just in time to go home…

…dreamt in Portuguese last night.

How do I know it was a dream?

Because I understood Every Word. (hahaha)

But what a tremendous experience this has been, I think for all of us.

And today a pedagogy student told me what a milestone this has been for him, how his eyes have been opened, how his whole world of teaching and playing has changed (I’mnotmakingthisup). They all stood in line and each thanked me, hugged me. They even made me a party, with homemade vegan treats and authentic Brazilian coffee! What a lovely bunch of people.

Pedagogia Piano.jpgAnd it’s interesting, funny, enlightening: In March, Only Daughter wanted to go home. On the way “home” (to what we call casa não casa) from the university today she was crying because of leaving her friends.

A good lesson. Things that seem so hopeless, sad, awful, difficult can end up being one of your favorite things ever. Hope she remembers that.

I have many more thoughts about what we’ve learned here. Most notable to me is the full realization of all the ways to live a life. At the risk of sounding like, well, “Duh,” there are tremendous people everywhere who have such different options and make many different (and often extremely adventurous, inspiring) choices; and then so many of us end up in the same place in terms of a desire for connection, to make fabulous music, to teach and learn from each other. We were hoping for a good experience, and it has surpassed it in every way.

Perhaps I can get my thoughts together and write something more inspiring and profound. I’ll work on it.

Thank you all for being here and sharing this journey with us.

We’ll be back!!!



Spent much of the day packing much of our stuff.

Husband just said OUT LOUD that it should be a pretty easy trip home (Saturday-Sunday).

There’s nothing to be done. It can’t be unsaid. Unless somebody knows the antidote….Some kind of chant? Make him drink a concoction of beetle wings and eye of newt? Quick. Somebody help us! 

Because otherwise we might as well just stay here cuz there’s no way we’re even going to make it home now.



We traveled last week to Florianopólis and Foz do Iguaçu, and then got back to a boatload of work plus a concert, so I have been negligent in posting.

To try to make up for it, here are some lovely pictures of the falls. Quite a wonder.

Yes. I walked way out on that platform, all the way to the end. I didn’t take any pictures out there because there was so much mist I was concerned about my phone getting really really wet.

We got into one of those crazy boats and took a “wet ride” where they drive you right up under the falls. Despite the ponchos we all looked like we’d gone swimming in our clothes; or at the very least laid down in a deep puddle.

I’ll try to find a picture of the boats from my other camera. The funniest part was I kept asking if we could please take the “dry” ride, and Only Daughter and Husband kept insisting we take the wet ride, where they warn you, repeatedly, that they are going to drive you right up into the falls and that you will end up very very wet. The people driving these boats are madmen (all men; wonder why that is. Discuss.). There’s a guy in the front holding on to a rope and taking everyone’s picture while they’re skimming rapids and maneuvering around giant boulders, and the guy at the wheel drives the boat right up under these falls that are dropping from hundreds of feet up, nosing right up between these rocks while the water is churning everywhere and the water from the falls hits you with such force you have to keep ducking.

When we get back, Husband says, “well I didn’t know they were going to drive you INTO the falls.”


We didn’t have time to buy any of the go-pro pictures, since our ride back to the hotel was waiting for us by the time we got back, and we still had a bus to wait for and a bit of a drive back to the entrance.

Here are some video links to the more up-close-and-personal views:

The creatures at the end of the last one are Quati. They look a bit like raccoons, but are very “cheeky,” and seem to be a bit of a problem in these parks. There are signs everywhere about not feeding them, but they clearly aren’t afraid of people, come right up onto tables to get food, even when there are people still sitting right there.

Está frio!

Yesterday after teaching my class, Husband, Only Daughter and I headed off for a week of adventures in other parts of Brazil.

Last night we landed in Florionópolis, a delightful city/island/town(s) in the south of Brazil on the Atlantic coast. Our Uber driver took the scenic route, hair-pinning up and down mountainsides to descend into the charming village of Barra da Lagoa, with twinkling lights and multiple coastlines (besides being on an island, the “Ilha de Santa Catarina,” there is a large inland lake and a river that snakes through from the lake, “Lagoa Conceicão” to the Atlantic on the eastern side of the island.


We did have a few moments of concern when he arrived at our destination — a dark building enclosed within a fence and locked gate (as are most of the houses here) on a quiet, dark street. We did have the Best Uber Driver Ever, not only because he chose a lovely route, and spoke excellent English, but because he also found the phone number for the Pousada and called to make sure someone was here to let us in.

It was after 9, though, and we had not had dinner. Being a Pousada, (which seems to mean a bed-and-breakfast but without the breakfast,) there was no restaurant. Given that the owner speaks NO English, and couldn’t seem to understand any of my Portuguese, or should I say, “Portuguese,” we decided not to try to figure out how to order a vegan pizza and have it delivered (would he let them in? would we need to wait in the lobby in the dark and answer a door buzzer? is there even any such thing as vegan pizza on the Ilha da Santa Catarina? whose brilliant idea was this whole thing in the first place?) …So, we went to bed with only the lime-and-black-pepper peanuts we had eaten on the plane, and a Heineken each (no restaurant, but there was beer, in a case, for $2 USD apiece) for dinner.

Despite this somewhat sketchy beginning, we got up this morning, to this view and the sounds of the ocean waves crashing a short distance away:

walked 10 minutes to a lovely bakery where we had some delicious whole-grain coffee cake, mango juice, and espresso for breakfast. We don’t know if it was the Best Coffee Cake ever, or if we were just really hungry.

Maybe you can tell from the picture?


Then we walked a bit further to find the river, and right there was the beach! It was a bit overcast this morning (clears up later, as you’ll see in the next batch of photos), but still a lovely day. I was a bit amused by the Brazilians arriving at the beach in parkas and what Canadian’s call “toques” and we American’s would call “stocking caps.” After a while out in the wind, though, I would agree that it was a bit chilly! I must be Brazilian now — I make feijoada, tapioca (not the pudding), and mandioca pudding; LOVE a good caiparinhia (haven’t actually ever had a bad one), and think it’s cold when it’s 20˚C.

There were a couple of ground owls keeping a close eye on our progress as we went past. Luckily I had put on my 70mm lens, so I could snap a couple of pictures of them without scaring them off or stressing them out.


We stopped at 2 Irmãos for lunch, which ended up also being our dinner, since this is how much food they brought us.

We can honestly say we have never been served shrimp* stew and pasta in pie plates before.

*We are supposedly vegan, but I thought, given that these shrimp were probably caught this morning while we were still sleeping, that an exception should be made. They were tender and delicious. I have no regrets. I’ve only ever been an imperfect vegan, anyway, striving for avap status — as vegan as possible.

After carrying our leftovers (“para levar”) back to our “pousada” (it’s so easy when you speak the language) and taking a short nap, we walked a couple short blocks back to the Projeto Tamar — a 30-year, country-wide initiative to save the large sea turtles, which has resulted in the estimated numbers of turtles in the Atlantic going from 83 thousand to 8.3 million. A pretty impressive endeavor.

Luckily, we arrived just as they were releasing two juveniles (3 years old) into the ocean, so we got to film their progress from the beach to the water. Here’s the clip of the last leg of the trip:

The turtles were fun to watch in the preserve itself, as well. I know that they were just coming up for air, but they looked like they were posing for me to take their pictures.

And then there are some pictures of some birds in a flooded field (they’ve gotten lots of rain, as this is their rainy season) and a cow.



Why we’re so bloody tired tonight.

We hope to see some of the city of Florianópolis itself tomorrow, but they’re predicting rain for sure, as they are for our trip to Igauçu, so we’ll see what we can see and what pictures I can get.

Feeling pretty lucky to have stumbled into an opportunity such as this. So many people living such different and perfectly lovely lives. Such beautiful landscapes, delicious food. Such welcome and friendliness everywhere we go, and not just because random store clerks praise my Portuguese when I manage to string 7 words together into something resembling a coherent sentence.

We go back home three weeks from today.




-8 and counting


It’s not a mess, it’s a staging area.

Well, the to-do list has shrunk considerably, and there’s a laundry basket of climate-appropriate clothes in my bedroom. My latest challenges have been dealing with insurance companies re: extensions of prescriptions (harder than it should be, and completely inconsistent, all depending on who you talk to at any given moment–Husband had no problem at all, which makes me question whether it’s partly a sexist thing), getting the dogs completely ready to go their temporary home (groomed, food and treats stocked up, heart worm medications) , and numerous trips to Walgreens stocking up on everything the CDC recommends for a “healthy traveler.” (Can we not assume that we can buy Q-tips in Brazil? Does anybody know?)

Many of these things seem to require more time and effort than it seems they should mostly because of other people making things more difficult than they really need to be. I don’t know if this is a result of a lack of authority, an overabundant relishing of authority, or just general cluelessness. But 2 hours on the phone with insurance companies and 40 minutes picking up 2 dogs from a groomer just doesn’t seem like an efficient investment of time.

Add to that the frustration of driving an hour for a meeting with a woman who instantly admitted that she had done no preparation for said meeting, and then gave me 10 minutes worth of advice, 95% of which I didn’t need (and which she would have known if she had prepared), and then of course the hour drive home, and it’s a wonder I’m not curled up in bed with a cool cloth on my forehead. Or maybe I am… 😀

I have come down with quite a cold, brought on, I fear, by my anger and frustration over many of these things. I really need to get better at this.

So, some vows, principally to always be considerate and respectful of people’s time and always to be as prepared as possible.

Of course, I usually am those things anyway, but a reminder can’t hurt.

I am, to be honest, ready to be done with the planning and the packing and the wondering about the unknowns and just to get there already.

Let’s just keep our fingers crossed for no freak snowstorms in Chicago next Wednesday…


Healthy traveler

Malarone? An antibiotic for “traveler’s diarrhea”?

How many hand sanitizing wipes is enough?

To DEET or not to DEET?

Can I drink the water?

I don’t use shampoo. Does anyone know how to spell “baking soda” in Portuguese*?

We’re now vegan. Over two months so far. We read that the two biggest food cultures are centered on grilled meats and desserts, which we imagine are probably made with lotsandlotsandlotsandlotsabutter. 120 days of rice and beans is a lot of rice and beans. Do they have the same vegetables in Brazil as they have here? Why doesn’t the CDC tell me this, cuz this is really what I need to know. WHAT AM I GOING TO EAT FOR THE NEXT FOUR MONTHS?????

Also, what do I do if I set the combinations on my new TSA luggage and then can’t remember them when we get to Brazil? Cuz they’re all 3 digits and all of the PINs that I remember are 4 so this is just going to get ugly. I’m thinking I could pack a screwdriver to pry them open, but then the screwdriver would be INSIDE THE SUITCASE so that’s probably not actually going to help. And I’m thinking the TSA is not going to let me take a screwdriver in my carryon.

This is the first time in my actual adult life that I had my tax stuff to the tax guy in February. Thought for a moment as I drove to his office that this could be really cool to do it this early every year but I actually know that this is really not going to happen, but it was good for a bit of a laugh, alone, in my car.

Sorry if that’s weird.

And last weekend the logic board on my husband’s computer died, and my daughter’s computer decides every once in a while that it doesn’t really feel so much like staying connected to the wifi and my laptop has been backing up my hard drive for going on nine hours now, so what happens if we all get to Brazil and none of our technology works? And I assume that I can just put a new SIM card in my phone and it will magically just keep working BUT WHAT IF IT DOESN’T?

In case it isn’t obvious at this point:



* update, 3/7/2017 Bicarbonate de sodia, and they only sell it in tiny little packets. Guess I will be using shampoo.

-52 days

Soon to be going so far outside my comfort zone.
Went to a lovely concert today, free at my local library, given by a woman I tried to hire for three years when running a concert series for a social-justice-active church. She spoke with grace and humor and love about what in my heart feels like upcoming terror and despair. An admirable gift. 

When I first found out I had won the Fulbright, I was very excited and honored, and pretty sure I wouldn’t go. Travel to a foreign (in many senses of the word) country, with rampant political corruption and frightening water pollution?


When I expressed this to a friend A YEAR AGO she said, wisely, “And this is different from here how?”

Anyway, now I’m not sure I’ll come back. Maybe in 2020.

Had an amusing text conversation with a good friend the other day, where we were basically communicating in emojis. Re: our upcoming trip, I sent these:




Referring, in order, to:

Brazil (are there volcanos in Brazil?)

The fate of our house with Only Stepson in charge.

The bugs/creatures we will find in our apartment.

Here’s hoping I’m completely wrong. 🤓