Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brazil '07 - Camboriu

Sunday night I made a little paper chain link count down to the flight home - we are all ready to get back to the states, but are enjoying our last weeks here. 21 days left, 3 weeks from tonight we'll be boarding the plane in Sao Paulo for a long 9 hour flight back!

Corey's ankle is doing remarkably well - it is still tender and hurts, but he was able to walk around without the crutches 4 days after hurting it (he tore a ligament while he was playing outside in the dark with the kids) and didn't take the crutches at all to Camboriu. We did a lot of walking, especially the day at the amusement park, but he was a champ as always.

Two weeks ago we went to Sao Paulo for a night before heading south to the state of Santa Catarina. Corey went for a BYU MBA information session thing with his friends - There are two of them who are coming to BYU this fall, so that will be fun to have them as visitors in our country, we are excited to help them get settled in for their 2 years at school. In Sao Paulo we stayed at the temple hostel, which was 3 bunk beds in a room. The kids were so excited when they saw it! I felt like we were at a church camp, but the kids got busy staking out their spots, it was funny - they are so easy to please and all pronounced "this is the best hotel ever!" ! I was able to go to the temple Thursday morning before we flew to Florianopolis.

Our final destination was Balenario Camboriu, a beautiful beautiful city that was about an hour and a half north of Florianopolis. Camboriu was a lot different than Campinas, Rio, or Sao Paulo - it felt like a different counrty. We think it is what Rio must have been like 20 years ago. It was clean, no grafitti, there were hardly any windows with bars, it looked like a great place to take a vacation, and we want to go there again someday with all of you! Okay? It will be fun! It is a resort town that mostly attracts tourist travelers from Argentina. The peak season is summer (which is November through February here) so we got lucky to be hanging out in the off season - we had the whole beach to ourselves! The city is a cove with 3 miles of long beach and Atlantic rainforest. I'm attaching a Google Earth placemark to where our hotel was, and you can get a small idea of the city from this aerial view. We spent Friday in the hotel hot tub and took a quick walk down to the beach.
Saturday we went to Beto Carrero - Brazils version of Disneyland.
It's got an amuzement park, zoo, and shows. 

The African Mysteries show was amazing, these guys were jumping and tumbling all over the place and playing with fire and did the limbo under a bar of fire that was one foot off the ground - the limbo bar was resting on top of what looked like two bottles of beer. It was awesome, the kids were really impresses! 

They also had an elephant come out to dance and after that 9 tigers performed tricks. Corey and I were really nervous for the tiger tamer and were glad he wasn't eaten alive. Seems like 9 huge tigers vs. 1 punny human would be a no-contest in favor of the cats. He sure seemed confident there holding his little whipping stick, didn't look like much protection to me. Pretty amazing though. It was fun.

Sunday it took us a while to find the church. The Taxi driver was asking all his friends, strangers on the street, some people didn't know of any Mormon church and insisted there must not be one in their city. We saw some Jehovah's Witnesses on the corner and Corey was sure they would know where the Mormons meet, so the taxi driver pulled over and Corey asked them. They knew and pointed us in the direction but we still couldn't find it for another few minutes of doing circles around the block (lots of one way streets in Camboriu). We finally found it and it was a huge 2 story new chapel, beautiful building, elevator inside, after being worried that the Church hadn't made it into that corner of Brazil yet we were glad to see such an established ward. Seems like more people should know about it. It was a very affluent area and ward, again much different from the ward we're attending in Barao Geraldo in Campinas.

The members very nice and it was great to be at home right away even though we're a continent away from all of you. I love the Church and the gospel. The Spirit was sweet and familiar, I still don't communicate well, but they were so nice. Corey felt bad that people kept asking him if we were members - I had forgotten to pack his razor so he was not freshly shaved. I also forgot to pack clothes for him, so he didn't have a white shirt to wear. Poor Corey had to wear the same dress shirt that he had been wearing for 4 days since the MBA information session in Sao Paulo - Sorry Corey! I forgot to pack a lot of things, but we survived somehow - a family of 7 with everything packed in one big suitcase and two pack packs. Mom- talk about being minimalists, huh! Corey has a friend, Jeff, who is on a little tour of South America with his fiance Kasey - they've gone from Chile to Uruguay to Brazil - they met up with us in Camboriu and the two of them had more luggage than our family, which made me feel embarrassed and impressed by us at the same time. We had some food with them at the beach. Here are our messy kids:

So Monday was a beautiful sunny day and we spent most of it at the beach, the kids had a great time.
I left the video camera in Campinas (upset at myself for that) so we didn't get any video footage, but will try to preserve the memory somehow, cause it was seriously the best beach I've ever been too - seems like the kind of beach that vacation going people search their whole lives for. It was beautiful and the time to just relax there was a gift.
Tuesday we visited the beach again at the most southern end of the cove where some members of the Camboriu branch live, Neidson and Ana Bastos and their daughter Caroline.

Caroline is 10 years old and was so cute with our kids. 
We walked along the beach and Melodie had her work cut out for her trying to go through so many sea shells so quickly as we walked.
She found some good shells though (she calls them "she-shells" which I think is funny, but she thinks that's their appropriate name cause mermaids wear them.) We had dinner at their house which was very nice of them - and makes us feel like members of the Mormon Mafia ~
It was Casey's birthday, so we sang to her (and Ethan)
We could go anywhere in the world and more than likely find members of our church family that would take us in and feed us and do anything for us. Again, isn't the church wonderful?

Wednesday we walked to the northermost part of the cove where there was another beach right next to the rainforest, this beach had big rocks for the kids to all climb on, and the sand was a different texture, more like lots of broken sea shells more than dirt. The kids buried each other and we had more time just enjoying the view. 

Thursday we went for lunch with the Bastos family again, where they made a special sea food lunch for us - we ate shark and shrimp while the kids enjoyed french fries, suckers, and cotton candy - they have a cotton candy making machine. 
Neidson makes a living for himself throwing birthday parties, most of which are huge events for 1 year old children, so their house is a totaly party house. They showed us pictures of the parties they've set up - lots of balloons and carved styrofoam figures of Tarzan or Cinderella. They looked like quite the events, and we've decided that someday we'll probably have to throw real parties for our kids - although hopefully they won't go till 5 in the morning, like they told us a party for an 8 year old girl did. I tell ya, latinos know how to party. (The wedding Corey and I went to 2 years ago in Guatemala - they were dancing till 3 in the morning, we called it quits around 1 a.m., but it didn't seem like anyone else was giving up any time soon). After the nice dinner and party at their "Casa de festa" they took us to the bus station where we barely caught the 4:40 bus on time to leave for Curitiba.

After a 3 hour ride, we arrived at Curitiba and drove to the house of the Familia Araujo. Bro Araujo is an area authority there in Brazil, we stayed at his house, he has 5 grown children, one of whom is Fernando who was the one who arranged the GMAT class that Corey taught. He is going to go to BYU next year with his wife and 2 kids. Corey says he'll definitely be accepted, he's really sharp, he served a mission in Provo, but his wife is nervous as she doesn't speak English. I know how she feels. Corey's enjoyed teaching the GMAT. There are atleast 6 people from his classes that are going to be at BYU this fall, of the ones he knows about there are 3 from Brazil and 3 from the Argentina. I think he's doing a great job waving the banner of BYU.

Well, after Curitiba, we flew back to Campinas where Fabio and family met us again (they were the ones who watched the kids when Corey and I went to Rio). They are great, we owe them big time and hopefully will have lots of opportunities to return the favor when they come to Utah this fall. So back in Campinas life is like before with the usual glitches in the system: Monday night the water quit for some reason, so we couldn't wash dishes or flush the toilets. Luckily it rained all day Tuesday, so we caught water in pots, pans, and buckets and were able to flush toilets, yay!
 No, we didn't wash dishes with that - we just ate off dirty dishes. Sueli sent someone over and the water was working by Tuesday night, so it was just 24 hours.
We are also out of gas to the stove. You order it in these 10 gallon gas "bolon" containers - we've had to fill up once while we were here already, but this time we weren't able to explain the address well enough I guess cause they never came. We might try a different company or call a friend to explain better. But as for now we are starting our 3rd day without a stove. But I'm grateful for the people in our ward who let us borrow their microwave! So today I did nuke some eggs, but mostly we're on bread and jelly right now. Did you know that they don't sell peanut butter here in Brazil? Maybe there is a specialty store somewhere that has some, but none of the regular grocery stores, I thought that was really weird, Peanut Butter, like that's one of the family food basics. So we're looking forward to coming home and to seeing all of you - looking forward to family gatherings, phone calls, for that matter even having a telephone land line, wireless internet, Peanut Butter, Malt O Meal cereal - o yeah, oatmeal, Great Harvest whole wheat bread, milk in a gallon container (they sell it in cardboard boxes here, about 1 liter), Costco, hobbies (scrapbooking!), walmart, the list could go on... The kids are looking forward to visits with Grandma and Grandpa Wride and Grandma and Grandpa Hibbert, excited to have neighbor kids to play with, they are excited to have their toys again, especially Legos and plug and play TV video games, visits with cousins (they are excited to meet your family dog, Jersh), wrestling with Uncle Neil, and of course Primary at church in English. Every Sunday when they come into Sacrament meeting (which is last) we ask them "How was Primary" and they will say "Good, but we couldn't understand anything, it was all in Portuguese!" - it's especially funny to hear Ethan say that, he seems so disappointed that none of them have learned English yet.
We love you all and love to hear from you, we'll write again soon. Love you!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Brazil '07 - Fall in Brazil

Monday, 9 May 2007

Hey hey hey - Well, "fall is in the air" I guess... I think winter is like fall too here in the tropical zone, so I don't know what season this is. Today is exceptionally colder than usual - I might have to break out the pants and long sleeved shirts, which I packed away 2 months ago cause shorter sleeves and pant legs = less hand washing and less time drying on the line. But maybe since it's colder they won't be outside in the dirt as much and so won't get as dirty. Yay! So tonight Corey is going to Sao Paulo for a BYU meeting thing, we might go with him - it's noon here and we're still not sure if we have a place for me and the kids to stay, so we might just stay here and then he'll drive back tonight with his friends and then we'll all go to Sao Paulo tomorrow to catch our flight to Florianopolis. We are flying in there (only $500 round trip for a family of 7 - it was cheaper to fly than to take the bus, great! Hooray for Gol Airlines!) We are going to be staying an hour-ish north of Florianopolis in Balneário Camboriú at the Costa Sul Beach Hotel, where we'll be able to enjoy the beaches, the local cuisine, and the nightlife. Yes! We hope it's not too cold, cause the kids have been looking forward to the beach, but we might have to forgo splashing in the waves and just play in the dirt. Here's a link to our hotel.
So, that will be fun, we'll try to drop a line or two if we have internet access.
As for life here, Corey tore a ligament by his ankle last Thursday night when he was outside playing with the kids. He's able to hobble around on it though and we are praying for a quick recovery. We went on a date last night, Eliziane watched the kids for us. The temple is closed for 2 weeks for cleaning, so we didn't know what to do with ourselves. We just went to the mall and hobbled around - him with his hurt ankle, me with my aching pregnant hips. I tried to not wobble so much, cause then we'd really look ridiculous holding hands and both limping. We sat on a lounge couch overlooking the food court for a while and just enjoyed the time to sit and talk uninterrupted. After a while, Corey said "Well, it's not the celestial room, but should we say a prayer?" I thought that was funny.
That's all for now, love you all.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Brazil '07 - Rio and Birthday BBQ

From an email I sent to my family and friends last night...
Hello Family (and friends!) -

Big news last week - on Tuesday the 24th I went in for an ultrasound - and we are having a GIRL!!!. Melodie is very excited, and the boys have decided they don't mind either, although they say it with scrunched up noses like their trying to avoiding getting cooties from even hearing the word "girl". Today Mom sent me an email where she reminded me of a time when Beka was babysitting the kids at BYU? (tell me if we got this right Beka) and Joe drew a picture of our family but had too many kids. Beka asked him to name everyone and then asked who the extra child was. Joe said it was "Angela" and she hadn't been born yet. Maybe Joe knew something we didn't? Corey and I haven't decided on a name yet, I'm going to get my working list going, and hopefully we'll decided before we leave the hospital this time. Poor Wesley didn't have a name for 2 weeks after he was born, and Hyrum was Wesley for a week, and Ethan was William for a few days... we seem to struggle naming these little ones.

So what's up here in Brazil... The days are going by quick, and even the kids are surpised when we tell them it's time to go to church again, that being the only consistent regular event with a place/time/date in our family schedule right now. April flew by for us here, hoping May does too, cause we are excited to see you all again! We got our visa's renewed without a problem, so are going to be staying until we fly out the evening of June 12th, arriving back in DC at like 6 in the morning I think on the 13th. Things are going great for Corey business - he's been mostly programming for the past week since we got back from Rio and has been greatly blessed and helped in writing the technology. As he tells me every hour or so with great satisfaction in his handsome voice, "It's going very, very well!" and that's all I can tell you. I wish I understood all the great things he's coding, (although I don't mind just taking his word for it)... I just feel bad that I can't appreciate his brilliance like someone who knew what in the world he was talking about. But he'll have to wait for those reactions when he gets back to Utah and can show his incredibly clean code to all his friends.

So Corey, Joe, Wesley and I went to Rio (pronounced "HEE-o") the 20th and 21st. Fabio and his wife watched the other three kids - they all said they had fun, but I had a hard time leaving Hyrum who I thought wouldn't understand why we didn't come back to get him when it was time to go to bed. But I made Mel and Ethan promise to take care of Hyrum, and then Fabio drove us to the airport at 7 a.m. I thought we were running late, but had pleantly of time (like an hour and a half) to sit around the airport and wait. Wesley entertained himself and us by throwing a ball around and playing kick soccer with other passengers in the waiting room. He's a cutie and has a crowd of admirers everywhere he goes. We flew out on Gol Airline, the Brazil version of Jet Blue (the founder of Jet blue served his mission in Brazil and has helped out their company). We left Campinas around 10:30 and after a short 40 min flight landed in Rio de Janiero.

The person who we thought would pick us up at the airport wasn't there so we got a taxi. Nice driver. Corey did a little small talk with him, the other 3 of us just looked out at all the cement buildings and the ocean bay and we drove to the down town area. The streets in the city are very small, many are pedestrian only, including the one that our hotel was on - there was a person at the end of the street protecting it from cars, but they removed their street cones to let our taxi pass, and the taxi drove down what seemed like a small alley with people walking up and down it and then it stopped. "We're here!" I wasn't sure we were really at a hotel, but we took his word for it, got out in what seemed like a back street alley and the fronts of all the buildings were supposed to be on the other side, but we walked over to a iron-barred gate, walked inside, and there we were in the Itajuba hotel lobby. Nothing fancy, but comfortable. We had a room with a lock, so we felt safe with a homebase and have lived to tell the tale. We decided to go find lunch, all we had to do was walk out the lobby door and there were tons of little food shops there in the street - ("alley" to me). We just started walking, Corey seemed to know where he was going, but I was lost after taking a few corners - just a big urban jungle to me. It's beautiful and busy and huge and small - the hills/mountains shooting out of the ocean and land are amazing to see - We didn't go to the beach or to the famous mountain Pao de Acucar. We wandered around for a bit trying to see if we could find the Church Employment office building where Corey was going to be teaching the GMAT class that night, but eventually gave up and then decided to find place to eat. We wandered into a three story, narrow and vertical restaurant - we climbed the stairs to the 3rd level, and ordered some food that was too complicated a process (it was some talian restaurant where you make your own lasagna and design your own salad - for each one all you had to do was pick out 8 ingredients from their list of 30+ - we didn't know what they were and had a kinda hard time ordering for ourselves, and asked Joe if we could just share a bite of ours with him and then buy him some fries at McDonald's after, so that we wouldn't have to try to figure out what to order him.) After fries and ice cream at McDonald's we got a taxi that drove us up to the Cristo Redentor statue.
It was a beautiful drive up, I could imagine I was driving in the canyons in Utah or the tree lined streets in Virginia. When we were at the top, the clouds were passing over the statue of Christ - Joe couldn't believe how big it was - it doesn't seem as tall in the pictures. 
I was sure to get a picture of Wesley - he was cute as he look at the statue holding out his hands like Christ.

I don't think I caught it on camera, but hopefully one of the pictures will turn out cute, cause I still need to do Wesley's ABC book - we might use Brazil for Z - Wesley's ABC book is going to be a big baby travel-log: with DC, Palmyra NY, Niagra Falls, Teotihuacan Mexico, now Brazil... that almost 2 year old had certainly gotten around!

After seeing the statue from the top, we took a drive back down where there was another view of the Pao De Acucar mountain and the bay area. 
Then we went to visit the family that Corey stayed with last time he was in Rio, The Morais family. They were very nice. Joe was quiet and shy while Corey and I visited. They had their little one and a half year old granddaughter there. Wesley and her fought over some toy balls, later they reconciled when she gave him a tender kiss on the lips, and Wesley was stiff a a board, it was so funny to see the expression on his face! Way cute. We left and walked to a mall close to their house - we took the escalator up to the 8th floor (everything is vertical here) where we looked out over the ocean and the Pao de Acucar.
We had some icecream cones and then headed to the hotel
We had about 25 minutes before Corey had to be at his GMAT class at 7, but they taxi driver's we asked for a ride said it would take an hour to get back to our hotel in the center - it was a Friday night, lots of streets were closed and crowded with people, they suggested we take the metro. Ok ~ so off we went, we caught a train and got off at the stop they told Corey (I'm still not understanding much, so I'm glad Corey knew what he was doing. Or did he? Sometimes I think he's just rolling the dice and seeing where we end up!) But we got off at the right spot, and our hotel's street was just a short walk away. It was really crowded with people - eating at small tables that had been set up for the night and weren't there during the afternoon - people were dancing, music playing, I'm sure lots of drinking going on, and they were were walking right into it, Me holding Joe's hand and Corey with his bag around his waist and Wesley up on his shoulders. We looked at each other, telling each other with our eyes that we knew we looked a little out of place.... In the hotel Corey got his GMAT books and was off to class. Me and the kids colored as we watched Woody the Woodpecker in Portugues and jumped on the bed.

The next morning we got up early to check out and we went on a walk to where Corey taught his class. The people who were there were so nice. Corey has said before and said again that the best thing about visiting different places in the world is meeting the members of the Church. There really is an instant bond of brotherhood. What a wonderful thing to be members of this wonderful Church! They were great guys, and Corey felt so happy to meet them and help them step closer to reach their goals to go to school at BYU (Corey loves waving the BYU banner!) and we hope to be able to greet them when they come to Utah in a few years. They took us to the bus station and we bought tickets for a return bus ride home - we barely missed the Campinas bus at 1:30 and thought for a few minutes that we'd have to wait until the next Campinas bus at 10:30 at night. After 10 minutes of trying to figure out what to do, Corey remembered we could just go to Sao Paulo, which had lots of buses to it, and then when we get there we'd catch a bus to Campinas, which run every hour. Of course! So at 2:00 we were off to Sao Paulo, 5 hours later we got on a bus to Campinas right away (didn't even have time to buy a doughnut) and we arrived in Campinas at 8:30. Fabio and his wife drove both our cars to pick us up with the kids all lined up in the back seat, it was good to see them. And we headed home. A quick trip, but it was fun.

The Tuesday before, Corey had originally bribed Mel, Ethan, and Hyrum to stay home by offering them something he knew they could not refuse, saying "Do you want to go to Rio (with an expression on his face that said "boring!") with Mom and I on Friday, or... (his voice starting to sound excited now...) do you want to go to McDonald's for a Happy Meal with me tonight?" (BIG smile!!) He told me later that Mel and Ethan were congratulating themselves, sounding very content as they ate their fries, saying "We made the right choice, huh! Joe didn't!" Corey said it was funny, they were so proud of themselves.

This week the kids have drawn many pictures and made many little things out of paper to use in their play. Ethan and Hyrum were especially funny as they've played Super Heroes this week. Hyrum was Superman for 2 days, and then Ethan protested saying it was his turn, and was able to convince Hyrum to be "Blackness!" - that's a character of Ethan's creation - he wears all black and simply called "blackness". I'm not sure what super powers he has, or if he's a good guy or bad guy. But Hyrum started being Blackness on Wednesday the 25th, and for the next 4 days the kids played and slept in the same clothes - Ethan in the blue, Hyrum in the black.

It was hot, and I tried to convince them to not wear their "secret identities" (aka Sunday clothes on top of their super hero clothes) but they insisted they were not hot and walked around all day with two layers of clothing on, occasionally shedding their secret identities to be the superhero. I had to shake my head each time Hyrum would have to go to the bathroom and come to me running in place trying to not wet his pants, and then we'd run into the bathroom and I'd have to take off 1) secret identity pants 2) superman's underwear 3) Superman's pants and finally 4) Hyrum's underwear. Luckily "Blackness" only wears shorts, so no tight superhero underwear to pull down on those days. Hyrum always seems to wait until he can't hold it anymore before he comes and says he has to go potty, so I gotta be ready to jump up at a moment's notice. Today it was funny, I was at the computer, and he came over, didn't say anything, wasn't looking at me, was just over by the couch running in place. Hmmm "Hyrum, do you have to go potty?" Hating to admit it, he says "yeah."
I had a fun birthday on Saturday - the big 31. The kids drew pictures for me during the morning in between their superhero play (I told them I wanted pictures of Hello Kitty, and off they went to work drawing Me and Hello Kitty having a birthday party together and making me cards in the shape of presents - they are all so crafty!) We stayed at home during the morning, and after lunch we went to Sorocaba for our first official Brazilian BBQ at the house of a MBA friend of Corey's, a girl named Daniele. Sorocaba is a town about an hour and a half south from us. The kids had lots of fun on their swing set, (notice Hyrum as "Blackness" on the right...)
 Also they played with their two dogs in their dog run.
The kids liked it, I'm not sure the dogs did - they had their ears down the whole time. They were courtious, but didn't seem to appreciate the mess the kids made - spilling the food and water, moving their wood crate beds around, man! Corey and I enjoyed the visit and seeing all the amazing plants and fruit trees they had growing in their garden - let me see if I can remember them all: Sugar cane, avocado, some brazilian version of raspberry kinda fruit, figs, guava, passion fruit, pomegranit, mango, manioc (a root, kinda like a bitter potatoe, but good when it's deep fried!) and this really weird big fruit called Jaka (jackfruit) It was really weird - it looked weird on the tree, it looked weird when they killed it and cut it open - it looked like they were disembowling an animal, It was really weird!
It's guts felt really weird too. The fruit inside it had a texture like a banana, tasted like a banana/pineapple, Corey called it an alien fruit in crocodile skin. 
But the drink was truly "divine" as Corey told them - the drink of the gods. We wish we hadn't gotten so excited about the drink though, cause after eating a ton of meat and lunch, we didn't have room for so much beverage. Wesley helped us out a bit, drinking two cups of it, but the other kids wouldn't come near it. I enjoyed the first glass, drank the second glass more slowly, and when they gave me another full glass, I just hurried and chugged it down to try to get it over with - too much food! We were stuffed and didn't have to eat again until today! (just kidding).

Well, it's late, I'm off to bed. Hope you don't mind that these emails are so lengthy. Love you all, I'll try to write more... I haven't been writing in my journal except when I copy over these emails, so I need to write more, I feel I'm not documenting as much as I need to. Like today when the kids played whatever imaginative game they played all day - flying in their spaceships that they've made out of chairs and towels, flying to wherever it is they fly. 
Here is a picture of Wesley saying Cheese with Joe and Ethan by the pool (see picture #5) - the pool aka "the ocean" - Joseph was the Water King I think, and Ethan was the Ice King, each wearing their paper crowns and paper necklaces. Ethan they admitted they looked more like Indians, but they didn't care. They were so funny to watch, I loved it and got some of it on tape, we'll show it to you when we get home. Love you all, see you soon! -Tiffanie
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