Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Be traveling without much access to the electronic world, so the next post will most likely be mid January. Will get a Peru post up hopefully earlier, but who knows.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wear Sunscreen

The Every Wednesday post but on a Sunday because I'll not have internet most likely after Tuesday for some time.

I happened to stumble upon this the other day and I thought it worth sharing. I've read it off and on over the past years.

From Wikipedia: "Wear Sunscreen is the common name of an article titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997, but often erroneously attributed to a commencement speech by author Kurt Vonnegut. The article became the basis for a successful music single "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", released in 1999, by Baz Luhrmann." Check out this history of "Wear Sunscreen"

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen
would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been
proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no
basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will
dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind.
You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth
until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look
back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp
now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you
really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying
is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things
that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you
at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with
people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead,
sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end,
it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with
your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at
22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most
interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them
when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children,
maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance
the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you
do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself
either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of
it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest
instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone
for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to
your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few
you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography
and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need
the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you
soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians
will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll
fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable,
politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust
fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when
either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it
will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way
of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting
over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What's In Your Wallet Neighborhood?

An Every Wednesday post actually on a Wednesday.

Neigh.Bor.Hood: ˈnā-bər-ˌhu̇d\ "A section of a town or a city."

And what a difference a section can make.

When Sue got the high school counselor job in Sao Paulo the hiring process was way behind the normal time line, so there wasn't much discussion about living arrangements. It was basically: "Housing will be provided."

Nothing about the quality of housing mind you. The apartment was spacious but spartan, but what was missing wasn't what wasn't in the apartment, it was what was missing around the apartment: A neighborhood.

We were living in Morumbi, a short walk from Sue's school, but San Francisco hilly hilly, and definitely not a walking around area. Oh we had to walk to the grocery store not having a car, but there was no place to walk "to".

So we moved from Morumbi to Vila Novo Conceicao just on the edge of Moema. A distance of 11 clicks (6.6 miles) but 180 degree change in a neighborhood.

View Larger Map

A short walk or bike ride away to the northeast is Iberapuera Park which I wrote about a few weeks ago. Click on the purple to open that post Iberapuera Park Post in a new window.

Since we've been here we've walked to the local stores on the main street, Afonso Bras, just a block from us, but hadn't explored the neighborhood to the north.....or the south.....or the west.

It was time to venture north and see the neighborhood. Onto the Bike Friday NWT wondering what will traffic be like on the side streets versus "Take Your Life In Your Hands If You'd Be So Foolish" main roads.

Well, they drive as fast and don't give you a heckuva lot of space but there are far less cars, so some of my cycling was on the sidewalk where a side road was busy.

In a word I'd say our neighborhood is fairly upscale with many high rise "pay through the nose" looking buildings. The area is pleasant with many of the streets tree lined with the tropical foilage that is Sao Paulo. After all this once was a forest.

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Cycling along I found "Bread Co" an indoor/outdoor coffee and what not cafe. The rain curtains were deployed as we just had a thunder storm but I ventured over to check out the menu: breakfast omelettes, assorted sandwiches, and a small pastry shop inside. Yes!!

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Across the corner was a woman with her floral shop on the corner. Good place to bring Sue for some fleurs for the apartmento.

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Now this is a walking neighborhood! Funny, how an area can completely change your outlook and mood. A lot to explore still. But I also found a local neighborhood lunch spot. a fancy dancy restaurant (Josephine), a small pocket park, and some la de da stores.

And that's just what is north of us. Time to get on the bike and go west young man.

Click on any pic to go to the album.
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Friday, December 06, 2013

Get On The Bus Gus

The every Wednesday post but this time on a Friday.

So we're in the new place in Moema in Sao Paulo (SP) without a car. Sao Paulo is huge. How huge is it? Glad you asked. SP is the largest city in Brazil and is the largest city in the southern hemisphere! Oh and as to population the seventh most populated in the world.

Quick aside: From Wikipedia: "The city, which is also colloquially known as "Sampa" or "Cidade da Garoa" (city of drizzle), is also known for its unreliable weather, the size of its helicopter fleet, its architecture, gastronomy, severe traffic congestion and multitude of skyscrapers. The city is considered a Global City according to several classifications. According to one source, São Paulo is expected to have the second highest economic growth in the world between 2011 and 2025, although New York City and Tokyo were expected to remain the largest in 2025.[8]"

Searching on line there was a plethora of places to see or things to do with most of them miles from home.

I said: "Let's take a cab." "Naw" says Sue, "Let's see if we can get there by bus. If we want to go anywhere we're going to need to learn the bus routes."

Our destination was a building called "The Italian Building", one of the highest buildings in SP boasting an almost 360 degree walk around platform for viewing the vast city.

I jump to Google Maps to see exactly where the building was from our flat. Looks to be about 8 kilometers.

If you don't know this about Google Maps, you can click on an icon to see how to get there by:
  • Car
  • Bus
  • Walk
  • Bicycle
Well bicycle IF that option is available in your locale. In Brazil, that icon disappears and rightly so: It would be suicidal to bike 8 kilometers on main roads!! What I didn't know was that when you click on the bus icon. Google Maps shows you alternate bus routes including the number of the required bus and where the stations are located. See if this Google Maps imbed works. View Larger Map Click on the view larger map view if you're curiouser about how bus info appears. Off to the bus station.

Not a single. Not a double. But yup, a triple bus.

From taking a bus to Iguacu Falls we knew the drill: Get on. Pay the collector. Find a seat. Simple.

But the bus would not take us directly to the Italian Building. We would have to walk to a metro station, take the metro one stop and then walk to the building. I was familiar with the metro having figured out how to use it from our previous flat in Morumbi to get to the safe bicycling area.

e were trying to figure out where our exit stop was when all of a sudden we were pulling into a major bus station.

The bus emptied.

Except for us.

Trying to figure out what to do when a young guy getting on the bus and probably noticing our dazed, confused and lost look says in English: "Hey, can I help you guys?" He was a student who obviously knew English.

Not only did he give us directions to the metro, but he got off the bus and gave up his time and walked us towards the metro station.

Footnote: I've found the "paulistas" to be very friendly when needed. As you walk down the street you're met with hard, cold, indifferent stares. However, every time I've had the deer in the headlights "lost" look, someone has offered help.

From the metro it was a short walk to the building where there was free admission to the roof top "restaurant" area from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Being early, we spotted a street market down the street. Sue shopped. I people watched.

The bus adventure was worth it. A brief test and we can probably get anywhere we want by bus IF we want to go that route.

We hit a clear day and the views from the top of the building were astounding being able to actually see the vastness of SP.

This is a view from the top of the building showing one very small slice of SP.

You get the picture.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

I Did A $tarbuck$

A very short "Every Wednesday" post on a Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

The other day I did "A $tarbuck$". Not that I haven't been to a $tarbuck$. Every now and then I get an urge for a "Mocha". I do a pop in and pop out in a coffee bean moment.

But on this day the internet was down in the building and I knew the Starbucks up the street has WiFi. Tablet in hand off I went to have a couple of unexpected experiences.

The first was while I was waiting for my name to be called by the barrista. A guy heard me speak to the cashier and says to me: "American?". My usual reply: "Yup. From Oregon. Know where Oregon is?" Most foreigners don't, but they do know California, so the conversation usually from me: "Know where California is?" Usually a positive reply. I then say something like: "Oregon is right above California on the western coast of the U.S."

The guy was from Sao Paulo and curious about why I was in Sao Paulo, etc. A very friendly guy and we had an entertaining conversation.

"John?" Yells the barrista. No John shows up. "Is that a mocha?" Mine. The cashier spelled "Joe" as J O H N. Close enuff.

Off to sit at a table. The Starbuck$ thing I've never really done.

Can't get linked to the WiFi. Noticed a guy working away at a computer. Maybe he speaks some English. Sure enough. Fluent English. Plus he knows A LOT about Android systems and proceeds to clear my overload memory, delete a bunch of streaming not needed apps, and set me up to log in. An offer to buy him a coffee is graciously turned down.

So now I'm doing the Starbuck$ thing: Sitting at a table with my tablet, sipping my mocha and kicking back.

There are seven tables occupied: Six of them have someone either on an electronic device of some type. Is everyone's internet off at their home? No I realize because whenever I'm in a Starbuck$ there's always a lot of people sitting with a drink and working on a computer of sorts.

I do the same catching up on email and reading some of my favorite blogs. I also people watch.

A mother and daughter sit with the mom having a small demitasse while the daughter downs a frapa.....yup one of those.

A man and woman spread out a huge pile of index cards and open what looks like identical iPads. They are obviously working on something and I'm wondering: With today's programs why do they have hundreds of index cards instead of having all that data stored at the flick of a key?

A guy opens what is obviously a Kindle and begins reading.

My table faces a window opening onto the street where I can watch a stream of humanity passing by and I'm instantly guessing what each is doing and of course forming stereotypical opinions, even though I try to not do that.

After awhile I realize I'm actually "doing a Starbuck$".

I enjoyed it almost as much as the Mocha, which by the way I ordered as a "small". I still can't get used to Tall, Grande, etc. A Tall can't be a small. Can it?

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Just a quick post today but something that can help you keep your bike. A friend recently had a bike stolen and I remembered this video. Maybe it will help you keep your bike.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo Brazil

Our move from Morumbi, SP to Moema, SP included a nugget: Ibirapuera Park is only a few blocks from our flat. The difference between a "flat" and an "apartmento" is that a flat is often a serviced small unit for rent for under a year. An "apartmento" often will not be rented for less than a year and more often for a term of 39 months. For the SAHS (Stay At Home Spouse) or also called a "trailing spouse" such as myself who is definitely obsessed with cycling, having Ibirapuera Park this close will make the stay in Sao Paulo so much more enjoyable. Ibirapuera Park is known as Sao Paulo's "Central Park". Umm...I used to live in New York City and visited Central Park frequently. Nice try Sao Paulo, but.......

The redish pinkish line is the 1.8 mile bike path. View a typical almost daily ride here: GPS Ibirapuera Park Ride

On any day there are cyclists, skaters, joggers, families pushing strollers, walkers, gawkers, and the ubiquitous vendors selling what appears to be the flavorite drink of Paulista's (Sao Paulo folks): Coco Water.

The photo at the end shows the building featuring a photo exhibit by Karl Lagerfeld titled "The Little Black Jacket". As we are viewing the photos there is a photo of a man from the front next to a photo shot from the back of a woman. Sue says: "Look they are wearing the same jacket." I look at a few photos and say:"They are all wearing the same jacket." Then the title of the exhibit hit me: Doh. No, we weren't invited to the opening.

Some scenes from the park. Where trees have fallen, the tree has been turned into a playful sculpture of sorts.

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Iguacu (e-gwa-soo) Falls photo 
“Poor Niagra”. That is what Eleanor Roosevelt said upon viewing IguacuFalls. Having been to Niagara Falls a few times, Mrs. Roosevelt sure got it right.

Sue came to Sao Paulo on a tourist visa good for only 90 days having been hired late in the process by the school in Sao Paulo.  Same tourist visa for me as her husband.  To get a work visa requires leaving the country and going to a Brazilian consulate office.  The school sends those who need a work visa to the consulate in Argentina, which just happens to be in Puerto Iguazu near Iguacu Falls, which is in both Brazil and Argentina.

From Wikipedia: The name "Iguazu" comes from the Guarani or Tupi words "y" [ɨ], meaning "water", and "ûasú "[waˈsu], meaning "big".[2] Legend has it that a god planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In rage, the god sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.[2] The first European to find the falls was the Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541.
On November 11 of 2011, Iguazu Falls was announced as one of the seven winners of the New Seven Wonders of Nature by the New Seven Wonders of the World Foundation.

After checking into the Bourbon (no not the drink....think in French) Hotel in Foz du Iguacu, Brazil, we stopped by a tourist travel office located within the hotel and behind the desk was a 7 year old.  Well, maybe she was 20, but she sure looked 7!!  She explained how it would only cost us a small ransom to hire a driver to take us to the falls.  Other options?  Sure.  We could take the local bus.  Sounds like a local adventure to us.

The front desk clerk told us to take the “green” bus which would stop across the street at the taxi stand and cost about $1.50  U.S.  After watching a blue, then brown, then red, then multi colored bus stop and go, our green guy showed up.

Quite a different bus fare set up than we have experienced in any other country.  There is a driver and also a toll collector who sits about one-third of the way towards the back of the bus.  The front third has some seats, which looks to be for (ahem) seniors and the disabled but probably also serves for overflow.  Metal bars and a turn stile separate this front section from the rest of the bus.  If you have a prepaid toll card, simply swipe it and the turnstile allows passage to the rear.   Otherwise, pay the piper who has an ancient wooden box as the currency holder and the drawbridge will be lowered for you to the back section of the bus. 

We had no idea what to expect entering the park on the Brazilian side.  There was a woman selling inexpensive (a polite word for “cheap”) plastic ponhos, which we were told to buy regardless of the price.  We would need them.

The first views are simply jaw dropping, gawking, gazing at this water theater multiplex.  On the Brazilian side of the falls the views are panoramic with sweeping vistas of the falls along the opposite side of the river.  And multiplex?   It is like walking into a 20 theater movie house.  Along the river is a waterfall next to a waterfall next to a waterfall down river from a waterfall. photo

The Argentinian view later.

A path follows the river giving varied views as the falls thunder from afar.   At this point our only complaint was the weather:  The day was shrouded in gray with threats of rain and a sprinkle now and then eliminating those vibrant sunlit photos.

At one spot along the path was a zip line that wasn’t operational.  Yah, I would have done that.

Towards the end of the path there is a man made walkway that extends out into the river and near the top of one of the falls.  The mist is drenching and the wind howls, but it’s one of those “..if I leave here without doing this…..”  it will be regretted.   My thought while walking out to the end of the pier/walkway was: “How in the heck did they create the pilings and supports with such raging water all about?”  I’ve yet to find out.

This photo shows the walkway where you can stand at the end overlooking the falls.  Vertigo anyone?  On the day we were there the wind was blowing fiercely enshrouding the entire walkway in mist. photo

Compare the photo above with what the walkway looked like during our visit.  We did the drenched rat routine to the end.
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Continuing along the path, it ends at an elevator up to a viewpoint overlooking the falls and right next to one of the waterfalls. 
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The walk took a good 4 hours and at the end I was thinking: “Why do this again in Argentina?  More of the same?”  Little did I know.

There wasn’t enough time left in the day to get to the Argentina falls, which we were told would take 6 hours to tour,  but there was a “bird park” one of the teachers said would be worth our while.

The Iguacu Falls Bird Park (Parque das aves) was an unexpected pleasure.  Large well kept “pens” housed numerous birds which have been rescued.  Numerous other bids such as flamingoes, emu were in open outdoor pens.  The Parque das aves was hatched in 1994, by a German couple, Dennis and Anna Croukamp, who found in the Iguazu area a perfect place to realize a dream: to build a theme park dedicated to the conservation of animals.  He rescued damaged raptors and over the years has saved hundreds of birds.  This was a small tropical paradise and well worth the time to wander and relax.  In a word: Peaceful.

Sunday was to the Argentina falls and again by bus.  Right.  A different color than green.

Once inside the Argentina park to get to the  falls requires a train ride to walk the lower trails.  Then back to a station to take another train to the upper falls.

What an incredible surprise.  About 80% of the falls exist on the Argentina side and this is what gives the panorama to the Brazilian viewpoints.  What we didn’t expect is that the walkways go right up to and in many places reach over the falls giving you a vertigo experience of looking  down on the rushing, thundering, powerful water flowing underneath.

This shows howcloseyouare to the falls. photo

The day before a driver hired by the school took us to the consulate to get the work visa.  Sue asked: “Which side is better?”  The driver vigorously shook his head and said: “Not better…..different.”  How right he was.

Again a gray day but this one had something else for us.  There is about a half-mile walk along a man made boardwalk extending across a river to Devil’s Throat falls.  We were about three-fourths of the way there when the heavens opened up putting us under our own water fall.  Buckets.  No way were we to be denied so we sloshed to the end of the walkway where you are in the middle of Devil’s Throat falls watching the water cascade in torrents and ear splitting sounds to shake your core. 

Drowning in unforgettable visions and memories, we took the two train ride back to the park entrance where by then the cold rain ended and we began a hot cup of cappuccino.

Would do this adventure again in a heart beat.  Hmmm…does Sue have a 3 day weekend without plans on the calendar?

Click here for lots of falls pics--> Iguacu Falls Pics On Da Web 

CLICK on any photo to open the whole magilla slide show of me photos in a separate window

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sao Paulo "Street Art"

Sao Paulo has graffiti everywhere and is known for "street art". There is a famous street I've yet to get to. Some shots of street art graffiti from my Domingo "Ciclofaxia" bike ride.

Almost all the shops have those pull down corrugated "garage doors" for security. Often they are painted to reflect what's sold. To wit: