Thursday, July 31, 2008

gone to ardeche 2 hours suoth of Lyon

little or no blog service will be provided for the next two weeks. expect a return to civilization around August 17th

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I really wish I had gotten a haircut in Brazil.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I'm writing this from Sophie's bed at 11am

Traveler's tip number 2:
When possible, travel Air Canada. Air Canada speaks french, Air Canada has young hosteses, Air Canada goes through Montreal where all the girls are gorgeous, Air Canada serves wine for free with their meals, the meals are delicious, the seats are comfortable, I was able to sleep about 5 hours on a 7 hour flight. Travel Air Canada.

I brought my sister to la gare de Lyon and saw her off on the TGV for Lyon. She's going to stay with a friend of hers from primary school, just for the weekend. Then she's taking a train to Gap passing through Grenoble to stay with her Aunt Sylvie and her three cousins with whom she gets along with.
From there I walked over the Seine through some parks, got lost inside this huge university building (Henri 6 I believe) and finally found l'institut du monde Arab. I checked it out, went up to the 9th floor terrace for an awesome view but didn't go the actual museum.
Then I continued my way over to Sophie's and passed through the Lutece Arena. This arena way built by the romans in circa 100 AD. At this time, Paris was still called Lutece, Lutece is the Roman/Latin name they gave Paris. This arena is said to easily fit 10,000 people and perhaps as many as 17,000. I believe it was used for gladiator matches as well as theatre, perhaps. They rediscovered it in the late 19th century but it was almost destroyed to make way for some bus hanger. Luckly the Parisian people were in uproar and managed to have it preserved and restored. Now it serves as a park in the middle of Paris. Yesterday when I visited it, there were people taking their lunch break in it on the seats of the arena and others playing bacci ball where lions used to tear gladiators apart. Cool stuff.
At Sophies, I chatted a little bit with her parents and whatnot then out of the blue Stephanie scared the shit out of me. She surprised them and arrived from Turkey last night. Cool, welcome back Stephanie!
Well finally, somehow, Alex managed to leave a message on Sophie's cell phone saying that he was coming in at 15h06 (il a eu du mal avec l'heure apparament). We met him and his dad at the Paris gare du Nord (the train station that goes to the places North of Paris). We took his dad to see the Eiffel Tower and then took him back to his train for London. Short stay in Paris Mr. Thomas Nishida.
This was followed by meeting Stephana and Gwladys back at Sophie's. Then we all walked like 2 blocks to the "grande mosque de Paris" where we could not visit because it was Friday but where we were able to have some tea and eat some delicious pasteries. Then Olivier met us up there. He seems cool, he got his hair cut really short (by Stephana). After about and hour at the mosque, it was now 20h30 and the the supermarkets would be closing soon, we got out of there and went grocery shopping for our picnic along la Seine. And oooo what a picnic! MAN! wine, saucisson, cheese! everything one could ask for! I even got Sophie to feed me some stuff although it was short lived. This whole time Gwladys and I were chatting, catching up, which is always fun with her.
So we get up and start walking further into Paris along the Seine and like 30 seconds later there is this awesome capuera group with live music and capuera dancing and everything! soooo cool! they were very good too. we stayed about an hour watching them dance. AND THEN like, right next to them was a salsa dance party going on, right along la seine! again! awesome! and i think i dance salsa way better when i'm drunk. Although I was also just really exhausted. We walked back to some bar not too far from Sophie's but then I walked Gwladys back to a Taxi stand. She was going back to her bfs I think. She had to wake up early to go somewhere for a marriage with him. Good time though, oh and it was pouring as we were finding this taxi, Olivier was nice enough to lend me his dry sweater. so nice of him!
We soon when back to Sophies and crashed and man did I crash! must be jetlagged still. Sophie's sleeping in another bed. We're all here kind of sprawled out on matresses. France has less matress stores than Brazil.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Paris- le debut de la belle France...

travelers tip number 1:
in your carry on, always pack a change of underwear, socks, shirt and toothbrush. This is crucial because if your baggage is lost by aircanada you need such things. Even though your baggage will be delivered the following day if you're still in Paris, its very nice to have especially the toothbrush. These are crucial because they are so light they cause almost no interference or extra weight.

Paris is really cool. jùqdore Pqris111
Catherine picked Sophie Christina and I up at the airport and we had lunch at her place in Cachan. Then Catherine dropped Sophie and I off at Sophie's apartment where we met Stephana. Then we walked to Stephana's restaurant where she works and chilled there. She works at Da Rosas I think, a high quality grocer that also sells you its food if you sit down to eat it there. Sophie and I walked around Paris, mostly les quais de la Seine and then went back to see stephana working around midnight. This was funny even though sophie was falling asleep half the time. I, for some reason, was wide awake even til 4 am when we finally crashed at sophie's.

Wake up!!! BBZZZZZZ!!!! Sophies mom and dad ring the door bell! there plane had arrived early and woke us up at 9am!!! For some reason, again, frightening at this point, I was wide awake immediately. Only the next night did I actually sleep decently and tonight here I am again and its 2am and still not dead! oh the joys of being jetlagged...

anyway, lots has happened these past two days, visits, walks in Paris with my sister and I and other amazing stuff that i can not talk about on this blog because its way too insane!

anyway tommorrow Alex nishida is supposed to come to Paris, who knows if he actually will, and who knows when or where!? certainly not sophie and I... nice going Alex... way to be organized...
well stephana also did become homeless thus ginving u no place to stay. Well you can stay with me, it's ok.

well im writing to myself as if this were a real diary... im crazy and jetlagged... in that order

Sunday, July 20, 2008

return to Chi-town

There some going sort of police raid at 5pm the Dona Tereza caught wind of so I had to leave at 4:30 instead. This was supposed to be where they check everyone's documents within a certain neighborhood. Anyway, dona Teresa's super networking skills allowed me to be ontime to my flight.
a kanye west about coming back to Chicago. Very appropriate.

I didn't sleep enough on my flight, I was still sick from the Paraty beach and then a cold sore broke out on my lip. As soon as I left the house to go see Van and May, I stopped coughing. We hung out at the beach for about 2 hours. Van asked me to pick up a cupcake and a candle for May because it was her birthday. She really like it I think, it was a banana/nutella cupcake from a cupcake shop. That was the last time I'll see them for at least 6 months... I almost shed a tear... I hope Van's parents chill out about bit; they're really not being very fair/close minded about him seeing her (she's Buddhist, he's Christian, she's from a southern region of Burma, he's from the North)

After that I came home and started preparing for the going-away party my dad was throwing for me. A bunch of family came over and told me to "be careful in Cairo, good luck, we'll miss you."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Last day in Brazil

...Continued from Wednesday's post

Our bus arrived in Rio at 1am and we took a bus back to Paula Freitas (our street). The bus was only 2.10 reais. I woke up in the middle of the night dretched in sweat, took a hot shower and went back to bed (the other bed,the dry one).
This morning was very slow. I wouldn't have gotten out of bed if it weren't for Dona Teresa's gentle touch and concern for me being sick.
I still have two postcards to write.
We should be going out with Marcello Mello soon for lunch.
I miss the hostel.
I am looking forward to going back to Chicago to hang out with Van and his "hot Asian girls" on the beach, most of all.... most of all... MOST of all... I like the way you moooove (bodyrockers song) no , sorry, most of all, I am looking forward to France and then Egypt.
I randomly e-met this Brazilian Muslim girl who will also be in Cairo next semester. We've exchanged about 6 emails so far and she seems very cool and down for some Caipirinha parties in Cairo.

Good bye Brazil! It was nice getting to know you! I will miss you dearly and I plan on coming back to visit you soon!

Chicago here I come!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


So right now I am in a hostel in the colonial town of Paraty. We are most likely leaving to Rio by bus tonight. We might stay the night and leave tomorrow morning. This might be cutting it close, however, because we are supposed to eat lunch with marcello again and I also need to prepare my bags for my departure (tomorrow!!!).

I dont feel like writing anything right now, my nose is clogged from yesterday. I think I caught another nose infection cold thing from too much salt water swimming. My nose is still releasing salt water every few hours...

...Continued Thursday...

We arrived in Paraty Monday at 20h. The bus ride from Rio lasted 4 hours and went through some very windy coastal roads. After wadering off with two other Americans (Mary and Dave), towards the "oscuridad" as our direction-giver put it, we finally found our hostel. A very nice place, right on the Paraty River, with all the ammenities one could ask for (e.g. chess set). We met a Dutch man named Ohlaf and after settling in we proceeded to explore the town. Paraty is very beautiful. It is on the coast and has been there for more than 2 centuries. It retains its Portuguese style architecture throughout much of the town.

Tuesday we went on a boat tour of the nearby islands. Our Capitan was this funny looking guy wiht dreads and braces. He took us to four different islands the last one being the most. Pictures will come soon. I didn't hesitate to go rock climbing... That is, climbing rocks from the water. In order to do this I had to swim out quite far, I'd say more than 2 km round trip. Good thing I float in salt water. Anyway, I didnt climb shit because of the barnacles that were surrounding every single possible rock. The only thing I did do was lacerate my hands and feet to a bloody pulp. Barnacles are very sharp, especially when your hands are softened by water... oowww....
On this trip I met some nice French guys from Paris, Bruno (FUKS) and Guillaume. I also sympatised with a Brazilian and later with Mary on the rocks of the last island.
This boat trip formed a little 'group' of people consisting of those just mentioned and a few others. That same night, all famished from sunbathing, we bought groceries and made ourselves a delicious spaghetti dinner. By this time I was deathly sick from something having to do with swimming and went back to my room where I passed out. I woke up and we went out to the center and chilled at a bar and had beers. We were all quite drunk from richard's Caipirina and the two bottles of Chilean wine we had with dinner.

Wednesday was Trinidade day. A gorgeous beach about 40 min south of Paraty. Stayed there til 4pm. Got back at the hostel and chilled for a bit, then bought some souvenirs. Then had a rushed rodizio pizza dinner which was absolute shit. I arrived at our bus about 30 seconds before it took off for Rio. Too bad we didnt geto say goodbye more properly to our newfound hostel friends. We got some email addresses which should help for staying in touch (Mary said I should come visit her in L.A.)
The ride back to Rio from Paraty was total shit. I couldnt sleep, was still sick from the day before and was totally dehydrated from blowing my nose so much. Plus Richard for some reason, was being extra annoying. Luckly I was able to drown my sorrows into Dan's mp3 player thus blocking out Richard's almighty annoyance.

continued on next post

Monday, July 14, 2008

new favorite passtime... haircuts...

Friday, nothing special, we were supposed to go out with the lawyers for Carolinea's birthday (26th, I think, although Dan thinks she's only 24... shhh... don't tell him...)
Instead, and yes, typical of me, I took a nap, fell asleep around 21h. When I woke up it was midnight and I thought Dan and Richard had left for the party but in fact I found them sound asleep in their room also practicing the "short" 30 minute nap activity...
I woke Richard up with a whisper and Dan with a slap on the ass to see if we could salvage the night. Unfortunately Dan was down for the count. So Richard and I went down to the MudBug bar next door for a couple of beers and an hour of nice chatting.

Lazy Saturday... Woke up 8am... we all hung out at the beach until about 2pm. This was pretty cool, as mid-day beach bumming goes.

Around 3pm we left to go see a 4pm movie. Great movie. Entitled "la banda" in Portuguese. About a Egyptian Band (dressed in blue policemen cotumes) that comes to Israel to play for the inauguration of an Arab cultural center. Needless to say they get lost and have trouble getting to their destination. They get taken in for the night by an attractive, coquette, clever Israeli woman in a small deserted Israeli town. She helps them to get food and scatters them among her different friend's houses. Nothing really happens in this movie but the dialogue is hilarious(especially the scene in the rollerblading club). The dialogues, the interations, the harmony between these two different cultures make it great. I think it was originally written as a play because of its format. Anyway, read some review of it and then go see it if you can.
The craziest thing about it was the languages... It was in English, Arabic, Hebrew and subtitles in Portuguese... talk about languages... but it was fun switching between the three, trying to get the most of what was going on when they were not speaking English.

Sunday, again, lazy, mandatory 8am wake up call. My goal for that morning was to "get a haircut in Brazil" i.e. a Brazilian haircut. The idea behind this is, you never really know a country until you can say you got a haircut in it. So I went out, got myself a postcard, and walked over to that barber shop I've been eyeing for the past two weeks. Sadly, I arrived just minutes after it closed for the day. Things close early on Sundays in Brazil... lesson learned... I will not give up in this quest! Wednesday, when we get back from Paraty, or even in Paraty, I will get a Brazilian haircut!

After this I went to the beach, this time alone. Richard felt like doing his regressions/playing his videogames and Dan was buying our bus tickets for Paraty. Did some working out, tried to get a tan, but not too tan, and then... I ran. Hardcore. This time I went to the end of the beach and back. Not any kind of running though, water running. It's a new thing, I just invented it this weekend. Running through the waves as they crash up against the shore and then receed back into the ocean. It's like running with a blanket of water being pulled sideways underneath you. It makes you feel like you're running sideways, or backwards, or forwards superfast (depending on which way the waves are moving) !!! coolest feeling ever !!! And then because you're overheating from running through this thick sand, you can just cool off in the ocean. Very convenient ^^
(small problem with water running, your calfs are very sore the next day... today I've been walking like I engaged in some "rough" activities last night... :) jk

Then we went to the hippie fair again. I bought a beach blanket with the Brazilian flag on it. Walked around and went to the beach again... ran again... :-)

yea, and last night Dan and I stayed up late. We went to the beach to play chess at this beachside cafe/restaurant. This beggar kid came up to us and started chatting/bothering/amusing us. He played a very crude game of chess with Dan. Dan promised to translate his paper saying why he needed money -this 12 year old claimed to be 18 and have 2 sons- into English so that he could be more efficient and target more foreign tourists... hehe... Eventually he went away and let us play chess. Around 0h30 we retreated to the apartment and continued chatting, this time our conversation turning to girls... fell into dream land around 2h30.

Today, Monday, we go to the favellas with Mello and then take the bus for Paraty! My next post might not be before Thursday depending on internet in Paraty hotels.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Amazonian Soups

Yesterday we made plans with Prof Mello (the Brazilian guy who also thinks Brazil is the most backward place in the world) to go to eat at a restaurant by a place called Santa Teresa. Supposedly this is very close to three different favellas. He said that we might be able to go see them. We were instructed not to bring anything with us when we went there. Just the bare minimum, no bags, whatever I can fit in my pocket. It is about an hour walk from downtown. This is very exciting. I will keep you posted on how it went come Tuesday's blog entry.

For dinner I warmed up a frozen block of leftover beans under the aegis of Doña Teresa. We chatted a little in very crude Portuguese and I learned she was going to a Gospel meeting thing that night. Upon learning this I had her listen to a couple gospel tunes I had to sing in high school Lincoln Park Singers choir. Pretty fun stuff, she seemed to like it, it's nice to connect in different languages. She has a very good voice and is always whistling a cool tune.

Following my rather large amount of food-coma inducing feijoada (the national dish of Brazil-pork&black bean stew served with rice), we went out to eat at the kilo shop and the most I could bring my self to have was a Guaraná soft drink- very popular here. (see )

Immediately following dinner Dan and I went shopping to try to find a soccer ball for the beach. The cheapest thing we could get was for 40 reais (~ $24). Instead, daunted by the soccer ball task, we found a mall which had about 7 different hair salons all very close to each other.
Dan, Richard and I will go back today and get our hair cuts, Brazilian style.
Richards seems very eager to do this... :-) ( I suspect he wants to look nice for the birthday party we are invited to tonight; he might have a crush on Paula, a depressed Brazilian anglophone who's only desire is to go back to the states because she hates it here. She's a funny one...)

I hung out with Ana Luisa for the first time again. She's aight. Kind of a bourgeois version of a Brazilian though. She says that she lived in Dubai for a year when she was 16. Her mom was doing some research there for oil production or something like this. I don't reall believe her though. Plus when I met her she said she was 27 and yesterday she said she's only 26. But after all, as prof mello said (with his funny Brazilian accent) "in Rio everyone is 29! It's insulting if you say you are 21!" another funny thing he said was "in Brazil, noone goes to prison" (sorry, I'm not at liberty to include the context).
So I guess age doesn't matter at all here but still, she's maybe a little close-minded. It's just an impression I get. I might be totally off... Anyway, not the best night out, I don't think I will see her again.

In anycase, I'm looking forward to this weekend at the beach!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

e pao e pedro, e o fin do camino

The first two lines of the song "Aguas de Marco". We've been listening to it and "Garota de Ipanema" a lot. Not to sound too cliché by Brazilian standards but lyrics, with a printed copy and translation, is a delightful way of learning a language.

Almost as good as having an attractive girl mouth you days of the week. In any case, better than Rosetta Stone, n´est-ce pas Dan? ;-)

Yesterday was uneventful besides my 50 minute talk with Thibault who called my from Haiti. At time our connection was poor but skype only charged him about 1.5 euros for an hour long call. Now that's globalization.

Dan went out again with his Garota. He said it was expensive (the dinner/taxi) but again, worth it as far as Portuguese lessons go :-)

Tomorrow I think I will go to a museum with the equivalent garota that I met last week at the scenarium. We might also do something tonight but I'm sure about that yet. Dan and I have both decided that we would actively seek better, more fun garotas to help pass our time here, but that these would do for now.

By the way Sophie, I am actively trying to make my writing less "Thibaud" :-)
can you hear me now?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Deep Rio Diving

So yesterday, from around 15-17h, Dan and I went out for a late lunch. We started walking in the general direction of the Scenarium and the Colombo restaurant because those seemed to be awesome areas with interesting, rather old architecture. We walked through these market type souks in the middle of dwtw Rio. The weird thing about them is that they were so makeshift and temporary. It was basically a huge open space covered with a roof that was made out of the cheapest material possible and then about a hundred different little shops squeezed into this space. Streets were filled with shops selling ANYTHING. We found this little place that sold hardware tools, like the equivalent of ace hardware in chicago, but only in rio and in a small shanty town like market. It seemed hugely inefficient. Another thing, while Dan was checking out some badass knives, I was waiting in the street observing some dvd vendors. All of a sudden they picked up all of their dvds and walked away from where they were. I was like wTf? turns out there was a cop on the corner, or something, maybe a police car. I didn't actually see exactly what or who they were afraid of but it was super shady. Conclusion: if anyone wants a pirated dvd, let me know. :-P

So this was really cool. We had never seen something that felt so local before. We are definitely going back to that market place.

Then, on the way back to ibmec, I was telling Dan about how McDonalds had to adapt to local tastes and preferences in order to succeed in foreign markets. In France for example, the McDonald's are much nicer than in the states. In China they're totally diffent they had to teach the Chinese how to wait in line. In Russia, people felt insulted when the cashier would smile at them- no it was the McDonald's way of doing friendly business, in the Philippines Jollybee, a competitor of McDonalds has special sauces with local ingredients and spices that tastes much better to the locals than a regular big mac. Anyway, I though we might want to test this, to see what a Brazilian McDonald's bigmac tastes like, to see if it is any different than an American one. We would also compare it to the local McDonald's equivalent -Big Bob's.
Big Bob's was started in the 60's by to two Brazilian Americans who thought they would import the McDonald's idea to Brazil. It seemed to have worked. I see more BigBob's than McDonald's here.
Anyway, the results of out empirical comparative study of the two will be posted on youtube in video form.
In sum, Brazilian BigMacs taste the same as American BigMacs take only about 30 seconds to produce on the counter next to the cash register.
The Big Bob - the Big Mac equivalent took maybe four minutes to produce- significantly longer but tasted, in my opinion, much better, far worth the extra wait. Dan would say otherwise I think.
I will post the links to these videos as soon as I can upload them to youtube.

We had a small dinner at the kilo place. Then we went to see the new movie Hancock.
This movie was hilariously awesome. Ridiculously funny and creative and witty. Not your typical superhero movie. Hancock is a superhero whose powers are very similar to supermans- the only difference is that Hancock wakes up with a hangover everymorning from having gotten wasted the precedent night. He's kind of the "im just a regula guy" supahero. And when he fights bad guys he gets into all this crazy kind of trouble and destroys stuff in passing. Awesome movie -I laughed a lot.

After that, Dan and I played chess for a bit, sang along to the lyrics of 'Garota de Ipanema' (girl from Ipanema). Went to bed around midnight and failed miserably to wake up at 6h30 to work out like we had planned. The fat cat keeps getting faaaater...

A breakfast Baer asked us to look up info for a talk he was invited to give a talk at some conference organized by the Central Bank of Brazil. We have to look stuff up about the US economy, its general status, economic indicators- pretty easy stuff to find.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Barra, petropolis, Felipe´s departure

Saturday we took this large mini-van to Barra (pronounced baha) beach, about 30 minutes south of Copacabana by car. This was a very interesting bus ride, almost like a rollercoaster with the winding roads along the coast, almost like a kidnapping with how we just jumped into it and sped off. It was operated by a driver and a guy who would sit by the door and yell at people the bus´ destination.
Barra had really cool beaches. The girls there were just amazing. The water had these crazy currents that would make it nearly impossible to swim back into shore. I just barely made it back, Richard had to get help from surfers or he would have stayed out there he said. We chilled there all day until it got too windy and cold. That night we went out with the lawyer girl that we met Thursday night at the Scenarium. She brought three of her friends with her, all law students as well. We met them by the rio sul mall and they took us to a rather large street party celebrating some saint- another excuse to party. That was a little crowded so we went to the group of bars called a cobal. there must have been about 15 bars in this square. We stayed there for a bit and endedup going home rather late. Not really worth it if you ask me. This whole time they were taking us on bus rides and we had no idea where we were going. They could have been taking us to some favela 30 minutes away from rio and I wouldn´t have known until it was too late... good stuff.

The next day, a rude 8am awakening. Breakfast, 2 reais bus ride to a large bus station, 14 reais bus ride to another large bus station outside of Petropolis, another 2 reais bus ride to downtown Petropolis.
Petropolis is the town where the king or Brazil would go to live in summertime. He would come back to Rio in the wintertime. By the way, to continue along Prof Mello´s backwardness rant, the king of Brazil was the king of Portugal´s son. His son, declared independence from his father. Essentially, Brazil declared its independence from one Monarchy and adopted another one. Not like in the US or France where independence meant no king and rule of the people (or something along those lines).
The king´s palace was cool. Nothing too special though. Not nearly as nice as France's...

yesterday (monday) the internet was not working so we just went back home early to see Felipe off to his taxi. Quite a sad sight. It will be interesting to see how dynamics change within our little group.

Dan and I then went to the beach, read some stuff from the economist, had some tea. We place beach soccer (the volleyball version of soccer) with these two random dudes on the beach. They were really cool and friendly and just laughed a lot at Dan and I falling flat on our asses when we tried to kick the ball over the other side of the net. good times. This evening we're going to go back there to work out a bit and hopefully play again.

And now back at the good old ibmec. We found some computers with facebook access. Quite the distraction. I haven't really done any research-related work for a whole week now. But I have a plan to get back into gear... it involves, hmm... well... doing something.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Night out at the Scenarium

Today I skipped lunch because I woke up late and got to Ibmec late. For some reason I was not very hungry anyway. I spent the whole day ignoring anything Brazil-related and only researched stuff on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This was the result of a discussion the previous night which was sparked by the news story of a Palestinian Arab who took control of a yellow Caterpillar demolition vehicle and went on a rampage attacking and killing Israelis on an express way in Israel. Anyway, I found some interesting stuff, especially a UN Human Rights Commission document documenting the Human rights violations the Israeli Army committs against Palestinians in the Gaza and the West Bank. The following is a small summary of the document as well as a link to it. Feel free to skip over it if you are not interested, Brazil stuff follows it.

Here is a report written by the UN Human rights committee.

The report is organized into paragraphs.

§4-10 mention the positive aspects of Israel in respect to human rights. This includes an positive increase in Women´s rights, rights for people with disabilities, improved education sysmtem as well as a law passed by the Israeli supreme court forbidding the use of torture on arrested people or prisoners (not really enforced or respected).

§13 addresses the witholding of Palestinians without access to lawyer within 48 hours of their arrest. Often they are withheld without any trial for several years
§16 As we talked about last night addresses the arbitrary destruction of Palestinian homes.
This is a tactic used to force the Palestinans to leave their land
§17 arbitrary raids on Palestinian homes.
§ 19 talks about the wall being constructed around Palestinian territories.
§20-23 deals with the racism towards Palestinians and Arab-Israelis living in Israel aka zionism.

The Human Rights Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties.

Thanks for reading this. I think I did a good job at summing it up. I hope that it is useful.

And nooooow BACK to Braziiiiiiiilllll!!!!

At 17h, professor Mello, a uiuc Econ phd graduate gave us a presentation on Brazil. I must say it was very interesting and he presented many many interesting facts on Brazil. It gave us an overview of the politics, history, demographics. His main arguement was how backwards Brazil is. There is a huge lack of human capital here; the literacy rate is only about 85~88% depending on how you measure it.
There is a common joke said of Brazil by the Brazilians. It goes something like this:

When God was creating the earth one of his angels noticed Brazil. The angel said´God, don´t you think this a little unfair? Look at Brazil, it has all the resources a country could ask for! It has huge forests, some of the longest and widest rivers, natural minerals galore, perfect weather, no natural disasters, earthquakes, hurricanes... There is nothing bad about this land! Don´t you think it is a little unfair that you´ve given so much good to one place while other countries don´t have NEARLY as much??´´
God says: ´´wait until you see the people I put there´´

Anyway, yea, yea Brazil is Backward and there is nothing we can do about it. That was the main gist of his presentation. After this Prof Mello showed us, allong with one of his students who is interested in studying in the US, a really cool restaurant called The Scenarium. It is located in a neighborhood close to downtown. The buildings there were very cool and old looking but many of them were abandoned. Some interesting real-estate prospects?
The Scenarium is an old place, rustic, and everything in there is very old and antique. When you first enter it is very impressive. You all these really cool antiques spread over three floors. After our waiter came, who was horrible, by the way (he was chewing horrible watermellon gum and only gave us two menus for the 6 of us. Also we had these annoying cards that he wrote our orders on. We had to keep the cards and pay at the door before we left. It was annoying to have to hold on to them the whole time.

Food was nice, after a while I realized that the place had no order. All the antiques were spread out everywhere in no particular theme. Then I learned that the place is an Antique shop in the daytime where you can buy everything you see.

There I met this nice 27 year old Brazilian girl who just graduated from law school. We chatted for about an hour on the balcony. Later we danced a little as well. I suck at dancing. Got her number, maybe I will call her today or tomorrow depending on what the guys want to do. Maybe we´ll go to the beach if it stops raining...

Talking to Mello was really cool. Richard and I learned a few things about Werner that we did not know. His external point of view/opinion was a welcomed change from the usual rhetoric surrounding Werner.

Overall I had a fun night. I enjoyed the food, the wine, the live music (3 different bands I think) and most of all, the company.
I took some pictures of the place but will upload them later, when my access to internet is a little better.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Maracanã soccer stadium

I don~t have much time to write this entry as we have to meet with professor marcello mello for a presentation at 17h. Prof mello got his phd from UIUC.

by the way, I don~t have daily access to facebook or anything else fun for that matter. That´s the reason I might not answer those as fast. The school we are at in the day time limits access to such sites.

Last night we went out to see maracanã. This is the largest latin american stadium (soccer) and the 11th largest in the world. Currently seat about 95 thousand although it originally seated 200 thousand for the 1950 world cup which it was originally built for. We only got in to the stadium after it ended-we did not have tickets... however, arguably, we had more fun outside, on the street with a street vendor -we~ll call him friendo... hehe. he warned richard not to wear his sweater because it had colours that might be seen as unfriendly to the local team.
It was an awesome experience. Got to practice Portuguese. Got back home around 3am... great fun! Dan and Felipe invented a game where they had to challenge each other to smell peoples´ hair. They would sneak up behind them and take a good waft/deep breath. It was hilarious to watch. Dan smelled this guy´s sideburn and then Felipe had to smell a girl who was sitting by the window and protected by her badass military-clothing girlfriend. They Felipe got Dan back with an idea of mine: ´smell that dog´ needless to say they were so drunk that they were very successful in all their hair smelling endeavours.
ate pronto!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

first work out on beach all you can eat pizza

Yesterday I feel like we got some good research done. Richard and I have been working on the land for fuel v.s. land for food. He already has interesting regression data but I feelike we should add more variables into it such as price of crude oil among others. This is something we will do today, Tuesday.

Yesterday for lunch we went out to a restaurant across the street. I had probably the best fallafel of my life, for some reason I we found each other in Rio, far, far away from the Middle East. I have a feeling I will soon be meeting more of these ´best ever´ falafels... Even more interesting was our conversation at lunch. The five of us (Werner, Dan, Felipe, Richard and I) had some very engaging discussions, starting off, if I remember correctly, by an article Felipe was reading about Universities here in Brazil which were going public on the stock market. This meant they would be taken over by companies specializing in education and teaching.

I also learned a little bit about ethanol and it´s importance here in Brazil. Here almost all the cars run on both ethanol or gasoline or any combination of both. This is so instilled in the car culture that it is not even mentioned on the back of cars, as it is in the US, (flexfuel). Here, it is the norm. Pretty cool.

Upon our return to the apartment, Felipe, Richard and I went out to the beach (again less than a block away :-) to work out a bit. Dan came with but because his back rib was still hurting from having been crushed by a wave, he read at a caffe while waiting for us. We did a few sets of push-ups (sets of twenty), sit ups/crunches(25), and chin/pull-ups (ten). Then we went running for about twenty minutes along the water. I opted for the sprint, Felipe and and Richard opted for the long distance(either two or four miles, probably four). I kept on doing some push ups while waiting for them to come back and we did some more push-ups, again, when they returned... needless to say, today I am sore. We also went for a dip, Fe and I; the water never felt so warm. I think we might go back out again tonight. I hope Dan recovers soon enough.

After this, Dan continued to read at a caffe on the beach where he waited for us to tidy up a bit back at the apartment. Upon our return to the beach where he was reading and where our restaurant was located, we saw that he had gotten into a bit of trouble with a local. While reading his book at the beach caffe, a shoe-shiner offered to shine Dan´s shoes. Dan accepted for a price of 3.20 reais. Later, the shoe-shiner claimed to have agreed to a price of 13 reais. This is absurd given that a normal price would have been one or two reais. Nevertheless, the shoe-shiner, a boy about 19 years old followed us across the highway (LSD equivalent) and kept on saying ´you´re not going to pay me, eh?´ in a menacing way. Finally we retreated to our pizza palace sanctuary...
Ever thought of the ´all you can eat concept´ and added a pizza on top? well, it is quite cool. About every 2 minutes anothe waiter comes out of the kitchen with a different pizza and cuts you a slice, if you give him your permisson of course. I pigged out and had at least 12 slices. And that was before the dessert pizzas... WOW just imagine a pizza, minus the tomatoe sauce and cheese with a thin coat of melted chocolate and strawberries on top! I learned a new phrase: ´estou satisfecho´