The worldwide Augustana College experience

Gardens and free days and statues, oh my!

11 October 2014

This was a free day, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t do anything all day. Well that’s a little bit of a lie. I did laundry, I cleaned the hotel room, I Skyped my family, I bought some groceries, but other than that I did nothing.

12 October 2014

Another free day and I actually went out and did something today! I visited the Jardim Botanical (Botanical Garden) with a group of my peers and professors. IT WAS AWESOME. When we first walked in the gate the garden just looked like a forest, which was cool and all but I wanted to see flowers and exotic things that don’t grow in Minnesota! Suffice to say I got just what I wanted. There were palm trees everywhere with fronds taller than me. There were bamboo trees growing as dense as a house. There was an orchid garden. A rose garden. Monkeys. Koi fish. Waterfalls.

13 October 2014

Today we went to the Corcovado (Christo Redentor). This is one of those things that I think everyone checks off their list when they visit Rio. There were a lot of people there, and not just people from Brazil but people from all over. This was a case in which you could sit on the train and easily hear upwards of five different languages. We had an hour and a half long wait for the train up the mountain during which time we sat in a large, crowded, and over heated warehouse shaped building. The most common phrase I heard during this endeavor was “I’m soooo sweaty” followed by “I need a drink”, then “I want to shower”, and finally “Look at the view!” After we took the train up the hill there was an option to walk up the stairs of take the elevator. I figured that if I was at Corcovado it was time to go big or go home (which is a long way away) so I took the stairs. The views from the stairs were breathtaking. The number of people not so much. Once we finally reached the statue we had to struggle to get a good spot to take a picture. This finally ended with us making human barricades so that people would stop walking in front of us.

After we finished at Corcovado we returned to the hotel for some down time before going to a workshop on making headdresses and masks for Carnival. I made a very simple headdress using white, blue, and aqua feathers. Then I moved on to my main goal; making a necklace using lace flowers, hot glue, blue seed beads, and blue glitter glue.

14 October 2014

Today we went to the Escaderia Selaron. For those of you who don’t know what this is, I’ll give you the low down. The Escaderia Selaron is a staircase in LAPA, Rio that is covered in tiles. The project was started Jorge Selaron during the 1990s. Since then there have been hundreds of tiles added to the staircase, from states to countries to celebrities to name brands. When we first got to the stairs I fell in love. I don’t know why, but I have always loved tiles; tile floors, tile backsplashes, tiled tables. So when I saw all the tiles I was in love, I mean I still am in love with the place. I took more than 200 pictures of different tile designs and that doesn’t even begin to cover how much you can see at the staircase.

15 October 2014

Today we visited the location where the samba school Cubango has all of their props and floats built for Carnival. Since we are in the middle of Carnival planning season we are not allowed to divulge anything that we learned about, but I must tell you the work that these individuals do is unreal. Imagine masks the size of your body, human bodies that you could sleep in, drums that you could comfortably float down a river it.

16 October 2014

Another free day, another day where I did nothing. Now I know it sounds like I’ve spent much of my time in Rio just hanging out in the hotel, and that is true, but that’s just the type of person that I am. I wish I could say that I am super adventurous and would just grab a classmate and explore the city, but I’m not and I’m okay with that. I spent the day doing the last of my laundry and packing my suitcase for our departure.

17 October 2014

Today we left Rio for Salvador. Getting to the airport in Rio was unlike anything that I have ever experienced. When we walked in the doors it was like a ghost town; there was nobody anywhere. I couldn’t believe my eyes. We finally realized that we needed to be one terminal down. but that still did not increase the number of people around. Getting our bags checked was a struggle for some and a breeze for others. Fortunately my experience was a breeze. After we got through security we had roughly two hours to sit before we boarded. I spent this time reorganizing my carry-ons, eating a chocolate bar, and reading a magazine. The flight to Salvador was fairly turbulent, though that can probably be blamed on the fact that the flight was just around 2 hours so by the time we reached cruising altitude it was almost time to start descending again. One of my favorite parts about the flight was that they provide snacks to you “free” of charge. Now I couldn’t eat the snack (crackers with cheese, a cookie, and some toffee) but I thought that was a nice touch.

After we deplaned in Salvador we met Fred, our guide for Salvador, and he loaded us on to the bus to ACBEU, where we will be taking classes. On the ride to ACBEU Fred told us about the area that we were driving through and informed us of some of the basics of what we need to know in Salvador. Once we arrived at ACBEU we met Clara, our program coordinator in Rio. Clara has a huge personality and it is clear that she cares deeply for all of the students who come through her program. After an orientation about the rules to follow and information about our homestays we were released to find our mothers. This was possibly the most nerve-wracking part of the experience so far. I was terrified. What if my mother didn’t like me? What if she had too much energy or me? What if this? What if that?

It turns out that my fears were unfounded because my mother is perfect. She is a divorcee living in Salvador while her (grown) children live in a smaller town outside of Salvador. She is also gluten free, likes yoga, burns incense, makes her own bread, yogurt, and juice, and is introverted like me.

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