Category: Rio

The Story of Mama and Colin, by Colin

The Story of Mama and Colin, by Colin

Today at school, Colin dictated this story to me during ‘writer’s workshop.’ Enjoy ūüôā

We were walking to a picnic place. We sat down and we were just starting our picnic and then something bad happened there was a big flood of water.  They we went to another picnic place and then a bunch of family of mosquitos came and tried to bite us. Then we went to another picnic place and another bad thing happened. We just sat down and there was a bee family. One bee got honey from the flower and carried it away and then all the bees tried to sting us. And then we went to Rio and went to the park and they had a nice picnic place in the grass. There was no play structure but we could still play on the grass. We put out the picnic blanket and then we had yummy food that was chicken and broccoli soup with noodles. When the picnic ended they went back to the apartment and saw their Daddy and sister and brother. The end.


Soccer Day by Sean

Soccer Day by Sean

Yesterday we had to do school because we skipped a week of school when we were at Iguacu Falls. After school, me, my Dad and Colin went to the park. Me and Colin wore our cleats and our Neymar Jr. jerseys. When we left our plan was to go to the park with the soccer goals, so we started with soccer.  I juked my Dad and some other kids like a million times.

This is a picture of me and Colin dabbing.



After soccer, we¬†went around the lagoon on bikes. We had done it once before and this time it was less tiring because we raised the seat higher so my legs and arms didn’t hurt. It also had a different bell than the other bike. It was basically the same bike otherwise.

After we went around the lagoon I was climbing a tree and I tried to put my foot on a branch and I stepped on the side of my thigh with my cleats. It hurt and it made a purple spot. We played more soccer.

Then we went to a mini museum. I was like “yeah, that was fun.” My Dad took a few pictures of what we saw at the museum.


(My Dad says this one is Brasilia in 1960)


(This one is Rio in the 1880s)


Today is Sunday and it’s pouring so we’ll probably go to a movie or a museum. I hope we go to a movie.

Tchau Tchau


Cecelia’s day in Rio, aka “the ice cream tragedy”

Cecelia’s day in Rio, aka “the ice cream tragedy”

Yesterday was a normal Friday and just like every other weekday we started with another “exciting” day of home school. After home school, we walked to the subway station that was far from our house instead of the close one because “someone” (aka my Dad) didn’t know that the closer station was open. We got on the subway and took it to the Museum of Modern Art and we wrote our names in charcoal on a huge screen that was outside the museum. Even though the boys didn’t want to go to a museum, my Dad told us that if we acted with good behavior, we could get an ice cream cone afterwards.


One of the cool things in the museum (a lot of it was boring) was a room full of charcoal mobiles and the guy who worked at the museum said it was OK to bump them but not to touch them. So, my Dad kept bumping them on purpose. ūüôā


Another thing that was fun was that there was a statue of a huge toilet paper roll that we climbed on and ran up and down.  In this picture, Colin and I are sitting on the top.


Another thing that was kind of funny and kind of iffy was that there was a really cool looking spiral staircase but the railing was just a pole to hold on to, but the funny and iffy part was that the railings were at least three feet apart so I was worried the boys could fall through it.


After the museum, we took a cab to a staircase.We thought it was already time for ice cream because we were mostly good while we were at the museum. Part of the time in the museum, I even held on to Sean’s body so that he would not go insane.We couldn’t believe our parents actually made us go to a staircase. While we were on the staircase we slid down ‘slides’ that were actually the sides of the staircase, it was really fun. There were also a bunch of tiles from places all over the world and it was really cool to see that.





After the staircase, it was really time for ice cream, but our parents said we had to wait until after dinner. For dinner we went to a pizza restaurant in Botafogo. After pizza, we finally got on the subway to go back to Ipanema because my Dad thought he knew where to get the best ice cream in all of Rio.

When we got to where the ice cream store was supposed to be, it was gone, but the good news was that it had just moved across the street. Now the not ice cream tragedy, it was gelato noooooooo0!!!!!!!!!!! wait there’s more, there were no cones dun dun duuuuun!!!!!!!!! But it was still yummy and we also got three flavors!!!!!!! THE END:)


Sights in Rio & visit to Foz de Iguacu

Sights in Rio & visit to Foz de Iguacu

Like the famous Corcovado, the ascent of Morro da Urca and¬†Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain)¬†is a top tourist attraction in Rio (and Brazil in general) and we took advantage of a clear day last week to take the cable cars to the top for amazing views of Rio in every direction. Each¬†ascent only takes a few minutes and at the top, you’re 396M above the ocean atop a single granite stone.


We stayed for the sunset (along with many other people!) and were rewarded with gorgeous views during and after. img_2454





I had a mom moment of total anxiety and worry right before we started the ascent (because that’s my job!), and again when I saw this at the top (because I am certain that Colin and Sean easily fit through that space separating the platform from a tremendous drop to the sea):



This is a classic example of things we’ve been talking to the kids about: edges are rougher around here and things are not quite as safe. ¬†I could barely watch Colin walk out on to the viewing platform with Jim once I saw that space below the ‘guardrail.’ Needless to say, we watched them all like hawks, no one fell through any cracks, and we all enjoyed the spectacular views.

On our last day in Rio before a mini-trip to Iguacu Falls, we went back to the Paralympics to see two more events: wheelchair tennis and blind soccer. It happened to be 95 degrees that day, so the air-conditioned subway ride was welcome, even though the travel to the Olympic Center takes about 1.5 hours each way. Both events were beyond amazing to see!

We noted this sign as a solid example for why it’s been so hard for us to pick up much Portuguese (lots of prepositions, for one thing…):


The tennis match was a women’s singles match between Japan and Norway, with Norway ultimately winning after many long rallies. ¬†The play allows¬†up to 2 bounces on each side and it’s unbelievable how quickly the players move around the court getting into position for each hit. (The stands are not empty! Everyone in attendance was squeezed into whatever shade they could find due to the high temps!)



The soccer game was equally as impressive. ¬†We saw the men’s teams from Turkey and Morocco play, and as with the Goalball we attended earlier in the games, there is a bell inside the ball that allows the athletes to play by hearing where the ball is. ¬†The goalies are sighted and must stay in the very small goal box, and each team has one coach directly behind the opposing goal to help guide shots on goal by voice. (Video here).

After the Paralympics, we were off for a planned 5-day mini-trip to¬†Foz de Iguacu (Iguazu Falls) on the border of Brazil and Argentina where Jim would be attending the Latin American Travel Mart conference. Iguazu Falls is one of the world’s biggest waterfalls and has three times the flow capacity as Niagara Falls. Depending which brochure, book, or website you believe, it has somewhere between 250-280 individual falls.




iPhone pictures make it¬†hard (for me) to do the falls justice, but the first few minutes of this video help a ton: (click here)¬†Jim also got some great pics and once I have a chance to ‘borrow’ them from him, I’ll make sure they’re up on FB and Instagram.

We were lucky enough to spend three nights at a resort called Recanto Cataratas near the falls during Jim’s conference. The enormous pool, game room complete with air hockey ping pong and pool, and onsite bowling alley, not to mention the enormous buffet meals, kept the kids quite busy (and happy!) Of course, everywhere else we ever go for the rest of the trip (and maybe our lives…) will be compared to this first “fancy” hotel that they have ever experienced.


Already, the next three (quite lovely) hotels did not measure up due to either 1) lack of air hockey, 2) no milkshakes included with breakfast, or 3) only outdoor pools instead of the choice of both indoor and outdoor. We also saw some signs with interesting translations:



Of course, as parents, we’re still learning what so many other parents have learned before us: kids will rarely appreciate what we think they “should” about travel and new experiences, and will make their own decisions about what they like and don’t like (and they may even be quite verbal about it too!) One of our favorite quotes from a (slightly cranky) Sean¬†when we first arrived at the falls: “So what, a bunch of waterfalls. Great.”

We’ve quickly learned that saying something like¬†“you should be grateful to be having this experience” will do absolutely nothing to stop the kids from being tired, hungry, cranky or from fighting, if that’s what they are doing/feeling at the moment. I know this probably doesn’t sound like a newsflash to most parents reading this, but yet, when you think about taking your kids to see something unique or have a cool experience, you don’t necessary imagine the realistic details like low blood sugar or fighting over the window seat.¬†(And to our own parents, yes, we remember maybe being bratty one or twice on family vacations when you were introducing us to new people and places¬†and we apologize). ¬†So much of the impact of travel cannot be understood or realized until long after the trip is over, so we’re best off leaving it to them to come up with what these experiences mean to them on their own time and in their own terms. (And in the meantime, we’ve found a local energy bar that fits in everyone’s pockets just in case).

In and around the falls area, we saw a ton of the local wildlife, including many coaties, which are related to raccoons and walk with tourists on the boardwalk surrounding the falls, and monkeys, some of which are so accustomed to tourists they know how to open sliding glass doors to find their snacks:


Much to the kids’ delight, a group of monkeys did show up to this balcony in the morning and try to open the door. Unlike some of the other guests, we did not feed them!

A highlight was seeing wild toucans (always in 2s!) in the trees, and we also visited the Parque de Aves (Bird Park) which had healthy representation from the reptile family as well:







After doing our planned visits to the falls on both the Brazilian and Argentine sides of the border, we packed up our bags and headed for the airport excited to return to our ‘home for now’ in Ipanema. ¬†Unfortunately, we ran into a fun bureaucratic snafu at customs that meant 2 extra days in Argentina.¬†Brazil had suspended it’s typical tourist visa requirements during the olympics, so since we had arrived during that time, we didn’t have (or need) visas to enter Brazil. ¬†Where things went wonky were that we left Brazil for less than 24 hours to see and stay on the Argentine side, and that happened to be the same night as the closing ceremony for the Paralympics. ¬†So…when we came back to customs, the visa requirement was back in effect and we couldn’t legally re-enter the country.


Long story short, it is challenging to fill out a visa application online in Portuguese and even harder to come up with all the documentation that is required for a visa when you are on a 5-day vacation jaunt away from even your temporary home.  Needless to say, we scraped and scrambled, and got our visa applications submitted the next day for a return to Rio 2 days later than planned. We even made the most of the extra 2-day stay:


In addition to seeing a sight as amazing as Iguacu Falls, what was great to realize about our trip and the delayed return was how much we were all looking forward to getting back to our home in Rio. ¬†We have only been gone from the U.S. for a little over three weeks so far, but we’ve already made a home together here and after 6 nights in hotels and eating with strangers in buffets, we were ready to get back to our own little cozy abode in Ipanema.

And while we had prepared for a 5-day trip, and no one is really the worse for the wear, the extra two days did mean at least one casualty…in the form of very brown bananas in the fruit bowl, and when you return home to brown bananas, what else do you do but incorporate them into your homeschool curriculum and make banana bread in cooking class? Today, Jim and all three kids looked up a recipe, when to the market for the missing ingredients, and went to work:


I couldn’t even get a pic before they dug in…and seconds and thirds were served after dinner!

We’re in Rio through the end of the month, then traveling through other parts of Brazil for 2 additional weeks before taking up residence in Buenos Aires for a month-long stay in Argentina.

Boa noite for now!