Saturday, April 05, 2008

A Place Called BOVESPA

Hi everyone! I had another very exciting day on Tuesday (April 1).

That morning Kristin and Keith took me to a place called BOVESPA (Bolsa de Valores de São Paulo). Kristin says it is Brazil's largest stock exchange.

Kristin says BOVESPA is similar to the New York Stock Exchange in New York City. But BOVESPA is for companies doing business in Brazil. Who knew?

I don't really understand how the stock market works so Keith tried to explain it to me. He says when a company wants to get bigger or needs more money, it sells small pieces of the company to people who are interested in helping the company. Those small pieces are called "shares of stock." And the people who buy the stock are called "investors." Sometimes investors decide they want to "trade" their shares to someone else. I think this is similar to trading baseball cards with my friends. Keith agreed it is similar except people use the stock exchange to trade their stocks.

We spent most of our time at BOVESPA on something Kristin called the "trading floor." It is a big room with a wooden floor and LOTS of big television monitors and BIG message boards. I couldn't understand what the boards were saying, but Kristin says they were showing the progress of today's trading.

Kristin says people used to trade their stocks on paper and that the "trading floor" we visited used to be full of men yelling as they bought and sold stocks. But today the "trading floor" is a museum. That's because the trading is now done by computers. Very interesting.

The museum has demonstrations to show how stocks are traded on the computer. Here you can see men showing the museum visitors how the process works.

When they were done, Kristin let me try to trade stock on the computer. I'm not sure I did anything but the colors and the buttons were really cool.

As we were leaving BOVESPA, Kristin pointed out this sign.

I'm not sure why she wanted me to see this sign, but she told me it was really important. Hmm...I wonder what she is up too?!

I am still not sure I understand this stock stuff but BOVESPA was a really cool place to visit.

Later that night after we got back from dinner, there was someone waiting in the hotel lobby that I knew! It was my friend Simon from Washington, DC. Kristin says he is going to work with us for the rest of the time we are in Brazil. How cool is that?

Simon is going to make TV stories so he brought along his camera person, Steve Mort. Steve lives in Florida, and he is very nice.

That's all for now. Bye!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sao Paulo Update

Hi everyone! I hope all is well in Iowa. Keith and Kristin have been SO busy that I haven't had any computer time. But don't worry, I have had many great adventures this week.

On Monday, we drove around Sao Paulo to look at famous places and to see different neighborhoods. Our first stop was a place Renata called the "Japanese Neighborhood." Kristin says there are more Japanese descendants in Sao Paulo than anywhere else outside of Japan. I had no idea!

Can you see the street lights in the picture above? They look a lot like the lanterns I see in the temples in Asia. Very interesting.

I was so busy looking at the lantern lights that I forgot to ask Kristin to take my photo. Oh well, she probably wouldn't have been able to anyway. She is helping Keith with a video camera. I thought they were making a radio show. Kristin says they are making a radio show but also getting video for a Web site. It is very strange to see Keith with a video camera.

One thing I did see was a McDonald's that served ice cream, but Kristin said we didn't have time to eat ice cream. :(

I noticed a number of interesting paintings on walls and buildings all over Sao Paulo. Kristin says it is "graffiti."
Kristin says it isn't nice to paint things unless you have permission. I think she is right. But it looks like many people in Sao Paulo like to paint anything and everything.

Later we went to a place called Praca de Se... or "Cathedral Square"... in the center of downtown Sao Paulo. Renata says this place is like a "town square" in America. Carlo, our driver, was very worried that someone would try to steal me out of Kristin's bag, so I stayed inside and looked out from a small opening.

The Praca da Se is a really interesting place. There is a large Catholic Church in the square called the "Catedral da Se."
Kristin says the Catholic church is very popular in Brazil. Who knew? But Renata told us that other religions are starting to become more popular. So much so that sometimes preachers from another church will stand in the square and shout their beliefs to the people who walk through the square. That's what this man was doing when we walked by.

There were also many men waiting to shine shoes in the square. Very interesting.

Keith says Brazil's leader, President Lula, used to be a shoe shine boy. Wow! He must have been a smart shoe shine boy. Just as we were leaving the square I noticed someone had set up a place to cut hair. I saw the same type of "salon" when I was in India with Kristin and Amy earlier this year.

Carlo then drove us around town so we could see other interesting places like this colorful shopping street called, Bom Retiro.

Then we stopped at the Museum of Modern Art. Kristin said we didn't have time to actually visit the museum (whew!) but Kristin and Keith did take a lot of photos and video by the museum.

Here's the view from the museum's patio.

Everywhere we went that day I kept seeing these funny looking lime green bubbles on the sidewalk.

I finally asked Kristin what the green bubbles were. She says they are phone booths. Wow, those are the funniest looking phone booths I have ever seen!

Kristin says many people in Brazil cannot afford cell phones so they use these pay phones to call people. Renata says people who use the pay phones buy a special card with minutes on it. Kristin says this is like the prepaid phone cards we can buy in the US. Here I am by one of the phones.

That's all for now.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Greetings from Sao Paulo, Brazil!

Greetings from Brazil!

Keith, Kristin, and I arrived yesterday with no problems. Did you read that last sentence closely? We had NO problems getting to Brazil. I guess King Tut wasn't mad at Kristin yesterday. :)

Since we took a direct flight, we didn't have to change airports. The flight left Chicago around 9:30pm on Saturday and we landed in Sao Paulo just after 10:00am on Sunday. Since it was an overnight flight, I slept most of the way.

A journalist named Renata and our driver, Carlo, met us at the airport. They are both very nice! Renata is helping Kristin and Keith during the trip. Kristin calls her our "fixer." Now I remember...Kristin and Keith have had "fixers" help them on our other trips too.

Renata and Carlo immediately took us to the hotel so we could check-in. We are staying at a Marriott in what Renata calls "the nice part of town." Kristin's room is like a mini-apartment. Smaller than the room we had in Seoul, South Korea last fall...but still nice.

Kristin's room has a small kitchen and a dishwasher!

Isn't that the strangest dishwasher you have ever seen? I asked Kristin if we could use it because I think it would be fun to watch. But Kristin said we will likely eat out most of the trip. :(
Kristin's room also has a balcony that overlooks part of Sao Paulo.

Kristin says Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and all of South America. More than 10 million people live here. I had NO idea! (Note...Kristin is helping me find links for my messages like she did for China and India, so don't forget to click on the colored words if you want to learn more about Sao Paulo).

It was raining when we landed but the sun came out later in the day. The temperature is nice and warm (in the 70's). MUCH warmer than Iowa. I like Sao Paulo already! Here are a few more photos from Kristin's balcony.

When we first met Renata, I could hear her on the phone talking in a language that sounded a little bit like the Spanish I hear in Iowa. Kristin says people in Brazil so speak Spanish, but many also speak Portuguese. Kristin agrees both languages sound similar, but she tells me they are different. I am going to have to believe her on that since I can't understand anything Renata is saying when she talks in Portuguese. Here I am with Renata and Keith.

Kristin, Keith, and Renata spent most of yesterday working on making appointments and checking on things for our stay in Brazil. We didn't get to go out and do much since they were busy working. But we did stop at a local convenience store to buy water. We also had to buy diet coke for Kristin. And guess what? They have diet coke (or coke light as they call it here) with lime flavor...Kristin's favorite! You should have seen how happy Kristin was when we found this bottle at the store.

It is kind of hard to see in the photo above, but the bottle actually says it is coke light with "lemon." I thought Kristin was wrong when she said the diet coke had lime flavor since the bottle says "lemon." That's when she told me that people in Brazil call limes "lemons" and the yellow lemons we have in the United States are "limes." Are you confused? I sure am! Kristin swears her drink tastes like lime...even though it says lemon on the bottle. Strange!

That's all for now. Tomorrow Kristin says we will get to visit different places in Sao Paulo. Plus, she says later this week someone I know is going to meet us here. WOW! I wonder who that could be?!
More later....