#barkenport: our first time hosting friends overseas

In the days when Dave was getting paid to hike (it wasn’t all a walk in the park, ha), he made a friend. Chris and he shared military backgrounds, formative religious experiences, and a love of music and craft beer–not to mention all the ups and downs that came with the trails (#trailpunsfordays). It’s not often Dave connects with someone on this level, so naturally, I was curious to find out what his wife was like…and more importantly, would we connect?

We did. Allison is a teacher, so there, the end. Just kidding. I also discovered we share the love of God, the fear of anxiety, and many perspectives of the Midwest. None of these are light subjects: but that’s how I like my friends…deep and meaningful.

So…Dave and I were absolutely thrilled when they did the unthinkable: they made a trip to Brazil happen!

Here they are arriving, after three planes and a scary amount of hours.

Since they arrived on Christmas day, we made a special request of Santa to make a stop here with some Brazil gear and beach toys–and of course, champagne for the grownups.

That night, we made sure to fill their bellies with a traditional Brazilian churrasco: fire-grilled steak, chicken and sausage; garlic bread; veggies.

Chris might have had just a little bit to much fun with the skewers…

Not to worry though…we worked that off in our apartment’s indoor futsal court, of which the boys fell in love and for which they begged on a daily basis 🙂

(That actually became one of my favorite parts. Eventually, we brought down games and adult beverages to the game room and we played while they played. It was great!)

After an exhausting night of settling in–after an exhausting bout of travel–we were off to Rio together. I mean, come on, you can’t come to Brazil and not see the beaches of Rio! While there, we spent lazy days at the beaches and one crazy, whirlwind day of sightseeing.

We came back to Sampa just in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve on our beautiful balcony, where we danced, played with glow sticks, watched Brazilian coverage of events we didn’t understand and enjoyed multiple fireworks (noises or sounds). Don’t mind the blurriness of these photos…because let’s be real, when aren’t NYE pics blurry when you’re too busy being with friends!?

Once we hit the new year, we all realized the Barkers had only wet their appetite for Brazilian beaches. So, we booked a last minute getaway to Santos: the sea of sand dollars (win) and poop floating in the water (fail). We enjoyed shots on the beach, drip castles and reflections, and one helluva sunset that included a car fire and a rainbow (#nofilter).

All these trips and big moments don’t even include the small moments…which might even be my favorite. Cooking together. Games. Slow conversations on the porch. Naps. Field trips (packed in our car like sardines) to the malls for delicious coffee and snacks…and the hunt for the perfect Havanas. The boys’ addiction (justified!) to acai. Once again, seeing our new home with eyes of foreigners.

Naturally, as the time arrived for the Barker’s departure, my heart grew sad. I was crying at the drop of a hat. Allison said it’s because they brought a little piece of home with them.

But, no, it’s not that.

It’s because, without a doubt and with no better way to say it, we absolutely fell in love with the Barkers. Including their kids. Most definitely their kids. Cayden and Corbin are just delightful little boys, and to see them play together was a joy. So cheers to you Chris and Allison for being fantastic parents. You should be proud.

The Barkers leaving with a piece of our heart…

a year abroad: 2018 adventures

2018 marks the first full year Dave and I have lived abroad. And what a parade of adventures it has been!

Of course, my plan was to blog extensively about each and every one. But alas, time–and a stupid Iphone photo configuration issue {GRRRRR}–has prevented that. But as I look back on the year and get excited for the next, I can’t help but revisit the places we’ve…well…visited.

We spent January in Rio learning Portuguese. I wrote about that here and here.

For carnaval in February, we road tripped through Curitiba (cool little Brazilian city) to Florianopolis (Brazilian island) to Blumenau (mountain town known for Oktoberfest).

Mid-March, we zipped over to our favorite quick beach getaway town: Guarujá. The end of March brought us jam sessions at Lollapalooza.

Early April, we fell in love with the mountain town of Campos do JordĂŁo. When can we go back?!

The last weekend of April, we found ourselves on chilling on Boiçucanga Beach with a friend. I did my first open water swim there in training for a triathlon.

June and July took us home to friends and family in Colorado. We camped, hiked, spent 6 nights at a silent retreat, reconnected with friends, and visited with Dave’s family in the mountains. Oh yeah, and I completed my first sprint triathlon!

In September, I traveled with our senior class to Pernambuco. I swam in Recife waters, where some of the most deadly shark attacks are prevalent!

In October, we rented an AirBnB with some of our friends in Guarujá. We also attended one helluva Halloween party.

One Saturday in November, we attended one of the best beer festivals ever! We can’t wait for next year.

For November, we also drank a lot of wine and enjoyed stunning scenery in the beautiful Mendoza valley of Argentina.

And in two days, Santa is bringing us friends with whom we’ll ring in the New Year and do some more exploring of Brazil.

And then we start 2019 off right with a dream trip to Patagonia!

As I finish this post, I cannot help but think of one of my favorite Scriptures, Psalm 16:6:

flowers and monkeys, oh my!

When Dave and I transitioned down here, one of our biggest worries was the shift to city life. No longer would our yard be filled with deer, elk and bear. Rather the sounds of cars and smells of exhaust and emissions of lights would form our daily backdrop.

While this is true, I have been pleasantly surprised at the connection to nature I have been able to experience in Sampa. Every morning between 5-6, there is the most beautiful bird song outside our window. When it rains, the drops on the roof outside my classroom are musical. As I walk to school, I pass stunning flowering trees caressed by streaming sunlight. My campus is open, airy and sunny, with lots of places where I can work outside.

Here are some pictures of the blooms in our hood.

And then today, Dave and I ventured to the local park in Morumbi: Parque Burle Marx. Wow! It felt so wild–a green haven right in the middle of the city. Food trucks filled our bellies and playing families entertained our sights. The grass was a welcome respite from walking. The best part was the paths that felt more jungle than urban park. There, we encountered a giant green parrot eating high in a tree and the playful presence of marmosets.

Here are some pictures of our adventure there!

For videos, check out my YouTube channel.

 

day 36: a Sampa adventure

This past weekend, some new friends of ours (yay!) invited us to explore another side of Sampa we have not experienced yet: Bela Vista (northeast from us in Morumbi, across the Pinheiros River).

There, we discovered the most delightful farmers market: Jardim Secreto Fair. It was unlike anything we’ve experienced yet. Gritty, raw, noncommercialized (though ironically the majority of the vendors we talked to spoke English…more so than anywhere else yet). Within the first few minutes of our arrival, the local booth’s bartender offered us the opportunity to participate in..how shall I say…some herb which may or may not be popular in Colorado. Only a few minutes after that invitation, we were drinking delicious whiskey and tea concoctions. After introductions to some mutual friends and a bit of live music enjoyment, we were off to explore the booths: soaps and candies and clothes and home decor and trinkets oh my! Little beer shops–think paleteros–punctuated every few stalls. One of our favorite places was this delicious little peanut butter shop that had peanut butter brownies called Pe.Nutt.

After the market, we walked a few (some might add the adjective here of shady) graffiti-lined-blocks down to a highly-rated-but-off-the-grid restaurant called Cla Destino Gastrobar. There we sat outside and shared delicious bottled local beers, burgers (vegetariano e carne), and batatas rusticos. At some point, the waiter came around with housemade flavored cachaças. This probably coincides with when we decided to hit up a local speakeasy/art gallery/bar nearby somehow associated with our current restaurant’s owners.

And that, my friends, is where our night ended. Below an art gallery of red-threaded–penises (peni?) and superimposed-grooms-into-brides (!), we drank handcrafted cocktails. That is, until midnight, at which point we were kindly reminded of close time: so the local restaurant owners could come in and drink together.

How do I get invited to that party?!

 

parabĂ©ns: burgers and tutors

If you know us, you know we LOVE to eat out. (Like many other people, we plan our vacations around our meals.) This is one of the exhilarating and exhausting parts of being in a new country where the language is unknown: what do those Portuguese menus say?!

Unlike at home, it is not easy to go out here in Sampa. Enjoyable… Yes. Accessible… Yes. Varied… Yes. Adventurous… Yes. Exciting… Yes. Cheap… Depends. But easy? No.

This is what I’m realizing about living in a foreign country: nothing is easy. From reading different cultural cues to translating different menus, everything takes so. much. energy. I am a different kind of tired than usual: an aching and deep kinda tired. I’m tired in two languages.

But, Monday night, after a ten-hour day being productive at school, a nice meal at a restaurant was in order. I was both feeling fulfilled from finally working with my students as well as feeling prepared for the next day. So, a little bit of adventure called for the night. We considered walking to the Mexican restaurant (more Tex-Mex… Mexicancito?) because we LOVE Mexican food, and the menu there is more accessible with so many cognates and all.

But, alas, it doesn’t open until 6…and us gringos like to eat early and get home early and go to bed early. So we decided on a local burger place that had some delicious looking fries on the menu (I like salt, what can I say). A short Uber ride away, and we arrived at The Burger Experience.

Naturally, as it was earlier than Brazilian dinner time, we were the only ones there. But it was perfect because our waiter took us under his wings and made us his private little tutees. We stumbled through the language, relying on pictures, pointing, gestures and Google translate. And he would stop, look at us, and slowly say the syllables of words we butchered.

Car a mel iz ad a

Pic les

When we got it right, he made sure to give us the biggest high five and the loudest parabĂ©ns and the warmest smile. When we faltered, he’d pause on the part we got wrong and repeat it until we got it right, making us do the same. And then, parabĂ©ns!

So though not easy, Brazil is beautiful. A place where people bend over backwards to help you if only you try. (And not for a tip…this is not a tipping culture.) Their generosity and care flows from the pure tropical warmth of their hearts.

So now, Dave and I will start a new eating out tradition: burgers and tutors.

Parabéns!

 

 

 

 

 

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