Week of December 08, 2007
We're back!!! Just like the villain in a good horror movie, you just cannot keep us away for very long. And, we missed you too - so welcome back!
As we had a fantastic first week here in Brasil, I found it rather odd that I was having such a difficult time to continue with our journal. After some soul searching (pun intended) and as my mother would say "studying one's navel" I found that much of what I write in this website was for a particular member of my audience, and that member would be my Father, William H Wright.
You see, my Father was a person that was interested in everything, no matter where, what, when, how or why, he just had a curiosity of which, at least I could find no bounds. To say that trait genetically rubbed off on me would be an understatement. So much of what I have done and am doing, has come from the great influence of three terrific individuals (whether from good qualities or perhaps, the not so good qualities) and unfortunately, it sometimes takes the loss of those influences for you to realize how much of what you are, is actually from what they were.
So much of what I have compiled in these jumbled pages were written with my Father in mind. The little tidbits of history I knew he would grasp hold of and comment about in his next email. The sly interjections of sarcasm or other forms of wit he would catch and would parrot back to me the next time we spoke. The stories of our successes and especially our mishaps that would lead him to regale us with his comparisons to his own experiences. So much of these literary splurges were typed with a grin on my face, as I knew my Father would "get a kick" out of what was written.
Sometimes, you share sports with your Father; sometimes you share mechanics with your Father; sometimes you share business with your Father; and sometimes, you just share who and what you are, your life and how you live it. Whether your Father agrees or disagrees, it naught but matters, for what does matter is that common thread, in our case, our wanderlust, that regardless of what path our personalities took us and regardless of where our opinions directed us, we always wound up reuniting at various intersections along our life's journey.
And, while at those intersections, whether for hours, for days or scattered within the past 20 years of my life, we shared what might be viewed as an "madness" by some and by others, we shared an unexplainable drive to explore, an unquenchable thirst to discover, whether down the street or down the Americas.
So, I find myself dedicating the nuances of this website to my Father's memory, for it is that memory that I will keep in the forefront of my mind when I look to add a tidbit of history, a sly interjection of humor or a storied composition of our wanderings.
When we landed in Brasil, to say we hit the ground running would not quite measure up to the pace we set. First, it was to get in a few quick hugs with the family and friends and then, down to business. Our top priority was to check in on Cindy and we were so happy to see her comfortably nestled in her garage. Gerson's cousin, Carlos Vinicio, bathed Cindy just prior to our arrival and she looked like the day we first laid eyes on her (which means we are a very forgiving lot when it comes to looks).
We crawled around the inside of Cindy and we both came to the realization of how much we missed her and having her with us during our travels. (Methinks, Cindy and I are finally getting Gerson to lean toward our want to drive back to California...that will be yet another journey!).
Somewhere in those first few days, Gerson's sister Marjorie excitedly took us to look and test drive the new car she will get by the end of the year. The car is a Toyota Fielder, a make of car we do not have in the United States as of yet. It is a smaller, almost van-like version of the Toyota Highlander and it is based on the 16 valve Corolla engine. The car is called a "Flex" car as it runs on both gasoline and alcohol (about every three alcohol runs, you use gasoline) and it has all kinds of cool amenities that I have not seen in the United States. Now, this description may not mean much to most of you, but what I can tell you is that this car is great!
We stopped in to see Gerson's Aunt Marilda, Uncle Sebastiao and various cousins and to my surprise, I have shrunk considerably since we were here two years ago. Either that, or Gerson's young cousins have grown about 20 feet since the last time I saw them. Seriously, Bruno and Bernardo, ages 15 and 14, were of chin-height and well, you can see by the pictures what happened.
We also enjoyed a terrific dinner of carangueijo (crab) with Marjorie and Carlos and Carlos's warm and wonderful mother, Dona Many. Dona Many does not fala much English and with my lack of fala-ing Portuguese, we seem to make the most fun of our lack of words. Just a lot of hand gestures with a few understandable words and a lot of smiles. What I did understand was the beautiful painting that she gave me for our home. Having collected many artsy things during our travels, this truly was a fantastic gift. To parody what someone once said: "I may not know what is art, but I know what I like."
Another highlight of the week, was going with Vinicio, Evelize and Carlos Vinicio to see a Christmas show in downtown Curitiba at a place called the "Palacio Avenida". It is a show sponsored by an international bank and it encompasses the entirety of this grand old building. What makes it so special is that there is a huge choir of orphaned children placed in ones and twos in each of the many windows that wrap the angled sides of the building.
Along with their sweet voices resonating through the streets singing familiar Holiday songs (even in Portuguese, I could recognize some of my favorites), the building was lit in various lighting themes to match the music. The children would be in various costumes or be waving or holding a number of different "props" to enhance the listening experience. It was one hour where everyone just stood transfixed watching and especially listening to these special children.
With the short visits with the family over, we were off to a short trip down south to visit with Gabriel, Jo and Diego in Blumenau. Blumenau is a nice city that was formed mostly from German immigrants and hence, its architecture reflects a bit of a "chalet" or "old world" look. Arriving in the evening, gave us just enough time to catch up a bit and make ready for our next morning's departure for our next adventure: rafting!
We met up with another friend of Gabriel's, Joao (pronounced "Jo-ow" with a soft "j") and off we went into the jungles of Apiuna (Ap-ee-oona) and over to where the rafting initiates. We listened intently to the instructions the guide gave and didn't hear a thing. We just wanted to get in the water and go! And go we did.
The river winds through the mountains and picks up quite a bit of sediment and plant material so even though the water is "clean", it did have a bit of a murky appearance. Needless to say, we had a wet and wild two hour ride on what turned out to be Class 3 - 4 waters.
We had a some time of relative calm and the chance to jump off a 30' cliff. Of course, we had to encourage a few water fights with the other rafters sharing the waters. All in all, it was a great day and further enhanced with a nice cold Skol while reliving our brave deeds of the day.
We took our time getting home and stopped to appreciate some of the beautiful scenery. From the quaint German-influenced homes to forest views. Oh, and lest I forget, I no sooner jumped out of the car to take a couple of quick pictures, when I turn around and Gabriel and Joao had already ran into a nearby bar and were already downing a cold beer - Brazilians!!!
We made it home somewhat intact as I know I left some measure of terror back on the road. I do not know why Brasil has those broken white lines on their roads because there are certainly no specific lanes on the road, just one big area to drive! Well possibly, the lines are to mark where to cross over while you are slaloming down the road. I think the drivers go 10 kilometers to drive 5 as they double their distance with their weaving in and out, back and forth and heck, the other side of the road looks clear...ei yi yi...