terça-feira, 26 de julho de 2011

Wild West Disco, goodbye Vancouver, hello Dallas!

Wild West Disco

Happy Birthday, Nathan!

Goodbye, Vancouver...

Howdy, Dallas!

Wild West Disco

Dear Parents!

From oatmeal to an exquisite breakfast feast box!!! My goodness, how can I ever thank you for such delight? It should actually be I who thank you for the wonderful opportunity of sharing such a wonderful adventure with such special kids, each in his or her own way. Therefore, thank you so much for your support and trust; I couldn't have done it without your help and your motivating comments. Your kids proved to be quite independent and great leaders. May this be the first of many adventures in their lives!

Thanks so much again,


From cool Vancouver to burning Dallas!

This last post is a celebration of life and all that truly matters: tight friendship and family bonds and the whole natural world we live in. The rest is brief and insufficient when the subject is human fullfillment. After going through so much adventure together and working for our individual and group survival, we were faced with the unexpected.
The trip from Vancouver to Dallas went just fine and right on schedule. As we arrived to our destination, we went straight to the gate to make sure we knew where to board and right after, hit the shopping and eating again. Can they ever get enough? Sweets, hamburgers, perfume, etc. And just as I was approaching the gate attendant to ask for information, she took the microphone and announced American Airlines needed volunteer passengers of our flight to give up their seats for U$800, hotel accomodations and all other expenses covered. For a brief second, every one of us thought inside our heads "Wouldn't that be a good deal?". Later we even vented that idea out loud, but it surely turned into a joke, because we all needed and wanted to get back home soon.
So, up we went on our plane to São Paulo. The kids were in the back with a huge group of teens coming from Disney World and I was by myself in a middle set in the center of  the aircraft. It started out a bit annoying for me because I just couldn't get the screen in front of me to work - I must explain it'd been 23 days without any kind of television or screen, apart from a Harry Potter movie. But calling the flight attendant wasn't of much help, she just asked me to wait for take off and then the problem might have been solved. Well, what could I do? Nothing, only wait patiently while the kid next to me was alreay having a blast with all the entertainment available on board. Ready for take off!
Something didn't feel right and as the plane got off the ground an unbearable heat started to hit me, to the point I was already talking to myself in the hope to get calmer and wait for complete take off to be over. Maybe then all my problems, screen and heat, would be solved. The thing is I couldn't take it and at some point I had to say something to the one next to me "It's getting really hot in here, I wonder what's happening.", as I looked round to see if people were feeling as bad as I was. Immediately after, the captain on the speakers to informed us there'd been some problem with an engine and we'd be heading back to the airport and landing in 2 minutes! I looked at my next seat partner in awe and exclaimed "I knew this heat wasn't normal!". Surprisingly, people wouldn't dare speak too much and it was all short whispering. Two minutes sounded like a pretty reasonable amount of time one could last wihout having a maor panic attack; at least I was planned to endure. What we didn't know was the landing would be as rough and there'd be such heavy smoke coming out of the plane outside. By then we were already stopped in the middle of the runway and as I was about to start counting my last minutes, the captain came on again to give us more detailed informaiton about the landing and the smoke: as it was an emergency action, the brakes weren't enough to hold the heavy plane, so the tyres blew up and for that reason so much smoke was coming out. OK, thanks for that! It sure came as a relief, but my questions about the heat inside the plane since take off still remained unanswered...But I was determined to make this story right and kept my conversation going with the passenger next to me; it turned out he was the principal of an international school in SP and we had much more in common than we'd ever imagine, besides the fact we might be living the most thereatening moment of our lives together.k Now thinking, it sounds hilarious, me trying to ask him things about his work and the conference he'd been to and eventually looking out the window where the firefighters tried to control the situation outside. The truth is, I think it was a group experience on this flight and we were all  convinced we wouldn't give into panic or drama, and that we would wait patiently, because for some reason we knew we could make ti out of there.
And so we did. Slow and steady, and in the case of our group, the last ones to be rescued by buses that came to the runway to take passengers back to the airport. The only thing that kept me  uneasy during the whole process was not to know how the kids were in the rear. As soon as the seatbelt signs were off, I ran back to help my kids and...Do you think they were worried, crying or panicking? Sorry, this is not a sensacionalist broadcast news, they were cheering and already wondering about spending the night at a cool hotel in Dallas, and who knows, maybe a chance for more shopping???? I just had to laugh and let myself go, even if this was the end, because being young is about believing life is forever and living every moment as if were the last. Let it rip then! The rear was a party of around 60 or 70 teenagers backed up by some adults, like me.
End of waiting, a couple of hours later, we were taken back to the airport and received hotel and food vouchers for the night. Now we had to get out of the airport and catch a courtesy van to our hotel and make sure we were back the next morning for our 9:00 flight to SP.
Do you know that 80s song "The heat is on, the heat is on, on! And it's on the streets!" Well, that's what it felt like when we got to the street in what I called "Inferno Dallas". And we walked on the deserted sidewalk in the burning night before we could find the supposed courtesy van, where we immediately hopped on for the cool breeze of air conditioning. We ended up at a pretty fancy hotel, the West Win, which unfortunately turned out to be the wrong destination; that one was for first class passengers. When we were about to go crazy again, a sweet soul pointed outside and told us we could just cross the street and we'd find our Wingate Inn. It actually looked pretty nice, not so much the lobby but the rooms with king-sized beds and a great bathroom. Dinner was at Denny's, right next door, with our 12-dollar-vouchers that paid up a rather decent meal after a heck of a day.
Early morning we were bavck on the run with bags, breakfast, van, gate, boarding and...flight! Only this time we were all quieter and most trying to keep themselves as busy as possible so as not to get into some unwanted thinking about yesterday's events. People would not dare mention the truth of what had happened, we had just all realized it had been serious enough and it was great fortune we were there flçying again.
In some ways, I can't help think about our Adventure Group and the team spirit it involves, and how much that ends up working as a protective aura these people build around them. We, passengers of AA963 became one as the Explorers and helped each through it all, without once getting impatient or rude with anyone. Brazil and its people are truly special and there are no words to express the feeling we had as we stepped on Brazilian grounds SAFE and SOUND!
This is the end of our exciting journey as the Explorers and my last words will be directed to them, my group buddies and endless entertainers. Adventure, Adventure! Stay tuned because I1ll soon be posting a personal letter to each of you.



domingo, 24 de julho de 2011

Granville Island

Last words from Canada

It;s been a lovely sunny day in Vancouver with a silent morning packing and a very pleasant afternoon at the docks of Granville Island, a charming place by the sea with a food and art market. We went into all sorts of shops selling from Indian goods to native ceramics. There are musicians and other artists performing on the streets or like this guitarist and singer we saw right on the dock with this beautiful sea-city background singing "On the Dock of the Bay". It really felt like we had just come into a movie or something. The whole ideaa of the place is good food and arty things. We even stopped by this immense workshop with huge logs of wood where an artist was just in the middle of carving a piece of work that looked like a native-like totem. Too bad we only had two hours to spare at such an inteesting spot.
Back on the campus, we;ve just had dinner and will now prepare for our Disco Night, this time's theme beng the Wild West. Although everyone's a bit rundown, we all need to party our farewell, so let's go for it!
We leave the university at 8:15 tomorrow morning and should be boarding at 12:10 to Dallas. Our arrival is scheduled for around 7:00 Monday morning in SP. Surely it'll take us a while before we can get through Customs and duty free, so don't worry dear parents if we're a bit later than that. You know how airports go these days, especially at this time of year.
I'll post the last pictures of today's excursion and when I'm back I'll make sure to post the very last ones of our disco and departure.
Now, what can I say after so much has passed and so much has been learned? We've grown so much in independence, which is knowing how to sort things out for ourselves and be on our own, and we have also learned how to depend as well, that is, we had to rely on each other and other people for so many things we needed along the way, even if it was just a comfort word at a moment of loneliness. I can say it's been mostly smooth sailing for me and I've been flowing with the wind that has taken us to so many new worlds. Now it's time to share all that with you in person.
Dpm't think this is a goodbye, for I'll still be posting some things as I arrive, so stay tuned, please.

Farewell Canada! Brazil, here we go!!!

Cheers to all,


sábado, 23 de julho de 2011

Rest and guess what, more shopping...

Our Friday was pretty smooth. We started out slow, just organizig things in our rooms and resting really. Around 11:00 we headed to another shopping mall, supposedly one of the biggest in Canada, Metro Town.
Indeed, a pretty impressive place with many stores and much space to walk and get you tired in some hours. The kids ended up giving up on the idea of the movie, because they had either already seen them or they were just too silly to bother. That means we were left with another good afternoon for spending, but only this time I could find some true bagains worth throwing your last dollars on. The truth is that when you convert Canadian dollars into our currency, most things don't really pay off, although in some cases quality counts more than anything.
Our night was fun with the Talent Show. There were quite a few acts and I msut say very good ones. And guess what?! Of course, the Brazilians stood out again, and more surprisingly boys with not only good talent for playing music but for singing. I'm always proud when I see us Brazilians cheering and moving crowds outside of our country. It reminded me of our Music Festival. Now, our kids didn't have time or energy to come up with an act this time, but hey enjoyed the good fun.
Today we're visiting Granville Island in the afternoon and packing our bags in the morning. That means my last post will be tonight. Too bad good things must come to an end. Yet, I think we've pretty much accomplished what we came here for and really need to get back home and be with our families again.
Keep tuned then for my last words before take off.



Talent Show!

sexta-feira, 22 de julho de 2011

Photos and more shopping

After an urban adventure, I finally managed to get the photos uploaded with a flash drive I bought yesterday at the mall. Unbelievable, I know, but the kids are too in love with their computers to lend me theirs and my own machine won't accept the connection. Problem solved, anyway, and now even better with high speed broad band connection.
The photos I posted have a last group picture with our Explorers and the first days at SFU Vancouver. There are some from Science World (a big silver globe in the back), the aquarium, Stanley Park and the seashore, our fun bowling night and a few pictures of our doms at the residence.
Yesterday we went on our own by public transit to a far shopping mall. Our manin objective was to meet up with our adventure friends from Whistler. At the end it was even better than expected, because not only didd they meet their buddies, but they also got a chance to hang out with some of the counselors they enjoyed so much, like Nathan.
As for the mall, it was more shopping, eating, drinking and hanging out. The interesting part was the whole trip to go and come back, for we had to make a transfer downtown and on the way back we stopped for dinner at Mc Donald's.  I try my best on these occasions to leave them to themselves to solve their affairs, like talking to the bus driver for directions, asking a passerby for information or just placing an order. I msut say it's good help for me, because most of the time  my tired eyes can't see so well and they have to go about sorting things themselves.
Today we're starting a bit later and will be going to the movies at another mall after lunch. It should be a short visit and pretty objective. Tonight there's Talent Show on the campus and tomorrow it's Disco Night.
Too bad the adventure's coming to an end. Yet, I know we've learned immensely and shall remember this experience for a lifetime.



Finally pictures! From Whistler to SFU Vancouver