Back from Brazil
We’re back from Brazil and had a fabulous time. Thais' family is awesome and that country is just gorgeous. I haven’t been terribly social since our return, I apologize! I uploaded pictures of the honeymoon, reception, and wedding to the new photo gallery.
Thais is from the southern-most state in Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul, which is heavily populated by German immigrants. Her parents are living in a little town named Harmonia , population 2,000, which is 90% German-speaking. The townsfolk are largely farmers or factory workers and are pretty suspicious of strangers. We were visiting during an annual town celebration (pictured), announced by a loud- speaker on a car that drove around for a week beforehand, and the people were much more sociable then. I was approached a number of times and had to respond that I did not speak Portuguese, and every time was asked, “Oh, then do you speak German?” The gaucho (people from southern Brazil) music and folk dancing are very derivative of German folk music and dancing.
Rio Grande do Sul is famous for shoes, furniture, and chocolate that are exported all over the world. We visited another German town called Novo Hamburgo (‘Novo’ means ‘New’) specifically to buy new shoes - we weren’t disapointed with the selection. :-)
Gramado (pictured), similarly, is famous for chocolate. The town is very reminiscent of Park City - but German-er - complete with high, touristy, prices; a film festival; cold weather and high altitude.
A few times a week we’d make the hour-and-a-half drive into the capital city of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre . for shopping and business. Thais' family recycles plastics so I got to tour a couple plastic factories, one of which makes the plastic for the soles of (famous) shoe brands. It was very cool to see.
To finish the trip we spent only a couple days in Rio de Janeiro RiodeJaneiro.kmz The city is very beautiful, but many parts are very impovershed and dangerous. The largest slum we drove past spanned the entire side of a mountain and is populated by 80,000 people. The famous beaches there, Copacabana and Ipanema, we’re pretty gorgeous and warm even though we visited in the late fall. The big Jesus statue, Cristo Redentor (pictured) that looks over the city was pretty awesome, and visible from almost everywhere. (The Google Earth topographical data for Rio de Janeiro seems suspect to me, the mountain that the statue sits atop is much more dramatic in person.) Next visit we’d like to spend more time there to see the (seemingly) countless statues and monuments we drove past.