Tag Archives: Germany

A Life Well Lived: Bernard Silver

Two weeks ago today my uncle, whom I called Dad and viewed as a grandfather, passed away. With the flurry of events that have taken place since then, I have not yet had the chance to express myself in a way that I felt was right and honorable.

This post is my attempt to recognize the man who meant so much to me and my family.

Bernard Silver (August 10, 1923-January 11, 2017)

Son of Louis and Jeannie Silver, Bernard came to the world on the same day as the funeral for former President Warren G. Harding. Louis had to travel far and wide across Brooklyn, New York to find the necessary supplies for Bernard’s home delivery as the majority of businesses were closed for the national day of mourning declared by newly appointed President Calvin Coolidge.

Later, the family grew again when Bernard’s sister Vera was born. A few years later, the Silvers moved to Washington, DCjust in time for the Great Depression.

Bernard great up knowing want and learned very early to be frugal, yet still found ways to enjoy life. The week was often spent doing chores to earn enough money to splurge on the weekends on penny candy and a nickel for a movie. Times were not easy, but Bernard always spoke how he and his family had it pretty well-off in comparison to other families.

On September 1, 1939 the Second World War began. Bernard was just 16 years old.

Like most young men, Bernard had a great desire to serve his country. Directly after graduating high school in 1943, he enlisted and was placed in the United States Army Air Corps. After completing his training, Bernard became a Staff Sergeant of the 328th Squadron in the 93rd Bombardment Group (H) A.A.F. Serving as a tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator, Bernard and his nine other crew members completed 35 bombing missions over  Belgium and Germany. Several of Bernard’s favorite plane, the P-51 Mustang, accompanied them on every mission and as he would often say, “They kept us alive.”

Bernard was honorably discharged  on September 29, 1945 and returned to the life of a civilian. Several years later, Bernard began to work for a food company based in Washington, DC named Sol Salins.

In the mid 1970s, Bernard met and fell in love with Bonnie da Silva, a Brazilian immigrant to the United States. They were married in 1978 and Bernard treated Bonnie’s sons, Joseph, Edward, and Robert as his own. Bernard and Bonnie never had children together.

The newly formed family moved to and lived in Olney, Maryland. In 1986, they welcomed Bonnie’s younger sister, Vania, into their home.

Sadly, Bernard and Bonnie divorced in the 90’s and Bonnie would return to Brazil permanently. Bernard would eventually move in Vania, her husband Luis, and two daughters, Juliana and Vanessa. They affectionately called him “Dad,” and for the girls, Bernard was like a grandfather figure.

In 2013, Bernard moved to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC, only a couple of blocks from where he had grown up. There, he received all the care he deserved as a veteran of the United States, and even had the opportunity to meet President Barak Obama and his family.

On January 9th, Bernard fell and was admitted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he succumbed to an infection that affected his heart, lungs, and kidneys. He died peacefully in the morning of Wednesday the 11th, with his caring sister-in-law Vania by his side.

Bernard is survived by his three nephews, Bonnie’s sons, his sister-in-law Vania and her family.

Bernard’s was a full life, one that has seen many changes in society, technology, and government. Those who knew Dad loved him and will miss his kind spirit and wonderful stories.

His was a life well-lived. Rest now in deserved peace.


Please remember to always tell those you care for how much you love them. And whenever you see a service member, especially a veteran from WWII, be sure to thank them for their service.

This post will be later updated with photos of Bernard throughout the years of his life. Thank you for reading.

-Wandering Minstrelette

 

 

Star Power

It’s not often that one gets to share a space with a living legend, but on Thursday night last week I was in a room full of them. 

  
The Berlin Philharmonic is one of the greatest symphonic orchestras of the world, and is most certainly the most well-known. Their history is interwoven with pride and disappointments, but there is no doubt that they have managed to make themselves the golden standard by which nearly every orchestra measures themselves. 

I had heard the Berlin Phil once before at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. How cool would it be, I had thought, if one day I could see them on their home turf? 

   

One of the first things I planned to do when I knew I was coming to Berlin was to go see a performance. However, tickets tend to go fast, especially when you have well-known conductors thrown into the mix. 

Gustavo Dudamel, another living legend (and quite a young one, for that matter), was going to conduct this amazing ensemble in a performance of W.A. Mozart’s Serenade for Posthorn and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. Dudamel is especially known for his remarkable interpretations of works by Mahler, so I’m pretty sure that everyone in town who cares about classical music (which is actually quite a lot of people here) knew and planned to attend. 

The performance was completely sold out, but I was able to purchase a standing room only ticket for €10 by waiting in line for about an hour and half just before the concert. There were plenty of others with me, too, hoping that they would have a spot for the concert. 

  
Never in the States have I ever heard of people scrambling to get a ticket to attend a classical concert. Do we even have standing room only options available? Of the entire Philharmonie Großer Saal, which holds 2,440 people, I saw 4 empty seats. Even those were filled in the second half by those who had originally been standing. I am pretty sure that the major orchestras in the area where I live – the National Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony – would love to have that kind of ticket available if the demand was high enough.  

Anyways, there I was at the very back of the hall, standing. The first musicians began to appear and the audience began to clap. They just showed up and they were being praised! This city truly loves their orchestra. 

I also was able to make out that the first flute player was Emmanuel Pahud, a brilliant performer and one of my musical role models. I totally fan-girled. I think the other people around me must have been wondering if there was something wrong with me. His playing was so beautiful, so effortless… There is definitely a reason why he is the principal flute of this renowned ensemble. 

Then Dudamel appeared. For a few seconds, I wondered if I was in a rock concert instead. This young conductor has nearly single handedly changed the perception of what classical music can be and every one loves him for it. 

First, the Mozart. It was instantly recognizable as a work of Wolfgang from it’s style and almost happy-go-lucky sound. Dudamel seemed to be barely doing anything, so as not to distract for the glorious work the orchestra was producing. The players seemed to me to work as one giant instrument – even from where I was standing, I could see that everyone moved together and even breathed together. The Posthorn soloist appeared only for one movement of the work, and did a great job at showcasing this unusual, and I am sure rather difficult, instrument. Overall, the entire work sounded like velvet to my ears. Smooth,comfortable, approachable. At the end, a great applause erupted – and it was only intermission!

The Mahler was absolutely glorious. Once again, Dudamel seemed to be doing as little as possible (which was a surprise, I expected him to be a bit more showy…) but was pulling amazing sound and emotion from the orchestra. It had been a long time since I had felt so moved and elevated by a live performance, but there was no way that anyone could not have felt something. Each movement was more wonderful than the last and the different sections all had a chance to be showcased throughout the work. 

Pahud sounded amazing (How I would love to play like him…) and his teamwork with the principal oboe player to make what we call the “floboe” sound was true perfection. Honestly, the whole orchestra was the sound of perfection. 

When the last sounds of Mahler faded away, the packed hall burst into cheers, whistles, applause, and shouts of “Bravo!” This lasted for at least 7-8 minutes. Dudamel had to appear three times (the last with the orchestra already off the stage) before people would subside and start making their way out of the hall. 
  
When a long-held dream of yours finally comes true, things can seem a little surreal. But it was true – I had seen the Berlin Philharmonic at their resident performance hall, with their principal flutist in the ensemble, performing amazing works, and being conducted by one of the greatest conductors of our time. Living legends with a ridiculous amount of star power – and I was there. 

I can actually say I was there…

What an amazing night!

Do you have a have an experience of encountering a living legend or another influential figure? I’d love to hear about it. 

Until next time – happy travels.

-Wandering Minstrelette

Deutsche Orchestervereinigung (German Orchestra Union)

Some may have been wondering what I’m doing in Berlin. Despite the pictures and stories so far, it’s not simply a pleasure trip of exploring the city and neighboring countries – surprise! I’m actually here to work.

I may have mentioned sometime back that I am studying Arts Management at George Mason University. Part of the program requirements are that I have to fulfill a certain amount of hours participating in internships. There are many ways that those hours can be accomplished, but with my love for travel and desire to one day move overseas, I decided to maximize on the requirements and complete my internship hours abroad. If you remember my blog posts from last summer, I was in Niterói/Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for an internship (check out some of those stories here and here). There were still some credits I needed to complete and thus was born the idea to come to Europe. And boy, is it a different world from the US.

You see, in Germany, culture and the arts is viewed as an inherent part of its citizens’ identities. Thus, there is a strong point of view that permeates the nations arts and culture policies – the government should be responsible for supporting and promoting that which makes Germany German. Therefore, the vast majority of arts and culture organizations gain their primary funding from government sources, but not the federal government.

As a result of the two World Wars, there is a fair amount of distrust in the national level of government. The authority and responsibility, then, to disperse funds to arts organizations belongs to the state and local governments. In fact, when breaking how much level of government contributes, one can see that arts organizations tend to receive the greatest amount of their contributed funds from the local level of government (numbers are roughly: local-45%, state-43%, and federal-12%). This is beneficial in many ways, and lower levels of government would be more aware of the needs of a particular region and would have better knowledge of what to support and how. However, it’s not uncommon for some of these funders to feel overwhelmed or like they could use the money elsewhere.

Enter the DOV.

The Deutsche Orchestervereinigung (roughly translating into the German Orchestra Union), is a labor union that advocates and lobbies for the rights of orchestras and their musicians around the country. They work primarily with publicly (government) funded opera and symphony orchestras, although they also work with publicly funded chamber ensemble and radio orchestras/choirs. They act as the voice of the people in orchestras to orchestra management and funding government agents.

DOV Logo

When government officials threaten to shut down or merge groups in an effort to save money, the lawyers of the DOV come to remind them of the great cultural value these groups have to the region and the nation. These efforts were started in earnest especially after a study showed a 33% decline of publicly funded opera, concert, and radio orchestras from 1992 to 2010. Groups either have to seek ways to gain private funding (as arts organizations do in the US) or close their doors. The DOV’s position is that this is not good stewardship of these important cultural heritage. Remember, in Germany culture should be supported by the government. They have won many cases over the past several years and have dramatically slowed the decline of publicly funded orchestras around the nation. They were even responsible for helping the orchestral landscape of Germany to be recognized by the national chapter of UNESCO as an intangible heritage site this past fall and hope to achieve international status in the near future.

View of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra in the congress hall in Bamberg (Bavaria), Germany. Photo from http://www.germany.info.
View of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra in the congress hall in Bamberg (Bavaria), Germany. Photo from http://www.germany.info.

The new major battle they are now facing, however, is the potential trade agreement between the US and the European Union know as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Essentially, this pact would create the world’s largest free market sector between the world’s two greatest economic superpowers. ‘Barriers’ to imports and exports would be removed in order to increase commerce and standards of things such as health care, food, and energy use would most likely have to be leveled (meaning, they will end up being lowered rather than raised…).

This agreement could mean disaster for European cultures because, like Germany, the majority of EU member nation’s view culture as a government responsibility while the US is very much against that idea and chooses instead to have arts and culture funded by private donors and regulated by the free market. There is great fear that much of what is currently available to audiences would not be able to survive or be as easily accessible to the public if Germany had to put it’s arts sector on the open market.

Photo from http://www.wwf-jugend.de
Photo from http://www.wwf-jugend.de

Overall, TTIP doesn’t sound like a good idea for either party, no matter the side of the Atlantic. There’s a lot more to this idea and debate and I would encourage you to take some time to read about it and make your opinion known. Click here and here to learn more.

I’ve already learned so much from my time at the DOV about policy and international relations, as well as national support and promotion of the arts. I’m looking forward to what the weeks ahead have in store.

If you want to learn more about other things that the DOV is a part of or does, please check out their website which is mostly in German, but does have some English (part of my job is to expand on this).

So now you know – I’m not just here for fun. 🙂 I’ll be sure to write another update about the DOV or my wanderings soon.

Until then – bis später!

-Wandering Minstrelette

The Joy of Baptism

One of the things that I love about being part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is that I can find believers around the world that share my thoughts and beliefs, and sometimes even challenge me and help me grow. I have been so blessed to be given the opportunity to stay with an family here in Berlin that I can go to church with and enjoy in a different and unique way, the fellowship that comes from worshiping together.

Today was particularly special because two individuals, a couple, had decided to give their lives to Christ and publicly announce their decision through baptism. Church members piled into cars and we drove from Berlin to Reichsburg, near where the couple lives, to have a Sabbath celebration of their decision.

Despite the cold and rain that we sat through during song service and the sermon, the joy in our hearts eventually was manifested in the sun shining brightly as we walked towards the lake, singing all the way. Three guitarists and an accordion player accompanied us, adding to the festive sounds of celebration and excitement for the new chapter these candidates would be starting in their lives. It seemed like the singing would never end and in all honesty, I don’t think any of us wanted it to. It was such a glorious event to be a part of.

At the LakeMusicians playing for the BaptismGathering to Pray for the Baptism

Wife getting baptizedHusband getting baptized

Starting a New Walk

The potluck that took place after also deepened our ties with one another, and allowed me the chance to interact for the first time with several members of the church that has become my family away from home. It is an international group – Kenyans, Koreans, Americans, Germans, English, and others. All I could think was how this must be a small portion of what heaven must look like. Everyone, of every race, creed, and tongue joining together singing the praises of God and fellowshipping with Christ and one another for eternity.

For those who are not aware, Seventh-day Adventist believe in baptism by immersion. This takes place once an individual is old enough and cognizant enough to be able to make a personal decision of having Christ as their Lord and Savior. The full immersion of the baptism signifies entering into the death that Christ died for us and consequently entering into a new life, as Christ did when He was resurrected and pardoned us from our sins.

Before the baptismal ceremony, candidates must go through Bible studies with a pastor to ensure that they understand what they are getting themselves into – because being a true Christian means you pay the highest cost: a life of living for Jesus and spreading His gospel. It may be a high cost, but it is also the best thing you could ever pay.

After completing the bible studies, candidates must also proclaim the baptismal vows on the day of their baptism. Some churches do this in private, between the pastor and the candidates alone, but I prefer it when it is done as it was today – publicly, in front of the church body. This is when the true presentation of faith takes place – verbalization of a belief can change one’s whole perspective and sometimes even that of someone else. It is a moment to be a witness in a way we seldom get the chance otherwise.

I am so glad to have been able to participate in today’s events; I was blessed and reminded of my own baptism in a river in the jungle of Belize and what that meant for me and my life. My prayers are with the candidates as they now start anew with new birthdays and fresh beginnings.

Please click here to enjoy our singing as we walked the candidates to the water.

If you are interested in learning more about what Seventh-day Adventists believe in baptism, please click here.

God bless, and until next time – safe travels.

-Wandering Minstrelette

Checkpoint Charlie

Berlin – for a year my mind has been imagining what it would be like to roam the streets of a city that, in its current state, is technically only as old as I am. Of course, there are centuries of history all throughout the city but it obvious that the events of the 20th century are the most vivid and discussed. A city once glorious, then divided by the very physical manifestation of the Cold War’s tense relations and separatism in the form of the Berlin Wall, is finally reunited in 1989 when the Wall was torn down and a flood of families spilled over to embrace one another after years of separation. It was something I had often heard in my history classes in secondary school – after all, World War II is kind of a favorite subject for Americans, both for the tragedies and the heroism. Now I have been to where before I had only heard and could imagine. My understanding grew and I received a much fuller, larger picture.

  
Checkpoint Charlie (Checkpoint “C”), in the American Sector, was the best known crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Here, many East Berliners attempted to escape into the west, at least 100 died doing so. Families were separated, unable to have any form of contact for many years.The Wall was tragic and terrible, “fencing in” the East Berliners with little hope for a brighter future.

Diplomats, journalists, and non-German visitors were allowed to pass on a one-day visa and had to exchange currencies before entering. Just before I left Washington, DC for Berlin, I had a conversation with a fellow church member who is part of my mom’s craft ministry. She told me that she had gone through while the Wall stood, and that it was one of the scariest thing she had ever done in her life. The faces of those who lived in the Soviet Sector were pallid and ashen faced, much like their buildings. It was overwhelming and depressing, and she was glad to soon be able to return to the other side once again.

Yesterday I stood in front of Checkpoint Charlie.

  
There was no sign of where the Wall used to be, the division had clearly been mended (at least in the physical sense). Parts of the Wall had been kept as keepsakes and memorials, the graffiti that originally showed displeasure and hatred for the separation it caused were now hung up as art. Pieces of the wall were for sale in all of the souvenir shops (makes you wonder if they are all real…). Portraits of sullen-faced young soldiers, enlarged by several times, were place before the checkpoint – an American face when walking by from the East and a Soviet face when walking by from the West. The Haus am Checkpoint Charlie Museum stood in the corner by the original gate, filled with photographs, video, and most importantly, stories that told of what life was like for the people of Berlin, of both sides, when the Wall stood.

  
  
It took several years for East Berlin to recover from its time under Soviet rule. Even today, there is a rather obvious difference in the style of buildings when one “crosses the border.” However, the stark contrasts of decades past no longer exist – people easily cross from one side to the other. Flourishing business have been placed in both sides and the standards of living have slowly become more equal. This is the 25 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and by all accounts, healing has taken place.

And yet, a part of me wonders… While I understand the importance of remembering history and the events of the past, especially in the hopes of preventing the awful ones from happening again, I feel compelled to ask if true healing can take place when all that is talked about and displayed is the hurt. Rather like a wound that you keep checking on by lifting the band aid – it will take longer to heal this way than if you had just left it alone. While the Wall is physically down, I have to wonder if it still somewhat exists in the minds of some residents. Of course, I cannot give an accurate opinion of the state of affairs or how things have changed and improved over the 25 years of my and the unified city’s life.

What I hope and pray for is that the wonderful people of this city truly do receive healing from all that they and their ancestors suffered. May the lessons learned from this experience be remembered by the world, but not so discussed that we forget the progress that has been made since.

I look forward to more adventures here in Berlin as I learn more about this amazing city with all its history and importance. I hope you will join me as I write about my adventures – and feel free to leave a comment! I’m here for the next month, so I’m sure we’ll be discovering many things together.

Bis später – Until next time!

-Wandering Minstrelette

The Great Embarrassment

The day started cloudy and threatening, but now its almost as if the weather is crying with Brazil tonight.

In all things, Germans are known to be efficient, effective, and ruthless. But this… This was slaughter.

I doubt there has ever been a soccer match like today’s of Brazil against Germany. 7-1, Germany; it’s simply unheard of. This kind of thing doesn’t happen in soccer, but it sure happened today…

Photo Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

All those around me at the Nobrega Restaurant looked absolutely dumbfounded, expressing they shock and astonishment in a mixture of curses, silence, and eventually clapping for Germany’s last two goals cheering, “Flamengo! Flamengo!” (one of Brazil’s regional teams has a uniform just like the one Germany used tonight), almost as if trying to shake off the great humiliation and ridiculousness of the situation. The stadium was nearly silent at the beginning of the second half, as all the Brazilians seemed to holding their breath in hopes that somehow, someway, a miracle would happen.

From the screen that had been raised in the middle of the street, images of bawling Brazilians and jubilant Germans interchanged as the game wound down. Many people had left at half time, recognizing that there was no way for Brazil to make a comeback after Germany scored 5 goals in the first half; those who stayed were hoping for something, anything, to make this situation less mortifying which somewhat manifested itself in the form of Oscar scoring the single goal of the match. Of course, it couldn’t erase the gravity of what was happening, but at least Brazil didn’t go under with nothing.

Now, I’m not a sports expert or commentator by any stretch of the imagination. I do not pretend to understand sports, but I would like to give a stab at to what I think happened tonight.

The loss of Thiago Silva and Neymar Jr., one not allowed to play and the other injured, resulted in a psychological meltdown in the rest of the team. This meltdown, despite David Luiz’s best efforts, caused the team to be disorganized, disorderly, and ultimately, unfit to play. It was amazing, in a bad way, to watch the Brazilian players acting dazed and confused, wondering what was going through their minds. Could the injury of Neymar really have had such a drastic effect? The self-confidence they had had in previous games dissipated almost the moment they stepped on the field.  To top it off, the stress of playing in the semi-finals on their home turf must have also taken its toll on them mentally. From the flailing attempts to score to lack of defense, it is evident that Brazil was simply not equipped to play today.

To be honest, Brazil had not been playing well throughout the Cup. True, there were some glorious moments (most of which involved Neymar), but overall this is not the jogo bonito that every Brazilian citizen is taught to love about our soccer players. If I may, its been a while since Brazil has truly been up to its past standards.

Herein lies one of Brazil’s major faults: I believe that Brazil has been resting on its laurels. This, indeed, is a fault of many people and organizations; pride truly comes before the fall. For decades, Brazil has been known as producing some of the best soccer players in the world. It is also the only country to have won the World Cup 5 times and its team is the only one that has participated in every single Cup since its initiation. Logically, now that the Cup was on their soil, they would win. Well… As with any organization, it is important to be proud of past accomplishments but it is even more important to be proactive in striving for the next level.

Please, don’t think I am trying to diminish the efforts of the Brazilian national players. They are all excellent in their own right and their coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, is known for his technique and capability. But what was missing, in my humble, un-sports-educated opinion, was the sense of a team. There were articles being written about how Brazil had never before depended so greatly on a single individual for success and when that star fell, I believe the light went with him. It never was, as it should have been, about the team.

Julio Cesar Photo Credit: O Globo, Facebook page.

It was truly heartbreaking to see the tear-filled eyes of Júlio César and David Luiz after the game. Júlio César, I’m sure, feels that he has once again let down his country (the last Cup he made a public apology to Brazil for ‘letting’ the other team make the winning). David Luiz, who tried so hard to pull together the troops was ultimately unable to fight the mentally trauma, left the stadium crestfallen, looking into the stands and mouthing “Desculpa… Desculpa…” (I’m sorry… I’m sorry…). [See his heartbreaking post-game interview here: http://mashable.com/2014/07/08/brazil-david-luiz-interview-germany-loss/#:eyJzIjoiZiIsImkiOiJfOXdjZmluOTdiNGpreDBzaCJ9] I know neither of them will probably ever read this, but I hope they understand that neither of them as individuals are responsible for this loss. They may feel like they’ve let down their country, but they did so as a team – not as a single person. No one deserves to carry that sort of pressure and heartache…

Photo Credit: O Globo, Facebook page.
David Luiz Photo Credit: O Globo, Facebook page.

Now, do I believe that if Thiago Silva and Neymar Jr. had been playing that Brazil would have won? No, but I do feel that it would not have been such a “massacre.” Let’s face it – Germany’s team is great. They played well, they played as a team. They were in it to win it, without the added stresses of being at home, losing their best players, etc. But there is no doubt that they are truly excellent.

I feel genuinely sorry for the players of Brazil. Tomorrow, I’ll probably encounter some extremely depressed individuals, but right now there’s a party happening in the street behind the apartment building with singing and dancing; people are eating, drinking, and being merry. It seems regardless of whether we win or lose, we choose to celebrate. Which, once again in my humble opinion, is a pretty great attitude to have.

Brazil has one more game on Saturday to fight for third place. I truly hope they win. As for the World Cup champion… Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

-Wandering Minstrelette

Petrópolis

This weekend I had the great pleasure of visiting family members in Petrópolis, about a two hour bus ride from  Niterói. The landscape is so beautiful there, with mountains and greenery… But, it is also much, much colder.

Landscape

Yes, ladies and gentleman, Brazil does indeed get cold.

I ended up getting sick due to the climate change (warm and balmy  to cold at a high altitude) and was a bit distraught that there wasn’t any tea in my uncle’s house. In my home back in the States, we have a cabinet in the kitchen that is basically dedicated to tea (an idea we got from friends), so the thought of not having tea was a bit astonishing. I guess it shouldn’t have been… Brazil is not very big on tea, it’s always been more of a coffee country. But a solution was not far off! We ended up pulling leaves off their lemon tree, washing them and boiling them and had some of the most amazing tea ever. From leaves of a tree in the backyard! Know anywhere else you can do that? I don’t.

DSC02748

Sabbath morning was spent at the church at Instituto Petropolitano Adventisa de Ensino (IPAE), the school that my mother and most of the rest of Igreja do IPAE 2my aunts and uncles went to school once upon a time. I was honored to have the chance to play a couple of special numbers for the service. The pianist was remarkable – we didn’t have any rehearsal ahead of time but we stuck together basically the entire time. Its always great to play with people with such a level of musicianship.Playing at IPAE

Family

Saturday evening was spent in Teresópolis, home of the Brazilian Seleção (national soccer team). No, we didn’t get to see any of the team, as cool as that would have been. By the way, for those who have been following – keep Neymar Jr. in your thoughts and prayers. Its hard being the star with such a high profile at such a young age and then be injured, almost considered paralyzed, and then be forced to back down from one’s biggest dream. He’s young and thankfully his injury isn’t as serious as first thought, but he will be out the rest of the Cup. Whether you’re routing for Brazil or not, we can all agree that no one deserves to be hurt in something like this.

Anyways, we went to Teresópolis for a “prayer vigil,” or at least that what I think it was called. A large Adventist event that had famous Adventist Brazilian artists performing and well-known pastors preaching held in an old Olympic indoor sports stadium. Sadly, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it because I was starting to feel rather ill…

SDA Stadium Vigil

In the Crowd

Instead of going home, though, you know where we went? A pizza rodízio. There really isn’t a proper translation for this word… But essentially, its when you sit at you table and waiters come around offering various food items you can choose from. Its like an all-you-can-eat buffet where the food comes to you. It’s very common for Brazilian churrascarias (steakhouses/barbecues), but I had never heard of one for pizza. There more kinds of pizza than you could imagine, including chocolate! It was definitely an interesting experience.

This morning was supposed to be spent seeing some of the tourist sites of Petrópolis, as this was where the last emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, lived before the country became independent as well as the home of Alberto Santos-Dumont, who is credited in Brazil as the father of aviation (read about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Santos-Dumont). However, traffic was completely backed up due to the annual Bauernfest, where Brazilians celebrate all things German. Suddenly, my fascination with the German language makes sense – it seems to be a natural part of being Brazilian! After a quick look around the festival, filled of course with beer, sausage, and traditional clothing, we went to eat one last lunch together before I had to return to Niterói.

Bauernfest

Marching Band at Bauernfest

Crystal Palace

German "Houses"

I’m thankful for the time I was able to spend with my family. Its not often that I get to see them; its kind of hard when you live thousands of miles away. The last time I saw my uncle was in 2003. Hopefully it won’t be such a long period of time before we see each other again.

Now I’m back in Niterói and am ready to take on this last week of my internship! Wow… Has it really gone by that fast?

-Wandering Minstrelette

Water and Fire

Hoje, eu andei de caiaque.

Any guesses? Take that “c” word and try to say it out loud.

 

I’ll give you a moment…

 

That’s right, kayak! I went kayaking today in the Guanabara Bay!!

Vinicius, a friend of my host, belongs to a water sports club in Rio and was able to reserve a beautiful, long green kayak for us to use for the morning. After lathering on the sun tan lotion (Vinicius is Vinicius and the kayaksthe first person I’ve met here as white as me!! Happy day, a friend!), and gearing up we walked to the edge of the water – which was pretty cold – and embarked.

We paddled out to the middle of the bay. The 360 degree view was breathtaking. Its a totally different perspective of Niteroi and Rio that most people never get to see.

A butterfly joined us, looking like it needed a place to rest. Brilliant orange and yellow with some dull white, it flitted by us for several minutes but never landed. It actually looked like it was leading us for a while and then left us for other interests.

We managed to circle most of the bay in about an hour and would have like to continue, but it will have to wait for another day.

NOM NOM NOM
Munching on goodies.

Not wanting to leave Rio just yet, I asked Vinicius to drop me off at Pão de Açúcar, which was nearby the Praia da Urca, where we had embarked from. The last time I have been to Pão de Açúcar was eleven years ago – wow. When we arrived, the line was ridiculously long so Vinicius suggested that I walk the Pista Claudio Coutinho. A well-used, but not as touristy, and easy path, it encircles the base of Pão de Açúcar and allows for the chance to see some wildlife. Since Vinicius was not able to come along, I bravely set out on my own (seriously though, everything was tranquil and calm). Meandering along I saw more marmosets, lizards, and beautiful birds, besides some interesting people including rock climbers – new thing to add on to the bucket list!

I eventually made my way to the ticket office for the cable car to go up Pão de Açúcar and was surprised to find no line whatsoever. I encountered a group of people earlier who said they had to wait 40 minutes and I literally walked in. Guess taking the trail first was a good idea after all.

Panorama of Rio from Pão de Açúcar
The view from Pão de Açúcar.

The two morros (hills) of the location actually have two different names: Morro da Urca, which is the shorter one, and Pão de Açúcar, Me and Riothe taller one. From the top of either of the morros are spectacular views of the city and Guanabara Bay. Luckily, I made a few friends along the way who took some pictures of me with the view.

In fact, the coolest part of going on Pão de Açúcar was meeting all the people. Of course, there are always tourists in a place like this but with the World Cup everything has grown exponentially. I made friends with Mo, a Canadian, Daniel and Philip, Belgians, had my hair tousled and was given a bear hug by a grizzly German, asked a Norwegian to take a photo for me, saw an Australian man being filmed for some sort of show, walked by several of the ever-present Asian tourists, and of course, flocks of Americans.

From left: Mo, myself, Daniel and Philip.
From left: Mo, myself, Daniel and Philip.

Australian Dude

 

 

 

 

 

Together, we all enjoyed a fantastic sunset over the hills of Rio that seemed to light the bay on fire. Across the way one can see Cristo Redentor, arms spread wide as if embracing this magnificent city, being silhouetted by the fading light.

Sunset Over Rio

It was definitely worth the 11 year wait. I’ll just have to make sure it won’t be such a long gap until the next time.

-Wandering Minstrelette