Monday, 4 March 2013

Sunsetting on my time in Brasilia, preparing to fly with the sunrise to Sao Paulo

Another lovely afternoon with a couchsurfing friend.  After an “odyssey” of near misses (in his words!), I finally met up with Fernando, the pharmacy graduate, and it was worth the wait.  We walked around some of the monuments downtown that I had only driven past, taking pictures at some famous spots in Brazil.  We saw a building designed look like a dove with a mural inside to commemorate Tiradentes. His name literally translates as “tooth puller” and he was a dentist who became a martyred revolutionary when he protested the dictatorship.  Among other monuments in the surrounding area, Oscar actually built a house for the pigeons of the city, which is kinda cute.  
Os Candangos and I
 After that, Fernando and I went to Pontao near Lago Sul where I had been with Emmanuel but this time there was much better weather and tons of people walking, boating and taking pictures.  I had been told that I needed to try the wildly popular acai dessert.  It is similar to a berry-flavored ice cream served with a grape, banana and granola.  It was pretty good but I probably won’t go out of my way to have it again.  After a leisurely afternoon, chatting and enjoying the sunshine, we raced to Dom Bosco park in an effort to catch the sunset.  We got there in time but the gathering rain clouds made it pretty umimpressive.  However, it was a beautiful view of the city, overlooking the lake and we hiked around to see the Dom Bosco shrine (known as an upside-down ice cream cone around here) and the first small, chapel built in the city.  It was an excellent visit, definitely worth the wait and Fernando promised to send me a picture of a real Brazilian sunset, because they are supposedly breathtaking during the dry season.
Fernando and I at Pontao, Lago Sul: great tourguide and great new friend!
 This morning, I interviewed the vice director of computer science who was a pleasure to talk to.  She’s very interest in SCALE-UP as a way to improve the retention in their introductory courses, since less than half the people who intend to major in the exact sciences make it through.  She was the professor whose father helped advise and construct the city so it was fascinating to hear how the city evolved.  She was lucky to have an incredibly supportive family who encouraged her to pursue mathematics from a young age.  She said she never felt strange entering mathematics as a woman since growing up in a newly constructed city freed its people from traditional stereotypes.  She recalled, five years ago, a male classmate asked her daughter what she was doing in a calculus III class so she thought females in this generation may have a more difficult time pursuing these fields. 
I thanked some people at the University, saying my goodbyes, had a photoshoot in the physics teaching lab for my American Physical Society article.  I’m looking forward to a final couple meals of Reva's exquisite cooking, not looking forward to waking up at 3 AM to fly to Sao Paulo but looking forward to a day of sightseeing with Henrique's friend, Tales.
Sunset at the Dom Bosco Shrine