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New country!

semi-overcast 26 °C

I keep forgetting that traveling can be both taxing and tiring between the stunning awesomeness. Indeed, taking in all the amazingness is tiring in itself - the word "tiring" used as neither positively or negatively but simply a neutral statement.

Coming to Brazil and São Paulo from Argentina was one if those quite taxing experiences.
Firstly, we were sad for leaving our precious Argentina (my new favorite country in South America! :) ).
Secondly, (although we didn't talk about it at the time as there was nothing to do about it) both Asia and I were a bit sullen about missing out on a good nights sleep on a bus :P haha never had I ever thought I would feel that way - actually jealous of our hostel friends who got to take the 19 hour bus ride from iguazu to Rio..
Thirdly, coming to Brazil was a bit if a culture shock. New language, new food, new money, new atmosphere.. It is a bit overwhelming!
As I think about it, I realize that this happens (more or less intensely) basically every time I travel somewhere. Then I get over it and promptly forget about it. The good thing about realizing the thought-pattern is that I no longer have to feel "bad" for being tired sometimes while traveling.. Even if it is wonderful (and it is!), it is perfectly natural to be a bit overwhelmed from time to time. I actually think it is a good thing, because it means my brain is processing all the info, right? Allowing me to also fully take in all the GOOD feelings and impressions that come with new experiences. Allowing me to be high on life ;) because boy, am I high on life..! :)

Today we spent all day riding bikes through the streets if São Paulo. It was AMAZING.
I'm awed and happy partly for the wonderful experience, but also if the sheer effort that goes into this project! Large streets here in the city have 3-4 lanes in both directions with a grassy stretch as a divider. The asphalt of the inner lane in both directions is painted red, and every 100 m or so have writing that says "Domingo", "7-16" and a picture if a bike. This is because every Sunday between 7 and 16, that lane is closed off from traffic and only open to bikers. As if that weren't enough, there is an actual person (paid, not volunteer) standing at every crosswalk and intersection (in every direction!) with a bright red flag. When the light turns red this person steps out into the bike lane, holding the flag up so that bikers can't pass and therefore don't get hit (?) by the cars that have a green light. (I'm not sure if this is a courtesy for the bikers or the cars).
This goes on for MILES. It really is incredible. As is the sheer number if people biking around! In my limited personal one-time experience of this phenomenon, I would say the city of São Paolo has definitely reached the goal of increasing the exercise of the population :)

Asia and I biked with a couple of friends who we have gotten in touch with through Linnea. It is such a blessing to know people in the cities we are traveling to, we are SO lucky!!
After a couple of hours riding around the city (seeing a couple if magnificent parks along the way) we were hungry and sweaty. Yamê (originally Linnea's friend) picked up the five if us and our bikes (safe to say, it was quite a project getting them all into a pickup-truck..but three times is the charm and eventually we could carefully drive away. With a pile if bikes towering in a more or less stable pile a meter or more over the sides if the pick-up..).

Then we went for lunch!! O.M.G. I wonder how many times a person can the best meal of their life. An endless amount, seemingly ;) as it happened once again today.
Like a Brazilian-style paella, our lunch consisted if rice and "Fruto de Mar" mixed together with a yellow sauce.. I realize that this doesn't sound exceptional, but you'll just have to take my word for it. We scraped the plates clean (and would probably happily have licked them, too). Just thinking about that lunch makes my mouth water. I can feel the tender calamari almost melting in my mouth.. Aaah yuuuuummmm!!

The rest of the afternoon (17-19 or so) was spent at a bar watching a soccergame that was actually held in São Paulo. Asia and I had originally decided to go see the game at the stadium, but watching it with friends seemed a lot more fun as we thought about it (that, of course, had nothing to do with the facts that we 1. hadn't managed to get tickets yet and 2. didn't really know how to get to the stadium.. ;) )

After that we were exhausted.
After quiet evening spent playing drawsomething and chatting, we are looking forward to a whole nights sleep (Asia is actually already in that far-away dream-world ;) ) before flying to Florianópolis tomorrow afternoon! Yay! Exciting!!

Goodnight! :)

PS. I have a feeling that although Argentina us my new favorite country, Brazil might turn out being my favorite people.. EVERYONE is so friendly, open, curious, extrovert, helpful.. And this is in São Paulo, south America's biggest city, known for being ugly, unfriendly, unsafe, impersonal, and overall not very much fun. If that really is "true" (in comparison) I can't even imagine what Rio will be like..!

Posted by Irmelin 19:13 Archived in Brazil

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Bill says you're having too much fun; it must be sinful. That with a big smile, of course. We're both enjoying your missives and so glad for all the details. With bushels of love, as always.

by Ruth E. Stubbs

"O.M.G. I wonder how many times a person can the best meal of their life." What a great way to put it. I'm so glad your trip is going well.

by Monty

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