Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ginger blossoms

29 July 2012

The ginger is blooming in the backyard and the flowers are as big as my head. They are off in a corner, so if it weren't for the amazing scent it would be easy to overlook them.

The scent of the blossoms is so strong I can even smell it in the house. It is incredibly sweet, and nothing at all like any reproduction of a "ginger" fragrance. I guess that is true of most flowers; we can't do better than what God/nature has done.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Amazing Cactus Flowers

23 July 2012

Just after I arrived home, one of the cacti in the backyard began to bloom... and bloom... and BLOOM. Normally this type of cactus has just a few blossoms, but at its peak, this one had over 60 flowers on it. I counted several times to be sure, and I still could hardly believe it!

Each blossom is about a handspan in diameter, and amazingly fragrant. With so many at once, the scent perfumed the air all around.
My mom enjoying the cactus fragrance.

 This was taken yesterday morning, at which time the blossoms at top left hadn't opened yet. The first count was about 25 blossoms.

My mom demonstrating some flower yoga. :)
 This picture was a bit later, and the two blossoms at upper left were halfway open. I was trying to count the blossoms - they look different front and back and are kind of squashed together, making it very hard not to lose count. At this time there were about 40.

A view from the back side - this shows why it was difficult to get an accurate count.

 The bees loved the flowers and it was fun to watch them in the late afternoon.

In some places you can buy honey which is entirely from cactus flowers. It must be wonderful, I will have to try it someday.

 Closeup of the center of the flower.
 Reaching to the sky - I think the little fuzzy balls mean that we may be in for more blooming later on, if conditions stay favorable.
 Wall of flowers!
   Vanity pictures - a Brazilian habit! ;)

This photo shows the blossoms at their peak, when I counted more than 60. Such a marvel.

And here's a mystery cactus blooming nearby. I can't decide whether I find it beautiful or not, but it's definitely interesting in both color and shape. Reminds me a bit of sea anemones.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Going Home

20 July 2012

Another chapter in my life has come to an end. Time to return to my own country - for now.

If home is where my heart is, then my heart must be growing because there are pieces of my heart all over the world.

This is quite possibly my favorite photo of the entire year. My very last view of Santa Cruz do Sul was of my best friends, who came to the bus station to say goodbye. This made me feel so loved. What a precious gift. I am so lucky to know them. We were all crying at the end - see the red noses?

I was glad the bus was dark inside because I think I cried most of the way to Porto Alegre.

I cried some more when the plane took off from Porto Alegre, and after that I had to accept the inevitable. The TV in the seat helped to distract me from feeling sorry for myself, and I watched a couple of excellent movies. My favorite of these was "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel".

The Panama airport has the fewest toilet facilities of any international airport I have visited. Each restroom had only two or three stalls, and twenty women waiting in line to use them. Tip - go upstairs to the food court, the restroom there was the only one without a line.

The trip from Panama to LA was pretty routine. Here I am waiting for the shuttle bus to go from LA to Santa Barbara. I was surprised how cool the weather was when I arrived, must have been around 75 F / 27 C.
 The LA airport's famous architectural landmark thingy. I think there may be a restaurant inside it.
 My first view of the beach in Santa Barbara, from the bus. Almost home!
 My baybeeeeeeee!!!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane

Saying goodbye to Brazil. My heart is breaking.

"Leaving On A Jet Plane"
John Denver

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go, 
I'm standing here outside your door,
I hate to wake you up to say good-bye.
But the dawn is breaking, it's early morn, 
the taxi's waiting He's blowing his horn.
Already I'm so lonesome I could die.
So kiss me and smile for me, 
tell me that you'll wait for me, 
hold me like you'll never let me go.
'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane, 
don't know when I'll be back again. 
Oh, babe, I hate to go.

There's so many times I've let you down, 
so many times I've played around,
I tell you now they don't mean a thing.
Every place I go I'll think of you, 
every song I sing I'll sing for you,
when I come back, I'll bring your wedding ring.
So kiss me and smile for me, 
tell me that you'll wait for me, h
old me like you'll never let me go.
'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane, 
don't know when I'll be back again. 
Oh, babe, I hate to go.

Now the time has come to leave you, 
one more time let me kiss you,
then close your eyes, I'll be on my way.
Dream about the days to come when I won't have to leave alone,
about the times I won't have to say:
kiss me and smile for me, 
tell me that you'll wait for me, 
hold me like you'll never let me go.
'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane, 
don't know when I'll be back again. 
Oh, babe, I hate to go.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Final night in Brazil

18 July 2012

Spent the day sorting through papers, books, clothes and a year's worth of my life. I can't believe it's already over; in some ways I'm finally getting acculturized here. (Yes, I made up that word, so there.) Just when you get over culture shock, reverse culture shock is waiting!

One last churrasco at the restaurant Centenario with my friends. More were there than this, but the Obligatory Brazilian Group Photowas taken with someone else's camera.
And it's never too late to make new friends! These wonderful gentlemen are expats from Peru. Maybe I should go to Peru, if all the people are so nice. (Not to mention that Peru has some of the most amazing archaeological sites in the world...)

Arrived back at my house feeling very tearful, but then I got a look at my bed and was shocked out of it. Where am I sleeping tonight?

I have been on the verge of tears so often in the last few weeks, sometimes even broken down crying. Leaving Brazil is so hard. I will write a suitably weepy and emotional post when I get back to California; now there is simply too much to do!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Festa Fantasia (Costume Party) e despedida

15 July 2012

To celebrate my departure (hey, that doesn't sound right), my Brazilian friends organized a party for me... a costume party... but not just any costume party, a "crazy" costume party. And it was crazy and hilarious and wonderful.

 The guys putting on makeup in the bathroom - hey, wait a minute! ???

 Kiss, kiss!!!

Makeup complete, time for the Grand Entrance Parade!

There were extra costume bits for those who came without costumes, so many of the costumes "evolved" during the course of the evening as someone would see some accessory they liked better and swap clothes.
 Case in point - wasn't he wearing a hat earlier? and only one dress?
True love?

Friends forever.

With this group, a Line Dance was inevitable - and very funny!

What's wrong with this picture?

The Odd Couple.

The group photo - my last one?

DJ's at work.
Thanks for the dance! :)

The guys performing the very risqué Bottle Dance.

And it isn't a proper party until someone dances on the table, right?
 Going away gifts - you would not believe how much bubble wrap I used on that bottle of cachaça to bring it home in my suitcase!

Thank you all. For accepting me as your friend and including me in your lives. For making me learn Portuguese the hard way. For the good times, the food, laughter, music and chimarrão. For making my year in Brazil one of the best years of my life. I will never forget.
Muito obrigada a todos os melâncios para me aceitar como sua amiga e me incluir em suas vidas. Obrigada para me assistir de aprender portugués. Obrigada para os bons tempos, comidas, risada, música e chimarrão. Obrigada para fazer o meu ano no Brazil um dos melhores da minha vida inteira. Eu nunca vou esquecer. Beijos.