Futébol – Guanabara Cup 2012!

I have so much I’d like to say about the soccer game two days ago, and so little time to do it. Will try to do the best I can, especially with the help of about a half dozen photos. We started out excited for the day. Bernardo arranged for a little bus to take us to and from the game. He did this because the main stadium close to his home, Maracaná, is currently being renovated for the upcoming World Cup in 2014 (many of Brazil’s stadiums are receiving face-lifts in preparation, including Belo Horizonte’s, where I am now).  The game was played in the very northern part of the city, in an area Bernardo didn’t know well, right next to a favela (a lower-income slum that Rio is famous for). So, it was an adventure for all of us to go to a new place!

The Vasco Gang:Flamensce fans were going nuts!

Bernardo, Renato, Mr. Elder, Eduardo, and Isabella.

In addition to Bernardo, Eduardo and his girlfriend Isabella (fellow attorney at work of Bernardo’s), and Renato came with us. Renato just returned in December from living in the USA for the past 12 years. He has dual citizenship (USA and Brazil), so is able to live in either country without a visa! This was a very fun group of people, for sure.

The soccer game was nuts. As we neared the stadium, the traffic got crazy! It was hot in the bus (air conditioning wasn’t working well), so we simply had opened the windows to let the humid 90 degree heat blow through! In a tropical country, it is a fact of life that you spend much of the time sweaty – the heat is everywhere… Always! Soon, the people walking were going faster than us, so we hopped out in the middle of the traffic jam and joined them. People are funneled into the game by the team they support… We were for Vasco!

Well, the energy was high as the game began… Butit was not a good day for our team. We lost 1-3… Here are some pictures to help tell the story! By the end of the game, the sun was setting over the stadium.

Eduardo and the Vasco fans cheering!

Flumanesce fans go crazy!

Corner Kick!

Sunset at the stadium as the game neared conclusion – beautiful!!

When the game ended, we invited 4 Germans who had been seated behind us to come home via the van. They did and we talked late into the night at Bernardo’s home in English. We also ordered a few large platters of sushi to eat as we visited! It was a late night, but a ton of fun!! Bernardo gave me thejerseyI wore to the game, undoubtedly the coolest gift I’ve received in a long while… Go Vasco!!

Sugar Loaf Mountain

The tram heading up Sugar Loaf Mtn.

Yesterday’s adventure was to take the tram up Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar). This mountain is at the point where Guanabara Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. According to my guide book, the mountain got its name because it looks like the metal mold used to make sugar cane. The book goes on to explain it actually looks more like a giant termite mound (The Rough Guide to South America)! The tram was opened in the 1950s. It is still incredible today, but must have been one of the most amazing things a human could do in the middle of the twentieth century.

The tram ride cost R$53 (US$31) which is a bit more than the R$44 my guide book said it would be. You can walk up the first of the two mountains and cut your costs a bit, but with over 85 degree heat, I decided this tourist was riding the tram the whole way up!

The views – as you can see in the slideshows on my website (http://www.kelly elder.net) – were stunning all the way around! It is a world-renowned tourist destination – I heard a lot of Portuguese, some English (much of which was being spoken by non-native speakers, for sure), and also Spanish, Japanese, French, as well as a couple other languages I couldn’t discern (figure out). I spent about an hour on top of the mountain, recognizing points I’d been to in the past week, much like I do at home when atop Mount Helena back home in Montana.

After coming down, I rode my first city bus alone, grabbing a ‘centro’ bus knowing that the mall I wanted to find to look for an electrical adapter and a soccer jersey was between where I now was and downtown (the center). When I reached a building I recognized from walking by it earlier in the day that I knew was near the mall, I rang the buzzer to request to get off. It turns out I did not need to do that, as it turned out to be a major bus stop!

Time for a Qurter Pounder with Cheese – known round the world!

It was a typical mall – 8 floors with escalators and hundreds of shops like we see in our malls. But, I was hungry and… at the top of the escalator on the 7th floor… Here came a familiar sign! I only eat at McDonalds maybe twice a year in the states, but it is a benchmark I use to compare prices as I travel around the world. I usually order the quarter pounder with cheese! So, in this case, I ordered a “Quarterao con queyjo combu,” or what you would call a Quarter Pounder with cheese extra value meal. It cost me R$14.00 (US$8.17). By the way, the first person in my class to post how much this same meal costs at McDonalds in Helena will earn a ‘Brazil’ badge in Edmodo! Congratulations to Will T. – he earned the Brazil badge on Edmodo… The same meal costs $5.69 in Helena… Funny, as he and his mom had to call Mickey D’s to see. Great job Will!

Just like home on the 8th floor of the Botafogo Mall!

Then I went up to the 8th floor, and you can see by this picture why I felt right at home! Cinemark movie theater in the mall. The price sign said it all – a movie during the day was R$14 (or R$7 for meia – half price for students, senior citizens… Meia = ‘half’). That is US$8.17, same as the quarter pounder meal! Notice the 3D movies cost a bit more, as do the movies on Monday (Segundas), Tuesday (Terças), and Thursday (Quintas)… I don’t know why! But, here I am in the southern hemisphere with Cinemark!

I never did find the electric adapter or the soccer jersey I was after, but the photos are worth a thousand words – it was an awesome day!

“The Day” Remembered – Carnival 2012

I have spent most of the day today reformatting my website a bit to make picture viewing easier, as well as napping and trying to catch my breath. Yesterday was the craziest craziness I’ve experienced in the past week – and all the other days were pretty insanely crazy too – so I needed a break! Now I will take a moment (nothing ever takes only a moment when typing on the iPad… I might need to get a keyboard to go with this thing) to post about yesterday’s events in more detail than I could handle last night. I also have the ‘Small World’ story to finish from a couple days ago….

A sample of the tiles at the Palacio Gustavo Capanema

“Meet us at the Palacio Gustavo Capanema – the former Ministry of Culture Building, by the beautiful tiles!” my friend Gustavo had said. Sounds easy enough, I thought, but I jotted down the name of the building on a slip of paper just in case as well as, “Onde está o palacio?” — where is the palace… Onde, by the way, is said ‘ownje’ with the ‘de’ sounding much like an English ‘j’ sound… Jyu. It is complicated, for sure! I thought i knew how to get there by walking, but Gustavo had told me it was near a Metro (subway) stop called Cinelandia. Only one stop north (probably 5-6 blocks walking), but to play it safe, I would take the subway. As I left my hotel, hundreds of people were coming from the Metro stop back to the park by Bernardo’s along the bay just across the main avenue (highway) where I was staying in the Glória neighborhood. That is weird, I thought. I got on the Metro with my pre-paid card, a super-nice option my friend Bernardo set me up with when I had first arrived. You simply place the card on a reader, and it automatically deducts the fare from the card – you just continue through the turn-style while others wait in line to buy tickets.

On the subway, as in the streets and on the buses, all people will just spontaneously start singing – singing LOUDLY! And dancing (yes, on the bus, on the subway, wherever)!  Not just singing, but banging on the roof of the subway, the side of the bus, the park bench you’re sitting at… The music needs a beat, and everyone is excited to join in the making of some serious noise!  In fact, when you don’t know the songs, it is a little uncomfortable, as you are the only one not participating. I’ve found if you move to the beat and smile as you do, though, it is much appreciated!!

So, about ten minutes to 1, I got off at the Cinelandia stop and rode the escalator up to street level. The first thing I saw was the National Theatre. It was a beautiful building. I carefully took my camera out of my bag – best way to get a camera stolen is wave it around in public. It is a constant balancing act for me – the desire to take a picture vs. the reality of asking to be robbed. Rio is an incredible city, but has one of the highest crime rates in the world. You need to be careful – period. So I snapped a shot of the theater, and then asked instructions to the Palacio Gustavo Capanema from three older men in the park. They gave me blank stares. I showed them my slip of paper as I tried a little Portuguese – Onde está o…?… They had no idea. In Potuguese, one man suggested i try asking in Lapa and pointed the direction to head. I walked that way about 4 blocks before coming to the aquaduct I had seen last night with my friend. So, it couldn’t be near here. I returned to the station and headed another way. This time I walked until I came to the Carioca Metro Station – a different subway stop. Well, I knew I wasn’t close now, or I would have been told to get off here instead of the other stop. Retreat again! I headed off the third and really only other direction I could go, because nothing but the highway and the bay were off on the fourth side.

After walking a couple blocks, all was quiet. No music, no thumping and screaming, nothing. I was about to give up. Then, under a tree on the next block, I saw a group of about 8 people standing around who seemed to be in costumes – a sure sign of Carnival fun!! I thought I would ask them before returning to the area by my hotel to the obvious festival there.

I stood awkwardly on the outside of the group for about half a minute, and then when there was a lull in their conversation, I said, “Do you speak English?” One young man who, along with his buddy, was dressed in a tuxedo top and blue runners shorts complete with black top hat and cane, said, “A little.” I asked where the Palacio Gustavo Campanema was. He smiled, and said, “Right there!” pointing across the street to a plaza with a tall building “on stilts” – creating a plaza and some beautful tiled walls to have open public space before the structure began on the second

Bass Drummer who told me my costume was awesome!

story. I’d found it, but nobody was there, and it was already 1:15 – maybe I missed it.  A man in a green shirt said, “Nice Style!” and gave me a thumbs up. I noticed he was standing by a large bass drum. Thank You, I said, and shot him a thumbs up in return. “Agostinho,” I said. He smiled, a few of the others turned to look, and many began talking. I knew their conversation, as Bernardo told me the costume I was wearing made me look like an eccentric soap opera character in Brazil… many people in the past day had congratulated me… One group near the subway even burst into applause when they saw me coming – it was a hit, for sure!

“You look for the bloco,” the man asked?  Yes, bloco I said (block party). “Us too,” he said smiling. Perfect I said, and headed across the street calling behind me, “Obrigado!” (Thank You). So, I had found the spot, but where were my friends? Nobody was in the square, but I found the tiles and knew I was in the right spot….

Not long after, people started to come. I had been one of the first at the party. The bass drummer in the green shorts came over, and shortly thereafter, some girls all dressed in white dresses started showing up. They’d call from across the square and run to embrace, obviously excited to see one another.

A part of the Bloco Party Gang – where is Gustavo?

When maybe 75 people had gathered, my friends in blue – the Smurfs – appeared! It was a grand reunion! I had brought the camera, so I took it out and snapped some shots. I learned this was an ‘unofficial’ bloco, meaning the porta-potties, the vendors selling food and drink… These things would be missing. Instead, I found this group to be much smaller and more intimate! As the band started to play, I was able to take pictures – little did I know most of the group we were starting to dance and sing with that afternoon would still be with me five hours later!

Martha’s Vineyard Pirate & his friends with me.

About this time, I heard a pirate shout out in perfect English, “Hey man, where are you from?” Montana, I replied as I walked over. No kidding, he said. He had just come from Nepal working in an orphanage there, and one of his best friends (Lisa?) in that country was from Montana! I thought maybe it was my former student Emily Roche of Lewistown, so I asked, but no– there must be a couple Montanans working in Nepal in the past few years!

A group of girls representing the Womens’ Rights Movement of the early-mid 1900s in the USA.

After dancing in the shade of the tall building for a couple hours, the band started to mobilize and move to the street! We wound our way down one street and up another, singing, and dancing, playing, and drumming. It was very cool.

Trombone in the band.

The parade had no route. There was a group of leaders who continually held hands and kept the dancers from encroaching on the band’s space. Then there was a leader with a whistle. When winding through a park or at street intersections, this leader blows the whistle, points in a direction, and the band, with its hand-clasped buffer of people, helping steer, begins to move that way like an ameba!

One of the high points of the day had to be when the group found their way into the domestic airport. The band din’t go in – they just worked their way down the departures road… But the thrill of the airport was too tempting for many, and so a group temporarily veered off and sang as they jubilantly streamed into the facility! I knew they were excited, as they had been dancing all day without cameras, and suddenly there were iPhones and cameras all over the place! Check out the joy in this crowd as they rode up and down the escalator singing and dancing like there would be no tomorrow!!

People celebrate as the parade ‘detoured’ into the domestic air terminal!!

I thought that would certainly be the high point of the day, but I was wrong! Next we came to the water’s edge and started snaking our way down a very narrow street pinched between the fence at the end of the airport and the bay. Everyone wanted their picture on the small retaining wall next to the street overlooking the bay (see my photo album for pictures). The road went about 300 yards. Cars couldn’t get through. My friends and I pretended to ‘push’ a couple vehicles along their way. It was worse than running into a cattle drive on a highway in Montana, I’ll tell ya – at least the cows move out of the way!

But the best was yet to come. As the road ended where the corner fence of the airport pinched together with the waters of the bay, we were in for yet another surprise. This time it was a semi-trailer with thousands of gallons of water in waiting. The dancers in front of the band got very excited and started dancing in a frenzy in the afternoon sun and 85 degree heat. They had been going since about 1:30 – over 5 hours now – but they were invigorated by the sight of the water truck! The man atop the truck told the crowd to wait for the band, so they did… And then, thousands of gallons came out, literally drenching EVERYTHING!?! What an ending to one crazy Unofficial Bloco Party!

Everyone got drenched after hours of dancing in the intense heat. The end was perfect!!

Next, Jorge headed home. In fact, by now much of the group had broken up, splintering off to other parties, possibly to sleep out of exhaustion (my friends from Hong Kong went to take a nap, as their flight left about midnight). We walked around the bay past the World War II Memorial – a large monument that looks like a concrete T. I took a nice picture of the monument and the Christ the Reedemer statue in the background (in the photo albums, Day 6). We walked passed thousands of people milling about after what was obviously a HUGE Carnival party in the park, and then wound up by the bus stop just in front of my hotel. I asked the girls to wait while I ran my camera to the hotel room. I quickly took off my pants from my costume (soaking wet polyester is NOT cool – plus I had torn the butt when jumping on a concrete pillar by the airport… Another story) and pulled on some shorts.

When I got back to the bus stop, Camilla decided we had no time for a bus because we had missed lunch and were starving. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t eat right here – there were tons of options. But no, Camila had something else in mind. I didn’t care, because I had nothing I was worried about getting stolen after leaving my camera at the hotel. Little did I know… the cab took us south through the Botafogo neighborhood and looped around to the area called Urca. This is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Rio. We wound up at the Bar Urca. Wow. There is a glass counter bar everyone stands against and orders. Once you have your food, you walk across the little street to a low concrete wall, put your food/drink there, and then stand and look out over the water at nighttime Rio (it was dark by now). This was so impressive, I wished I once again had my camera!

So, I don’t even want to think how long it took me to type this on the iPad — I really do need an external keyboard… Tonight I will pack up a bit, as tomorrow I plan to go back and join Bernardo for a couple nights before taking a bus to Belo Horizonte (after seeing a state semi-final championship soccer match)! It was cloudy today, which was another reason I laid low. Tomorrow calls for sun and a new challenge: The Tram to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain!

What a Day: 8 Hours of Dancing at Carnival!


Camila, Carnival 2012

Today was absolutely amazing! I spent over 8 hours dancing through the streets of Rio with my friends. Ineed to post pictures, and I need to explain… soon!

We danced through the airport terminal and were doused with thousands of gallons of water at the end of the parade right along the shores of the bay in Rio by a semi-trailer of water — unbelievable!!! And just now, my friend Camila got a call – I left her in Botafogo as she was picking up a costume and heading to the Sambodromo to DANCE in the parade tonight!?! So, I will be watching that (on TV)!!

Small World Stories – Two Adventures in One

Four Amigos Before Reaching Corcovado (the mountain with Jesus atop)

At an overlook en route to Christo Redentor (L to R): Kelly, Jonathan, Alon, & Sam.

This is a small world story I simply must share. Pictured here are four friends. In this story, I will explain how we met a few days ago, how we grew to be friends, and what happened since. It is a small world…

I started my day Thursday (2/16) planning on going up the mountain to see the World-Famous Jesus statue. I felt like a total tourist with my kachi shorts and button-up shirt! Which – surprise – I am! So, I rode the subway from Glória one stop south to Largo Do Machado Station. When i came up the escalator into the plaza, I immediately saw the Cosmevelho bus i was seeking that would take me to the next stage of my adventure. After the bus, I planned to get a ticket for the train that takes you to the statue. The train ticket costs about R$55 (55 Reals, or about US$32). In addition, you must buy a ticket into the National Park to see the statue – another R$26 (US$15) if i’m remembering correctly. That gets you a van ride up the last little bit that the cars/train can’t take you on.  So, i wasn’t excited of paying almost $50 to get to the statue, but it might be a while until i had another chance!

So, I knew I needed cash, and only had my metro (subway) card and about R$20 (US$11). I went into a grocery store and found a couple cash machines. I had to guess a few times what the machines were saying to me in Portuguese, but on my third try, I successfully pulled out some cash. I then went back to the plaza, sat for a few and tok a nice picture of the Cathedral on the far end of the park, and went back to where the bus had been. It, of course, was gone now. So, i found a seat near the subway escalators and started watching for another Cosmevelho bus. About 5 min later, a large bus pulled up in the spot where i had seen the Cosmevelho mini-bus maybe 25 min earlier. A line of people formed, and the bus cost was R$2,50 (US$1.50) – the same as the last one. I walked over to get on line. A young man in front of me spun around and said, “This is it!” right in my face!

“Oh, sorry,” he said. “I thought you were my friend.” that’s OK, I assured him. Then I asked him what it was the right bus for? Jesus, he said. Perfect – i thanked him and follwed the guy and his two buddies onto the bus.

As we rode in the bus, one of the threesome introduced himself as Alon (ah-long). He and his buddies had just finished his mandatory military service in Israel and were now traveling. Alon is very bright – fluent in English and Hebrew, he also understands everything he hears in Spanish (his mother is a Spanish speaker). Spanish isn’t the primary language of Brazil, though. So, the travel party was relying on one of the other two for their language skills for this part of their journey. Both Jon and Sam are from Brooklyn (NY, USA). Jonathan’s family is from Brazil, though, so he is able to speak Portuguese! Sam has a wonderful, heavy Brooklyn accent, but really wanted to be learning the language too.

Well, on the bus ride up, Jon announced they would be walking to the statue. Sam said something like, yeah, it’s not for old people, and the challengewas on. The guidebookwas pretty clear about walking into the Parque Nacional da Tijuca… Don’t do it! This is a part of Rio where the favelas (very poor neighborhoods) intermix with the forests. There are many robberies along the road. So many, in fact, that people don’t tend to walk at all. Well, with Jon’s fluent Portuguese! And the fact that this crew were certainly in good shape, i doubted anybodywould mess with us.

We got off the bus in about the time it probably took you to read the part since we got on… Jon led the way, past a number of peddlers trying to get us to use their van or their cab to get up the mountain. Ultimately, we crossed the street and Jon asked an official person with a badge (who was also selling van rides) where you go to start walking. She laughed, and said we really shouldn’t walk. 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), it is very steep, and dangerous. Yeah, whatever, we said. She shrugged, and pointed us the way. Off we started walking! Up around a corner about 150-200 yards. There was a very syeep brick small road taking off up the side ofthe mountain. Here we go – we started up with thespirit of adventure-seekers!

Within the first 10 feet, though, everything changed. A large group of motorcyclists, who had been loitering with their machines on the side of the road, climbed on their bikes, startedthem up, and descended on our group like a pack of hungry wolves. I was with some athletic Israeli military members, but this group was completely not worried. They sized up Jonathan  as they spoke to him. About 25 seconds worth of exchange, during which one of the bikers said we could pay him for securityand be safe for the trip… and Jonathan announced — “Ah guys, let’s go!” The retreat began. We realized in very short order that if we continued, regardless if we paid anyone anything, we most certainly would be robbed!

The ticket for the final mini-van ride to the top of the mountain in the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. The mini-bus ride to get up to the ticket booth cost us each the R$20, and then this ticket was another R$26!

The official lady laughed as we walked back to her… And she let usget in a van for R$20 (US$11.60) each – a good deal (the others in the van paid R$25). We laughed and chatted as the bus took us past the thugs and started climbing the mountain. More than 1/2-way up, we hit the National Park. The cars, buses, and train must stop there. We paid the fifteen US 15 dollars for the ticket on the right, got in alittlemini-van, and began the next part of thekourney. Man, it was steep! En route, we stopped at a helicopter pad and took the photo  at the top of this post. Our brief time together, complete with the thug run-in, had helped create a bond!

We had fun at the top, continued sharing stories, and decided to get a pizza together a couple hours later when we were again in ‘civilization.’ We then exchanged Emails and went on our ways. End of story – almost.

To be continued…

The next day, I was off to find Gustavo somewhere along Rua do Mercado (Market Road – a small street in the center of the city that took me almost an hour to find because of the thousands of people everywhere in the streets). A flood of people was heading toward thepark as I worked my wayto the Glória Metro station. I was like a fish swimming upstream until I made it through the pass gate to board the metro – and then, all was quiet. Why am I leaving here when all the people must be here, I thought. But it was fun to be with people I already knew, so off I must go.

There were about 6 other people on the platform waiting for thenext northbound subway. The man in front of me looked so familiar, but it couldn’t be.

He turned, and a look of shock came over him. “Kelly!” he shouted, as I said “Alon?? No way!” It was one of the three guys I had gone up the Corcovado with a couple days earlier. Millions of people in this city, and the two of us had crossed paths a second time. Crazy. Alon told me he had lost his friends in the park and was headed home. He also told me they had had a rough night. They had chatted with some Argentinians for a bit. When they left that group, one of those they had been talking to made a deragatory comment about them being Jewish. Before he caught himself, Alon (whose mother is from Mexico speaks Spanish – so he understood what was said) turned around and punched the guy. The next thing they knew, Jonathan had to go to the hospital and get three stitches above his eye.

Two morals of the story, I guess: 1)it is a small world; and 2)fighting doesn’t pay,especially in a foreign country. It was amazing to reunite with Alon, even though we lost each other in a throng of people maybe an hour later. Believe me, in a world where thousands of people are crammed into an area two or three times as tight as you’ll ever see in the halls of our school, it is easy to lose one another!

Difficulties in Keeping Up: an iPad and no cell phone!

Well, writing much in this journal is proving difficult. Things will get better after Carnival, I think! The problem is the dancing at Carnival goes late into the night and starts again right away in the morning. I am going to try to go tie in with my friends Camila and Diogo now at the Praça QuInce (Plaza 15), and then hopefully come back to the hotel this afternoon to write a Carnival blog entry. I hope you have been able to see the photos i’m posting on my website that links you to this blog [as of 2018, both the website and the albums are no longer working – I will update links soon].

I am treating each day as a unique album… Since i’m on the iPad, i can’t see the slideshows (no flash on the iPad), so my friend Tony Campeau’s post on FaceBook saying he likes the pics is the only indication i have things are working correctly! Well, today’s costume is 70s theme for me – i better get on it. I was to meet my friends at 7 am for a parade, and finding them now without a cell phone will be difficult!! Might have to get a phone…. More soon! Ciao.

What I’m taking with me for the adventure!

Here are the things Mr. Elder is taking with him to South America…

Toothbrush, toothpaste, headlamp, bracelet made for me by a student, and the Spot Connect Satellite transponder.

'four O six' stickers to display proudly on hostel boards... and Montana pins for special friends I will make along the way!

Hat, pants, dress shirt, 4 t-shirts, 3 pair shorts, first aid kit, lighweight fleece jacket, and a little heavier fleece coat.

Water bottle, water filter, and dry bag.

Towel (on top, not much bigger than a washcloth), a guide book for South America, a small day pack (looks like a hackey sack in the photo), and a rain cover for my backpack.Passport, Pocket Spanish Dictionary, Spanish Phrasebook, and a sleeping bag liner to keep me seperate from the bed bugs if there are any!

The Reality of Traveling to the Carnival Festival in Brazil

Intl. DL

Mr. E's International Driving License.

Countdown to departure: 5 days!

Over the past week, I have begun to realize how CRAZY Rio de Janeiro will be during Carnival. According to the Guiness Book of World Records 2010, Rio’s Carnival celebration is the biggest party on the planet. Carnival is a huge celebration that happens the week before lent. During Carnival, there are dances in the streets, parades, and general crazy celebrations of life! With millions of people coming together in the city during this festival, hotel rooms are outrageously expensive and hostels only accept paid-in-advance reservations of at least 5 days. I was hoping to do a few days in Rio and then head out somewhere smaller to see a rural version of the same festival. Not sure how this is all going to come together, to be honest. The best way to describe Carnival to my students would be to say it is a mix of New Year’s Eve in Times Square, the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Vigilante Day, and the Last Chance Stampede and Fair (annual local events in Helena, MT). Stay tuned… I’ll update with more as I know it myself!

Visas Arrived Today

The big news today was that my passport Arrived today by Fed Ex!!  In order to travel to Brazil and Bolivia, Mr. Elder had to send his passport to the Brazilian and Bolivian consulates (government offices one country has in another country — like a ‘satellite embassy’).  My passport now has official stamps from each consulate – Visas – allowing me to enter that country. Some other countries, like  Peru, will either not require a visa or will simply issue one at the border when you arrive.

The other big deal is that this is the first post I’m making with my iPad instead of a computer. This is a big deal because I won’t be taking a computer with me on the trip, so I need to make sure I know what I’m doing with the iPad before I go!