CAUTION: Emotional thank you’s

CAUTION: The following blog post contains emotion which may offend some readers

So Im home. Back in surprisingly sunny England after 10 incredible weeks in Brazil!

It feels weird to be back, I was pretty sad leaving the country I’ve called home for the past 71 days and the people that became my extended and adopted family.

I need to say some really big thank-you’s.

First and foremost to Molly Cross, without whom I would never even have had the opportunity to do something at crazy as this! For the fantastic year I spent under your exceptional talent management, and all the crazy fun I had with AIESEC. I hope you have a fantastic a time in Paraguay as I did in my short time in Brazil. Let’s go out in Maidstone when you’re back and I’ll buy you a drink!

By extension of Molly and AIESEC Leeds, also Alec for giving me some amazing stories of Tanzania and Jun, without you I’d never have negotiated the AIESEC website!

Next to AIESEC Maringá! You lovely lovely people made my experience in Brazil amazing, in particular to Thays, Gaby, Mari, Giovanna, Daniel and Fernanda for all the work you put in to make TALK project a success. The whole team really made me feel welcome and really looked after me! I met so many amazing people through AIESEC in the UK and now I have truly international AIESEC best friends! So you best keep in touch, because I want to come back!

Special shout out to Camilla. You all know why. And if you don’t know why, its best you don’t know why. Thanks for the bracelet, enjoy your T-shirt.

All of our lovely students! For making the project worthwhile, I hope you learnt something from my crazy sessions about baked beans for breakfast, the spice girls, endless royal family talk, Harry Potter, the Otley Run, David Attenborough, duck duck goose and countless other topics! (Also don’t tell anyone I taught you all the bad words!). It was really great to meet all of you and I hope you all visit the UK sometime, I’ll give you a tour!

My hosts Bruno and Renan, and their lovely families for giving me a bedroom, food and the one of the best experiences of Brazil at Karina’s formatura. I will literally never forget anything about that weekend! Have to also say thanks to them, as well as Karina, Felipe, Mayara, Matheus and Luiza for helping translate between English and Portuguese and making sure I got where I needed to be safely! It was really nice to see all the family again right at the end to round off a brilliant time. Thanks for treating me like part of the family!


Frankie, you scene-stealing, guitar-teaching, extreme blogging, ultimate lightweight, lonely roaming Tsinoy TANK!

Matthias, you beer drinking, sausage eating, graph loving, hash tagging, blonde and blue-eyed German SCHMETTERLING!

Klára, you KALASHNIKOV wielding, defenestrating, vodka drinking nice soviet girl from near the Mediterranean in Czechoyugoslavakia

For making the whole project so much fun! For being my work colleagues, my teachers, my travel mates, my drinking buddies, my partners in crime, my sense of direction, my hangover cure and my best friends for 10 weeks! I salute you.

I vow to learn Portuguese and come back and see you all!

Also a big thanks to Mum and Dad. And Jesus.

Until then, this is Ciaran, AKA C-dog, AKA Agent Deckchair signing out!


PS stay tuned, I may use this for my next travel adventures!

PSS Facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube … you have no excuse not to stay in contact!


A handful of lessons from Brazil.

Things I learnt in Brazil

I speak too fast.

But sometimes I don’t speak enough.

I talk about the Royal Family too much.

Brazilian Portuguese is not the same as Portuguese Portuguese.

I don’t actually remember that much Spanish from school.

The Czech Republic is not by the Mediterranean.

The Philippines looks like a man fishing.

Berlin is in West Germany.

Brazilian pizza’s are for sharing.

Blogging is addictive.

Not everyone likes football.

Not everyone likes samba.

Carneval is actually a competition.

Internet connection is unpredictable.

Brazilians think Paraguay is cheap and dangerous.

Brazilian passion fruits are huge.

Buses are cold.

“Near” in Brazil does not actually mean the same thing as “near” in Europe.

If there’s a ‘D’ near the end of a word, it’s normally a ‘J’

If its starts with a ‘R’ it actually starts with a ‘H’

Cachaça is not good for anybody.

Condensed milk is not good for me.

Havaiana’s are the best thing ever.

The UK is different in so many ways to everywhere else in the world.

There is such a thing as too much rice.

Baked beans were invented in America.

£2 coins look like R$1 coins.

My name is practically impossible to pronounce.

Non-Native-English speakers struggle pronouncing ‘TH’.

Venezuela ran out of toilet paper.

A confirmation email does not guarantee anything.

Brazilian BBQ’s are the absolute nuts.

70 days later…

Today is my final day in Brazil.

As much as Im looking forward to going home to baked beans and a credit card that actually works, I know ill arrive home and have post-Brazil blues. Probably until I return!

Before I get too soppy and emotional, I’ll fill you in on the past few days.

After the highs and low of Paraty, we took the shortest and most expensive taxi ride to the bus station because it was raining. Then the shortest bus journey ever to Sao Paulo. I can only assume this was a good thing and that I slept most of the way.

After 10 weeks in Brazil, and 11 bus journeys, mostly overnight, I can now say that you are not a pro unless you can put 2 contact lenses in, in the dark, on a moving bus, on Brazilian roads 10 seconds after waking up.

Sao Paulo. Where do I even start.

Based on my brief opinion 10 short weeks ago on the taxi ride from the airport to the bus terminal, it look like what I had expected. Based on arriving back in Sao Paulo at 5.15am, getting a rather expensive taxi to a rather bad hostel did not improve my opinions.

After a quick nap in a room we came to fondly call, ‘The Cave’, due to the fact someone was always sleeping and the lights were therefore never on, a cold shower and a half way decent breakfast we ventured outside. Map in hand.

Sunshine! Halleujah! Making the most of the good weather, we headed to Parque Do Ibirapeura. My Opinion sky rocketed. The walk from our hostel to the park took us along Avenida Brazil, a swanky neighbourhood with gated mansions, small glass and chrome offices and some snazzy looking boutiques and restaurants. On arrival at the park, statues and monuments and fountains and cheerleaders. Yes cheerleaders.

Sao Paulo is affectionately known as the Tropical New York City. Apparently anyway, I’d never heard this before.

Its true, Ipirapuera could be Central Park. It could be Hyde Park. It could be any park really.

Its a big open green space, with a lake in the middle. There were familes having picnics, people playing with frisbees, shirtless runners … The sun as out and Sao Paulo was shining. Although barely anyone looked Brazilian at all. Unlike Rio where everyone is darker and the tourists are easy to spot, Sau Paulo is much more cosmopolitan (other magazines are available) and culturally diverse. Our hostel was full of Israeli’s.

Beyond the park, we got lost. Even with a map, we stopped and Klara asked for directions while, being a man, I pretended we werent together.

We made our way to Avenida Paulista. Supposedley the safest street in Sau Paulo according to my holy guide book and my German dad Matthias.

Again, my opinion of Sao Paulo was challenged.  Paulista is the commercial centre of Sao Paulo, like Canary wharf in London. The 6 lane (I think) avenue is flanked on both sides by glass and steel skyscrapers, something I wasnt expecting from the city. The first starbucks Id seen in Sau Paulo, I know they were in Rio because each one was highlighted on the tourist map. “Look! A Starbucks, go there and pretend your back in rainy London not in Sunny Rio” … Yeah ok.

Unfortunately the next day it did rain. So we went to Starbucks.

As you may have seen, I tried to make life easy for the poor guy serving us. He had already endured my horrific Portuguese (even though Latte is the same in Portuguese) so I gave him a name I knew existed in Brazil. It had to be realistic though, i didnt want him to think I was lying to him! Abandoning my UK starbucks names of Alex and Harry (my name is just too unique) I went with Daniel. He didnt understand and still made me write my own name on the cup.

In the rain we ‘did’ the historic centre. I forget what we saw each day, because we did the historic centre for 3 or 4 days on rain. Sao Paulo’s Empire State building, its Stock Exchange, its tallest building, its oldest building, its Justice Palace (AKA Court house), its Cathedral (genuinely, called St Pauls aswell when you translate it) and a collection of other bits that all looked pretty much the same.

Sao Paulo is really not a pretty city. Its not even average. Besides the first day in the sun, its a really ugly city.

Its also really really big! From the top of the 3rd tallest building in Sao Paulo, its smaller copy of the Empire State, we looked out (and down on the tallest building, yeah work that out!) and could no longer see the shining towers of Paulista. We couldnt find the big green parks, we could barely see roads or people among the swamp of dusty cream and beige tower blocks. And thats all we could see, as far as you could see it was the same. Some very vague mountains in the distance, the city continued on after them apparently.

Due to 99% of the buildings being carbon copies of each other its also incredibily easy to get lost. This is also not helped by the road signs. Many seem not to point down any road but straight at a building, some road signs go across the roads which is doubly confusing at crossroads. There is a vague lattice structure to the roads like in America but because the city is so big, each one developed at different angles. REALLY USEFUL SAO PAULO, THANKS!

We also struggled to find a caipirinha for the first 2 nights. Ok, so the first night we didnt look because we were knackered from the journey. But the 2nd night we struggled! Maybe thats why we were both less than great moods. Our daily fix of caipirinhas in Rio had suddenly stopped. I imagine like when you stop smoking, although I wouldnt say Im addicted to caipirinhas. Did somebody say caipirinha? Its notoriously difficult to spell. So many ‘I’s.

On Thursday, I became an orphan. My intern mum Klara left for the airport and her flight back to Madrid, then Vienna, then home.

Luckily, my Brazilian family adopted me for the weekend so I was only an orphan for about 2 hours! A stroke of luck! 

The end of May is a holiday in Brazil, for Corpus Christi. As this year it fell on a thursday, nobody works on the Friday either. Its a good system. So a weekend trip home for Karina and Felipe (my host from Maringa’s sister and her boyfriend) to Santos.

On the coast. Beach time!

When I left Campinas after Karina’s formatura I didnt think I would see my adopted Brazilian family again. It was really nice to end my time in Brazil with the same family that pretty much welcomed me to Brazil! After some amazing Japanese food, see sushi in a boat photo, 3 cheeky bars, one with an incredible view of the city from an island in the sea, a family birthday, lots of home cooked food and some final caipirinha’s on the beach Santos was over before it had really begun. It was a nice little rest at the end of my adventure in Brazil.

After one final night in Brazil, staying with a friend of Karina’s I met at her Formatura all those weeks ago (arent Brazilians so nice?!) Im packing up and heading home.

Cue emotional shit…

Its been one hell of a journey, Brazil has been so good to me, Im browner than I will ever be probably (more tanned than some of my adopted family!). Ive met some truly incredible people, that I definitely want to see again, in Brazil or in London! (Yes you’re all invited, but please dont all come at once). Had some truly amazing experiences both during my internship work in Maringa and my crazy galivanting around Brazil. Ive seen 9 cities and 4 states in just 10 weeks, it has flown by and Ive loved (almost) every single minute!

Brazil, I salute you.

I’ll be back.


A day in a Favela

Before I begin this blog, for those of you who aren’t Brazilian, never did Geography at school or have never seen Fast and Furious 5… A favela is the South American term for a slum.

Imagine, Slumdog millionaire. But not in India and without Dev Patel.

If you haven’t seen either if these films and are still confused. Google it.

Rocinha is the largest favela in South America. Estimates of its population range from 160,000 to a ridiculous 2 million. Our tour guide, put it closer to he lower end of the estimate. Since he used to live in the favela, I’m inclined to take his opinion.

Based on all my preconceptions of a favela, I prepared for the tour. Drugs, gangs, guns, people with nothing to lose, no police and no money. I removed my cheap plastic watch, wore my cheap Primark flip flops and even took out my sparkly plastic earring. I was not going to take any chances here.

The reality?

I could have worn a Rolex, a real diamond earring, Gucci loafers and a 3 piece Saville Row designer suit.

I wish I’d taken my iPhone as well, I could have checked into a favela with their free wifi.

Our guides, Bruno me Rafael were absolute dons. Having both grown up in the favela, they knew most people we walked past and were happy to joke about all our preconceptions.

He told the couple from HonkKong that they could wear their cameras around the neck like normal, no problem. Also referring to them for he duration as ‘Chinese’ …

We started off in Street 3. There are four main areas of Rocinha;

Street 1 – at the top, the cheapest ‘accommodation’ with the best view

Steet 2 – down from street 1

Obama City – I know right, more on that later.

And street 3 – the most expensive at the bottom of the favela.

This is how the post is addressed. Surprisingly, people in favelas do get post. There are no postboxes, no post men, letter boxes or house numbers though. On each ‘street’, there is alright yellow post van that’s full of letters address to people in that street. You go their, soft through crates of envelopes until you find one with your name on it.

If it looks like a bill, you just leave it there.

Bruno told you you can ask for your post to be picked up at certain businesses around the favela, pointing out that people use businesses as meeting points in he maze of 64,000 alleys, roads and passages. We walked past a whore house with a crate of post sitting outside.

So, to Obama city. The president, prior to a visit to Rio had apparently expressed an interest in seeing a favela. As the biggest and safest, Rocinha took this as that he wanted to visit Rocinha.

So a Dutch guy painted one home bright orange. Trust me this story does make sense.

People in the favela liked this so much, that paint sales went through the roof and soon a whole area of the richer street was an explosion of brightly coloured homes stacked precariously in top of one another. When Obama’s wish reached Rocinha they clubbed together to make a welcome to Rocinha banner and strung it up over the main road into the favela.

True to form. Obama visited a different favela. Nobama City.

As I just mentioned, Rocinha is a safe favela. Sure there are drugs and gangs, but the city inside Rio sits next to the most expensive neighbourhood in the whole continent. It’s where fat Ronaldo lives, we saw his penthouse apartment!

The drug dealers know, that the rich people but the drugs. If the rich people come to buy drugs and get mugged or stabbed they definitely won’t come back and buy more drugs.

Based on this, Bruno pointed out only 2 issues they have in Rocinha.

Motorbikes and dog shit.

I see a 3rd potential issue with building regulations.

There are no taxis in Rocinha, buses yes strangely. Buses that go right down to Copacabana. But not taxis. Only motorbikes. And drivers with no licenses. Hence the problem. There are also no traffics lights. But guys in bright orange jackets who act like traffics lights. It’s not a great system but I’m sure oh get used to it.

Dog shit for sure is an issue. Although I don’t remember seeing all that many dogs…

My 3rd issue, not one that I highlighted to our guides, of building regulations definitely exists.
I was surprised to find out people actually pay rent in a favela. I’m not sure who they pay it too though? But if you want to build a house, you ask someone if you can buy their tool and just build your house on top.

We were constantly told to “pass this area quick, we don’t have insurance if part of the house collapses obtain of you”, very reassuring. Even our own travel insurance doesn’t cover this, we I checked and its actually a clause!

One problem that definitely doesn’t exist if wifi. It’s the law to vote in political elections in Brazil, and with favelas such a big proportion of Rio and another big cities it makes sense for politicians to target them too.

One guy gave Rocinha free wifi. I’m sure they get lots of use out of it with all their smart phones, laptops and tablet computers… Instagramming pics of their breakfast and such.

Unfortunately, political elections take place every 4 years around the same time as the World Cup final. So nobody gives a shit about who wins the election, so long as everybody beats Argentina in the football.

Football is big in favelas. In Rio they have a favela cup, with international football scouts at the final. As the stereotype goes, every favela kid dreams of being a footballer because you don’t need education. Some big names came out of Rocinha. I assume they’re big names because Bruno mentioned them and some people seemed to recognise them.

The other big stereotype of Brazil, carneval also has a big presence in the favela. Each area competes each year to win free beer for the festival by way of a graffiti competition. I’m not sure who judges it, but there was a lot of graffiti. Not crap graffiti like you see next to railways in England. Real graffiti, with stories and meanings.

Carneval does however bring its own problems to Rocinha. Every November the population of the favela experiences a baby boom.

9 months after the orgy that is carneval.

Bruno discovered a sister he didn’t know about when she was 17. Probably a product of such a baby boom.

This phenomenon is not helped by a man we were introduced to by Bruno. Mr Viagra is Rocinha’s pimp daddy. He is currently on the look out for wife No.13 and when we met him, he was chilling, shirtless in small ‘shop’?

He smiled at us, revealing a complete set of old teeth, 12 chunky silver rings in his fingers, one for each wife and a gold chain that any chav would die for. I’ve no idea where he gets Viagra from in a favela, and I want to know even less. Although supposedly açaí (a dark purple Brazilian superfood berry) is natures Viagra and better for you that 12 oranges.

Of course I tried some. Nothing strange to report afterwards…

We also met Rocinha’s resident marathon runner. The people of Rocinha all chip in and pay for his flight to go an run marathons all over the world, representing his favela internationally. He was wearing a Paris Marathon 2012 shirt, apparently he last one he was attended.

Our tour took us all the way down to he bottom end of the favela, where Rocina’s sport centre was located. Yes, a swimming pool, football pitches and even surf lessons on offer to the people of Rocinha.

As much a tourist attraction as a place to live, Rocinha even has a “Welcome to Rocinha” placard at the main entrance with welcome in 5 or 6 different languages.

I did get the feeling this was not a real favela experience, although I’m glad I still have my camera and a heart beat after leaving… It’s very much what I expected, in terms of what it looks like apart from one aspect. There are so many shops.

I thought maybe little food kiosks and places selling bits of wood, electrical wires to illegally tap into the national grid, maybe places selling soap and stuff. But there were fashion stores, 3 national banks where people can get credit cards, hospitals, a school and even a tourist info centre!

I was anxious about taking photos before, I deemed it a bit disrespectful to go into a favela as a British tourist and take photos of poor Brazilians in a slum, but they liked it. They posed and smiled and acted up for the camera, Bruno said hey felt like celebrities when rich westerners come all they way here just to see them and their houses and their city. It was a strange sensation to be in a favela as a white person with a camera and not look out of place.

As much as I would be interested to see a real favela that doesn’t have tourists, I’m happy seeing a mode favela with relatively happy people (at least from an outsiders perspective). I can go home and continue to believe that favelas are fine and safe and not that bad after all.

A really interesting day, with really good guides in a really unique place. I salute you Rocinha.

30 Hours in Paraty

Leaving Rio isn’t fun.

Leaving Rio in a mini bus that gets lost trying to get out of Rio is even less fun.

Leaving Rio for a 3 hour scheduled bus that actually takes 5 hours is really the least fun.

However… Arriving in Paraty, looking for a pre-booked but non-exisitent hostel, dragging suitcases around cobbled streets is the worst thing ever.

It’s fair to say, me and Paraty did not get off to a flying start.

Being a absolute gent, I offered to take Klara’s giant pink suitcase as well as my own rucksack. After almost an eternity and everyone in this apparently tiny village knowing about the stupid tourists dragging a giant suitcase around we found somewhere to stay.

I say ‘stay’ … We were directed to a back street full of Pousada’s (guest houses) and bumped into a charming Brazilian who’s name I forget. He offered us a room.

That’s it though, it was just a room. Not in a hostel or guest house. It was his room. That he lived in.

He worked for a hostel and apparently had done this many times before.

Hesitant about everything, I stepped into the room…

He told us for double the price of the actual hostel, we could stay here and use all the facilities from the hostel across the road where he worked. We dumped our oversize luggage and checked out the hostel. Top of my priority list was a locker to stow my valuables and wifi to book a way out of Paraty.

With both wishes being fulfilled. He happily gave us a padlock to lock the door and off he popped to get a haircut with our R$100 of ‘rent’.

We just stood there. Stared at each other. Then just laughed.

Despite the horrendous situation, it was actually funny. It will go down as potentially the funniest 30 hours of my life. Mainly because, if I didn’t laugh. I may well have cried.

Dying for food, we went straight out after attempting to secure our, essentially, favela room. We stopped at the first place we found, a pizzeria. Pizza was average.

We decided the best thing to do at this time was to leave Paraty as soon as possible. Booking a hostel in São Paulo for the following night, ringing ahead to check the confirmation.

It’s true, you really do learn from mistakes. Even a confirmation email does not guarantee that a hostel exists anymore.

Showering is normally not much of an issue in hostels. Yes normally the water isn’t that hot and the water pressure not that high.

But there always a door at least.

After I constructed a makeshift door by stringing up a sheet between 2 screws in the wall, I showered quickly under a cold, slightly blocked up watering can style shower. The higher we turned the temperature up, the darker the lights got.

My mood and opinion of Paraty was improving by the second.

The fishing town is home to Bourbon Jazz and Soul Festival. Apparently is popular and the main reason we struggled to find a proper hostel after the disaster of No.7 Rua de Lapa. A door I will forever be haunted by now. Also a door we each bought a fridge magnet of to remind us how hilariously funny the whole story would be after we had finished writing it.

Making the most of our time in this small colonial town on the Atlantic coast of Brazil, we decided to check it out.

It rained.

After a caipirinha each and some beer that we didn’t end up paying for, we called it a night and headed home to our favela room.

We got lost.

It was still raining.

Eventually finding the front entrance, after discovering the back entrance 4 blocks away was unusable, we made it. Even our tiny little room was nice after being outside.

15 hours into our 30 in Paraty, we awoke to glorious sunshine. Following the previous night and our already booked hostel in São Paulo we went to buy one way tickets out of there. Had a pretty decent breakfast to be fair then headed out for a boat trip. Supposedly the best way to spend only one day.

Well whoever told us that was not wrong. We met out boat captain, again I don’t remember his name. He will forever be known as boat man.

With the ‘Águia Dourada I’ (Golden Eagle) all to ourselves, we set out from the harbour. For those of you that don’t know (most you probably) Paraty is in a really big bay. Actually it’s in a smaller bay in a bigger bay.

There are countless tiny islands, some larger islands, a thousand secluded beaches, coves and lagoons to explore on these boats trips.

Our first stop, after deciding that we should buy one of these islands, was a small shallow cove with a large exposed rock. When we met out captain at the hostel, he picked up 2 bananas and 2 bread rolls. We assumed for his lunch.

The banana’s were for monkeys, the bread for fish. He broke up the bananas and threw them onto the rock, we waited only about 30 seconds before tiny little monkeys, similar to all the others we’ve seen around Brazil, hopped out from the trees to snatch lunch. Followed by larger, golden (AKA ginger) monkeys, and then some sort of mammal. It’s like an agouti or something I think. Oh yeah, and the fish. Not so cute but they splashed around fighting over the bread we didn’t eat for breakfast.

We left the monkeys to it and headed for a beach. Even though I said secluded beaches, this one had a cafe and even a small boat taxi to pick us up from our boat and bring us to land. We chilled out with some squid rings soaking up the surrounding beauty and the burning sun rays. Loving life basically but regretting not bringing swimming gear with us.

All too soon, we taxi’d back to our boat and headed for our next stop. A swim stop. Without swimming gear we sat in the top deck, bronzing while jealously watching other boat trippers dive in and splash around.

After 15 minutes of envy. Id had enough and stripped down to my fetching yellow pants and jumped in. Klara followed, but she only stripped off her watch and earrings. Stupid tourists swimming in dresses.

So now I can say, I’ve swam in the South Atlantic in my underwear.

We didn’t think it through brilliantly and I spent the rest of the day in just my, now soaking wet, yellow pants trying to dry them out.

Topping of a really amazing day, we saw a turtle.

Then as we pulled into the harbour, the captain turned the boat around, kicked it in reverse and the engine died. We floated mere metres from dry land for about 20 minutes while he attempted to restart the 50 year old boat. Eventually we were pulled ashore and exited our boat, onto another boat, then onto dry land.

It could only happen to us this weekend. 2 idiots in Paraty.

Turns out, Paraty isn’t all that bad though, I’ve never laughed so much at myself and crap situations before.

We rounded off the day with food that didn’t contain beans, and a passion fruit caipirinha. (My phone now recognises this word after just 4 letters, that’s how often I use it). A good end to a really good day.

The cobbled streets of the historic centre and the main square with its town hall are actually really pretty, you could spend hours wondering through the maze of streets, poking around all the tourist crap, “traditional” art and cachaça emporiums.


Cachaça emporiums. We went tasting.

We left Paraty feeling much better about the town, it rained as we left obviously, so we didn’t leave on the best note. But we made some really funny memories and created some of the best stories from my Brazil experience.

I think I’d recommend it.

Just don’t ‘book’ Don Quitoxe hostel…


The best thing about leaving Rio on Friday was the fact I no longer constantly sing “her name was Rio and she dances in the saaands” or “her name was Lola, she was a showgirl” in my head.

I sort of wish I knew more words to the songs.

The worst thing about leaving Rio?

Leaving Rio.

It’s an incredible city, with everything you could possibly want from a city.

Beautiful 5km beaches, palm lined avenida’s, jungle covered mountains, an all night party scene, favelas that are more safe than downtown, a whole 2 (!) metro lines, more museums than you can shake a stick at, and the ‘best caipirinha in Brazil’ all carefully watched over by Christ himself.

The only downside to Rio is that is has one of the ugliest Cathedrals I’ve ever seen. Catedral Metropolitana looks almost like a Mayan Temple. Yet doesn’t quite manage the look properly. We first saw it in the dark, after a long rainy day looking around the Brazilian National History museum and the Museum of “beautiful art”, home to so many Untitled Compositions its unbelievable. After getting lost next to a church I will now never forget. Santa Luiz.

So as you can imagine I was in a great mood to look at a cathedral.

At first sight, it’s looming. Once inside its almost apocalyptic. Without sunlight it’s eerily creepy as organ music continues to play and the entire space is dark save for a spotlight on a during-crucifiction Jesus. After this we had a Subway 15cm (metric system at work) sandwich.

We saw it second time around during a night out in Lapa, Rio’s famous party town. I could compare it to Soho in London … almost. Plonked behind the Arcos do Lapa, a dirty white set of disused arches for an old tram system that cut through the district, it doesnt look much better. But it did light up purple.

There in Lapa, we discovered the largest and cheapest caipirinha in brazil (unconfirmed), half a litre for R$5 (£1.60?). Essentially they were being sold out of someone’s front room but still. We found a cute little bar, with our 2 new German friends and Sophia, a Haitian who worked at reception in or hostel. Muito cerveja followed.

Another damp day followed, not as damp as our culture day in Rio but still wet. To match less damp, but still damp, we did less culture but still culture and visited the Jardim Botanico. Again, sunshine does make everything better but we tried to make the most of the trees.

Brazilian late autumn is not the best time to visit a botanic garden.

Althought slightly more impressive than Curitiba’s gardens, it was still essentially just plants. A cactus garden, an orchid house, a rose garden (roses don’t flower in autumn) and a Japanese garden where we all tried to be Frankie. Even though she’s Chinese. Or Filipino. Or Spanish or something.

Once it dried up a bit, we left the gardens in search of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoa. A huge salt water lagoon that sits behind Ipanema beach. After being real tourists, consulting a bad map, we asked for help. The gender defining issue of asking directions was evident. Me and Matthias shied away whenever Klara approached someone.

Eventually we found it. The it rained and was cold so we left.

On the hunt for food, we accidentally stumbled into Leblon, the 2nd most expensive district in Rio. Naturally headed straight for a shopping mall that turned out to be quite upmarket and not somewhere for sodden tourists in flip flops and shorts.

I saw my Brazilian Zara. Remarkably, exactly the same as the Bluewater Zara at home. In the food court, I was tempted with a “Real British Jacket Potato” but ultimately decided that while in in brazil, I should eat like a Brazilian.

So I had sushi instead.

We emerged somewhere along Ipanema beach. After being awake all day, Matthias was tired and caught a bus back to the hostel, while me and mum (Klara) walked the entire length of Ipanema beach.

Really just to say that I’ve walked he entire length of Ipanema beach. And CopaCabana by the way as well.

A second night out in Lapa and a 3rd view of the cathedral. This time we tagged along with 5 Brazilians having a weekend break from Uni in Campinas, São Paulo. We ended the night in MoFo’s, a cheeky little funk club where we whacked out some favourite actions learned in Maringá.

Finally a dry day! Not sunny, but dry. Our expectations had been lowered enough that this was good. We (Matthias) decided he wanted to see the centre again and not in the rain. So we hopped on a R$3.50 metro to Carioca station. It’s a good system, just not very expansive. Reminds me of the Madrid metro. Very smooth.

The cathedral during the day was slightly more special. Not from the outside. Although its reflections in the adjacent Petobras building was quite cool. Something we hadn’t noticed in the multiple previous viewings due to the dark, is that on each side there is a humongous stain glass window. From inside, on a nice day, these 4 windows make it much mess creepy, and a lot more holy.

Suddenly the sun came out and it was almost quite hot. We quickly changed out minds about seeing the centre in the dry and hot-footed it back to Copacabana for some tanning. Lying on any beach is nice when its sunny, but lying on Copacabana with a coco (a coconut they hack the top off of and stick a straw in) when it’s sunny is really something special.

I didn’t tan.

To celebrate Denmark winning the Eurovision (called the Grand Prix in most of Europe it seems) we headed straight for the best caipirinhas in Rio. We had our own little euro fest with a Brit, a Czech, 2 Danes, a Fin, a Turk (Europe?) and a Germ(an).

Read anything about Rio beaches and it will tell you people will try and sell you stuff all day. Cola, water, earrings, hats, beer, T-shirts, peanuts, BBQ’d cheese on a stick and magic boxes.

Yes you read those last two right.

So this guy, waltz’s up to us Europeans, (we didn’t exclude other nationalities, that’s just how it happened) and tells us,

“Nobody has opened this box in 7 years, if you manage it, I’ll buy you 10 caipirinha’s”

Cue everybody frustrated over a small wooden box. Eventually the Turk gave in and paid R$15 for him to show Us how to open it, she got a box to keep thrown in for ‘free’ aswell.

We saved up for Monday. A reliable weather forecast had told us it would be sunny and clear all day. On Matthias’ last day we took a tour from the hostel to see all the important stuff we hadn’t seen because the views would have been crap. It was a perfect day though.

The views from Cristo Redentor and Pao de Açúcar were breathtaking. Despite the crowds beneath Christ, it was stunning. It has lasted really well, being about 70 years old now, it’s outer soapstone layer clearly ages well. I did the typical tourist pose with my arms out. I didn’t even get funny looks because everyone else had already done the same thing. Unlike some other tourist sites, cough *Taj Mahal* cough, it was actually bigger than I thought. Up close it towers 38m skywards, but you can still clearly see the emotion carved into his face. It doesn’t feel like just a statue.

We had lunch at the famous Lapa Steps. You’ve heard of them right? No me neither until last week. Some artist decided one day to make a pretty mosaic on a step which quickly became a pretty big mosaic on a lot of steps.

The artist, who is still alive, then began to use tiles people gave him from their home counties so now people spend time walking up and down (mainly down) looking for particular tiles from home.

I saw Diana, a red phone box and a couple from Sheffield who got engaged on the steps. Lots of Germany though.

It’s an overused saying but the view on the sunset from Pão de Açúcar is the best view in Rio. We arrived at the bottom about 4 and made the 2 cable car journey to the top. You can literally see everything.

From the President Costa E Silva bridge, Rio’s national airport with its (quite short) floating runways, around past the Maracanã stadium, still very much a building site. I know because we went there to have a look at it. Your eyes pass over a mountain, past Corcovado and Christ, hanging out with a bunch if pylons that I think are the ones which provide free wifi to Rocinha, the biggest favela in South America. Down through Copacabana and Ipanema beaches up to Leblon and Gávea.

From here its also the first time I realised Rio is built around a huge bay. With the bridge spanning the mouth of the bay, you can see across but as far as im aware there’s nothing to go there for. Nobody has told me otherwise either.

We stood for nearly 2 hours while the sun set over Rio and the city twinkled in the night sky. It’s a truly breathtaking city in all three stages and I could stay up there all day just watching it. Our tour guide said she never gets tired of the Corcovado view on good days but as far as I believe, it’s better to look to the city, than down on it.

After the heart wrenching moment when Matthias got on a bus to São Paulo making our threesome a twosome, we ambled down to Copacabana for caipirinha. It’s as normal part of my routine as breakfast is now.

I had planned to go hang gliding the next morning. However too much wind put a stop to that so we took a tour of Rochina. The aforementioned favela. I will write a whole other blog just for this because its worth it. Stay tuned.

The prospect of 2 hours of free caipirinha lured us to 00, a club that has a live samba band until half 12 and free caipirinha until midnight. A snazzy little half inside, half outside, half terrace, half bar place with a great atmosphere both chilled before the party and during.

Defying all odds, we met the Aussies boys from Florianoplis at the bar and had a little catch up. Nice boys. The real party started after the, actually quite good, samba band and I felt like I was back in Leeds. Got stung at the end of the night when I had to pay my tab but still.

On Wednesday 22nd May 2013 I went hang gliding over Rio. I have a video of the entire flight and you may see snippets, but it was fantastic! My heart did race for a bit before the run off, I looked petrified on the video. Thats more because my tandem professional told me to run hard or crash land in a tree. Don’t look down, look straight ahead. Hold this strap and don’t let go. Put your hand here and don’t move it. Get your feet into the strap as soon as we’re airborne. Etc etc. it was daunting but exhilarating at the same time and the view down (yes I looked down) was amazing.

I’m a happy Ciaran after ticking hang gliding off my list.

Later that day was the Maracanã visit. If Rio isn’t ready for the World Cup or 2016, at least I know they tried dam hard. There’s construction everywhere in the city. The stadium looked pretty close to completion, from outside most of the work was aesthetic, pavements and painting and stuff. There were lots of coloured lights on when we were leaving so must be nearly done?

On our final full day, still without real beach weather we struggled a bit figuring out what to do. We ended up getting a bus that took us quite far out of the ‘centre’ (tourist areas) to Sao Cristóvão Market. An enclosed permanent market space that supposedly sells traditional food, tourist goodies among other bit and bobs (AKA bits of useless shit). It must be an evening/weekend market because many of the stalks were either not open, or just opening when we got there around 12.30.

I finally got my miniature Christ statue, half the price it would have been if I’d bought it at christ’s feet. We wondered around looking at Gay Cachaca and weird sweets for a while before stopping for lunch. It was very Southern European style with waiters trying to get you into their restaurants first. Speaking little English and with us almost the only ones around, it did take a while before we understood what one of them was telling us about they’re amazing food and special offers.

I experienced more fan club, when a bunch of Brazilian school girls listening to the live music at the market ran up behind us and started speaking basic English. Clearly not understanding out responses, asking the same questions over and over and being unable to pronounce my name. But excitable all the same.

We returned to Lapa with the intention of exploring Santa Theresa, the oldest district of Rio where the foreigners live apparently. At the top of the Lapa steps, I can’t say I saw anything of foreigners but plenty of old. When we asked for a bus to Lapa in the middle of the day, the guy had said, “oh it’s dangerous at day, lots of drug dealers. It’s better at night” … But being fearless and probably stupid, we went ahead. No such drug dealers on show.

On our final night, the lovely Aussie girls on reception, Tina and Bex convinced us that we should make the most of it and go to a street party in Gávea. A not-so-close district beyond Ipanema beach. After a long bus ride, of course it started to rain.

They had conveniently not given us a specific street to go and I expected we’d get off a bus and follow the music. This did not happen. We did get lost. Asking at a restaurant, a waitress that had no idea about a street party. So we got back on a bus and went to Lapa.

Where I proceeded to spill a caipirinha all over my shorts. #FailNight

Leaving Rio was tough. On the one hand, it’s Rio. Despite the weather it is an amazing city and place to experience. If the weather had been nice, we would not have even considered leaving to visit Paraty.

I will 100% be back in Rio, in January for summer (that still sounds so weird to say). I hope it doesn’t change too much, because I had the best time. Even with all the chaos and confusion, the rain and strangely high number of Danes, Aussies and Israeli’s …


And They All Lived Happily Ever After

So the time has come.

Our TALK project came to a dramatic climax with a 2-day Global Village event on wednesday and thursday last week, I decked myself out in as many Union Jacks as was humanly possible. T-shirts, sunglasses, earring, boxers and actual flags. I had yet more wars with Germany (AKA Matthias) over music, food and a variety of other topics. Who knew Worthers Originals were made in Germany, and worse still that baked beans were invented by a German born American.

My music persisted over his, mainly due to the fact people had heard of mine and knew the words! I dished out a shed load of Dairy Milk and chocolate eclairs, converting as many people as possible away from the abomination that is Hersheys.

Mission Accomplished – “The Best Chocolate in the World”

The tea didnt go so as well, due to my lack of milk and/or sugar. I tried explaining that people dont really drink black tea (and that I dont even drink it at all) but I still watched with mild disheartenment when some people poured it away. The Queen drinks this! It cant be that bad!

Hilariously, Matthias dished out his German sausage (pause for immature giggles) and Klara increased everyones chances of diabetes with piles of Czech sweets, mints, wafers and cola. Then Frankie, as ever, stole the show with her increbily loud voice and dramatic reconstructions of how to faint and catwalk like a Filipino. I managed to bag myself a bag of Filipino dried mango. A whole bag. Its that good.

After Wednesday event, Frankie cooked us all dinner with her flatmates and Gabe, the new intern in Maringa from HK/The States and we played Uno (a game ive never actually played before) where I lost multiple times.

We proceeded to what was the start of our goodbye, a process that is still ongoing 5 days later. Post global village, we headed to Afonso’s. A bar we’ve probably spent far too much time in. Only to find it was full to the brim. We quickly found another bar (across the road) with more space and did quickly GET ON THE BEERS SON. I began the process of clearing my luggage of British Memorabilia that I will never use.

Enjoy your Union Jack sunglasses Ludmille!

On Friday, Flavio took us shopping to Avenida Fashion (imaginative name) and I bought a pair of sunglasses, obviously to replace my Union Jack ones, that were more expensive than a pair of jeans thats Matthias then bought. I never change. To be fair though, they are cool. And I did get a free case and R$5 discount!

My intern family then went for a ‘final’ BBQ dinner at a really good place we only discovered in the final week and I still dont know the name of. Then hit Salero’s for yet more goodbyes. We thought it would be poetic as our very first night as a foursome of strangers was spent in Salero’s. Poetic was maybe a strong ideal and it didnt end so poetically. I was and had a lot a fun though!

We were well and truly spoilt with food on our final weekend attending family meals with 2 of our TALK students. On saturday we were invited to Santiago’s house for an amazing BBQ (so much steak) with his parents. I understand why they put sauce on everything except BBQ’s now because, when its done properly, the meat is so good it doesnt need anything! Ronald (Santiago’s dad) made an excellent chef! We talked films, food, home (Me : royals / Matthias : beer and sausage) and multiple other, actually quite intelligent topics like the environment and the economy.

Sunday, Mothers day In Brazil (and everywhere else in the world it seems other than the UK) we were invited to Magda’s house. Again, the food was really good, every family Ive met in Brazil have all been so lovely and welcoming and tell me (In Portuguese) that I should feel at home! So obviously, I just eat too much food and spend all evening feeling massively fat. Matthias discovered an electric guitar, belonging to Magda’s brother and an acoustic for Frankie so were we treated (yet again :P) to a playlist of songs, which I never actually get tired of hearing when they’re played live, a metre in front of me. Magda showed us her drawings from her art classes which we had spoken about during our sessions and im now inspired (by a number of people) to actually do something when Im back home other than just sit on my laptop. So stay tuned for my new talents coming soon.

Monday was Maringá’s birthday. 66 years old. Practically still a toddler in the UK! They hold a huge festival, which I can olny compare to a Rodeo style Kent County Show (for those of you that know it). It was a lot more like a trade expo with many companies showing their products, a vast array of fancy cars, farming equipment and funfair style bits and bobs that light up and flash.

As kids at heart, me and Frankie headed straight for the funfair, buying a ticket to ride The King. What we decieded was the potentially scariest ride available. I suddenly lost all excitement for it trying to find the end of the queue. As proven in our stereotype session, Brits love queueing. Apparently so do Brazilians as we waited over 2 hours. Worth the $R10, maybe not worth the wait. Although the view in the dark from upside-down at the top was quite special, no photos of it though. Ill just have to describe it to you.

Today, our final full day in Maringá before we break up the family and leave Frankie here as an orphan. I seem to have left everything to do on the last day. I had to handwash some pants so I dont run out of clean ones when I leave. Theres 20 days before my flight home and I only have 12 clean pairs. We are heading for our last ever cake, then one final intern dinner, our final goodbye party and my final sleep in Maringá.

It really feels like the end of an era, my time here has flown by so quickly yet I feel like ive done so much, grown as person and formed lasting friendships, that are verging on being actually related. Without being too soppy, Ive had the best time and will really really miss it.

Im dishing out the last of my British stuff tonight and AIESEC apparently have a surprise for the 4 of us before we leave. So tissues at the ready. Minimal photos when this occurs please Frankie.

Leaving for Rio will be emotional, all sorts of emotional.

But as ever, on to the next grat adventure. Thanks Maringá for such a brilliant time!


(I did finally get a photo of me with a Brasil Baby! Stay tuned for that)

Life’s a Beach.

So. Currently I am cold and wet. Not something I thought I would be saying in Brazil if I’m honest. I hope I don’t say it again!

I’m sitting in Florianopolis Bus Station waiting for our 12 hour overnight bus back to Maringá. Overall, a good trip.

Vamos back to Tuesday night when we began out family holiday (Matthias and Klara are the rents and Frankie is my lil sister). It’s now scary how much of a slightly dysfunctional family we actually are.

We arrived in Curitiba nice and early Wednesday morning. Thankfully stuff was open so we bought our tickets for the 2nd stage of the holiday, then set about getting to the hostel I had booked to drop out bags off before exploring the city. Now, from my A-level geography I know Curitiba buses are efficient and reliable. Sure enough. They are pretty good by Brazilian standards. Although I’m still yet to see any sort of timetable!

Each bus station is a giant raised up tube, each one has an attendant who you pay R$2.90 to and who lets you through a turnstile. The extra long double bendy bus then pulls up and a ramp lowers like a drawbridge to meet the station and you walk right on. No queue to buy a ticket. Very efficient. Very German. In fact Curitiba doesn’t seem to be Brazilian at all.

(Okay now in at home, bus ride was awful)

We saw Italian, German, Jewish, Japanese, Arabic, Japanese, Spanish and all sorts of other memorials and gardens and monuments.

Being tourists, we bought tickets got the Linha Tourismo (tourist line I think) which took us to everything important and allowed us on and off 5 times. Being a national holiday in Brasil, most of the historical centre was closed so we hopped (eventually and eventfully with a locals help) on the bright yellow buses to the Museo Oscar Niemeyer.

Apparently this is famous and I felt like I’d seen a photo of it before but essentially it’s a big eye-shaped museum. Modern art normally passes right over my head and I don’t understand it at all. This place was no different. There was some vaguely interesting exhibition about illusionist art (M.C Escher … The brains behind the Inception concept) but with lots of queuing to see each piece.

Hence, we hopped back on the bus. Hopping off at Opera De Armae (I didn’t translate that yet, I think it’s a name though). It appeared to be a disused opera theatre… All the benches had been pulled up so we sat and ate food. We walked to the next stop, efficiently saving the 3 tickets we had left.

Parque Tangua is supposedly the best park in Curitiba. Now I can’t categorically say that it isn’t because we didn’t go to the others. But. It was okay. The best Parque Tangua in the world for sure. We wondered around some fountains and statues then down a big hill to a cafe. Sat in the grass and soaked up the sun a bit the proceeded to “The túnel” (it was a long arch at best). After big hill walking, I had a passionfruitfanta and we jumped back on the bus.

By now the sun was setting so we passed numerous other memorials without so much as 2 photos. I think Frankie fell asleep. I did learn the Portuguese word for ‘next’ though! The bus passed An Italian portal into the gastronomic district of Curitiba which seemed to have a bit of life about it, and some fancier restaurants and shops.

Our final stop before returning to the hostel was the Torre Panorâmica (panoramic tower… You can tell my portuguese is improving everyday), essentially it is Curitiba’s version of London’s BT Tower with a viewing platform. The photos weren’t great though because its all enclosed in glass and not open air.

I had to explain why the name of our hostel was funny. Motter Home. Celebrity Juice may now have 3 international viewers. We headed into the city centre for dinner hoping it would be a tad more lively. Luckily we weren’t disappointed and had some pretty decent grub at ‘The Farm’ on the main square.

The breakfast was good. Frankie smashed a prato (plate) and we met Cooper, an American from Memphis who had been learning Portuguese in São Paulo for 2 months. He was seeing some more of the country before heading back and came with us to the ‘Jardim Botanico’ (take a guess what that might mean in English). I mean, it was pretty.

Pretty closed. We couldn’t go in the actual greenhouse but it was only small and we could almost see everything from outside. We wondered round some trees and other stuff you find in gardens before calling it and heading back for food.

Passing through 2 of the main shopping areas, the pedestrianised (a big deal in brasil) Rua das Flores and the more commercial Rua 24 Horas (mainly offices it looked like) before lunching on a pretty little Spanish Sq. Much of Curitiba seems to be named after places not in Brasil and did feel very European. Matthias even found a German bar to look at! No Irish pubs though.

An uneventful bus (so many buses) later, we arrived in Florianopolis about midnight. Being the party animals that we are… We went to bed.

The walk Praia da Jaoquina was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. My holy book says its famous for its sand dunes and I can now agree. Pure white sand dunes towered in front of us and we chose the scenic route over them rather than the short route around. Definitely worth it. We saw people sand surfing (snowboarding for hot countries) and then completely forgot about coming back to try it once we reached the beach. Muito bonita! (Very beautiful). The perfect backdrop for Bay Watch style photos.

Frankie and I tried body boarding, with mixed degrees of success. I remember last time I tried in Cornwall and I was 12 or something. Got stung by a fish and refused to go back in the water. But this is Brasil. It was dirt cheap aswell, £3 for a hour! Definitely worth it and it burned up some calories for sure!

The plan had been to do 2 beaches in the one day. But we didn’t arrive until about midday and by the time we had body boarded and ‘tanned*’ (*burned) and swallowed enough salty water for a life time it was nearly 5. True to form though, we walked back to the beach down the hill from our hostel, Praia Mole (I think in portuguese it must mean something different to english because thats a bad name for a beautiful beach). It was deserted save one or two hardcore surfers catching some final waves. We sat there until nearly 7, happy hour and free caipirinha’s at the hostel! Just taking in the beachiness of everything. (Thats not Portuguese, I just made up that word).

Me and Klara decided to check out the ‘strip’ after the other losers were too “tired”. Instead we ended up on a hostel outing to Casa De Noca. Potentially one of the weirdest but surprisingly alright places I’ve ever been too. Think Louisiana soul mixed with Brasilian funk (it’s sort of R&B style rap, difficult to explain). With caipirinhas for R$10,a live band though and an irish accent in the midst who could argue with that. Not a bad little night. Just a strange one. Very strange.

Day 2 and we headed north, but not as far north as we were planning after some advice from the hostel. Praia Barra da Lagoa was almost equally beautiful. The waves were much less ferocious and better suited to learning to surf. I had high ambitions of being a pro by the end of the day. However a mix of colder water, yesterday’s sensitive skin and increased cloud cover, I only went in the sea once. Without a surf board. We borrowed a sun umbrella from the hostel, which the wind then decided to snap, so Matthias spent most of the day holding it in the sand.

We left around 5, got some food and headed back. Apparently I looked like I might die. I put that down to continued burning, lots of sand everywhere, wind and dehydration. A fun day all round.

A much better night though. After a nap and a shower (post drowning some cockroaches and a millipede) I felt much better and headed straight for happy hour. I met an Alaskan (I know right?! He was unimpressed all I knew about Alaska was Sarah Palin) who had been in South America since January and Frankie befriended some nice Aussie boys with a guitar. We then met some Brits! Finally. And ended up all together in a Samba Bar called Coro De Gato. I imagine a local hideaway as no tourist would ever have found it. Thankfully, Vinnie (our local) hooked us up. Was another pretty decent night, less strange than before, with a lot more talking and dancing (yes I know, me dancing again?!).

This blog seems to be getting pretty long…Sunday was wet. Nao Praia. (no beach) So we went into the city to ‘sightsee’. Muito fechado. (Very closed) Even the church was fechado! On a Sunday! We eventually found a museum that was open, spent 2 hours mainly taking photos of each other and looking through the guest book. Then we found a supermarket open with a ‘cafe’ and spent muito tempo (lots of time) deciding what to have, then deciding if it was nice or not. Generally, it was not. Again I tried to find baked beans but no such luck. I did find some shortbread though which improved my mood enormously!

Today begins out final week of TALK, -sad face- and I feel like I’ve got lots to cram in before we say goodbye and depart for Rio!

Hopefully I’ll do a video sometime this week, again though the wifi is having a tantrum and not working as I write this.



Adventure time! After booking 3 buses and 2 hostels we are off on our 5 day mini holiday to Curitiba and Florianopolis! Our original plan of hiring a car for part of the jouney fell through after it became clear dropping the car off in a different city to where we picked it up made it very expensive. Would have been nice though as my holy book recommends a car to explore the beaches in Florianopolis but C’est La vie you know (I know that’s French but que é a vida doesn’t have quite the same ring to it)

Quick update on the previous few days first though, as you may have seen from Instagram I spent Tuesday lying in holy grass outside Maringá Catedral, eating far too much cake and generally just loving life with my co-intern Frankie.

On Wednesday, me and Matthias attending a quick promo event for AIESEC about the Global Ciudade project, (GCDP in the UK and what I’m doing in Brazil for non AIESEC-ers). Where basically we sat on a panel and answered questions. A bit like Mock the Week and just as funny. Okay, so not as funny but you know what I mean. We then went to Eden Bar (where they brew their own beer!) for Douglas’ birthday, just a quiet mid week outing. No, I promise… that was all it was.

Thursday was Frankie and Klara’s turn and their Q&A session massively overran so Matthias and I had to spontaneously stall their session which actually led to a really good idea for the rest of our sessions. A really stupidly simple idea that I cant believe none of us thought about before. Essentially to go round the class asking about their day or favourite film to get everyone to speak for a few minutes. So simple.

On Thursday my adoptive parents came to Maringá, with countless holiday snaps from their trip to Rio which make me want to go there even more! Despite not wanting to leave Maringá either!

We had an AIESEC lunch on Friday at a Japanese restaurant (that also does normal Brazilian food) and asked a waitress to take some group photo’s which was embarrassing as everybody else in the restaurant just watched us pose while she tried to work the camera.

Then Friday night.
Douglas’ actual party.
Not so quiet.

The building where Thays, our project manager, lives has the entire third floor open for parties. So yeah, lots of group photos and some funky cocktails with condensed milk that did not keep anyone sober. I woke up with dried condensed milk on my shirt and my arm and my watch and yeah. Lots of licking so Im told… I don’t quite remember. It was really nice to see a lot of the AIESEC gang not working and being social with them.

I feel like we bonded more! Some of us definitely got better acquainted than others…

Today (Tuesday 30thApril) I did got involved with classroom promo going around campus giving a quick talk about what Im doing here in Maringa and about my time in AIESEC in the UK. With two of the guys from the AIESEC Maringa Comm’s team we visited engineering and architecture classes with mixed success. As predicted by my fellow intern Frankie, we had the most interest from the class full of girls. With less success in the male orientated engineering department!

Im pretty sure we shouldn’t be selling AIESEc based on what an English boy looks like but if it works then great!

We also did some standard poster plastering on notice boards, with some devious removal of rival organisations material. It was really interesting to find out how much other students not in our project speak and understand English, I started my talks with ‘Fala Ingles?’ to mixed reactions. Clearly my pronunciation needs work or they just think it’s funny when foreigners (gringo’s) try Portuguese!

Vamos para Curitiba e Florianopolis!


Serious Teaching

We have officially discovered the best topic for discussions in our teaching sessions.

National Stereotypes.

While sometimes controversial and uncomfortable, for both Brasilians and foreigners alike it does really bring out some interesting topics that everyone can contribute to (although still not everyone is!)

Me and Matthias have now done the same stereotype session six times telling the same jokes each time. Basically we take it in turns to discuss a German stereotype, then a British one, then the stereotypes we had of Brasil before we came.

It would appear its difficult to convince people that German isn’t a horrible language (pen in German = Kugelschreiber) and that Brits are all posh (they have Downton Abbey over here!)

The best things to talk about are our Brasilian stereotypes of football, carneval, samba, beaches, beautiful people… And some uncomfortable topics of poverty and crime. Each group is slightly different with some agreeing on some stereotypes and not on others. Not many Brasilians enjoy the carneval, and I think we’ve only had one person who has actually seen the carneval as they only really do the big parades and competition in Rio and São Paulo.

It throws up some intriguing conversations about excessive skin baring, music and the idea of the tradition. Many ‘Brasilians’ have some non Brasilian ancestry with a lot of Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese grandparents which I guess adds to the fact that not everyone here looks like what I thought Brasilian people looked like.

Its also really easy to make comparisons between Northern Europe (as we figured German and British stereotypes overlap a lot) and Latin America particularly with food and especially beer.

Being a typical blonde, blue-eyed German economist student, stats and graphs did come out. How efficient.

Often the best part of each session is when one of the Brasilian students brings up a stereotype we have never heard of for our own countries. Apparently Germans have awful teeth and Brits drink warm beer? Also we both only eat potatoes. And ginger hair is common in England?

We just end up assuming they have mixed up their euro counties. Although in pretty sure nobody drinks warm beer…

The session normally ends up with everyone agreeing Americans are stupid.

Today is Wednesday so yesterday evening we had a German girl from AIESEC join our session. She’s on an AIESEC mission to recruit engineering students for GIPs (work placements for non aiesec-ers) in Germany and was in Maringá for just a few days. It was interesting as she was also blonde with blue eyes. Despite Matthias trying to convince Brasil that its not so common.

But a 3rd European in the session did add another dimension particularly to the whole, Brasil has beautiful women and in Europe we don’t care about being beautiful or clean. We did manage to convince most of them that we do in fact shower everyday and go to the dentist.

Tonight we are off to another AIESEC promo event, where I think they just to attract new members with good looking foreigners.

We’re also finally getting round to organising our next mini adventure out of Maringá, to visit Curitiba and Florianopolis. More updates on that as the happen… “Breaking News” style. Matthias wants to drive part of the way so we are looking into that as a possibility instead of spending another night in a bus instead of in a real bed.

Should be nice to spend some time away from maringa seeing different cities. And beaches. I feel like I know about Curitiba from urban planning lesson at A-level geography but we shall see how much I know (or don’t).

To see a beach will also be a welcome treat from the distinctly Southern Europe style grass and red soil in Maringa. Unfortunately there is a Praia de Ingleses in Florianopolis which in keen to avoid, despite my guide book ( now referred to as the holy book post Foz Do Iguacu) saying it was the most popular.

I may yet get a tan in Brasil!

Until whenever next time might be…


Also …