After my 1-month ECVA program in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I said my farewells to my awesome new friends I’d made and hopped on a flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was cold and rainy, much different that the balmy weather I left behind in Brazil. The mood of Argentina was also more melancholic, which you could tell by their love of Tango and theater.
The first ECVA host family I stayed with in Argentina was with a wonderful woman named Eva. Eva lives alone in the suburbs of Buenos Aires – it tooks approximately 40 minutes to the city center with the train. The train was incredibly cheap – only 20 cents! Eva sported me around the city showing me all of the sights. Her energy was amazing, always on the go! She even commuted to a university 4-hours away twice a week to take a class she was interested in.
Eva’s English level was fairly basic. She could understand more than she could speak. She has a son that lives in San Francisco (where I live), and she wanted to improve her English to be able to communicate with her adorable grandson who was born in the U.S. We sang children’s songs (The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round was a big hit!) and we looked at simple English grammar and sentence structure.
I used role-play techniques to prepare Eva for her next trip to the U.S. She told me that she loves going to Starbuck’s near her son’s home in San Francisco, so we acted out ordering coffee and other things in a cafe. We went to the grocery store together and compared vocabulary in English and Spanish.
After being bombarded by meat in Brazil – I was thrilled to find that my host mother was a vegetarian. I couldn’t have asked for a better placement!
I think this may have been the best dinner I have ever eaten. We ordered a trio of ceviche, served in cute spoons and prepared in different styles. We also had a seared Ahi tuna dish which was nice – buy the octopus risotto was to die for. Zaza Bistro in Ipanema was adorable, fun and fresh. The menu was creative and seasonal. The wine was perfect and the atmosphere was hip and exciting on a Saturday night! We were so stoked to get a table right away on the patio, and avoid the long wait. It pays to be a two-top sometimes.
After the passport drama I encountered when I left Ubatuba, I was lucky that the bus driver let me on the bus and continue on my journey to Rio de Janeiro. What an amazing city it was!
Rio was everything I had imagined about Brazil – the city where all the stereotypes came true. Beautiful people sitting at cafes, girls walking like supermodels in Copacabana. There were all the more-than-half-naked people at the beach in Ipanema. There was the Samba music playing in the street from the favellas on the hill. There was the gigantic Christos spying on me from every different angle of the city – no hiding from that one!
Here are a few photos from my trip to Rio de Janeiro:
At the beach in Ipanema. Barely room to get a spot. The waves were fun to bodysurf.
I got to escape the fast paced city life of Sao Paulo for a long weekend at the beach. The first beach I went to was called Ubatuba. The town is also know as “Chuvatuba” because chuva is the Portuguese word for rain and it rains so much there. Sure enough, it rained while I was there.
We stayed at Tribo Hostelwhich was cozy and clean and had a friendly staff. Celise had stayed her several times. It is just 2 blocks from the beach. I spent 2 days in Ubatuba hanging out on the beach and watching the skim boarders do their thing. To see an awesome video of what they do, check this out!
We met some nice locals and even got invited to someone’s home to make an amazing rice and seafood dish with fresh crab. We did a photo shoot with a mask on the wall, had an awesome time reminiscing about our lifeguard days and posing like Baywatch, and an old man tried to kiss me when I asked to take a photo of the 2 of us. Sneaky!
From the downtown area we walked through the busy streets to the Mercado Municipal in Sao Paulo. We ate the fattest Mortadella sandwiches ever – yum!
We also had this huge croquet of cod called a Bolinho Bacalhau.
The building has a ton of different vendors selling things like: fruits, cheese, ham, fish, spices, teas, wine, and oils. We stopped at a place to try their oysters. I had one with a mango on top, and another with a salsa like a pico de gallo. Delicious!
Bored in Sao Paulo on a Monday night? Not anymore! Head to Vila Madelena to see some circus training in action. There were at least 20 people juggling various types of sticks, pins and balls. Some people did some other crazy tricks as well, to the beat of some popular music including Reggaeton, Electro and Hip Hop.
The downtown area of Sao Paulo is really old and full of life. The architecture is amazing. There is an old Cathedral and the Teatro Municipal. I went up on top of the 26th floor of the Martinelli Building, where you can get a panoramic view of the city. I have never seen such a vast horizon of skyscrapers in my life!