Friday, November 30, 2012

Retro Blogging: Xi'an Trip

Being that I am blogging about all our travel in Brazil, I figured it only right that I catch up with our time in China.  
Before our time in China was over we really wanted to make it to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors, so we decided to make it happen one of the last weekends there. Our weekends were filling up fast, but we knew we wanted to make this trip so we set a weekend aside and am I glad we did.  We originally went to see the Warriors, but found out Xi'an is a great city with great eats and lots to do.
Just hanging out
These guys hadn't been been fully restored yet and were waiting to join their friends

Pit 1 of the Warriors
Our lodging for the weekend, Warrior Apartments, was amazing.  It was a quirky, unique, and spacious apartment where we enjoyed our down time (not that we had much) in Xian. In our apartment there were over fifty terracotta warrior replicas.  Some were life size, others were small enough to miss if you weren't looking.  It was a great place and right next to the Muslim Quarter of Xian.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who visits Xian.

A couple of times the warriors scared the daylights out of me when I woke up or walked around a corner.  I guess they did their job of protecting the apartment.
The kitchen door was Chinese red, some of the the warriors in the wall, the shower even had the warriors in tiles.   

We arranged for Clarence, who owns the apartments with his darling wife, to take us out to see the Warriors. Part of the tour he gives includes visiting a couple's house that was built into the side of the mountain.  We talked with the sweet couple and they explained that they built this house over forty years ago with their own hands.  Being in the side of the mountain it naturally conserved energy and heat, it kept the house cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. They showed us around and then we were on our way.  I will always remember meeting this lovely couple and being welcomed into their home! 
Clockwise: Top Right-Us with the couple, silk worms for dinner, their kitchen, the entrance to their house
  Being our hotel was located almost in the Muslim District you know we had to check out the delicious food available.  Our favorites of the weekend were nan and mutton stew.  It was so flavorful and filling. We spent awhile looking for the perfect, non-touristy place to try the stew and we hit the jackpot on our pick.  It was a hole in the wall (aren't those always the best) with amazing servings and a fun staff. 

Chinglish never gets old
 Our last day in Xi'an we rented bikes and pedaled the 14 kilometers on the Wall that surrounds the city.
Entrance to the city wall
Door along the ride

Some of the wall and views from the wall
We finished!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Wednesday Surprise and Some Crafts

The wonderful hubby surprised me at school with a dozen of beautiful roses for no reason.  
I love that man. 

I split the roses up and put them around our house.  I love them in my pottery from Monte Sião.

One of my goals for November was to make DIY bottles. Little did I know what a task it would be to buy paint here.  I finally found some spray paint and went to buy it.  In order to purchase it I needed to give them my CPF number (kind of like your SSN in the States).  It's not on a card or anything and I haven't memorized it yet so we were at a stand still.  The people working were so nice.  I don't know how they ended up doing it, but somehow I was allowed to buy spray paint.  Geesh!  

I've been collecting different bottles and want to paint/decorate them in a variety of ways to arrange throughout the house.  So I painted a couple of them half white and arranged six on our "entertainment center" (that's being very generous in the name department, it's so puny).  I used some of the baby's breath from the flower arrangement and put it in the bottles.  I like how it turned out and am even more inspired to finish some more bottles.  What do you think?  


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quasi Honeymoon Part 2: The Beaches

After almost a week exploring Salvador we were ready to see another part of Bahia that is famous, the beaches!  We spent one afternoon at a local beach and boy was it an experience.  Lots of butts, quail eggs, cheese, and great people watching. I love Brazilians because they are all about having fun with their loved ones.  We "talked" with a young woman and her adorable little boy.  EVERYONE wanted to get dark, I've never seen that before. I remember going to Florida with my FUBball girls and all the white girls were tanning while the black girls were hiding under an umbrella. I kind of chuckled at the polar opposites of the cultures. 
Check out the sand sculpture on the left I think they needed a parental rating system. Also, I slyly got pics of the ladies' boom booms. Who knew fried cheese could be so yummy on a hot beach?
Everyone kept telling us we had to go to Praia de Forte, so we knew that was a must.  At the beginning of the week we felt daring and were willing to rent a car and drive the hour to the beach by ourselves, but as the week wore on we lost our confidence leaned towards hiring a driver to take us there so we could relax.  I am so glad we did!  We got a free Portuguese lesson for the day and he took us to parts of the beaches that were remote and peaceful. 

This man was catching heaps of fish...Jess so wanted to join in.  He was so nice and talked with us for awhile explaining how much he caught each day.

 What's a vacay without a jump picture? 
We had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The time went by way too fast, we cherished every meal, nap, sight, and all the time we had alone.  Now only 22 days until we are back in the States!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quasi Honeymoon to Salvador

Being that we were only back in the States for less than a month and in that time we got married we decided to delay our honeymoon to spend time with our family.  Well we finally got around to one! 

We decided to go up north to Salvador to explore our new country. Let me tell you it did not disappoint.  We stayed at the best boutique hotel ever in the middle of historic Salvador. It was quite an experience filled with food, music, and hotness.

For your sake I decided to divvy the post up into two, one about the city of Salvador and the other about the beaches we escaped to.  While I wasn't thinking I would like a "city" vacation we had a lot of fun exploring and taking in the sights.  So here it goes...

We arrived and were immediately greeted with a complimentary bottle of champange in our room.  The view was great and we crashed and took a three hour nap.  Starting it off right in my book.

Someone is happy, the balcony, and our room
 We decided to explore and walked the colorful streets of Salvador.  Each building was painted a bright colorful and we rarely saw two of the same shade.  The doors were all colorful too.  I loved the old ladies and men sitting or standing by their window and watching people go by.
 One day we went to Bom Fin church. The colorful ties are good luck and are tied everywhere in Bahia. I bought some and have a craft idea in mind.  I am my mother's daughter.
 The square was popping...there was always live music and other entertainers.  I almost bought an outfit like the one Jess's new friend is wearing.  Funny, I fit in better in Brazil than I ever did in China.
We also went to some famous fort there, I don't know if you ask me it was just hot and I needed a ice cold refreshment. 
 Good thing we found one...and got to watch a local soccer game while we enjoyed it. 

After the great recommendation of our hotel we headed to a local restaurant for some bobó de camarão. It was delicious, a mixture of spice and sweet, it reminded me a lot of Thai food.  Bahian food is very spicy, I didn't believe our server when he told me it was too hot for me and to be careful.  I ended up sucking on an ice cube and sugar to get rid of the fire in my mouth.  Lesson learned.
 As anywhere we saw some pretty funny artwork/statues and decided to play tourist and pose with them.  Classy I tell you, classy.
 Our nights were spent enjoying the sunset with caparhinas in hand.  Ahhhh...heavenly.  Not to mention we were together. Spending time with my best friend and hubby is the most precious thing in the world and I am so blessed to have him!

Monday, November 12, 2012

November Goals

Being it is almost halfway through November I decided I would start to keep myself accountable by making a list of goals to accomplish this month.  It's crazy because even though we live in a beautiful country I rarely get out to explore in my day to day life because I tell myself I'm too busy.  Well I don't want to make any excuses.  There are lots of things I want/need to get done this month before heading home for a month in December!!! Here it goes...

1. 2. Order Christmas/Thank You Cards.

2. 1. Take photo for Christmas/Thank You Cards. 

3. Make mom and dad's and Jess's parents Christmas presents.  Let's just say they will be wedding's not every year we can use this to our advantage!

4. Do some DIY projects around the house...I've been collecting bottles since we got here.  I think any of these via Pinterest would be appropriate and doable.

5. Pray for Jess each day.

6. Exercise at least 4 times a week.

7. Plan a critical literacy/digital literacy unit for my students.  Might as well put these Master courses to work.

8. Do one random act of kindness a day and keep track of them.

Source: via Beth on Pinterest

9. Take more walks, with Jess. 

10.  Drink more water and less Caipirinhas

11. Study Portuguese more and practice daily with students/locals.

12. Take more pictures.

13. Start Jess's Christmas present.  We are making each other something this year.

14. Be a better Betty I didn't realize how hard this would be.

15. Start a Bible study.

16. Wash my face every night...hey I'm just keeping it real. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Weekend: R and R in Campos do Jordão

Thanks to some unknown Brazilian holiday we had a three day weekend around these parts.  We took the opportunity to travel to Campos do Jordão, a charming little town about 3 hours away.  It was just what my soul needed-great views, relaxing atmosphere, quality time with my honey, amazing food, and just good old fun.  

We took the cable cars up a hill to get a view of the little town.  Y'all I was scared!  Jess had the other camera, but once I upload those pictures I will post an awful and embarrassing funny picture of my clinging to my little pole next to my seat. Once we got to the top it was worth it.  The weather was a little cloudy so the pictures don't do it justice. 

Jess walked around while I napped one day and took some great pictures.  It was so green and colorful and the buildings are similar to European towns. We had a great time walking and exploring--with lots of stops for chocolate and beer. 

We kept joking we were on Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.  

Jesus Saves!

 On Saturday I was craving fondue, we found this great little restaurant and were not disappointed. 

The day we left it was perfect weather.  We enjoyed a couple more glasses of our new favorite beer and ate one more doce de leite crepes before hitting the road home.  The drive home was filled with beautiful scenery and great company, which made it go even faster. 

Jess and I were talking about how blessed we are to be able and experience new places like Campos do Jordão with each other.  Next stop the beaches of Brasil!