Sunday, May 24, 2015

Visitor, Beco do Batman, Celebrations Around the World, and Iguazu

Peter's good friend Ben got to come visit us a few weeks back. He was here for work and extended so we could hang out with him on the weekend. I think you could say the girls were smitten :). 

While he was here, we went to a place called Beco do Batman. It is a section of alleys that are painted by street artists, and they are all so interesting to look at! Street art is a big thing here--you rarely drive and don't see something either graffitied or painted. Some is actually art, and some is just terrible graffiti. But this section is definitely worth visiting. It is also in a "hipster" area of town.

The next weekend while Peter was out of town, my American friends took the girls and I to the big PTA fundraiser at their school called "Celebrations Around the World." This was at the American school that is amazing! It costs a fortune, but the campus is huge and has two different playgrounds. Only problem is that it is not close to where we live. Anyway, about the fundraiser, about 26 countries were represented with a booth and food. There was also live music, bouncy houses, and a raffle. This is Charlotte with her little friend Nellie.

 Shaking her booty on stage with the Salsa dancer. These salsa girls were so great!

The girls have been best friends lately and they both love to snuggle. 

Finally, last weekend we took a trip to Iguacu Falls. It borders Argentina and Brazil. They are one of the 7 wonders of the world, and I personally think they earn that title. We started our trip on the Brazil side and walked onto this neat pathway that takes you right toward the heart of some of the most gushing waterfalls. It is called The Devil's Throat. We got soaked!

Lucky Clara spent most of the weekend in this, and managed to stay pretty dry.
This is the view from a tower that overlooks almost where we were standing. There were waterfalls visible from all different angles.

Another view from the lookout where we got soaked. It was so loud! 

A funny thing about this area is this animal--it is called a quati. It looks like a mix between a raccoon and an anteater. They are fearless and will jump on you to get whatever food you have. Which is too bad, considering they have these gigantic long claws! The kids really loved seeing them everywhere. 

Here is a view further down the path towards the end of the falls. They just go on and on!

That day we also took a boat, called the Macuco Safari, that takes you right into the rapids and under the falls! Charlotte loved it.

Clara not as much. But she was a trooper! They were some of the youngest kids at the falls and they really were spectacularly easy. 

This is what our boat looked like. The rapids were huge and I was so surprised at how it went through the waves with barely a bump. 

Can you tell Clara was a little wary of the whole boat situation? Haha. 

That evening we went to Parque das Aves (a bird park). They had hundreds of species of the most beautiful birds I've ever seen. It was really fun and the girls loved it!
 A few different parts of the park were cages that you could walk through. The birds would land right next to you and just sit there. Can I just say, the picture does not do this toucan justice. It was one of the coolest looking birds.

 Charlotte was so tired by the end of the day she got to have a turn in the backpack too.

The next morning we hopped on a bus to take us to the Argentina side. While at the falls, one side is Brazil and the other Argentina and they are a whole 50 yards of walking away from each other, the entrance to the Argentina park is a little further. So on the way to the entrance of that park, the bus took us to a tourist site where you can see Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.
Charlotte was not super stoked about this stop. 
 We could not get Charlotte to smile for these pictures and the whole tour bus that came with us was laughing at the situation.

She cheered up a little on the next hike--it was also called Devil's Throat. It took us to the top of the falls where there was the greatest water flow. It made me a little nervous and I held on to the kids really tight!

 We went on a few more hikes that day that took us along the wall of waterfalls.

Our day was full of hiking and we were pretty exhausted by the end. I took over Clara duty for a little while and showed her the art of taking selfies. :)

There wasn't too much else to do in the area and we flew home the next day. It was an amazing trip and we feel so lucky that our little companions are so easy! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Feiras and Calhetas

 In Sao Paulo, during each week there are several outdoor markets on different streets on different days. They are called Feira Livres. (Pronounced Fay-duh leevree). At the markets, they sell flowers, produce, meat, and sometimes other very random things such as bras and hair bows. It is the best place to get your produce for the week as it is usually very fresh and usually a better deal than at the grocery store. We took the kids to the one by Ibirapuera park (the biggest park in Sao Paulo) the other Saturday. Clara got to ride in the carrier since it was about a mile walk.
 We got so many looks! A few people even stopped and took our picture. Hilarious!

 I forgot to mention one of the best things they sell at these--fresh sugar can juice and fresh coconut juice. SOooo delicious. They also sell these yummy fried pockets of meat and cheese called pasteis. The girls love to stop and get them.

 They shut down the entire block for the Feira and they are always full of people. The vendors are always offering you samples of their goods and once you try one, they will get you to try some of everything. The other day, a vendor even offered me some of the beer he was drinking!

 So you know now that my double stroller has bit the dust, and with Charlotte's school a mile walk away, it has been an interesting adjustment. We have compromised some and fold down the back of our single stroller and the kids sit together. They are such troopers and generally get along great!

Movies here are most often shown in English with Portuguese subtitles, except for kids movies, which are dubbed. We were really lucky and since Cinderella was a live action movie, it was shown in English for a few weeks. We took the kids to see it and the theatre even had a coach for them to pose in.

Easter was fun and low-key, but we definitely missed family. Charlotte's school brought a live bunny into all the classes, and Charlotte loved it! We had to adjust our traditions a little bit, but it was still fun. 

 Easter weekend we went to a beach called Calhetas, which is a locals beach. It is close to Isla Bella, which is an island off the coast here that is supposed to have some of the best beaches. We did an AirBnb because there weren't a lot of hotel options, and it had a really good description. The lady said we would have no problem with beds for all four of us. We were a little surprised when we got here and realized the "house" consisted of one room, one bathroom, and an outdoor kitchen!!
However, the location was amazing, and we walked to one of the coolest beaches I've ever been to.
 Here was the bedroom that was meant to sleep 4:

To keep the beach as clean and pure as possible, they keep the land down to the beach wild and you have to hike down a ways. It was a beautiful hike!

The water was amazing, and the view was stunning. There were no waves and it was as warm as a bath! There were probably only 25 people there all day.

 The only downside to this beach was the biting flies. No matter how much bug spray we put on, those little guys did not leave us alone! (What was kind of funny about this, so every lady here wears a thong, and you could see bug bites all over their buns!)

 One thing we've heard a lot of expat families say is how much the living abroad experience has brought them closer as a family. Lately the girls have been playing together a lot, partly because they have no other choice. They also know that the other will always understand them (as opposed to other kids that don't speak English).  Also, all of our free time is spent together, and it has been amazing. It really is a neat experience and I do feel like our family is closer because of it.