Itaipu Dam: Getting Beyond the Official Story

On my third day in Foz de Iguaçu, I took a short trip to the Itaipu Dam, a massive hydroelectric power plant situated on the Paraná River, which forms the border of Brazil and Paraguay. Opened in 1984, the dam was a binational project between Brazil and Paraguay to supply renewable energy to both countries.  Currently, the dam generates 14,000 megawatts of energy annually, making … Continue reading Itaipu Dam: Getting Beyond the Official Story

Napier, New Zealand: Adventures in Art Deco

Napier is a charming city situated on the shores of Hawkes Bay, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.  The main attraction in Napier is its impressive collection of Art Deco architecture. On February 3, 1931, a 7.9 on the Richter scale earthquake destroyed the town, killing hundreds. The residents decided to rebuild and did so predominantly in the Art Deco style, … Continue reading Napier, New Zealand: Adventures in Art Deco

Both Sides Now: Iguaçu Falls Encounter

From Curitiba, I took a few days to visit one of Brazil’s (and Argentina’s) most popular tourist attractions: Iguazu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu if you’re speaking Portuguese or Cataratas del Iguazú if you’re speaking Spanish).  Iguazu Falls is situated on the Rio Iguaçu, along the border of Brazil and Argentina, a river which has its source in the mountains of Paraná and Santa Catarina.  The … Continue reading Both Sides Now: Iguaçu Falls Encounter

Curitiba: One of Brazil’s Most Impressive Cities

After spending a week in Florianópolis, I boarded a Caterinense bus and headed north through the verdant, mountainous landscapes and Germanic towns of Santa Catarina and into the state of Parana.  My destination: the city of Curitiba. Most gringoes have probably never heard of Curitiba, a major city in southern Brazil, the capital city of the state of Paraná and home to nearly 1.8 million … Continue reading Curitiba: One of Brazil’s Most Impressive Cities

Carnaval in Florianopolis

For foreigners, Carnaval in Brazil typically conjures up images of Rio de Janeiro’s colorful and famous Carnaval celebrations with its all night parades, blocos, beaches costumes and samba music.  However, Florianopolis, a less populated Brazilian city located on a verdant, mountainous island in the south of Brazil, also offers a chance to party like crazy during Carnaval and enjoy interludes of serene (or not so … Continue reading Carnaval in Florianopolis

Brazil, The Beginning


I admit it.  I have been a completely lax travel blogger over my last couple months or so of travel.  I am quite prolific at procrastination.  I have several stories to share from New Zealand and all along the Banana Pancake Trail in Southeast Asia, but got really far behind with my blogging while on the road.  Now that I am planning on being slightly more settled, mostly staying in one spot in Brazil, I will be able to catch up on my posts and share them with you.  I’ll also try and make more current posts, hopefully weekly at least, from here in Brazil.

I am now in a phase of my trip that should take on some new excitement for me both personally and professionally.  This is the chapter where I have gone to Brazil for a somewhat undetermined amount of time to develop fluency in Portuguese and hopefully find a new career for myself that involves an international aspect.

I have to admit that I felt really intimidated coming here to Brazil yesterday even though I have been to this country before.  Last year, four friends of mine and I visited São Paulo, Florianopolis and Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval.  I think some of my fears were worrying about how my story will unfold, lots of questions running through my mind: Will I be able to find my way around the monster of a city that is São Paulo; Will I inadvertently find myself in some dangerous neighborhood/situation? Will I be able to get by with the limited amount of Portuguese that I know?  My first day of travel here has given me some confidence though.  I found it really easy to walk around and it was great seeing some of the familiar places I saw with my friends last year.  I’m staying one night in the Bela Vista neighborhood at an inexperience yet wonderful pousada which is walking distance to frenetic Avendia Paulista, the MASP Museum, Trianon Park, the Jardins neighborhood and posh Oscar Freire.  The area is really upscale and safe and I enjoyed simply walking around.  Bela Vista is a beautiful neighborhood situated on a hill rising above Avenida Paulista.  It retains some charming older row homes that have not yet been torn down to build skyscrapers, which are simply unavoidable in highrise-heaven (or hell) São Paulo.  Bela Vista was traditionally an Italian neighborhood, so of course it has some excellent restaurants.  I had lunch at Cantina Mamma Celeste and enjoyed a mouth watering risotto with gorgonzola and hazelnuts.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around the area near Avenida Paulista.

Continue reading “Brazil, The Beginning”

North Island NZ Road Trip: Rotorua to Napier

After finishing up my visit in Rotorua, I decided to drive to Napier, a city on the east coast of the North Island known for its wines and art deco architecture, which was part of the city’s reconstruction after the devastating 1931 earthquake which almost completely leveled the city.  I had considered doing the Tongarairo Alpine Crossing, but the weather forecast wasn’t great and I … Continue reading North Island NZ Road Trip: Rotorua to Napier

Two-Day Rotorua Ramble

After an afternoon of adventure in the Waitomo Caves, I drove through the rolling green countryside to Rotorua, the 10th largest urban area in New Zealand: bubbling with fascinating, although sometimes sulphur-stinky, geothermal features.  The city presents lots of opportunities to learn about and experience Maori culture.   With lots of adventure activities to offer, Rotorua is also seeking to become the North Island’s answer … Continue reading Two-Day Rotorua Ramble

Exploring New Zealand’s Waitomo Glow-Worm Caves

“We are all worms.  But I believe that I am a glow-worm.” — Winston Churchill The Waitomo Caves (at least two of them) are home to a special fungus gnat known as Arachnocampa luminosa or the New Zealand Glow-Worm, found only in New Zealand.  The luminescence takes place in the bugs’ larval or imago stage, in which the glow-worms spend the better part of their very short … Continue reading Exploring New Zealand’s Waitomo Glow-Worm Caves

Auckland: Introducing Aotearoa

Auckland was my introduction to the incredible country of New Zealand.  Fortuitously, right before I took off from the Brisbane Airport, a friend of mine in Atlanta Facebook-messaged me and introduced me (via Facebook) to some friends of his, a Kiwi/American couple, who live in Auckland.  They provided me with a ride from the airport to my hotel (Abaco on Jervois), a home cooked meal of … Continue reading Auckland: Introducing Aotearoa