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about the continuity Brazil asked for…

Hm. I won’t go all political on my blog, I merely want to state my opinion on the recent elections that brought Dilma Rousseff to power in this ever-changing and growing nation. I can’t vote here and it is frustrating, so in the end I only have the right to comment on facts and opinions I have heard and that I feel. So what I write here is simply this and not a complaint about this country.

Many say that Dilma Rousseff’s election to office was a sign of the democratic progress Brazil has made… really? I don’t know if I completely agree with this. I think that this election was highly influenced by Lula, not the fact that they wanted Lula (which may be true), but that the country was voting for continuity (of more than just a person, but of the policies and procedures). Over the past eight years that Lula has been in power Brazil has seen many changes for the better and this was enough to influence many people to vote for Lula’s party, which as a result put Dilma in power. My point is that it could have been anyone and with the approval and backing of Lula, this person would have won.

I always find this interesting…if you look at a map of Brazil and the past elections there are clear reflections between states and poverty levels (even look at the city of São Paulo, the exterior part of the city is plagued with hills of favelas). The higher the amount of poverty, the higher the chance of voting for the worker’s party (Dilma’s party). The lower the poverty, the lower the chance of voting for the worker’s party. For this reason, Brazil is stuck between class voting. Maybe this voting is present in many countries and I am just now becoming aware of its power over what happens in a country’s elections. The Economist stated this difference in class level voting and although I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing because in the end it represents the country and what and who the country is. However, I do think that it is something that separates a country rather than unifies it, and this task may be Dilma’s most difficult.

Another point I want to make was the convenient holiday that was declared over this voting weekend, which consequently accounted for a 21.5% abstention. This is an extremely high percentage, considering voting is compulsory in Brazil. Another thing to consider…

The last point I want to make is about Dilma’s identity, whether she will simply be Lula in a woman form or she will represent herself and choose her own path and identity. There are many things Brazil needs to continue to work on (the health system, schools and universities, labor, union, and political reforms). Furthermore, corruption and violent crimes are still high and remain another one of Brazil’s biggest challenges.

I sincerely hope that Dilma will make a difference, will continue to improve this country, and will seek to further the progress of this country and not only the appearance of the country in the International world. Most of all, I hope that Dilma understands what truly needs fixing in my opinion, the importance of equal education for every child, this will in return create a better family structure and equal opportunities and the presence of a community.

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    about food and flowers…

    G surprised me with flowers yesterday. So I cooked a nice dinner for the two of us. It was mutual love I suppose…

    The stuffed zucchini were delicious, filled with tomatoes, zucchini, onions, cheese, and cream cheese. The gratin potatoes were superb filled with leeks, calories and well… calories. Then we had broccolini (not pictured) to try and justify the cream overdose.

    Nights and dinners like this one don’t happen so often… but they should!

    -L

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      about a sense of community…

      I grew up in many places where being a part of a community seemed natural… second nature. Your neighbor drops her wallet, you pick it up. I see a can on the floor, I throw it away. You need a cup of sugar, sure! They are simple things… things that make people want to live altogether in the same place. However, I didn’t realize that this is something very precious. A sense that everyone is working for the good of other people so we can all live in a better place. Am I being naive? Maybe. However, if I thought there was one big thing missing in São Paulo that would make a big difference I would say community. A sense of feeling connected; motivated by each other to improve ourselves and the place we live in.

      The dictionary describes community as a group of people in a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities and society. Wake up São Paulo! We all live here… we all need to survive! So let’s try and help each other out. Maybe it goes back to my argument about education being the primary problem in Brazil. In the end, with education comes respect, with respect comes community… right?

      I think the closest I have felt to a community here was when I went to Favela Rocinha. Favela is a Brazilian shanty town and Rocinha is the name of one of the biggest Favelas not only in Rio, but in Brazil. G and I visited the neighborhood a couple of years ago and I will never forget it because of the sense of community I felt when I was inside this place. Unfortunately, Favelas are usually funded and maintained by drug trafficking and drug-lords, so putting that detail aside the sense of community is much stronger in a place like this. Everyone is working together to create a community. Why is it like this? I understand that the people within this community probably earn much less than the average person in Brazil, they probably have less education, less things, less worries and maybe outside of this Favela they don’t contribute to society, but inside this Favela you see that people live so close to each other… it is impossible to not know what your neighbor is doing, it is impossible to get away with being rude or inconsiderate, it is impossible to not play your part in society (within the Favela). So what is it that São Paulo needs to change? Or maybe it is bigger than São Paulo and Brazil.. What makes us humans want to feel a sense of community or not?

      Searching…
      L

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        about my new friend Peppers…

        Here is my new friend Peppers. Although hairier than most of my friends he is the sweetest of all.

        I’m in peppers love.
        L

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          about eat, work, play…

          After the relaxing two and a half weeks I had with my parents its hard to face the reality of Sao Paulo again. When my parents came to visit I felt like I did every time I have visited Brazil… I felt like it was this magical country that is filled with beautiful people, rich culture, exquisite food (even if the best part is…its fried) it was so good to once again have a positive perspective on things. I found comfort in having my parents here… people that I knew… people that knew me… people who understood where I came from. Please don’t get me wrong I have met very nice people in Brazil, but there is and always will be some sort of gap… a space that isn’t filled… a space that you will keep wanting to fill. I suppose it’s culture that does it. Or maybe sometimes you do it to yourself. Anyways, my point is Sao Paulo is different when you’re on vacation than when you live here.

          Is it possible to be on vacation in the city you live in? I guess for me it was! I didn’t need to take public transportation, I didn’t need to worry about time, money, traffic, writing reports and looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m safe. No sir (and ma’am)…I walked the streets like I owned the town. I ate out without worrying about money. I enjoyed the city. And it gave me a chance to sit back and realize what Sao Paulo is all about… eating, working and playing. People come here from all over the world and all over Brazil. They come because Sao Paulo is the next big thing… it’s changing right before your eyes. It has opportunities that Brazil hasn’t seen for years. It is Brazil’s biggest hope! So yeah… they work hard here… they play hard… and you better bet your bottom dollar that they eat hard too.

          It doesn’t mean Sao Paulo is without it’s flaws. Anyone that knows anything about anywhere knows this. Its a city where the difference between poor and rich is so clear it makes you feel a little nauseous. Where it may be common to see thousands living among makeshift brick homes along the hillsides where the rich look down upon from their tall apartment buildings. But what can you do? You are living in a city where community is a scarce word, where your neighbor is even looking for a bargain from you and where you find yourself doing and thinking things you didn’t think you would.

          I’m stuck. Stuck in between two worlds! I can’t figure out what to do!

          Sao Paulo is an interesting journey…
          L

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            about my parents…

            YIPPEEEEE!!!! My parents are coming to visit!! They arrive today and I couldn’t be more excited!

            We will be traveling to all these places…

            See you soon,
            L

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              about moving south again…

              After writing and erasing and writing and erasing…after motivated then unmotivated then motivated then unmotivated…after happy then sad then happy then sad…after busy then lonely then tired then lazy… I am attempting to write my first entry in a month. I guess life happens… it gets in the way sometimes. You don’t know what to do with it and as a result you just aren’t quite yourself.

              Either way, here I am! In this massive megalopolis called São Paulo. This city is not for the faint of heart however and kicks your butt when you least expect it (I have learned to expect everything now). The city where more than 20 million people consider home, where you could be stuck in traffic for 5 hours, where helicopter traffic exists, where the best chefs compete, and where the skyscrapers are your scenic view… is where I am trying to find my home.

              After spending almost a year in Sevilla (700,000 people) it was and is a big change, but a necessary one. G found work straight away and is paying off his debts and saving for some new nomadic travels. I am teaching (slowly, but surely) and we are trying to make the most of our time in Sampa.

              When I was still back in Sevilla I had been trying to find some blogs speaking about São Paulo and about people who had moved to São Paulo. I found one in particular whose blog saved my life. She is Canadian and has been living in São Paulo for a year. As soon as I arrived I contacted her and we met for drinks and then almost every 3 days we met again for something or another. She was my savior! I confided in her and she helped me with work, classes, students, my mental state, and gaining weight (by eating cookies). She has now moved back to Canada and is enjoying the life of fresh air and maple syrup. However, I hope during my time here I can be the same light she was to me when I first came.

              I’m excited to write about this new city I’m exploring, the new language I’m learning, and the new me I shall no doubt become.

              Tchau for now…
              L

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                about leaving Spain… for now…

                For me, the last couple weeks in Sevilla were a blur. So many things to do, to see, to enjoy, to love. It was different leaving Sevilla this time… I was content. I don’t know why. I was sad to leave, don’t get me wrong, but it was different. When I left Argentina after living there I was a waterworks show. Crying… sad… depressed… for days. I can’t explain why it was different in Sevilla. Perhaps, deep inside when I left Argentina I knew that I may never come back here to live… the life would never be the same as it was those past 11 months that I had been there… and for me Buenos Aires signified so much… I changed, I grew, I became someone I never knew I was, I taught, I loved, I cried, I lived, I did things I never thought I would, I felt change, I struggled, I fought, I saw life differently. I lived in Sevilla for the same amount of time as BsAs, but it wasn’t the same experience. I’m more mature now, I know what I want in life, I trust myself more, I feel more capable, I have more faith, I believe in myself more, and I know deep down (and not so deep down) that I will be back. Very soon.

                G and I did the Camino de Santiago after we left Sevilla and it was magnificent, inspiring, unforgettable, galvanizing and fantastic. Can you tell I liked it? For those of you who don’t know what this is I’ll fill you in. A camino in Spanish is a ‘way’ or a path of some sort. There are many caminos across Spain that you can ride your bike, sometimes drive in your car, walk, run, ride a horse…. however you want you can take this path and there is always a certain destination. More traditionally caminos are considered pilgrimage paths or routes and have religious significances. The Camino de Santiago must be one of the top three routes in the world. There are many different ways that you can do the Camino de Santiago, but all of them have one thing in common, the destination. Santiago de Compostela is where the apostle James is believed to be buried and for this reason there has been a massive cathedral built on this burial ground and bam! the camino was created. Pilgrims from all over the world have traveled these routes, leading to Santiago, for hundreds of years all in search of different things. Nowadays many people follow these infamous routes for leisure, clarity, zen, challenge, holiday, love… you name it… I’m sure it has been a reason.

                Since I heard about my friend’s camino experience last year, I have had an urge to do it also. So, as a closure for our time in Spain we decided to head up north to Galicia and do the last 120 kilometers of the camino (it is 800 total, but we only had about 5 days). Oh, and 5 days just wasn’t enough! I’m addicted now and want to do the whole camino next year! It was so cool. I can’t explain why it was… but I can try. You change as a person, things happen and this was only 5 days… can you imagine 5-6 weeks? The people you meet, the places you see, the ideas and thoughts you think about, and the times you have alone and with people make you a better person, no matter how you look at it.

                An average of 24 km of walking a day it was the best way we could have finished our time in Spain. I kept a journal while I was walking, but it is full of way more rambles then this blog could ever handle.

                Flying back home was exciting. I missed my family and spending a month at home was exactly where I needed to be.

                More to come… as always.
                L

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                  about the Camino de Santiago…

                  Well the Camino was everything we expected and so much more. G and I did the Via de la Plata which is the Camino de Santiago, but starting from Sevilla and going north. We didn’t have that much time to do it so we started in Orense.  I’m just posting some picture in this post and will write about the actual Camino very soon! Enjoy…be jealous.
                  – L

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                    about hiking the Camino de Santiago!

                    I’m hiking. I will be out of touch for weeks. maybe months.

                    Love to you all.

                    Peace,
                    L

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