2018 BELO BRASIL Northeast Trip

 

2018 Northeast Dream Trip BELO BRASIL

 

When you go on exchange, one of the hardest things you must learn to do is saying goodbye to someone right after you get close with them, and sometimes the goodbyes are forever. This has happened to me twice already, once in November (Pantanal & Bonito), and once earlier this month on Feb. 2nd. This has been my hardest goodbye yet. Leaving 52 exchange students that I had only meet a month before, at the beginning of the Northeast Dream Trip, but wouldn’t change it for the world. People thought that I was crazy to leave and go on a month-long trip through the northeast of Brazil, but I thought otherwise. Not only did I learn about things and went to places in Brazil that I wouldn’t have otherwise; I made life-long friends with people who are now my family.

It all started in a small town named Jericoacara, that only has one main road and surrounded by sand domes. From riding on buggies up and down sand domes white getting hit in the face by sand, to relaxing in a water-submerged hammock, to climbing up a sand dome just to roll down it a minute later, and doing yoga on the beach early in the morning; you knew it was going to be a great trip just after one day. The next day, we relaxed at the beach for a few hours, then we hiked to a different beach, and then we learned a traditional Brazilian fight on the beach, and then we walked up a sand dome to watch the sunset. The next day, we walked up the same sand dome as the day before to watch the sunrise, and then we headed out. Jericoacara was one of my favorite places.

We then headed to the next city, Fortaleza. On the way there, our bus past the next BELO bus that was just starting their trip. They had us stop so we could take a picture with them and talk with them. Little did I know that Taylor was on that bus. She came up to me and it was great to see someone from back home, and we hugged a countless time and we talked a lot. In Fortaleza, we rod buggies again, but this time we had to cut it short because instead of getting hit in the face with sand, we were hit in the face with rain that felt like bullets. Before the rain though, we got to sled down a sand dome; which was one of the best things on the trip. The beaches there were so beautiful, and the waves were giant. Sometimes they were so big that if you didn’t get under them, then they would push you all the way back to shore.

Praia de Pipa was the 3rd city. It was a small town, so we only stayed there for 1 full day. We walked, or should I say, hiked to Praia de Amor (Beach of Love) which was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. This beach was set in-between two giant hills (which I first called mountains but then someone corrected me), there were these beautiful sea rocks on the shore, and the water was very blue which made everything better. We stayed there for most of the day, and when it was time to head back, I was prepared to go back the same way we came, but nope… we took the stairs. These weren’t just normal stairs, there were rocks and uneven. One step would be small and the next two would be large, and when you have short legs like me, it’s not easy. We spent the rest of the day at the pool, had dinner, and then we played… UNO. Now, the way that exchange students play, it’s not the same as when you played as a child, it’s a lot more competitive and A LOT of yelling.

Up next, Recife; another beautiful city. Here we meet exchange students from NORBREX, who lived in Recife. Here, if you wanted to, you could go snorkeling and I heard that if you had never gone before then it was amazing but if you had then it was just okay. We spent the whole day at the beach, I also had the best açaí of my life, and we also signed t-shirts that NORBREX gave to us. The next day, in the morning; we had a city tour, and one of the things we got to do was shop in an old prison, which was something I thought I could never say. We then went back to the hotel and got ready for Carnaval! (even though, it wasn’t Carnaval yet, we were by Olinda which has one of the best Carnavals, so we went early) we partied around the city, singing and dancing to music and some locals and tourist even joined in on the fun.

The next city was… Salvador! My second favorite city on the whole trip. The first day we went to a turtle rescue place and walked around a small village for about an hour. After that we had a city tour and we got to tie a famous bracelet on the fence around a famous church. Later that night, we went to a show where the styles of music had to do with the influences of Brazil. The next day we took a 90-minute boat ride to a private island that had a private beach and we had it all to ourselves. We explored the island, jumped off the boat into the ocean, and hung out with our friends and listened to music; somewhere along the line, I got something stuck in my toe and you DO NOT want something taken out of your toe while you are on a moving boat, to save the details it was not fun.

The next day we traveled 9 hours inland to our next city, Lençóis. This was another very small town that we couldn’t take the bus to, so we had to walk up and down hills in flip-flops, and when you do this in the middle of the night when you must use your phone’s flashlight just to see, it’s not fun nor easy. Here we took a break from the beautiful beaches and took a step into nature. The first day, we took a 30-minute hike to a beautiful natural waterslide. Climbing up was a little difficult, as you didn’t want to slip, but once you got to the top and could slide down, you wanted to do it again and again, we also jumped off a rock that was about 6 feet above the water. After that, you could either go hiking again or stay back; at this point I had gotten a cold so I decided to stay back and to get better for the rest of the trip, which turned out to be a good idea. The next day we hiked up a mountain, even though I was dying on the way up; the view was worth it. We then went to this stunning swimming hole and I jumped off a rock that was 12-15 feet in the air and it was one of the best trills of my life.

Another one of my favorite cities was Itacaré, that, in my opinion; had the most beautiful beaches on the trip and that I’ve ever seen in my life, even if it meant walking up and down a giant hill just to get to the beach. The first beach we went to was beautiful, we rented huts for the day and we could hang our flags all around it. The next day, I did something that I have never done in Florida… that is surfing. It was difficult at first, but once you could stand up, then you were good. I had a lot of fun and this is something that I will pick-up in Florida. After surfing, we enjoyed the beach, which was one of my favorites.

The second to last city was Porto Seguro. Here we had a tour of the historic part of the city and we got visit the first church of Brazil. We then went to a place that had little shops and I had the best pastel of my life. We went to the afterwards, and this beach was different, as where there was a dance class going on at the beach and you could join in if you wanted to, and it was also different because right before the water the sand dipped down and so when a wave came it would knock you off your feet, and it also got deep very quickly. Since the trip was almost over, the girls wanted to do something that we would remember the trip. Some of the boys had dyed their hair blonde in Salvador, so we decided to one up them and we decided to dye our hair pink. It was a great bonding activity and it’s something that we’ll always remember. The last day we were there, it was a relaxing day, but in the evening, we had a dance class. We all really enjoyed it, but not because we were good but because we were so bad that we were laughing at each other. One of the funniest moment of the dance class is when I danced with my friend who is 6’2, and it was very difficult for the two of us, but it was very funny for everyone else.

After two full days of traveling, we finally arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Right after we arrived, we went to dinner and then afterwards we went to a market. We weren’t even there for 10 minutes when a group of my friends and I heard two guys behind us speaking English. So, one of my friends asked if they were exchange students and they said yes and they were here with Terra Brasil. They then asked us where we were from and I said Florida and they said that they had a girl from Florida too named Devon and I freaked out telling them that I know her and they helped me trying to find her. Little did I know that two of my friends found Devon and they helped her look for me and when we finally found each other, there was a lot of screaming and it was so loud that people were looking at us like we were crazy. We walked around and talked until it was time to say goodbye. The next morning, we went to the Museum of Tomorrow, which you don’t know what it is, it’s where they talk about the earth since it was created until now, people in their cultures, and how we need to take care of the earth before it’s too late. After that we went to the mall, where I met Kennedy, and we got lunch, Starbucks (my first in 6 months), and went shopping for a little bit. We then went to the football (soccer) stadium where the 2014 World Cup was held. The next day we had a city tour all around Rio, we even got to see one of the most beautiful cafes in the world but everything there was so expensive that we decided to go get coffee at Starbucks. This took all morning, so after we went to Copacabana! Surprisingly, it was not crowded at all, so we had a great time. Then we went to Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain). The ride to the top was fast, it didn’t even take 5 minutes. When you got to the top, you could see all of Rio, even the planes land and take off at the airport, it felt like a dream. The last day, we got up super early to see the Christ statue! We were all very excited to see it and when we got to there, it took our breath away, literally. A group of 20 of us decided to take a picture with the statue and our flags and when someone from our group was taking it, other tourists were taking pictures of us too; it was very strange. We then went to Ipanema Beach, and then we went to dinner, and after we went to funk class; it was then that we realized that we had to say goodbye. We had a party on the bus and when we got back to the hotel, we had journals for everyone to write in. I was leaving in the morning the next day and so the last 20 minutes were full of emotional goodbyes. I love everyone so much and I’ll never forget the memories. <3

This trip was one of the best experiences of my entire life, and I didn’t want it to end. We started out as strangers, but finished as family. Although we didn’t want it to end, it did. All good things must come to an end to enjoy it and to look back on the memories made, and to remember it forever; this is what happened here, and what happens in life.

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Here is Syble and I when we stopped for a picture during our first buggie ride.

I was trying to take a picture with my friend from Poland when everyone joined in.

Here’s me with my friends Polish flag.

After the beach in Jericoacora.

Sunrise yoga on the beach in Jericoacara.

      

Here’s when we went to see the sunrise in Jericoacara.

My friend Timo and I during the city tour in Recife.

Our Carnaval night in Olinda.

Julia, Syble, and I before we went to see the turtles in Salvador.

Me jumping off the boat in Salvador.

At the natural waterslide in Lençóis with my fellow Americans.

Relaxing after a day of surfing.

      

We stopped to take pictures during our city tour in Porto Seguro.

Meeting Devon at the market in Rio!

Outside of the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio.

Yes, I was touching the “Do Not Touch” sign.

Here is a picture of the Christ statue that my friend took while we were on a moving bus.

    

We stopped to take some pictures in front of this amazing painting during the Rio city tour.

Decided to take a picture with me looking for a train and one actually came.

The famous world map painting in Rio.

With my friend Hollie from New Mexico at Copacabana Beach!

Looking at the amazing view from Pão de Açucar

 

These were also taken at Pão de Açucar.

Our tickets to go see the Christ statue.

 

One of the things that I always wanted to see, but never thought I would.

This is the picture that random tourists were also taking of us.

Yes, there is a guy holding a towel…

The view from the mountain that we hiked.

During our city tour in Recife.

One of my best friends that I made on the trip.

Here is when we meet Taylor’s group on our way to Fortaleza.

Thanks to my amazing friend Hollie for this awesome idea with the sunglasses.

And just like that the trip was over… this is the view from the plane just after we took off in Rio.

Pantanal & Bonito BELO BRASIL Trip

     I know it has been awhile since my last post and as the year goes on there will be more time between posts because there is a lot going on. But I got back from my first Rotary trip to Pantanal and Bonito a little over a week ago, and it was an amazing trip.
     We started out the trip in Pantanal and we were spilt into 3 groups, and my group was Tuiuiu(which is the symbol of Pantanal). We arrived in Pantanal around 2 and we went to our rooms and then went to get a snack. Then we went in our groups and my group went on a “safari” ride. On the safari we saw a lot of amazing animals and there was this one point where we walked for a little bit and we saw a crocodile which we thought was dead until it moved and hissed at us, but we still got some great photos. The next day we went piranha fishing and I caught one and I got to hold it! Sorry Mrs. Codgen who told me that piranhas are dangerous and we should never get too close to one. After that we went to lunch and then went to go horse back riding. When we got there we were spilt into 2 groups, the Italians went first and my group stayed back. While the Italians were horse back riding, we got to talk with the farm workers, drink chimarrão, walked around the farm, and play with puppies. It was then our time to go horseback riding! It was sooooooo beautiful, and we even got to see the sun set! We saw a whole bunch of different animals such as: crocodiles, blue macaws, armadillos, and so many other animals. Later that night, the last day in Pantanal, we were supposed to go camping but after the camp fire most of us went back to the air conditioned rooms because it was so hot and there were a lot of mosquitos.
     The next day we got up super early to head to Bonito, and we got there around lunchtime so we went to this restaurant (where we went for most meals) for lunch where we got to meet some people from the first group. After lunch we went to the hotel to check-in and to change and headed to the rafting place. Rafting was so much fun, we went in the same groups as Pantanal. During the rafting you could dump water on people in the other rafts and also on people in your group (sorry Milena), and half way through we got to go swimming for a little bit. The rafting trip in whole took about 90 minutes, so afterwards we stayed for little bit, had a snack and then headed back to the hotel to shower and change and then went to dinner. After dinner we were allowed to walk around the city for a little bit and my friends and I went to get açaí (which I love now by the way) and we went to a little convince store to buy some things. The next day we went to a place where they had a tree top adventure course, a bow and arrow activity, and tubing. We spilt into 2 groups and my group did the tree top adventure course, and wow it was amazing. The courses started out easy but got harder as you went on, but at the end they had two zip lines and one went into the water. We then headed to the bow and arrow activity were again we were spilt into 2 smaller groups and my group went first. The bow and arrow activity was a lot of fun, and I have done it before so it wasn’t that difficult for me and I even got 3 bullseyes out of 10! After that we went tubing which was amazing as well. We got to go down 6 waterfalls, I think, and we got to tip people over between waterfalls which was a lot of fun as well. We then went to lunch, and afterwards most of the people went back to the hotel while a few others and I went to go scuba diving. Even though, it wasn’t in the ocean it was still an amazing experience and one not many people get the chance to do, so obviously I had to do it. I was in the first group to go scuba diving and while the instructor was getting Martin ready (the last one in our group) my friend, Astrid, and I saw a python in the water, which I think was about 6 meters (19.7 feet). It was really cool to see one in the wild and not in captivity. After the scuba diving, Martin, Astrid, and I went paddle boarding, kayaking, and zip-lining into the little lake they had there. Later that night we had a party with the first group because it was their last day there. I got to meet a lot of cool people and some of them were from my friends districts which was really cool! The next day we went snorkeling in the clearest waters in the area, and oh my God it was a sight to see. I would say that it was better than any of the snorkeling I have done in Florida. We then went to an underprivileged daycare/nursery, this was my second time going to one of these and both times I have gone, I have loved it. At this age they don’t care what they have or if they’re rich or poor, they just want to have fun and that’s what we were able to do with them for a little bit. The next day we went to the waterfalls, and my God it was so beautiful. It was a lot of work to go from waterfall to waterfall because we had to walk up a lot of stairs, but at each waterfall we were able to swim for a little bit. At the last waterfall we were able to jump off a dock that was about 5 meters(16.5 feet) high. The last day we were there we went to the Blue Lagoon Cave, where as you can tell by the name, the water at the bottom is blue. It was an awesome experience because I have never seen something like that before. We then went to the Anaconda and Pantanal Snakes Protection Project where we saw a variety of snakes and we also got to hold one! That night we had another party with the 3rd (and final) group. During the party we celebrated mine and two others birthdays. It was an awesome last day.
     The trip was the best part of my exchange so far and one that I will never forget. It went by so quickly that it felt like a dream. What I did and saw on this trip, most people only dream of. This was a once in a life time experience and I am so happy that I went on this trip. Thank you to everyone who made this trip amazing. I miss you guys so much!
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Thank you for reading,
Emily <3

 

 

Here is the Youtube video I made about the trip.