Day 2: Welcome to Brazil

Bom dia!  Welcome to Brazil.  I’m so glad you’ve decided to join us for this trip. If you arrived here today not expecting to travel, you may want to check out these posts first … so you’ll know our plans:

 

I Wasn’t Prepared to Hear It …
Day 1:  Rise and Shine … Let’s Go to Brazil!
Day 1 – PM:  Leaving on a Jet Plane … to Brazil


After a smooth night of flying (which included watching Argo and a few welcome hours of sleep), we arrived in Sao Paulo a few minutes ahead of schedule.  Sailing easily through Customs and Immigration, I was tired but faced a glorious blue-skies day.

Click pics once — or twice — to enlarge.

We were met by a staff member of Hope Unlimited for Children who drove us to Campinas.  This traffic looks bad, but it was moving amazingly well, and our trip was quicker than usual.  Notice the motorcycles driving between the vehicles?  They usually buzz past at very high rates of speed and are known to many of us as “the rolling dead.”


On the drive from Sao Paulo, we saw hillside after hillside dotted with “settlements” — a step up from a favela (slum).


We saw favelas in the distance …


Finally …  We made it to Campinas.  This is one of the main roads.  Traffic runs in one direction, but the divider down the center of the road separates the affluent part of town (on the right) from the poor.  A first-time visitor traveling with us, still tired from the long overnight flight, felt a little overwhelmed by the clash of cultures.  Has it hit you yet?


Over the next few days we’ll learn a lot about this culture clash, but today Renaissance Man wants to be sure to point out the Disque Denuncia bumper sticker on the city bus.  It means “Dial and Denounce” and offers a way for citizens to anonymously report incidents of child abuse.  It’s a program begun in the last few years … and the path through which many of the children we serve come to us.

Click pics to enlarge.


At last … Our home away from home.  The folks here are wonderful!  For 15 years they have lovingly housed Hope Unlimited guests, always willing to let us check in early whenever possible.  Today it was possible.  Thank goodness!


A quick photograph to document the view from the 8th floor … then a shower and a short nap.


Then, feeling more rested, we walked to lunch.  I was having fun “seeing circles” — my shape of the year.


No one had to twist our arm to get ice cream.  This wonderful open-air ice cream shop is a favorite of every visitor we’ve ever taken to Brazil.  I’m certain you’re gonna love it, too!  Just select a container, try as many flavors as you like, add a topping (or several), then pay by the weight.  That’s a common thing in Brazil — paying by weight.  My all-time favorite flavor here is LIME.  It’s not sherbet; it’s ice cream.  Delicious!


As we walked back to the hotel, I couldn’t help but notice the mosaic-style sidewalks.  They are a well-known feature in Brazil, and every sidewalk seems to have a different design.  Can you imagine the work that goes into these?


Later in the afternoon, we met up with Philip Smith (“missionary on the ground” and one of Hope’s founders) who went with us into a favela.  Out of respect for the residents, I put away the camera.  I was surprised to see paved roads, retail establishments, and even a gym in a favela that just over a year ago was little more than pot-holed streets and residents sitting idly in front of their shacks.  Oh, there are still dirt roads with raw sewage running down the middle of them … and lots of people standing around … but the level of improvement is amazing.  We bought food for a family Hope has “adopted,” but it got too dark before we could find their house … and the favela is no place to be after dark.  We’ll have to try to go back another day.

As night fell, we felt it important to help our first-time visitor friend understand the “under belly” of the city … the dark places from which many of Hope’s children come.  Suffice it to say that the services offered and the pictures plastered on buildings and billboards in that section of town aren’t appropriate here.  But acting like they don’t exist doesn’t make them go away … and so I acknowledge the difference between a Hotel where I’m staying and a Motel rented by the hour.  There are many, MANY motels in Brazil.  They are not illegal.

Well, it’s been a long day, so a casual al fresco dinner back in our comfort zone makes for a perfect ending.  As I prepare for sleep, my thoughts turn to a few prayer requests.  Perhaps you’ll join me …
Hope staff member, Alex, is currently undergoing surgery to remove his appendix.  Pray that the responsibilities he had for the week ahead will be efficiently covered by others.

Hope Unlimited Board members are flying tonight and will arrive in Brazil in the morning.  By early evening, activities will be in full swing, and the week ahead will be busy.  Pray that they will have safe travel, stamina, and clarity of mind and spirit for whatever lies ahead.

Why don’t you plan to sleep a little later than usual in the morning?  That’s what I’m going to do.  It’s the only chance I’ll get for the next week!  Sweet dreams.

Comments

  1. “The rolling dead.” Very appropriate name for those dang motorcycles. My brother was killed in a motorcycle crash 14 years ago. Those things just scare the poo outta me! When Spring rolls around, I always look 3 times before moving into another lane on the highway. It’s actually better if the cycles are loud so that you can hear them coming up alongside. Those that are quiet are the ones I’m most afraid of!

    Quite a difference in the “day and night” of Sao Paulo. The beauty and fun of the area in which you are staying vs. the area where getting out with your life and limbs intact is a gift from God. Those poor children who are born into the latter…they really have it rough. Thank goodness for organizations like yours that work to make a difference in their lives.

    I like that idea of “by weight” in paying for stuff. That seems to make more sense to me!

    Have fun, be careful, and I wish you all – especially the first-timers – well!

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