and speaking class I taught this past year, as our textbook included a page about this natural area.  It’s 580 square miles of white sand dunes, which develop lagoons during the rainy season.  It looks spectacular, and is in the state next to where I’ll be living. Sounds like a weekend trip in the making!
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3.  See Iguaczu Falls.  They’re giant waterfalls on the border between Brazil and Argentina.  Eric’s going to need to renew his tourist visa sometime in August, so that seems like a good reason to cross the border into Argentina and back, enjoying some waterfall views at the same time.

4.  Visit The Pantanal.  This is a large tropical wetland in southwestern Brazil, and a great place to see wildlife since it’s a much more open landscape than rain forests.  Sign me up!

5.  Enjoy some beach time.  My city, Teresina, is not on the coast.  Sadly, it’s about 5 hours from the coast, but go to the coast I will.  How can you go to Brazil and not visit one of their famously awesome beaches?

6.  See Carol.  One of my friends from grad school is Brazilian, and now lives in Brasilia, so I hope we can meet up.  I haven’t seen her for 7 or 8 years!

7.  Try cashew fruit.  Cashew trees are native to Northeastern Brazil, and produce a fruit in addition to nuts.  Who knew?  I guess it makes a tasty juice, so I’m looking forward to trying it.

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