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The journal formerly known as ...Latin America

One adventure ends...another begins!

USA | Thursday, 17 February 2011 | Views [1356] | Comments [1]

Must have been 3 or 4 weeks since our last post. I think we really tried to push ourselves to the max during our transition time from South America to China…and make the most of it we did! I write to you today from our hotel room in the Changning district of Shanghai(pronounced Shunghi), China. We’ve had a whirlwind day of apartment shopping, now back to the hotel for the first lesson of Rosetta Stone for Mandarin Chinese…seriously gonna need to put the learning into overdrive, were lucky that Shanghai is more English friendly city (as for signs) than others in China, but regardless, very, very few people speak any English. But I’m going to stop there for China and leave that for the next blog.

In an effort to get caught up, I think I will take you from our last blog in Florianopolis, Brazil all the way here, but I’ll do it in expedited fashion as many of you were probably there for the U.S. part.

Our last city of the Latin American Expedition was Rio de Janeiro, Brazil…what a place to close it out! Truly an incredible, colorful, beautiful and vibrant city. We showed up into town winging it again with no where to stay…primarily because the hostals on-line were all so expensive we didn’t want to book one. Met a guy at the bus station who offered us a great deal on a room and free transportation, just the transport saved us some money, so we went for it. The place was pretty empty and definitely needed some repairs, but it worked. Staying there was a guy from Wisconsin (go packers!) who was writing his dissertation on Samba music. This translated into tagging along with him to Samba School practice one night. It was awesome! The Samba schools are Carnaval. Honestly, I didn’t know that Carnaval is primarily a Samba music competition, these “schools” are really just big bands made up of people from the neighborhoods, young, old, doesn’t matter. Originally, the schools were just a front for the big drug lords and the drug money sponsored all the activity. In an effort to clean it up the government started sponsoring the schools, based on which category they are in (like divisions for college sports) and how they finish in Carnaval determines how much money they get from the government each year. Long story short, we had the pleasure of watching a full rehearsal for about 3 hrs…very cool.

The overlooks and views in Rio are incredible…the whole landscape is unlike an city I’ve ever seen, green, lush, hilly with beautiful beaches all around, blue water and huge yachts cruising around small islands. You’ll really just have to look at the pictures. We hung at out Copacabana and drank Caiprihina’s (Drink made with Brazilian sugar cane rum) on Ipanema beach.

Yeh, I could live there.  We had the pleasure of visiting one of the city’s newest Stadiums (built for the Pan American Games in 07’) and watch a great Futbol game between everyone in Rio’s favorite team, Flamenco vs. Vasco. We sat next to a group of guys that brought their instruments with them and just played and danced the entire time!

Eventually, that dreaded day arrived, the day that marked the completion of what was once just a dream for us. By the time we were on the American Airlines plane it felt like we were back in the States, people were speaking English, sales people were talking on cell phones about how their meetings in Brazil went. It sucked to be over. Although, we were very much excited to get to spend time with friends and family back home.

I had a few thoughts on the plane ride, probably nothing new, but things I may have written about while we were out there. Primarily, just how eye opening this trip was us…I know, everyone always says that anything is possible, but seriously, anything is possible! I wish this kind of experience on anyone and everyone, if only to see what other options there are out there for you. We met so many people living their dreams and yet I know that there are so many others that aren’t. I’m not even saying you have to go to Latin America to do it, obviously most people are going North to do it, but being an American down there certainly has its advantages. I guess I’m just saying that if you look around you will find many, many options for how to live your life and I hope that you’re enjoying the one you’re doing! Maybe you don’t believe me now, just go for a visit, doesn’t have to be 6 months, but at least one month is good, then you’ll see what I’m talking about. As for me, discovering all these new possibilities and personal potential is somewhat distracting, its like, do I want to start a business or should I be a backcountry snowboard guide in Chile?  Decisions, decisions. I think I’ll stick with the business…but after a year in China, who knows what kind of business it will be.

So, plane lands in Austin, Tx…and whoosh…like a time machine we are back in reality, next thing I know I’m driving a car and using a cell phone. This at first is so amazing, but in a relatively short time, kinda becomes a drag. I find these tools allow us to get sooo much more done in a day, that at least for me I probably try to pack too much into a day and it can become overwhelming. At least it’s not dull I suppose. Anyway, Austin was great, 2 days in we went to the big Austin Carnaval celebration, one of the biggest outside of Brazil they say. It was a lot of fun, we went with Nick, Natalie & Timmy…we all dressed up in costume and so did the majority of the 3-5thousand people there. The music and dancing was just like the stuff we had just seen at that the Samba school rehearsal in Rio…how cool! We had to hit some of the famous Austin restaurants while we were there like “Juan in a million” famous for their breakfast tacos and “Trudys” , famous for Sophia for the stuffed Avocado…it is delicious! The big game day celebration was at a wing place called Pluckers, very cool, Heineken beers the size of a pitcher and shots of Jager for $4! Oh yeh, the wings were good too ;) We met up at Pluckers with Dan & Rebecca, Rebecca is Sophia’s cousin on her Dad’s side and Dan her husband…good people and good times! They have a sweet beer pong table painted to look the Miami University football field at their house, so you know we had to take a trip out there!

Much of our other time was spend moving everything out of Sophia’s storage unit, exciting stuff I know, I’ll spare you the details. After 7 days of Texas fun we were back to the airport and on a plane to beautiful Colorado! We arrived on a Thursday, spent time with the family and saw some friends but I was just amped for Saturday morning, when we (Brant, Kent & myself) were going ice-climbing for the first time! My mom hooked me up with a guy she used to work with named Micah and he generously volunteered to take us up and show us the ropes. What an amazing and confidence inspiring experience! The idea of this was as b-day present to Brant who is turning the big 30 in March, obviously I won’t be there so I wanted to do something while I was in town. That first ascent on the ice is a wild feeling, there you are being supported by nothing but 2 small spikes on the front of each of your boots and the 2 ice axes in your hands…takes a little getting used, but if you can just trust your equipment and trust the person holding your rope it is awesome!  I can’t wait until our next climb and to see how this experience can translate into some real mountaineering opportunities!

The next day we had the “Brett & Sophia are stopping by Event” at my parents new house. It was great to see all the friends and family…some I hadn’t seen in a long long time. I’m glad that Sophia got a chance to spend time with those she already knew and meet so many more people that have been a part of my life. Speaking of parts of my life, the next day we did the Tour de Greeley, and I showed her all our old houses, schools and jobs…it was cool.

I’m sure I’m boring you now, so let’s skip ahead…Wednesday, 2/16, 7am…there we are at DIA saying goodbye to my parents, again, same backpacks on our backs, just now they are considerably more dirty. T-shirts have been exchanged for jackets and flip-flops for shoes...we stroll to the counter of United and the next journey begins…


Tags: austin, carnaval, china, denver, ice climbing, juan in a million, rio de janeiro, samba school, shanghai



Wow, what a bittersweet blog...made me cry...miss you, excited for you, safe travels again...
Makes me happy to know you realize the secret of any dream is possible. This ride on this planet is very short and you must make the most of every moment. Live, Love and Laugh! Love mom

  Mom Isis Feb 22, 2011 2:21 PM

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