Friday, June 17, 2011

Brazil Visa

I've just come from the Brazilian Consulate in Los Angeles; I have my passport with the visa page in it.  This is really happening!  Finally I can allow myself to believe it and get excited.  I leave on July 20th from LA (actually on the 21st at 1:30am, but since I must leave home on the 20th, that's the date that I need to keep in mind).

Starting next week, I'll be traveling around the USA by car for about three weeks, visiting my relatives, and after that, I'll have about ten days to prepare and pack for Brazil. Will also get the final crown put on my tooth - it's a long time to have the temporary crown, but hopefully it will hold up until then. I'm really glad I got the vaccinations finished already.

I've already started working on Portuguese language learning materials; that is one thing that I can do during the long hours driving across the US.  

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More on vaccinations and visas

On Thursday I got the last of my Hepatitis A/B vaccinations, along with Poliomyelitis and Influenza.  Ironically, out of all of these vaccinations, the one that actually made me ill was influenza.  About 24 hours after the shot, I started getting symptoms, and shortly had headache, body aches and a fever.  Thankfully, I was able to get in and out of the Brazilian Consulate before this "mini-flu" hit.  Feeling better today.

Drove down to the Brazilian Consulate in LA to submit all the paperwork for the visa application.  I felt a bit tongue-tied when answering some of the verbal questions, but apparently I passed, because she told me I could pick up the visa next Friday and gave me a receipt.  I still don't feel like I will quite believe it until I have it in my hot little hand.

I managed to remember how to say "Bom dia" on my way out and the agent gave me a big smile. :)

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I want to publicly thank Todd Kaplan for the excellent information he provided regarding the visa application process.  If you are considering using a visa expediting agency, I can sincerely recommend for prompt and friendly service.
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Madonnari Festival, Santa Barbara, California

31 May, 2011

Over the Memorial Day weekend, the I Madonnari Festival was held in Santa Barbara, California.  The festival, which harks back to artists in renaissance Italy who painted religious icons in front of churches during sacred festivals, has been transformed here into a community celebration of art, music and food.  The central attraction is the street "paintings" created in colored chalk over the course of the three days on the pavement in front of the Santa Barbara Mission.

Children watching the fish in the fountain in the Mission courtyard.

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Here is my English teaching tie-in!  This artist is a student in a local adult education English class in which I was doing a teaching practicum.  The students in the class worked together on a fundraising project to pay the fee for him to participate in the festival, and got their class named as the sponsor above the painting.  He had never participated in one before; while at the festival, he was approached with an offer to participate in another festival free of charge because the organizer liked his work.  Their regular English teacher found a class project that was engaging and empowering for the students.

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The below painting was specially designed to be anamporphic, or three dimensional when viewed through a lens at a certain angle.  I love how it looks like the artist and the girl in the painting are actually drawing together!
This view shows how this painting looked from the side.  Amazing!

I attended the second and the third day of the festival, and it was fascinating to see how paintings evolved over time, like this one.

Also this lovely rendition of the fountain in front of the Santa Barbara Courthouse, which I didn't even realize was unfinished the first time I saw it.  Using blue tints to paint the statue gives it such a different feel that had it not been for the caption below the image, I wouldn't have recognized the image as the fountain, although it did seem awfully familiar.  (Once I saw the caption, I did recognize the Strangely Evil Fish from the fountain!)

This one, sponsored by the SB City Firefighters Association, was the most poignant image for me - a depiction of the Tea Fire of November 2008.  This is exactly how it looked in the nighttime news videos as local residents anziously watched its rapid spread and waited to see who would be evacuated next.

The first day, I was there late in the afternoon and it was difficult to get photos without the long shadows of the wandering spectators falling through them.  In this photo, the shadow is that of the artist standing up for a stretch.

Tools of the trade - look at all the lovely chalk!  This detailed painting required a full "palette", and there were several more boxes off to the right unseen in this photo.
The sun was rapidly going down, but there was still enogh light for this artist to work in one corner of the painting!

All of the artists had images that they were working from, and this artist was taking part of his design from a T-shirt .

Fishies from afar...
... and near!

The subjects were amazingly varied, from fruit to pets to people to the space shuttle.  However, some artists stuck to tradition and reproduced religious paintings, most notably Madonnas (hence the name of the festival).

Some artists sat or perched precariously on cardboard and foam, fastidiously avoiding contact with the chalk as though it were a sacred thing; others seemed to regard themselves as part of the art itself, and by the end of each day were liberally covered in chalk. 

Others approached their work like tradesmen, with knee pads, umbrellas, miniature vacuum cleaners and even rolling dollies.
This was the only image done entirely in black and white, it turned out very striking.  You can even see a reflection on the glasses.

Apply the chalk...
... and rub.
Apply the chalk...
... and rub.

In the late afternoon, the artists who had some experience with these festivals worked under standing umbrellas, making an image inside an image.

The painted painter!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Applying for the Visa

I've now finished the teaching practicum course and have time to devote to the next step toward Brazil, which is collecting the proper documentation for the visa application.  Recommendation letters, police report, bank and credit statements, proof of residence, birth certificate, passport, extra passport photos, school acceptance documents from Brazil, round trip travel ticket, and LOTS OF FEES.

The travel ticket feels like a Catch-22 situation; I must have the air ticket to apply for the visa, but if the visa application is rejected I will not be able to use the ticket.  I haven't purchased it yet, but had better do it as soon as possible.

I have just one more round of Hepatitis vaccine left, next week that will be complete.

It's also time to start hitting the Portuguese language materials and thinking about what items I want to bring with me, particularly those things that might not be readily available in Brazil.  For example, a year's supply of the only type of dental floss that doesn't shred to pieces between my teeth...