Friday, 8 March 2013

Back to traveling how I like it!

Never underestimate the awesomeness of traveling with locals!  Before fun explorations with Rogerio, I did do something science-y to justify my expenses here for my fellowship.   I meet with some chemistry education people at did go to the  “Universidad de Cuidad” of Rio to and discuss what they were doing and share what I was doing.  This university was the first in the city and it seems like one of the best.  Recently, companies (General Electric and some more local ones) have been moving there so it seemed similar to NCSU's Centennial Campus.  The Chem Ed group was also focused mostly on secondary education but they have pretty expansive facilities that they plan to further expand.  Now they’ve got some great classrooms and computer labs where they can bring high school students in for experiments.  They enjoyed what I had to say and are contemplating adding a SCALE-UP classroom when they fill in the hole in the middle of their building and expand.  In general, the professors understood the importance of active learning but they said their students were incredibly resistant to working collaboratively and I agreed that getting students exposed at earlier stages in their education was essential.  They also asked a bunch of questions about how to deal with students in the favela (slums) who have no quiet place to study and often have other jobs.  I gave some suggestions but we're lucky that we don't have to deal with this level of poverty in Raleigh.  After lunch with the group, I headed to the city of the center to meet Rogerio.  Traveling around, people were wishing me “Feliz Dia Internacional da Mulher” and giving me free things.  I never noticed this celebrated in the US.
This afternoon, Rogerio lead me on a walking tour of the city, one of the highlights of my entire trip.  Rogerio is currently studying engineering at the University, an avid language learner (he traveled to Canada and Germany to work on his English and German, respectively) and a guitar and ukele player.  He can easily make a career as a tour guide if he gets bored of engineering but he wants to do that in Germany so he probably won’t get bored.  We met at the Municipal Theater, a gorgeous example of European architecture in the cinema section of the city center and wandered by the city’s famous aqueducts (party central on weekend nights).   The next stop were the “Stairs of Madness”, a project of a Chilean who moved to Brazil and loved it.  He collected tiles from all countries and visitors to create several flights of stairs completely covered in these mosaics, featuring the colors of Brazil.  It’s in the Saint Teressa district so the houses are adorable and pastel colored.  The artist lived here up until last year (when he might have committed suicide) but was known for his friendliness- always wanting to show tourists tiles from their country or ones he thought they’d like.  It was created as a continuous work in progress so I hope people still add to it.
Rogerio and I on the landing of the mosaic stairs

The stairs go on forever and the houses are so cute!
Then, we went to the Confeitaria Colombo, a fancy schamcy Portuguese bakery.  I didn’t have much of an appetite with the heat of the afternoon but I did make sure to try the bridgadeiro during another stop of our walking tour.  Fernando recommended this chocolate condensed milk dessert.  He said when he watches American movies, girls always stuff themselves with ice cream and he said this was the Brazilian’s indulgent guilty break-up food (also often served at children’s birthday parties).  We walked by a Starbucks and Rogerio recalled how he visited Starbucks on his first day in Vancouver.  It was the middle of winter, snowing like crazy and his teeth were chattering, he was so cold.  He was looking forward to a nice warm drink, chose a vanilla something and it turned out to be a frozen beverage. He just remembers walking down the snowy street with his hands with this icy drink.  This story made me feel better about being a clueless traveler here because whenever I go anywhere by myself, I feel like I struggle with the most obvious things but at least I make people laugh...
We saw a lot- the bank of Brazil’s cultural center and the current exhibition on animated movie clips.  We stopped by some pretty churches, historic squares, cute and crazy shopping streets, the place the Portuguese first landed in the city and this amazing library, which literally felt straight out of Beauty and the Beast.  You’d never be shown magical places like that on big bus tours. 
Me in the magical library
So it was a perfect afternoon!  I could say more but I think I’m going to take a nap- communication has been tricky but hopefully I’m going to meet up with a CS friend this evening for a Friday out on the town.  If any of you are interesed in groovin' to Brazilian tunes here's a playlist suggested by Tales that I'm definitely diggin'.  I think these are the classier tunes... among other things, Rio's known for their "funky" music (David's words) which tends to be repetitive, sexual, not-very-sophisticated but oh-so-addicting.

Marisa Monte - Beija Eu
Marisa Monte - Amor I Love You
Tribalistas - Já Sei Namorar
Elis Regina - Vou Deitar e Rolar
Elis Regina - Águas de Março
Alceu Valença - Girassol
Alceu Valença - Anunciação
Waldir Azevedo - Brasileirinho
Gal Costa - Canta Brasil
Clara Nunes - Morena de Angola
Clara Nunes - O Mar Serenou
Cláudia - Deixa Eu Dizer
Sergio Mendes - Mas Que Nada