For anyone new to this blog, Brunie and I served in the Peace Corps together (Brunie 1966-68, me 1967-69). We worked in the same interior town in the state of Sergipe, Nossa Senhora da Glória ---everyone just calls it Glória. Luckily Brunie was there a full year before I arrived because her excellent Portuguese and outgoing personality allowed her to fit in extremely well. She was able to teach me everything I needed to know to get along, even the year I remained on my own after she returned home.
For over 40 years, we have talked about returning to Brazil but we had lost track of our friends and former students. Read HERE how we were able to reconnect, which led to our upcoming trip.
We planned to travel in 2010, but that trip had to be postponed because of Brunie's family issues. But, now our tickets have been purchased and we will be making the trip in a few weeks.
Brunie and I have finally scheduled our trips to Brazil. Brunie and her husband are traveling from California, so their best travel deal was to fly to Manaus. From there they will make their way to Aracajú. They could choose from flights that had layovers in Brasilia, São Paulo or Rio. (They chose Rio.)
From Pennsylvania, my best deal was to Rio. And it just so happens, that on Brunie's itinerary from Manaus that passes through Rio, she will transfer to the very flight I will take to Aracajú.
Note: if we purchased flights from our homes directly to Aracajú and then back home, not allowing us to travel elsewhere. Each flight required 24- 30 hours each way, including numerous layovers and we would pay about the same as we are paying for Brunie's flight to Manaus or my flight to Rio, plus Brazilian airpasses which allow us up to 4 flights within Brazil. So the airpasses were the best way to go for us.
We will arrive in Aracajú on a GOL flight at 2:25 pm on August 8th.
We will stay for a few days in Aracajú (the captial of Sergipe) where many of our friends and former students live now. One family will host us there. The weekend of August 12, there is a big festa in Glória. We specifically planned our trip to be there for it, because many former residents of Glória return for the festa. Two of our former students, who married after we both left Brazil, will find places for us to stay there.
After returning to Aracajú, we will take a bus (3-4 hours) to my favorite Brazilian city, Salvador where we will stay at a modest hotel near Barra Beach ---a lovely spot. I will also visit Bob and his family. Bob was in my Peace Corps group, but has been living and working in Salvador during most of the past 40 years.
After a few days there, we will fly from Salvador to the Amazon region. In Manaus, we are staying near the famed old opera house, built during the city's prosperous rubber-plantation days. Among other things we plan to take an afternoon trip on the River. Also we will visit with Erika, Nancides' daughter. Nancides was our friend in Glória. Sadly he died when his daughter was only 11. She is anxious to hear our stories about her father from even before her mother knew him.
From Manaus, Brunie and Eric will fly home while I catch a flight to Foz de Iguaçu, where I will fill up my camera's memory cards, I'm sure. From Iguaçu, I will fly to Rio where I will stay for a few days with a friend, Ginger.
Ginger lives in the mountains outside of Rio in the town of Novo Friburgo which was in the news in January 2011 because of terrible floods in the region. There were many deaths and the loss of roads, homes, and businesses. Ginger and her husband had no damage, but the woman who works for them lost everything and now has to live an hour's bus ride from her work. Because of odd government regulations, even though the woman and her family had lived there for decades, the property had never been registered, thus she cannot receive government assistance nor be able to rebuild there unless they pay what would be equivalent to several years' salary to register the property. Ginger and some of her friends have helped the woman's family survive during these rough times. I also sent Ginger some money for her and plan on contributing more in the future.
Ginger has an apartment in Rio near Ipanema Beach, so I am staying with her there. I am interested in seeing the contemporary art museum designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer (who designed most of Brasilia) in Niteroi, across the bay from Rio de Janeiro. Ginger knows the city well so she has told me about great street markets and beautiful botanical gardens I won't want to miss.
I always regretted not visiting the Amazon area or Iguaçu when I lived in Brazil, so I will be able to cross those 2 off my bucket list ---and one more: I plan to hang glide down to the beach in Rio. I figure if it took me 40+ years to return to Brazil, it's probably my last shot ---and even if I return, I'll never be in the physical shape I am now ----so I better do it while I can still get around without a walker. I also plan to do an obstacle course through a forested park in Rio, including a few zip lines. (I've been putting in extra hours on the elliptical and strength-training machines at the Y, so I won't seem like too much of a wimp.)
I will, of course, post my photos here. I might be able to post some while I am still traveling, but more likely it will be September or maybe even October because I will be attending the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary events in Washington in late September where I will meet up with many of my fellow PC Volunteers with whom I trained.