Monday, October 31, 2005

Feeling Human Again

I'm finally starting to feel human again after a week of nasty infection. Ryan apparently caught what I have. He went to the doctor today and they gave him antibiotics as well. Luckily, it seems as though we caught his a lot earlier than mine, so he won't get as sick.

We had our first Halloween in the house tonight. We had at least 40-50 kids stop by. When did they stop saying "Trick or Treat"? It seemed like everyone just came to the door and took candy. It did seem like the parents made them say thank you though. Our first visitors were Snow White and a Power Ranger. Toooo cute.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Brazil Update - Monday

Brazil --

And now for the update. I will share as much as I can about my trip without getting bogged down in the gory details.

After spending a few days in Tampa, my colleagues and I left for Brazil last Saturday afternoon. After nearly 24 hours in the air or airports we arrived in Porto Allegre. Exhausted and dirty, we showered and cast out for food. Unfortunately, everything is closed in Brazil on Sunday and we couldn't find the mall/restaurant our front desk told us about. After finally finding food, we all passed out pretty early to get ready for our big adventure.

We spent Monday at the corporate office learning from our Brazillian and Chilian counterparts. It felt like I was at the United Nations. We had headsets on and had continous translation from the back of the room. Very cool.

Monday night we went out to a traditional Brazillian barbeque. The waiters bring out huge skewers of meat and slice you pieces until you can't move. Because so few preservatives are used, everything was incredibly salty. I tried my most unusual food of the trip here: chicken heart. Verdict? It won't become a staple of my diet.


On Tuesday we visited our mill south of Porto Allegre. Watched barbed wire and nails being made was very cool. The biggest difference between Brazillian mills and American is that in Brazil the mill is very much the center of life. The mill looks more like a campus than a mill and often includes a social club, a medical center and sports fields. Often, the mill will offer free medical services to the surrounding communities. It's a very different way of life in Brazil. It broke my heart to see families living in one-room shacks with aluminum roofing. It truly is still a developing nation.

Dinner was at a Italian restaurant. In every restaurant we went to, food was served in rounds and dinner always lasted at least 3 hours. First was the bread course, then appetizers, then more appetizers, then the main course, then dessert and finally, cordials and dessert wine. Yeesh. Give me my 45 minute dinner any day.

Wednesday - before the illness

Hehe… our laptop kept dying, so my blogging was truncated yesterday. Ehem … to continue …

Wednesday was another day at the mill. It was a cool mill because they made specialty products like stainless steel and molds. This picture is of my colleague, Trisha and I, about to set out for our tour. After the tour we set off for the airport. My favorite example of the difference between our cultures was when our first flight was very delayed. Would we miss our flight? We wondered to our Brazilian cohort. “Likely” she replied … completely unconcerned. We didn’t, but we didn’t get into our hotel until 1:30 am with directions to be ready at 8 am the next morning. I started to get a sore throat on the flight.


Thursday morning I woke up to this beautiful view from my room. This, by the way, is as close as I got the beautiful beaches of Recife. We were all completely exhausted for our mill tour on Thursday. I was in full-blown head cold by this point and spent most of the tour looking for a chair. I skipped out on dinner that night and only joined the rest of the crew after dinner for a little conversation.

Friday - last day

Friday was our one day to see Brazil on the trip. We went on a 3 hour city tour of Recife. This picture was taken in Olinda, overlooking the city of Recife. The city was beautiful, but much poorer than Porto Allegre. Our tour guide had his own agenda. Apparently, he got a cut of everything we bought at certain boutiques … so our tour was very directed. It was fun, but not enough time spent actually seeing the country of Brazil.

Then … back to the airport. Our first flight took us from Recife back to Porto Allegre. We got into the airport at 9 pm and figured we had plenty of time to get to our midnight flight to Atlanta. We went to check in for our flight and found out that our flight had been moved to 8 am the next morning. I was not staying another night in Brazil, sick and away from Ryan. We ran for the 10 o’clock flight and were the last people on the flight at 5 minutes till 10pm. Unfortunately, one of our colleagues was not so lucky.

I finally got into Newark at 10 am Saturday morning and was greeted by my wonderful husband. He got to put up with sick wife for the weekend as I slept nearly the whole weekend away trying to get better. To no avail. I had to call in sick on Monday. I barely made it to work Tuesday when my boss and the company nurse told me to go to the doctor and go home. As it turns out, I have an infection in my left ear, throat, and sinuses. I wasn’t being a baby after all. Yesterday I was blogging from the couch, my new home. I made it back to work today and am finally feeling human again today. Thank you antibiotics.

And that’s Brazil.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Ball

Last night was the Navy Ball in Atlantic City. We had a GREAT time. I am bummed that this picture ended up blurry because it is the epitomy of the evening. We got dressed up, danced the night away and lost some money playing video poker. It was a perfect rainy October evening. The bed in our room was like sleeping on a rock ... so we're spending the rest of the day couch luge-ing.


The second day of Pennsylvania we spent at the Rennaissance Faire. It was fun as always. I really enjoy the humor and pagentry of the faires. During the final joust of the day, this guy was trading insults with a guy in the audience. It's about as different as it could be from the Amish country the day before ... but just as fun and interesting.

Amish Country

Last weekend Ryan and I went to Pennsylvania to visit the Amish Country and to go to the Rennaissance Faire. We had a really nice time. Amish country was cool because it was like going back in time about 100 years. Everywhere you went were people tilling their farms with horses and traveling in buggies. It's certainly not a lifestyle I would choose, but there is something appealing about the simplicity of it all. People essentially spend their time growing the food they need, taking care of their home and family and spending time with their neighbors. Several of the women we saw were starting to bald because they wear their hair in a tight bun at the back of their head. The culture doesn't make a lot of sense to me (i.e., why can they use diesel fuel to power appliances but not electricity?). It was an interesting day though.
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