January 2018 - June 2021
Currently traveling
  • Day45

    Blame it on Rio

    February 17, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 84 °F

    My dear wife, Ali, is currently out of commission so this blog post on Carnival falls to me. It all started with our special tickets to the Winner’s Parade, a collection of the 6 winning Samba school entries capping off the fesivities of Brazilian Carnival. We heard about the the more than 450 block parties, the numerous street parades and the millions of people that attended the Ipanema and Cocacabana beach parties, but these happened just prior to our arrival and the city of Rio was managable for the past three days of our visit. We thought the Winner’s Parade on the last night of our visit was probably just a low-key show for visitors like us with our special passes and shuttle busses.

    Not so. The samba schools are dance clubs that work nearly a full year to develop the theme, samba music, dances and floats for their entries in Carnival. During the festivities, 5 or 6 of the 12 major schools (there are hundreds of minor schools) are selected to perform in the Winner’s Parade, which occurs in the Sambadrome, a structure built specifically for this event.

    We knew these basics ahead of time, but the reality was revealed when we saw the glow of light from the Sambadrome as our bus was crossing town, still miles away. The Sambadrome is like a linear stadium, but nearly one-half mile in length and seating more than 70,000 people. We reached our seats in the brightlly light parade stretch about 9:00 PM and people were asking us if we planned on spending the whole night. Say what?

    The first of the six schools entered the Sambadrome about 10:00 with pulsing music, fireworks, much noise and cheering. We had one beer and pizza by that point. Only then did we realize that each samba school has 3000-3500 costumed participants and 5 or 6 spectacular floats laden with dancing people who actively engage the audience. We had held off on drinking the national drink, the caipirinha, but the rush of colors, pulsating beats, costumed bodies and excitement of the event led us to unwisely succumb and imbibe as the evening progressed. I remember the name “caipirinha” by thinking of the word piranha, but it turns out the similarity is not just in the sound of the name.

    Each samba school takes about an hour to pass through the stands with a break between, during which we tried to process the overwhelming visual, auditory and social experience, (and get more caipirinhas). Then the next school starts up, with a different song, color scheme and theme (usually political, a rich field right now) and more overwhelming stimulus. We got home at 3:00 AM even with the favorable 1-hour time change that conveniently occurred that night. We didn’t even see the last two samba schools, fearing we would miss the early departure of our ship. So, Ali is in bed and I am writing. The photos accompanying this blog enhance this verbal description, but there is one word that I have never used that perhaps does it best…scintillating.
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    Cheryl Hassan

    “Scintillating” is the perfect descriptor! Poor Ali! Hope she can recoup quickly.

    Laura Fogle


  • Day45

    Rio de Janiero, Brazil (part tres)

    February 17, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 82 °F

    What a fabulous day in Rio! The 4 of us hired a guide to see some of the popular sites plus some other sites that we might not be able to get to on a regular excursion. Luciana quickly assessed our group and saw that we were interested in seeing as much as possible and we did indeed! She had some great connections and she would phone ahead to one of the more crowded sites and have someone she knew there purchase the tickets for us and have them waiting when we arrived.
    Our first stop was the Christ the Redeemer statue. We took a cog train up there that at times seemed to move nearly vertically. There is something special about actually seeing something so iconic. The clouds obscured our view over the city somewhat, but it was a magical moment none-the-less.
    We sped across the city to take the 2 trams that go up to Sugarloaf mountain. The views were spectacular and we learned a great deal about the layout of the city from Luciana.
    Next was a drive-by of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Apparently, there is quite a “beach life” in Rio. Luciana said that most of the people on the beaches are locals and you always go to a specific area indicated by a number along the road. For example, she always goes to number 9. All of her “beach friends” are also always at number 9. Within 9, she goes to Moises beach shack. For very few reals (about 31 cents per real), Moises provides you with a chaise lounge, an umbrella, will get you any refreshments that you wish from any restaurant and will watch your stuff if you go swimming. She said that she’s known her beach friends for years, but she never sees them anywhere but the beach. Hhmmm...
    Our late lunch was near Ipanema Beach. We specifically asked to have the typical Brazilian dish Feijoada. It is black beans, garlic and a number of different meats served with rice, cassava flour and kale. Delicious, especially paired with a caipirinha and a shot of some unknown alcohol that is supposed to “open up the appetite”.
    Back to the van, where I immediately fell hard asleep until we arrived at the Rocinha favela for a short walk. The favelas (about 1000 of them in Rio) are almost like small cities. They are quite poverty stricken and struggle with crime and disease, but there were some small improvements in the one we visited. There is electricity (illegally obtained, but not pursued for payment), running water and some technology such as cable tv. There are many services such as groceries and clothing shops, but there is no infrastructure to speak of.
    All the rest of the time, Luciana regaled us with lots of stories about Brazil, life in Rio and some of the people she has served as guide for in the past.
    With our heads about to explode from all the information, sights, sounds and smells of the day, we head back to the ship to prepare for an evening at the Carnival Winners parade. Who knows what that will bring?
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    Elizabeth Cottrell

    Miss you guys but so glad you're together doing something so fascinating. Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Day44

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (part dois)

    February 16, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 84 °F

    Look at me, just a couple days in Brazil and I’m speaking fluent Portuguese! Well, at least a little bit.
    After our late night last night, we had a lighter day today, walking near the port and visiting a local museum.
    The “museum of the future” was mildly interesting, but more focused on special effects (not great ones) than on content. The most interesting thing about the museum was that it is completely self-sufficient, powered by solar and taking energy from the tides.
    The other interesting thing right at the port is a mural painted by graffiti artist Eduardo Kobra on an abandoned warehouse. It is 51’ tall by 564’ long and was painted for the 2016 Olympics to represent the different ethnicities participating in the games. It is a beautiful piece and adds a great deal of character to the port area.
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    Cheryl Hassan

    This mural must be awe-inspiring! It looks breathtaking in its detail and declaration of each person’s place in this diverse universe.


    Maybe you could make a cool wallhanging quilt with this as your pattern!

  • Day43

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (part one)

    February 15, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 82 °F

    Wow! Three full days in Rio! We are always given little talks about always being aware onshore for pickpockets and petty crime, but the warnings for Rio were downright intense. Apparently, Rio has a reputation for robbery crimes-we have gone in with nothing-no jewelry, watches, bags, etc.
    We took a 5 hour walking tour our first morning and we had 2 bodyguards for 12 of us. Enough of that.
    We learned some fascinating history and heard about some of the problems that are prevalent present day, specifically, the cost of living being far too high for wages that can be earned. There are myriad issues that come from this, including the ever-growing “favelas” and drug and gang activity. Sounds like some bad politicians.
    We located a guide that took us out to a couple of clubs this evening. It was interesting in that getting there in his car, we saw no one walking around, yet the actual area where the clubs were, were teeming with people. There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving so people take a taxi to where they are partying, then take a taxi back out.
    We visited 2 clubs with live music, drank caipirinhas and yes, danced the samba. It was definitely an experience and we got a real taste of night life in Rio.
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    Franz Rosenboom

    Awesome picture and by the way, subway sells Sandwiches....

    Cheryl Hassan

    “our” very own traveling Artists, arising into the heavens

  • Day42

    Buzios, Brazil

    February 14, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 82 °F

    We are hot and loving the beautiful sunshine here in Buzios, Brazil. This is a get-away town for people who live in Rio and Sao Paola, so everyone is happy, drinking beer and eating ice cream. And, recovering from the carnival celebration last night. They were sweeping up piles of confetti on the streets.
    We appreciated our little ship today when it was time to ride the tender back from town. We looked in disbelief at the tender line for the other cruise ship in the harbor that had to be 300 people. Someone caught us and directed us to our line of about 10 people.
    We enjoyed all the colorful architecture, tiles and cobbled streets here and tried to enjoy a little quiet before spending the next 3 days in Rio!
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  • Day41

    Paraty, Brazil (or not)

    February 13, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 81 °F

    I’m afraid that all we are going to see of Paraty, Brazil is out our windows. Captain Zanello just informed us that the weather is too dangerous to allow us into this port. Rough seas, 60 knot winds and an hour-long tender ride from our anchor spot all add up to a big “no”. So we are on our way to the next port (where it is also supposed to be raining).
    After that we are headed to Rio (where it is ALSO supposed to raining), and we are hoping this weather system will drop the temperature in Rio from the 109 degrees that it was yesterday.
    Soooo, the bar is open and it will be reading and watching movies today.
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    Roland Zimmerman

    Sorry to hear of the rain although we can relate as it’s cloudy and rainy here also, so we are watching olympics and trying to keep,warm. Hope your weather improves.

    Franz Rosenboom

    Cheers, Ali"

    Mark Zimmerman

    Rain, rain go away!

  • Day40

    Itajai, Brazil

    February 12, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 73 °F

    Well, it’s our first stop in Brazil. It’s sort of drizzly and warm and humid enough that our glasses keep steaming up! Whenever we get off the ship in port, we are always thinking about what to see and do here. We often look around to see what other people are doing and where they’re headed. So we see a large gathering of people taking photos and chattering excitedly. We didn’t realize that the excitement was all about our ship being there! Oh well, I guess we have to make our own good time.
    This is a nice port because it’s what we call a “real life” port. It is not based on tourism and we are a small enough ship that we blend in easily with the people who live here. We had a good long walk and
    got a chance to see some Brazilian everyday life.
    We also had the chance to go in a local grocery store, which is one of our favorite things to do. There was a full aisle on both sides of sausages! Meat-eaters reign!
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    Fabiana French

    PLEASE drink a GUARANA for me!! My favorite drink ever!! (soft drink, comes from a plant, delicious).

    Fabiana French

    Eat TICHOLOS!! Candy made from banana. Of course the bom-boms are to die for!! And of course... CAIPIRINHA!

    Cheryl Hassan

    I can guess who is excited by the meat counter!

  • Day37

    Montevideo, Uruguay/Addendum

    February 9, 2018 in Uruguay ⋅ ☁️ 77 °F

    Okay, it stopped raining so we went out again.
    There is a big pedestrian mall that we walked down and saw many beautiful buildings that are definitely tattered. We are in the part of the world where meat is a mainstay and barbecue restaurants are extremely popular. Our guide yesterday told us that there are very few vegetarians here.
    Headed to Brazil tomorrow and will be there for the next 3 weeks in various ports including the Amazon!
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    Franz Rosenboom

    I look forward to your experience at 12th of February in Rio

    Laura Fogle

    Can’t wait to read about your Amazonian adventure!!!

    Franz Rosenboom

    And please: FOTOS /Pictures

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  • Day37

    Montevideo, Uruguay

    February 9, 2018 in Uruguay ⋅ ☁️ 72 °F

    This was a short visit for us. It is thundering and lightning, but we went out anyway. We decided to come in after we decided that being soaked through to our underwear was enough to chase us back to the ship.Read more

  • Day36

    Punta del Este

    February 8, 2018 in Uruguay ⋅ ⛅ 84 °F

    Today was an easy day at the resort town of Punta del Este in Uruguay. We had a private guide for the 4 of us and Santiago gave us a good overview of the area. There is a wide range of housing (mostly high end) and lots of beach activities. There is a local person who built a very nice museum in a residential neighborhood that has an extensive group of work by Salvador Dali.Read more

    Fabiana French


    Ali and Jeff Carithers

    Fabiana, we loved Uruguay!!