Photos from Los Llanos in Venezuela
Photos from Los Llanos in Venezuela
Rio de Janeiro is home to the world’s second largest Jesus statue. [Many mistakenly believe that it is the biggest, but that honor lies in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Click here to read about it]. He stands tall overlooking the bay. [He has a better view than the Bolivian one] He rises above Rio, inspiringly high amongst the clouds, his arms stretched in both a humble and humbling stance – to those of faith – the redeemer of all: of all the notorious crime and sin in Rio’s slums and ghettos – ‘the favellas’, of all of the working girls that fill the Copacabana night; of the ultra rich ruling class dining in their mansions whilst many of their neighbours starve. When not shrouded with clouds, he is visible from almost everywhere in Rio, looking down from heaven, perhaps a beacon of hope for all in this stunning city – from the elite to the not so fortunate.
My volunteer work here in Rio is decidedly different from it was in Ecuador, Peru, or Bolivia. First off, I am nowhere near fluent in Brazilian portuguese. The smattering of Portuguese that I do know is the Portugal variety–not too useful here. So I stand on the street corner [oh, the irony] with my bowl of condoms with my sign saying ‘Perservativos”. Ironically, it’s the same word in Spanish, but sounds nothing like Spanish. My partner does all the talking and educating while I just stand there [looking attractive?]. Occasionally I do get to hand out free condoms to the English and Australians that come by to see what free thing is being given away.
I even feel that my Brazilian partner thinks that this is a waste of time. STDs are so prevalent here that ‘everyone’ has or has had at least one at some point in their life. And there’s so much more to do and see here. Volunteering is *only* 2 hours/day 3 days a week– so different from any other experience I have had. But it is Brazil…and when in Brazil, do as the Brazilian do. Eat , drink, run around half-naked, and be merry.
I have put together a list of what not to do in Rio unless you want to be throughly humiliated. I learn from experience…not necessarily my experiences though
Brazilian culture is Yes – as I’ve said – unique. An envy of a lot of the world in many respects. But, given this culture, and the characteristics that it is honed, you can easily find yourself a little embarrassed, humiliated even in so many ways. From my observations and experiences during the last few days, I’ve formulated a few rules I like to call “Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don’t…”. Here are the Top 5:
5. Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don’t drink too many caipirinhas. As I’ve said – they’re like death. Of the devil. Trust me…
4. Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don’t go strutting around the beach with no shirt on if you are a fat dude wearing Speedos. For the sake of both yourself and the mental well-being of those around you. You don’t quite compare to the beautiful people around… Just don’t – ok?. Luckily for you, I won’t post any photos of those who violate this “rule”.
3. Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don’t try to speak Portuguese. Are you fluent? No? Then don’t. As much as I like to speak the vernacular, Portuguese is a crazy language, with crazy intonations and pronunciations and just leads to humiliation. Since when was it so difficult to say ‘hamburger’ or ‘pizza’?
2. Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil, don’t go anywhere near a soccer ball. Consider it a death trap. I don’t care if you are Messi (well, maybe HE could get away with taking on the beach crowd at Impanena). The old, fat dude on the beach will still make you look a fool. My tip: If a ball comes near you – run. Run away…
1. And my #1 rule for “Unless you want to be humiliated in Brazil” is don’t get into a situation where the police want to search you. They seem to like to search people. Sometimes for no apparent reason. Not fun. In fact, down right humiliating… And if there’s one thing that can be said for Rio cops – they’re thorough…
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Some photos from my time in rio…
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The Brazilian Pantanal is located in southeast Brazil. It is the world’s largest wetlands. It is its own little world completely different from the rest of the country
OK…it is not easy to get to–it is well off the beaten path, and it is not very well- known, but the Comunidad de Inti Wara Yassi is well worth the time and effort to get to –especially if you are an animal lover. The animal refugees contain animals that have [usually] been abused by humans or abandoned [in the case of the cats] when they became too big and unmanageable [usually by circuses]. These beautiful animals were left to fend for themselves in rather remote and harsh conditions. Yes, they are animals…even wild animals, but when a kitten/cub is stolen from its mother, it looses the opportunity to become a successful wild animal. This mentality is hard to understand in Bolivia. CIWY has founded and manages three wild animal refuges in south-eastern Bolivia [closer to Brazil and Paraguay than other Bolivian cities] and strives to educate the Bolivian population to uphold values that promote life, conservation, preservation and the recuperation of biodiversity. Inti Wara Yassi’s deep, uniting ties with the whole of the Bolivian public are symbolised in its name – Inti means sun in Quechua, Wara stars in Aymara and Yassi means moon in Chiriguano Guarani. Below are some of the rescued animals that call CIWY home.
Movimiento Sonrisa is a program based in the two hospitals of Cochabamba, Bolivia– Hospital Viedma and Hospital German Urquidi. It’s mission is to assist poor children from the city and nearby countryside who need emotional and financial support for their hospital stays. Many times children are left alone in the hospital so that the parents can get back to earning a living for the family. Depending on their length of stay, they can fall behind in school or become socially withdrawn. While at volunteering with program, I assisted children with school work and did one-on-one “fun” activities with children located in the “infectology” [infectious diseases]ward of the hospital. I also worked in the hostel ran by the organization for parents who choose to stay with their child, but do not live in the city.
Movimiento Sonrisa is a small organization ran entirely by volunteers. In addition to the educational and emotional support provided by the volunteers, the periodically host fund-raising activities throughout the city for future projects.
Volunteering at Movimiento Sonrisa was a very educational experience for me. I loved working with children once again, and it was interesting for me to be able to compare and contrast the health care delivery system of Bolivia, Peru, and the United States. Cochabamba is centrally located in Bolivia and serves as a transition point between the Andes culture of La Paz, the jungle of Rurreuuburque, and its cosmopolitian neighbors of Argentina and Brazil. Cochabamba is among Bolivia’s most economically and socially progressive cities.
Potosi was and still is a mining town. In its glorious past, it mined silver, and was among the richest cities in the world. There are still a lot of buildings left from its heyday. Today it mines other minerals such as zinc. One of the more awesome things about Potosi is that one can actually visit the mines. Active mines. With real miners. After the Chilean mine collapse, I was a bit ambiguous about whether or not I wanted to descend deep underground. It is not the best of conditions. Add that to the fact that I have had a respiratory infection [and malaria] of some sort since I arrived on the continent, and I have just gotten well THIS WEEK [6 months later], the mines may not be the best place for me…But they have DYNAMITE and where else am I going to have the chance to blow up some dynamite — so I signed up for the mine tour. And it was a blast. [Hee...hee...] Yes, thousands of people have died in these mines over the last five hundred years. Yes, safety practices are basically non-existent. Yes, ventilation is practically non-existent. Yes, work is all done by hand using very basic tools. Yes, it is hot (+110F), and there are all types of noxious chemicals, and fumes, but the experience is amazing.
Sucre: on the trail of the dinosaurs…The Cretaceous Park has at least 5000 dinosaurs from at least 8 different species of dinosaurs (there is some dispute if there is more than that though)…There are models of a T-Rex, Titanosaur, and Carnotaurine….massive animals that roamed this area some 68 million years ago. Sucre is awesome.
Inti Wari Yasi: This is an animal rescue park…monkeys, pumas, jaguars, and birds–all being brought due to either lost habitat, abandonment, or lost parents due to hunters. This park is amazing, and I could easily stay here a month or more as a volunteer if I had more time, but its a great way to spend a few days if that is all that you have. Read more about CIWYhere
In the weeks since I have left Huanchaco , I have been to Arica, Chile, Lake Titicaca, La Paz, Bolivia, and now I am hanging out in a smallish town of Coroico. Coroico is like a tiny piece of heaven after the coldness of La Paz. Perched at 3660 (more than 12,000 feet) meters above sea level, La Paz can’t help but to give you a headache. And it’s cold, but on the plus side really, really cheap.
Over the weekend, I made my way up to Lake Titicaca, on the Peru/Bolivia border. Lake Titicaca is known as the world’s highest lake and at more than 3800 meters, if there is a higher one, I don’t think I want to visit it, because once the sun goes down, the extreme coldness sets in…and to think there are people who voluntarily live on the islands in the lake.
But now I am in Coroico, a perfect little town at only 5000 feet where I will stay until my evil sinus infection goes away…After here I am headed for either the jungle paradise of Rurrenburque or the splendidly high salt flats than straddle the border of Bolivia and Chile.
My favorite part of traveling is taking pictures. My favorite pictures to take are landscapes [channeling Ansel Adams], followed by city scenes. My next favorite part of traveling is meeting new people, but I don’t generally like photographing people. [Animal yes, people not so much] First, I think it is rude to just whip out a camera and start clicking away. Nor do I like the idea of paying people to pose for photographs [propina, propina]. But sometimes I do it anyway. In an effort to improve my photographic skills [and conversational and social skills] I am taking more pictures of people everywhere I go, but especially here in Peru since I have spent so much time here.
This is the shopkeeper from the yellow market [I called it that because it has a yellow awning over the door.] Since I lived in the apartments next door, that makes her my neighbor. That, and the fact I go to the yellow market EVERY SINGLE DAY is probably the reason she posed for this photo.