Thursday, April 30, 2009

Say it back...

This is too good not to share....
Enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back home

After a crazy three weeks of vacations and traveling, I am now back home.  
It was fun, productive and at times, relaxing, but sometimes your bed, the comforts of home (of course enriched by a small trip to the US that brings some of that home with me) and just being able to do whatever I want....

For all of those curious minds out there...
yes, I did find a house.  We will be making an offer on it, but it is a short sale.  Basically, short sales depend pretty much on the bank, and not the seller.  The bank has agreed to take a lesser price, to pay off the mortgage, I believe, to just finish with the loan.  The banks take their time in doing this.  They are not real estate agents, and they do not care that people are anxiously awaiting their is just another piece of paper to them, sitting on their to do list, waiting to get done.  What does all this mean?  Well, that I will not know if we have the house or not for a long time.  When I know, I will let you all know, deal?

The house is very pretty, re-done quite harmoniously.  I am a Libra, and balance plays a big role in my life.  This house has that balance.  The rooms are airy, plenty of light, and feel polished.  Of course, there are always small things that we would change...but overall, quite a nice house.  When I know if we get it, then I will post pictures.

The trip was short but very sweet.  The waters off Key West are beautiful.  The colors reminded me of our trip to the Maldives...always a good sign!

It was nice to come back and have my kids run to me when they saw me waiting for them at the end of their school day.  I missed them too...
so it was equally sweet for me!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Garmin, or How to still get lost even with a Garmin

I had the Garmin put into the rental car that I had to drive to Key West.  Not because of getting to Key West because that is pretty straight forward on the highways...more because on the way back, I wanted to stop in Miami at a few places to get a few things.

Well, I first got lost trying it out just leaving the rental car place to get on the highway to go to Key West.
I mean, c'mon...there is this seductive ladies voice telling me...
"in .5 of a mile bear left onto the ramp marked, blah, blah, blah..."
I bore left, but there wasn't any ramp, was there? then I hear
so I am then directed to go around in a circle, and the same thing happens again!
Too funny...I felt like at some point she was going to come on and say...
"what is wrong with you?  I told you to bear left onto the ramp!"

Then coming back today the same thing happened.  Only this time, I think I got lost 2 or 3 times...all I kept hearing was...

Am I the only one getting lost even with a Garmin?!
At least it made me laugh, and then I just let her ramble on and actually just followed the signs around the airport that said: Rental Car Return.
Maybe our world is just too technically challenged now!
Well that's my story anyways :)
Talk to you when I get back to Brazil!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Key West

Here I am in The Conch Republic.
I flew into Miami and drove down to Key West.  The sun was still asleep when I started the drive, about a 3 hour drive.  As the sun started to peak onto the horizon, I noticed the sliver of moon and bright star right above it.  It was the coolest image, but my camera was in the suitcase in the trunk...and I was on a mission to get to the hotel.
After flying 9 hours, sleeping about 4 1/2 of it, and then having to drive, alone, for 3-4 hours...I just kept the beautiful sky in my mind and not on my camera!

So why am I here?  Am I crazy traveling AGAIN?
Well, yes...I am crazy, but mostly this is a fact finding mission. 
We are considering buying a house here in Key West.  
It is a great time for buyers, and a house is sounding really nice!

The trip has been worth it.  So far, I have seen two properties that are worth the trip...and one that we am seriously thinking of making an offer.

I have had the chance to enjoy Duval Street and all the crazy goings on that happen there...the tourist shops, the fortune tellers, the drunkards, Mallory Square at

 sunset, the great scallops I had last night for dinner!  (though I did quite a few looks while eating alone in a popular tourist destination!)

Anyways, I'll keep you updated and be back home on Monday!
Hope you all enjoy a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

The World is constantly changing.  
We can not change the evolution of the natural world, but we can try to limit the impact that we have on it.  We must coexist, therefore, we must find a way to coexist peacefully, without harming one another.

Happy Earth Day....
let's protect what we were given!

I know, same day posting but I gotta finish this!

On to Easter...
Ouro Preto retains a rich history mainly because of the Gold Rush in the 17th and 18th century...but there is also another history.

Holy Week.  On Good Friday, the churches began to decorate outside.  They place purple over the steps of the main church and have a procession following a mass and reading of the Passion of Christ.

  This picture shows the three crucified figures on the steps outside of the front doors, which they then took Jesus down and began their procession throughout the streets.

On Saturday evening begins the decoration of the streets themselves.  The houses hang carpets and flags from their windows 
and the people decorate the street with different figures in sawdust.  It almost wasn't sawdust, though I can't really name what it was, and all the books claim it is sawdust.

Some of the drawings are artistic, some fun, some relating to Easter and have a religious theme.... 
Some use templates, some draw with chalk...

They all have their own way of decorating.  This process takes most of the night....

and Sunday morning, the route for the procession after the Easter mass follows it's path.  It was amazing to see the street transformed overnight.

This section, in the foto below, was right in front of the church that gave the mass.  It is interesting, depending on whether it is an even or odd numbered year is what determines where the mass is held and what route is taken for the procession.

The procession involves many members of the community, retelling in their costumes and props, the stories of Jesus.  These little children really looked like angels and were absolutely beautiful!

It was an amazing experience to be there during this week.  So, no matter what bad was placed on us by the guide, we didn't let it ruin this chance to witness such an incredible city.

Where to start..

Ok, I have been away again and I am leaving again tomorrow..
I am not sure how to fit this all in?!

How about we back up and finish the trip to Ouro Preto first.

We left off with us going to the Gruta de Maquine.  This is an underground 
cavern that was discovered many, many years ago.  Periodically, there are rains that come down, but the whole thing has not filled completely in over 20 years.  It takes 8 days from when it rains to when the water actually starts seeping through.

There are small pools of water throughout.  This foto shows a pool of water that is reflecting the stalactites on the ceiling.

They even water it through an irrigation system because of the dust build up.  Now, what I never got answered is what the big deal about the dust building up is...purely for us tourists?  Whatever the reason it doesn't really matter because it is amazing to experience this cavern. 

The stalagmites and stalactites are enormous.  It almost seems as if you are entering into another dimension.

 They have also put lights inside so that we have a chance to glimpse this magnificent cavern.

Friday, April 17, 2009

just so ya know!

Just wanted all my loyal fans to know that we are off again.  There are two holidays in the middle of the week next week...
our kids and my husband all have off the whole week.  
So, off we go again.
There is still so much to write about Ouro Preto and now another new adventure!

More to come....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


We ended our first day to Ouro Preto traveling an hour by train to the city of Mariana.

It was a small city with a cute train station and some more pretty churches. 

Mariana was founded in 1696 and still has some mining on the outskirts of the city.

The sun and sky's colors were brilliant tonight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto is filled with rolling hills, 

picturesque landscapes, 

painted houses, 

cobblestone streets, 

The name Ouro Preto means "black gold".  This city was once the major mining town of the gold rich State of Minas Gerais.  
It was designated a World Heritage Site by Unesco due to its fascinating, beautiful baroque architecture.

Easter Weekend

I am not sure where to begin or how to write this...but here goes!

The trip to Ouro Preto and the surrounding area was quite an event.  We left Friday night...though MUCH later than any of us had expected.  We were supposed to leave at 7, but the bus was delayed due to traffic.  
side note: this is something that I can not figure out.  traffic tends to be a problem here...especially on holiday weekends, Fridays, etc... why do the people who run a public company, like our bus, not know what time they need to leave in order to be where they need to be on time.  

So, we were supposed to leave at 7 and the bus shows up at 8:30.  Which is when we find out that we all need photo ID's...three sets of people did not have them.  We go to one's office, and two houses, and retrieve the necessary documents because if not, the bus driver would not risk having to pay Rs. 4000 (roughly $1,837) to a police man IF we are stopped, and he asks for ID.
The bus had seats for 25 people...the exact number we had including the guide.  A little cozy..

So, by 9:30 we are off and on our way.  Well, I am not sure what happens, (I fell asleep), but we did not even get to the hotel until 5 am.  This was not expected.  Our original schedule said we would leave at 7 pm and be there by about 1 am.  

Next up: our guide
I can not speak about him too much in fear that I may hurt all of your ears.  Yes, it may be possible to hear me screaming through this computer because of HOW BAD he was...
nothing was his fault, nothing he did was wrong, according to him, of course!
He was terrible.... he was rude, especially after some of us challenged him.  He wouldn't give us any details about the tours, like what time things were happening, etc.  His translations from what our Portuguese speaking guy said to what he said in English was pitiful at it's best.  
For example...the local guide was telling us about the decline of the gold era, etc...
our guide was telling us about the decadence of the gold era. 
The local guide wanted us to know about a particular author.  Our guide said, (and I quote), "what was his name?  oh, that's too difficult for me to say and since they are American it sounds all Chinese to them anyways".... (don't even get me started on that one. especially since quite a few of us understand and even speak Portuguese!) 
Lash made an appearance at one point.  She challenged him to a word duel... they "discussed" why we couldn't know how much time we had in a certain area.  Our guide started to get very upset and Lash came in and rescued me by advising him about how all we would like to know is what the schedule is for the day.  But then again, nothing is his fault! 
(who is placing fault?  just tell what the schedule is!  is it that hard?)
They charged us extra for different vans than the ones we came in...claiming ours couldn't fit around the streets, he didn't pay for my daughter to go into one underground cavern, even though it was paid for in the price of the trip, saying that she kinda looked 5 years old...
she is 7, and though tiny, she does not look 5.  I would not have her lying to save himself a few Reals....
but all this could go on and on, and I will leave you with this for the evening....
and tomorrow, we will talk about the amazing parts of the trip..
The cities of Ouro Preto, Mariana, Congohas, the caverns, called Gruta de Maquine
and of course, pictures to accompany it all!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

May you all have a blessed and hopping Easter!

We are off to the State of Minas Gerais.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A great read..

Just wanted to pop on here and give you all an option of a book that I truly enjoyed.  
It is called "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Ann Barrows

This book made me feel like I was reading the personal letters of a group of people.  It is told that way...through letters.  It is set right after the Second World War in England.  
I do not want to give too much up, but I really enjoyed it.  I hope you do too!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Agua de coco

You can find this drink everywhere...
on the beach, in restaurants, at stands on the side of the road...

I am not a fan.  To me it tastes like dirty water.  But it is practically a staple here.
I love the way it looks, and the stands are always so photo worthy..
like this one in Paraty...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spell: Thorough

# of times I took my shoes off:  4
# of times I took just my top half of clothes off:  3
# of times I took all off:  1
# of ultrasounds:  3
# of x-rays:  2
# of times I had electrodes on my body: 2

I have never had a medical exam more thorough than I did for my husband's company yesterday.  Even when we first moved overseas...they didn't do anywhere near as many tests as they do here in Brazil!

First you get a locker and change into the t-shirt and pants they give you. (and I even got o keep them at the end of it all!)
Then we started going from room to room.  I should also mention that I had to fast since 12 hours before, including water!
Needless to say, I was SO thirsty.  

They first took my blood, 3 vials.  Then we went back to the waiting room. (where they have bottles of water and juice...but not yet, the nice lady told me!)

Then we went into the nutritionist....she took my height, weight, and the first set of electrodes: 2 on my hand, 2 on my foot, to measure my body fat.
According to her scale for my height and weight, I was over on the body fat by 3...well, 3 whatever they measure it in!  So then she talked to me about what I eat every day, all day...and then proceeds to give me a small lecture about what I should be eating and when.  Now, as much as I appreciate this, I have to say, I know a lot about eating.  As a ballet dancer, I knew what made me gain weight, what I couldn't eat, etc.  But I let her ramble on and on...and even agreed when she so stated the obvious!  After the fat test, I got to drink a whole bottle of water!  It tasted so good.  I hadn't had anything since 8:30 the night before; and here it was close to 9:30 by the time this all finished!!

Back to the waiting room.

Next is the doctor.  Take off the top half of clothes...listens to heartbeat, feels around, looks good.  Talk a little about ?  oh I don't know!  We talked about everything from her son being in Pittsburgh to what it is like living here in Brazil.  

Back to the waiting room.

Next we go upstairs to the "Women's" section.  Take off all of my clothes, and have the usual tests.  Ha, usual?  Since when have I ever had 3 ultrasounds in one exam?  It was pretty cool though.  I feel like I am thoroughly checked out for sure!  In the midst of all this, after the whole bottle of water, I so needed to go to the bathroom.  They wouldn't let me.  I thought, Are you all serious?  
they kept saying it was because they would be able to see better with one of the ultrasounds, blah, blah...
Finally, after the one, they let me pee.  Whew!

Back to the waiting room.
Eat a small sandwich that they prepare for you and drink more and more!!!

Next, onto the x-rays.  Quick and simple, 2 x-rays, not much talking...

Back to the waiting room.

Next is the breathing test.  They give you this contraption that looks similar to a plastic gun with a huge hole in where the barrel would be.  They put a soft clothespin type thingy on your nose.  Put the barrel into your mouth and breathe normal.  Right, breath normal with what feels like a bad kids test where ...
Let's see if BG can hold her nose and how long can she breath out and in like that for!  hahaha
So, you take a really deep breath in, and then blow it out for as long as possible and then breath in again ..... rest.  3 times please.

Back to the waiting room.
(at one of these waiting room intervals, I got to watch ER and Juliana Margulies take two daughters to say good bye to their dying Mother, and then realize she still loves George Clooney and goes running back to him in Seattle.  Tears were flowing...)

Then, we go for the final test.. shirt off, more electrodes (yes I have a running bra on the whole time, don't worry).
They hook me up, put me on the treadmill, I start walking and then running...I hate running.  This lasted 11 minutes and then 3 minutes of cool down walking.  All the while he is taking my heart rate and my blood pressure.  Realize that he has to lift my clutching hand off of the bar that is holding me up while I RUN!  I HATE running...I had to shift my other hand every time so that I didn't fall and make a complete fool of myself!

Back to the waiting room, where I got to change and go home :)

As I said in the title...spell thorough"