For Sophia!

February 18, 2013 | | Leave a Comment

While staying at a hotel in Santarém, I recorded this video of fish swimming for my niece:


A closer look

October 9, 2012 | | Leave a Comment

Let me give you a little more insight into these pictures. I’ve highlighted some features that I find interesting and that you might not necessarily notice if you haven’t been here for a while, or aren’t gifted with observation skills superior to my own (you probably are!).

Starting with the arrows:

The blue arrow, in the upper left hand corner, is pointing to a waste receptacle with coloration that is repeated throughout the city. Even in my building, the four compartments for paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum. I won’t tell you what colors correspond to which recyclable material because, as I said before, I ‘m not that observant.

The red arrow is pointing to a one of the men who sweeps trash from the street. I am not sure of the formal job name, either in English or in Portuguese. Leaves and cigarette butts accumulate in all the city’s crevices and sidewalk drainage canalinhos, which are crucial to providing drainage in this precipatitive city. Of course, it hasn’t rained with any great frequency since I’ve got here, which is unseasonable weather. The most effective sweeper I’ve seen used a broom fashioned from palm fronds to sweep up cigarette butts from the cracks between bricks near PUC.

The yellow (or green?) arrow is pointing to banana trees. They grow here, and banana bunches dangle off of them. In Ubatuba, the lady who owned the bed and breakfast we stayed at grew her own bananas outside her house. I suspect that here in the centro, which has a high population of homeless, the bananas are either quickly eaten or removed by the authorities.


The man I’ve circled on the left hand side of the picture is wearing a Corinthianos shirt. The Corinthians soccer team is the most popular team in São Paulo, and their fans are notoriously dedicated and rowdy. Books could be written about soccer in Brazil (and they have been), and volumes more could be stuffed with anecdotes, studies, and stories about the Corinthianos and their fans. I just wanted to highlight that even in this semi-random photo, the team is representin’.


You can tell the richer areas of the city by the amount of trees that are in them. Though this plaza, the Praça de Pedro Lassa isn’t a wealthy area, the trees are certainly a welcome relief to the honeycomb of concrete that surround them.


No particular reason for this photo, other than to profess yet again how much I love the metro.


I would just like to point out the difference between graffiti and street art. Street art is generally a composition that incorporates symbolism and presents visual commentary. Graffiti, like the kind at the top of the yellow building in the lower left hand corner, is more like a marker to say “hey, I’m here!!” While I find streetart more visually interesting, graffiti impresses me for the bold, precarious locations of its surfaces.


This is a “skyline closeup” from the top of the Martinelli building. At the top of the image, note the antennae. These are visible from the mountains that ring the city, but aren’t useful guideposts within it.


September 20, 2012 | | Leave a Comment

Free for the taking

I visited Paraty in Rio de Janeiro state weekend. Among other common trees, bananas grow in people’s yards and on hiking trails.

Oh, blah-g

September 20, 2012 | | Leave a Comment

Dear blog,

I think about you every day, and how I’m not writing in you. I have a secret – I care less and less!


August 16, 2012 |  Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Now that those pesky London Olympics are over, international sports coverage in the US can turn to bigger things, such as the upcoming World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, hosted in Rio de Janeiro.

This is the article that caught my attention.

I am pleased to see people discussing the games, though already labeling them a “costly disaster” is both premature and wildly alarmist. It is not, however, without precedent. Brazil’s lagging preparations for the 2014 World Cup have been noted not just by media outlets but also by FIFA itself. For those of you that didn’t catch it, FIFA’s Secretary General called Brazil out earlier this year over safety concerns, certain cities’ insufficient lack of accommodations, and stadium construction delays. Brazilian officials were, to say the least, displeased.

We discussed the progressively panicked perspective on Brazil’s preparations in one of our program-mandated courses yesterday. Our professor explained that delays of these sorts were common with large, public work projects in Brazil. If, for example, the government appropriate R$ 1 billion for a highway to be constructed in 14 months, the business that received the contract would request an extra R$ 200 million in necessary materials at month 12. It is not an “ideal” system, but I would believe reassurances from Brazilians. Projects might come in behind schedule and over budget, but they will – eventually – get done.

Absence from my blog has made my heart grow fonder for it! I’ve thought about posting to this public record every day, but in the end my inner censor gets the best of me. Rest assured that I have some posts in the pipes and should be posting about every week from now on, but in the interim, here’s a quick recap of what’s happened to me here since my last post:

On my way from my apartment in Salvador to our afternoon culture classes, I took a bus through the city. This snapshot gives you a fairly representative idea of what to expect from of Brazilian cityscapes: many cars, buses, and motorcycles, with occasional old buildings but mostly high-rise apartments constructed in the last 4 decades.


We took a trip to Praia do Forte, a tourist beach town to the north of Salvador that is the most idyllic place I've visited so far. Home to one station of a coastal turtle protection project (Project TAMAR), tide pools with white sandy beaches, and this 16th century castle residence.


My first soccer game as a spectator - Bahia vs. Flamengo!


The Flamengo fans were separated from us, the Bahia fans, by a thin strip of seats guarded by police.



Happy Independence Day, Gringos (I’m told that in Brasil it’s NOT *necessarily* offensive!)!

Two days ago we went to the historic center of Salvador to celebrate the 2 de julho (dois de julho), or “Bahian Liberation Day.” Instead of me describing the day, I composed a photo post (think: photo essay). Enjoy the photos and, as always, post questions if you have them!

For "O 2 de julho," there is a parade through the historic district. These two, from left to right, read literally "Save Gen. Labatut, General of Brazilian Troops. Save the 2nd of July!" and "Save Maria Quitéria, Heroine of Independence! Save the 2nd of July!"


Unlike Carnival, a celebration that sees traditional social hierarchies reversed (more about that in February, I'm sure), the Brazilian Independence Day Celebration and O 2 de julho are what Brazilian Sociologist Roberto Da Matta calls "festas de ordem." I dared not take a picture of any of the Policia Federal, Civil, or Estadual that were clustered in groups at street corners or lining up on the sidewalks, but I made sure to get a picture of the low flying helicopters. This one was not a military helicopter, as far as I'm aware, but a military one was above the Praça de Sé while we walked toward our parade watching location.


All the political parties marching in the desfile had these balloons. This one shoes a factory, represented as a giant safe pumping pollution into a river. Perhaps the sentiment is related to a graffiti I saw yesterday near Campo Grande reading "Agrobusiness Kills" (I translate)

This banner reads "Jaques Wagner is the death of education in Bahia. The Bahian State Universities (acronyms listed there in parentheses) are also on strike. The university where my classes will be held until I leave for São Paulo, the Universidade Federal da Bahia (pronounced in Portuguese as "Oo-fee-bah"), is on strike. The professors are protesting cuts in pay (or something of that nature. Forgive my ignorance).

I've taken two pictures of paintings for sale in the Pelourinho. This one shows Brasil as a face displaying more than one skin color.

If anyone knows anything about composing a photo, let me know. I tried with this one. Pretty houses, fun colors. The blue building at left is the Casa de Jorge Amado, a famous Brazilian author.

Really old door! Or newer door with poor paint maintenance! Still really pretty though!

Emily rightly requested via the facebook that I explain my title! Allow me to do so:

A long time ago, a German dude named Hans Staden found his way onto (I’m going off memory here, so, Carolina, this is the real test of my study skills!) a Spanish ship to the coast of Brazil. By and by, he was shipwrecked and was working with the French (who at that time were competing with the Portuguese and Dutch for control of the region, with its valuable trade in “Pau do Brasil” (or Brazil Wood – useful for its dye!!). Hans ole boy gets shipwrecked and captured by the Tupiniquins (try saying it: Too-pee-kneeng-keensh), a tribe living on the Brazilian coast. Hans is initially slated to be murdered and eaten, but he is somewhat adopted by the tribe and, in a 16th-century prelude to Stockholm syndrome/cultural anthropology, he even begins to identify with them. The telltale sign? In the account he later publishes, called “Two Voyages to Brazil,” he switches from first-person singular to first-person PLURAL after he spends some time with our friends the Tupiniquins.

In the 1970s (60s?) in Brazil, a movie of the account was produced called “Como gostoso era o meu francês” or, “How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman.” Cool title right? The Tupiniquins were allied with the French (while the Tupinambá, the competing tribal group, allied with the Portuguese) and so Hans Staden used a little bit of subterfuge to keep himself alive, convincing the Tupiniquins that he was French, not Portuguese.

Thus, in an homage to this movie, and to Hans Staden, I allude to it in the title of this blog.

Hopefully I won’t get eaten.

Hello world!

May 10, 2012 | | 1 Comment

Back in May, I emailed Todd over at the Media Center about setting up an “Abroad Blog” for my year in Brasil. This first post, titled “Hello world!” seems cruelly enthusiastic. I left it unedited until today, which is my third day in Brasil. I still do not know what form this blog will take. I definitely should have planned it better. But I did not! WordPress, which sort of manages all the Dickinson blogs (I don’t know how that hosting works, so if anyone cares to explain it to me in the comments, I will likely be eternally grateful), recommends I make some goals about what my blog will do. I’m going to go do that now. Surely there is nothing here to distract me.