Since you heard from me last (39 days ago), I have visited over 12 new cities throughout Brazil! The trip began in the beginning of January and lasted twenty-two days. I traveled with 98 other exchange students, two rotarian doctors from Argentina, four brazilian chaperones, and four bus drivers. In total we were 109 people and filled up two double decker coach buses. Of the 98 other exchange students, we had kids from Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, the USA, Finland, France, Holland, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Taiwan, and Iceland. It was quite the cultural melting pot.
I could go on for pages about all the stuff we got to see, but that would be boring for you, and a lot of writing for me. So I am just going to highlight my favorite parts of the trip.
In Lencois, our second stop, we visited the Chapada Diamantina National Park. Some people call it the Grand Canyon of Brazil. It is similar to the area that I visited in November, Chapada dos Guimaraes, but much much larger. In this area, we were also able to ride a zip-line down into a lagoon, and snorkel through a water cave.
|Sofie Scheuerman giving us a nice pose at Chapada Diamantina|
|My German friend Nico headed down the zip-line|
Our next stop was Maceio, which is where I vacationed with my host brother in November, so it wasn't an entirely new experience for me. We got to go to natural pools again, in the middle of the ocean. Even though I had already been to Maceio before, it was a completely different experience to be able to go there with people from all around the world. I am not saying that I didn't have a fantastic time when I went there with my host brother, because I did.
|Praia da Gunga - Maceio|
After Maceio we headed up to Natal, the northernmost city we visited on the trip. It is one of the host cities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup here in Brazil and is also home to the biggest cashew tree in the world (which we visited). It also has a large sand dune park, the second largest urban park in Brazil. One of my favorite days of the trip was when we all packed into a bunch of sand buggys/buggies? and rode through the park and ended up at a famous beach, Genipabu, where we spent the day.
|Buggy Ride - Parque das Dunas - Natal|
|Just a section of the largest cashew tree in the world. It spreads for about a block.|
On our way to the famous city of Salvador, we stopped at Praia do Forte, or Strong Beach, and visited the TAMAR Project. TAMAR is short for Tartarugas Marinhas, or Sea Turtles. The objective of the project is to protect sea turtles from extinction along the brazilian coastline.
|Feeding a huge sea turtle at the TAMAR Project|
|Church of Sao Francisco|
|Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim|
Porto Seguro, or Safe Port, was the next city on the list. This is where the Portuguese first landed when colonizing Brazil. We got to see where they created a pillar, claiming the land, and where the first houses were.
|The pillar that the Portuguese put down to claim the land.|
|Favela Rocinha - Rio de Janeiro|
|Praia de Copacabana|
|Up in clouds at Pao de Acucar|
Overall, the trip was very tiring, but one of the best parts of my exchange so far. It was great to meet people from other countries, learn a couple words in some other languages, but mostly just be around a bunch of exchange students who are away from home for a year just like I am.
Here is a link to the video I made from the film I took while on the trip. Give it a look.
Also if you're interested in looking at more pictures, here is my Facebook album from the trip. I changed the privacy to Public so everyone should be able to see it.
Carnival is the annual festival held in Brazil from the Friday to Tuesday before Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent, the forty day period before Easter. Unfortunately I was able to go a larger city for Carnival, where they have street carnival and all the samba school performances, etc. But it was still an enjoyable couple of days. Every night we would go out from 10pm to 4-7am, and dance and watch the performances. It was a long five days, but I survived and am excited for my next Carnival, whenever that might be.
This Friday I leave to visit my host sister at college in the south. Then straight from there I will go on my South American Adventure trip.
Until next post!