Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I just commented to Gabriela how I have been such a bad blogger...
so here I am, trying to be better :)

What has been happening in my neck of the woods?

My daughter's class, along with Gabriela's son, has their play this week. So, I have been to all the performances, helping out, filming, etc...
They are doing a play based on the book "Chocolate Fever". It is really cute they way some of them act...Gabriela's son is very funny as a truck driver with a mullet hairdo, cut off sleeves and a great delivery of his lines. My daughter is the nurse, and she is so cute in her nurse's uniform.
They all do a great job, and it is such a good experience to bring drama into their lives!
(other than that which occurs at home, hahaha)

I have not been playing tennis which is very upsetting to me. I have had a hurt wrist for a long time. When it finally really started to sting every time I hit a forehand, I knew that I should get to the doctor. So, I went and he thought it was a ligament at first. After an MRI, he said it was inflammation in my wrist joint. I have to wear a soft brace and take anti-inflammatory medication for two weeks. Then I will go back and see him, and how it is progressing.
In my opinion, it just makes my wrist stiff...and I am not consistent in always wearing it. I wear it a lot, but when I am washing the dishes how can I wear it? I can't get it wet because then it will be gross and smelly!

We are leaving for the Amazon soon. We will be spending a day in the city of Manaus, and then boarding a boat with 14 other people, all of which we know, to cruise the Amazon. We are all very excited about this trip. It has been in the planning for a year now!
It is mostly a fishing adventure for the guys, but the boat captain is throwing in some eco-adventures for us also! It should be a blast! I can't wait to see and hear all the creatures!
We are planning on having a traditional Thanksgiving on the boat. He found turkeys for us, and we told him we would cook that day!
I am making the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Other ladies are making pecan pie, stuffing, green bean casserole, etc...
I think this is going to be a very exciting Thanksgiving for us all!

I wish you all a blessed and feast-full Thanksgiving. Enjoy the company of those that are around you, and give Thanks for everything that we are all blessed with in our lives.

I am thankful for my family, our health and happiness and the joy that every day life brings into my world. My friends are wonderful and I want to say thank you to all of them that bring laughter and fun into my life....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fernando de Noronha

This was the second "leg" of our trip.
We spent 6 glorious days on this island.

It is ringed by many beautiful beaches and of course, coral reefs :)
Some of the beaches are difficult to get to, but that just made the adventure all the more fun.
We visited, literally, ALL the beaches. Our son was the map guide to finding them! They were such troopers...sometimes climbing over hot sand or rocks in bare feet, or being so brave and hopping from stone to stone...

all in the quest for the amazing beaches. Here are two of my favorite, but I will post pictures of them all at the end.

On Baia dos Porcos you had to climb up and over some rocks with access from another beach called Cacimba do Padre (soft white sand and expansive was this beach), and what you came to was a beautiful, hidden sanctuary with large jutting rocks and pools and a curious little rodent/squirrel indigenous to the island called a Vespucci, I think. (In other texts, they say this rodent is extinct, but there was something there that looked like it!)

On Praia dos Sanchos you climb down a skinny passageway that they have put two ladders into and come to another amazing, cream colored sand beach.

We took a boat ride on the first day and did a neat activity where they drag you along in the water while you hold onto a large boomerang looking device connected to the back of the boat, breathing on snorkel. We saw turtles and an eel. The kids were loving it! They give you dinner on the boat by grilling on a small grill attached to the back of the boat!

My husband thought this was very cool...and something to consider for our future boat. I let him know, gently, that I am sure that it would not really be allowed to have a fire burning grill on the back of your boat because of Code 1234567, in the maritime laws of the US!

The kids also came on the dive boats with us. I do not have any pictures of our dives because I was trying out my video for the first time. It was amazing, and though I love the pictures, video is so much cooler!! I can actually still enjoy the dive without being so focused on one or two fish/corals/etc that I try to get the perfect picture of. Unfortunately, the video is going to take awhile for me to figure out how to upload it. I promise that I will work it out!
The exciting part of the dives for them was seeing dolphins in the Baia dos fact, almost every day we were on a boat we saw dolphins. They saw a shark jump out of the water and they saw turtles. The dive bug has really bit my son, so this summer we are going to see about getting him certified! I am so excited for him and us. We would love to share our passion with our children!

Our pousada, Teju Acu, was amazing. It was small and intimate, yet had a good restaurant, nice pool to relax around and just in a beautiful setting! The people that worked there were so friendly. They new our names by the first evening we were there, and always treated us so well.

My son asked one of the dive masters where to go for a good bite to eat for lunch...figuring the locals know best, right?! Well, he sent them to a place that has good milkshakes:) They were hooked after that...every day we went for a milkshake at TAMAR. This is a project that is very interesting here in Brasil. They are dedicated to saving the marine turtles that nest in and around different shores on this island, and the mainland Brasil. They had a little shop that sold refreshments, including the famous milkshakes on its property. Boy, they were really good!
Click on the name above to find out more about this great group. You can change the language of the website into English or Spanish also....

And just as we thought, our last day was a little sad, but, we didn't know that we still had one adventure left! The owner of our pousada, a Brasilian, but had spent many years in England, led us on an amazing trek. We all went without suspecting that it would be quite as difficult as it was! We had to walk/hop/skip over some rocks. They were slippery where they were wet, they were hot where the sun was blazing on them...

but what we came to was a little paradise!

This clear pool had little fish swimming around, cool water to bathe in and was so hidden that I am not sure anyone would ever know you were there!
It was a perfect ending to such a wonderful journey we all took to a little island called Fernando de Noronha.
The island was has it's own rhythm and soul. The people are friendly, the food was pretty good and the views are just amazing!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It was a late night for me....
My Steelers played Monday Night Football.

Now for most of you that might mean staying up a little late...
hahaha, for me, it means sleeping a little, waking up at 11:30 and staying up until 2:30!

My Steelers played a great game. They looked a little sleepy in the first half, and Denver took advantage of that. Denver played a great game too. (That's for you Gabriela!)
They have a tough defense and their quarterback just needs to keep his cool and confidence. He played a great first half, but then the Steelers turned it on.
They came out in the second half wanting to win...and we did!

Steelers 28
Denver 10

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Natal, Brasil

The first part of the trip was to spend two days in Natal, which is a city on the Northern coast of Brasil. It is known for its beaches and sand dunes.

We stayed at a very nice resort, albeit a little run of the mill.

The kids loved the ice cream,

and I don't know who ate more of this for breakfast!

This is what they call tapioca actually is mandioc flour that they make into a type of pancake. They fill it with different ingredients. We preferred it with bananas and a caramel-type topping called, in Portuguese, Doce de Leite. (in Spanish, dulce de leche)

This city has a beach town atmosphere, yet it is quite modern with beautiful glass buildings. I found it interesting how here the "favelas", or shanty towns, are more in disguise. They are below the tall high rises which have the views. Where as in my city, the favelas are all located on the sprawling hillsides with the best views. The only higher paying rents that have a view in my city, are those that are located right on the beach street or the upper floors of the higher buildings.

The city was very clean. The sun shining every day put a pretty glow on the sand dunes

that are in view in the distance. They had this huge sun dial on one of the main roads. I couldn't get a better picture because we were driving, but it was very interesting!

Our second day there we did what most tourists do...
we rented a dune buggy for the day, with a driver. They pick you up at your hotel and drive you to the sand dunes. The dune buggy drivers are licensed and the only ones allowed to drive on the dunes. The first dune had this huge dark lake at the bottom of it. Look how pretty the contrasting colors are!

Next came a little drive through a small town with this church and buggy traffic.

I also learned that there are yellow coconuts....I never did get to taste one, but they sure look good!

One of the funniest parts of getting to the dunes was this:

Yes, this is a personal "ferry" system of getting the buggies across a small river that does not have a bridge.

Personally, I think they keep it for the fun experience, not because they can't build bridges! The kids had so much fun and it was an amazing feat for these guys to push us across! Once the buggy pulls onto the big, flat wood with boards for breaks for the buggy's wheels, the guy pushes you across the river with big, long sticks.

They unfold the board breaks and drive off once you get to the other side.

On the way back, the water was at low-tide, so this SUV could drive to the patch of sand and then onto the "ferry".

This was an all day trip...and boy it's a good thing that it isn't just the dunes! It was really hot with all of this sand and sun! So they take you to these spots where there is a zip line into another lake,

a sand slide,

and of course, the ocean!

You can have lunch in the water too!

It was a great start to an enchanting trip. This is one of my favorite pictures...
my daughter on the porch of our hotel, coloring..

More to come about our next leg of the trip!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The airport chronicles....

Did I really think that I could get by a whole two vacations without an airport story?
(or in this case...two!)

Airport story #1
(short and sweet)

It would have been nice for the travel agent that booked our trip to put the time of the return flight in accordance with the time change in Brasil. Yes, we knew the clock changed, we changed our watches....the problem was the travel agent. He put the departure time at 2:50. Well, now I don't know why, but here they also then change the time of the flights! In winter, the flight is at 2:50. Once the clock "springs ahead" for summer, the flight changes to 1:50.
Needless to say, we missed our return flight home from vacation. So instead of a nice direct flight that takes about 3 hours, which would of put us back in our home by about 7 pm, we ended up having to take the only other flight that had 4 seats available. This flight stopped for a 3 hour layover...putting us in our home at 1 am. Good thing our kids are used to traveling, they are great no matter what happens! I felt responsible too, because I was the one who said...we can go to that airport only about an hour and half before the flight. It's a small airport and a domestic hour and a half should be fine, right? Well obviously not...
We survived, but it was a long evening to say the least!

Airport story #2
(grab a coffee or tea, have a seat and read on...this is a long doozy!)

The plane configuration from most planes to Brasil, are 2-3-2.
I was in the aisle of one of the 2 seater sides. The doors closed and no one was sitting next to me. This is a complete joy because then I could stretch out, "while still leaving my seatbelt fastened and in view of a flight attendant should I fall asleep". Then all of a sudden, this strange lady in high heels, skin tight skinny jeans, coat and purse comes from the back of the plane and points to the seat next to me. I assumed it was her seat...and maybe that is where I made a mistake. I did not feel that I had the right to ask to see her seat assignment, hahaha, so I got up and let her in. Well, the first sensation I got from her was her smell. She was totally smelling of alcohol. I know when someone has had too much. She definitely had too much. I was hoping for a pass out drunk...ha, no such luck! She started folding her jacket about 20 times. Then they started to hand out the forms that you need when you enter another country. I pulled out my pen, she was looking all around the entire plane...for what, I dunno. I was thinking for a pen to borrow. I figured she could borrow mine, even though it is a beautiful pen that my husband bought for me. I started filling mine out, waiting for the "can I borrow that" question, but it never came. After I put everything all away, she goes into her purse, after taking out and folding her jacket two more times, and pulls out a pen. In the meantime, I am just reading my book, ho humming along.
So, as it is a late night flight (we left around midnight, and remember Brasil is two hours ahead of US Eastern time). The attendants come around with drinks and start with the food. Well, that's where she finds her voice, and then the rest is soon to be history!
She starts in with, "what is this? They have no organization. It was never like this before. I used to fly these flights 2 or 3 times a year. They used to announce when they were going to do things like serve dinner. This is crazy. I have no time." (insert taking out and folding her jacket again).
The whole problem was that the lady asked her if she would like a dinner, meat or chicken. She said, "can you bring it back later?" The attendant said, "hmm, hmm, yes, around 2 am ok?" I was cracking up at this point. The attendant asked me if I wanted dinner and I declined. She said "ah, you've eaten here before!" Now I was really laughing!
The lady is fidgeting and fussing over her papers to fill out. She started humphing and puffing about the man sitting in front of her moving his seat too much. (I never really noticed it actually).

*do you need a refill yet? we still have a lot more to go!*

so, then the next male flight attendant comes by and asks if she would like a drink. She says, "what is this. First, you ask me if I want this, then that. Can't you see I can't do everything at once. This is never how you used to do it." He replies, "Well, we have for the 20 years I have been working for the company", and gives a soft chuckle. Again, me cracking up and him noticing, so now he knows he has an ally! So, she goes on to tell him, "I asked the lady if I could have dinner later. Since she seems to be ignoring me could you get me one with meat please?". He gets her one, and then she gets all flustered again. She says, "where do you expect me to put it? I have no room, you made no announcements to let us know!". So she looks to me and motions to my tray. She says, "can I use that just for a little bit. They just overtook me here, and I don't know what to do!" So I open my tray and she puts her dinner on it.
Cue for the male flight attendant, "Ma'am would you like something to drink with that? "
Oh my gosh, I though she was going to explode right then and there!
She looks at him with a look of complete exasperation and says, "Seriously? Now. Yes, then, if I have to. I'll take a wine."
Oh come on lady, you haven't had enough?
He gives her the wine and mentions that it will be $6. she just looks at him while he stands there. She then starts to finish filling out her papers!
He says, a little exasperated because he really needs to get the rest of the plane their drinks, "are you going to get that now? or ....?"
She gives him a look of helplessness, and splutters out, "where do you think I am going to go? I already have my dinner here and my papers here. Oh fine, just give me a minute."
She reaches down, puts her papers away, and gets her wallet. She fumbles for the money and shoves it in his face. then she proceeds to continue complaining...I assume to me, but I am just looking either straight ahead or into my book. I am giggling as discreetly as possible because I just thought this whole situation so funny!

Well, she starts eating, drinking...oh sorry, when she put her wallet away she brought the trusty jacket again and folded it twice. Things are going fairly calm. Then after a little bit, they turn on the movie. Harmless right?

HA! She goes into her seat pocket to look for the head phones. Her bag is already torn open and no head phones to be found! She looks to me, and starts again...
"this plane is *#X! . I remember when they had screens right on every seat. Now I can't even get a pair of head phones. this is ridiculous."
I scurry into my seat back, and find my bag. I gladly giver he mine. There was a nice man behind us who offered me his, but I was planning on sleeping anyways.

*refill time*

I thought this time she would be quiet and just watch the movie. Well, silly me, the lights were kept on! Her, "how can they keep the lights on. this is nuts. this plane is so full of %*#$ . I am so sick of this. We have 6 more hours of this terrible service! 6 hours! Can you believe it? what do they think? This is not a 2 hour flight! this is all the way to Brasil, 6 more hours!"

Ha, she is telling me this? I am wishing that I would have questioned her about her proper seat!
So, she finally gets up and starts roaming the aisles for an attendant to turn off the lights. she must not find any...or at least anyone that will actually attend to her. she comes back, sinks into her seat with a thud, folds her jacket many more times, humphs and shrugs, and just plops back into her seat.
now, at least I was able to go to sleep. the male attendant asked if I wanted to be moved away from the crazy lady, but I declined. Way too much fun, plus there weren't really any seats in first class anyways.
Somehow, some time, she fell asleep. She slept all the way until we had to leave our seats to get off the plane.
Thank goodness!

That's the short and long of it...
Brasil vacation post to follow soon :)