Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nifty Widgets

I have added several things to the blog today in anticipation of my own adventure:  a clock with the time for Brasilia, a little spinning weather widget I am particularly proud of, and more blogs from my fellow travelers to the blog roll at the side.  Everything is tailored to Brasilia right now because I know I'm at least starting and finishing my trip there.  Once I know where I'm headed in the middle, I can get more customize a little more accurately.

Don't miss the chance to follow the trips and the preparation of my fellow travelers.  Make sure you check out the newly-expanded blog roll down the side.

Group One Leaves

Our first group is headed out to Ghana.  I can't even imagine how excited they must be.  All the preparation, research, planning, and packing, and now they're on their way to meet their host teachers and see the country for themselves.  I hope they have a fantastic experience.

It's always a kind of magic to me that we can get on a plane here in this world that we know, pass a few hours sitting in something that is still familiar, basically, and then get off it to explore that which is totally new.  Even the quintessential discomfort of modern air travel can't take that away.  We may be sort of disoriented, mildly dehydrated, and mostly lame (in my case) when we get there, but the point is that wonders await.  How grand.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

With a Little Help from My Friend

I have been looking for all sorts of things Brazil to get ready for the upcoming trip, but as always when I'm not studying the place I'm going with a reliable professor, it's hard to sort out the good from the stereotypical.  I did have an "inside source" to go to, however, a former exchange student and a friend.  I decided to ask him for some help.  He responded with a gloriously annotated list of books, music, and movies that I am starting to explore.

One of the first things I got was the album Acabou Chorare by Novos Baianos.  I love the sound of it.  It's happy music.  I can only understand pieces of it that drift through my Spanish, but I'm getting better, I think.  I don't care that I can't understand it.  I enjoy it anyway.  Oddly, there are parts of it that sound a lot like Widespread Panic to me.  I would love to know if anybody else thinks so, too....

I also went ahead and got the book on this page, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, yesterday.  I only read about two pages last night before sleep came and slammed me in the head with its mighty hammer, but I'm going to get into it today.  The premise looks interesting.  Thank God for Amazon and used books.  It's allowing me to do all this exploration on a budget.

I have another CD on the way, too.  It will be here after I get back from my Ireland/England trip next week.  It's supposed to be another fantastic slice of the musical culture.  That will be something to look forward to, a little present waiting on me.  It's from the 60s.  I love looking at what is going on and comparing the styles across time and nations.

Finally, I got a little Lonely Planet phrasebook.  I'm trying to learn basics from it, trying to use their phonetic pronunciation to help figure out how to say the necessary and polite phrases.  It's so hard without hearing it, though.  My Spanish keeps getting in the way as well.  I was trying to learn the numbers last night, and I kept slipping into Spanish when they were close. Grr!  I wish I lived near a university so I could take a class.  So frustrating!

The larger process of exploration is wonderful fun, though.  I have always loved language and culture, so this chance to delve deeply into a place as I prepare to go there in person is really just right up my alley.  All I want it just more, more, more.....