Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Port of Santos

Hi everyone. Here's another update on my many adventures in Brazil.

Today (Sunday, April 6), Kristin woke me up early and told me to pack my bags because we were going to be leaving Sao Paulo later in the day. But first she said we were going on another great adventure.

After we piled all of our bags into the van, we drove to a place called Santos. We have to drive down a steep and winding road to reach Santos. Here you can see the city from the winding road.

Kristin says Santos is important because the largest "port" in Latin America is located there. I had no idea! I wasn't sure I understood what a port was. Kristin told me to be patient. She said we were going to visit the port. Man, it is SO hard to be patient.

It seemed to take forever to get to Santos, so I was really excited when we finally stopped. First, I got to get out of the car. More importantly, I saw this really cool boat. That's when Kristin told me that we were going to take a ride on the boat. How cool is that?!

The boat was named "Master of the Seas." Don't believe me? Check out the pirate on the front of the boat.

How awesome is that pirate?! Once we got on the boat, I noticed that no one outside of our group got on. That's right. We had this HUGE boat all to ourselves.

There was one new person in our group today. His name is David Brown. He is going to host the new radio program (my friend Mr. B in New York was busy). The new Mr. B is really, really nice. I'm really glad he was able to join us in Brazil.

The boat ride was really neat. There were other boats like ours out on the water (except they were full of people...and we had our boat all to ourselves).

At first it seemed like we were boating through a lake. But then the captain told us we were actually going to go through the port! He also told me the port leads straight to the Atlantic Ocean. I had no idea!

It was really cool. I saw some of the biggest boats I have ever seen!

I asked Kristin why the boats were so big. That's when she told me the boats..or ships...carry items like food, cars, televisions and other electronics, and even toys from one part of the world to another. Who knew?

I learned that the items are put into these HUGE colorful boxes that Keith calls "containers."

The containers remind me of the trailers I see on the back of semi-trucks on the highways in America. Keith agreed and told me that sometimes the containers are used with big highway trucks or are placed on trains. But in the port, the "containers" are loaded onto the ships using cranes and other big machines.

Do you see how big the cranes are in the port? I don't think I've ever seen cranes this big in my entire life!

Here you can see me with Keith. Look closely and you will see some big cranes behind us.

Since the Port of Santos is the largest in Latin America, Kristin pointed out there were ships from all over the world in the docks. This one has a flag that I've seen before. Can you tell which country this ship is from?

If you guessed North Korea...you are right! I had no idea ships from North Korea visited places like Brazil. Did you?

It was cloudy during our boat ride. It was also VERY windy. So I spent most of my time looking at the port from my special place inside Kristin's purse. I was too afraid I was going to blow away!

Halfway through our boat ride, I saw something that looked like the large buildings farmers store grain in. Kristin said I was right. There were several "grain elevators" in the port like this one.
Kristin told me that Brazil sends more soybeans to other countries than any other country in the world and that's why there were are grain elevators in the port. Who knew?

I saw a few other interesting ships. This one is something Kristin calls a "cruise liner." That's a HUGE boat that takes people on overnight trips on the ocean. Cool!

I wanted to take a cruise on a big ship like the one in the photo above, but Kristin told me we didn't have time. :( Oh well, at least I got to spend some time on the "Master of the Seas" in Santos.

Just before we got off the boat, I noticed a huge Brazil flag.

I told Kristin I really liked the flag because it was so colorful. Kristin told me she was glad I liked the flag because we were leaving Santos to head to the airport so we could fly to a placed called "Brasilia." Brasilia is the capital of Brazil. See if you can find it on the map.

That's all for now. I'll update you again once I get to Brasilia.

Bye for now...

Riding with the Police of Sao Paulo

Hi everyone. I have had another very exciting day.

Today (Saturday, April 5) Kristin woke me up early and told me to be ready to spend most of the day "out in the field."

Our first stop of the day was a small police station and community center in a neighborhood called "Jardim Ranieri."

I was really excited when we arrived. I think police stations are cool. Kristin told me if I was really good, I would get to watch the police officers in action. Awesome!

But then I heard the commander tell Kristin that this neighborhood was, "the most violent neighborhood in the world," in 1999. Oh no! Suddenly I didn't feel very safe. Kristin must have seen the look on my face because she told me that we were going to be fine. She said the police have helped the neighborhood become much more safe. I still wasn't so sure, but then I saw how many police officers were working and I felt a little better.

Here you can see me and my friend Flat Gabby with Kristin standing near the police station.

The police station is on a very busy street. It looked like another busy street to me.

So I asked Kristin why this neighborhood used to be so scary. She says in the past 50 years, millions of people have moved from the rural areas of Brazil to big cities like Sao Paulo. Who knew? She says many of the people who moved here were very poor and sometimes people would fight over money, food, and property. I have seen many poor places on my adventures with Kristin and it makes me sad when I find out some people don't have enough money to buy food and have a safe house.

Kristin always tells me it is OK to be sad. But she reminds me that I should be grateful that I have a nice house and a loving family. She is right.

While we were visiting the police station, I learned that the people in this neighborhood didn't always like the police. But when criminals moved in and made Jardim Ranieri a scary place, the community asked the police for help. The community and the police worked together to build this police station and a library. The station commander says the police then put many bad people in jail and that's why Jardim Ranieri is much safer today.

Kristin says the way the neighborhood and the police worked together reminds her of the community police program in Muscatine. That's pretty cool.

After Kristin, Keith, Simon, and Steve interviewed the police commander and some people who live in the neighborhood, we got to see the police officers in action. There wasn't enough room for people to ride in the police cars (darn...that would have been really cool!) so we rode in the van.

I was still worried that some bad people would see us, but then I saw we had at least three police cars full of police officers around us at all times (sometimes there were even more police vehicles). We also had a police officer riding with us in our van.

I noticed the streets here are very narrow.

At first I thought the houses were narrow apartment-like buildings, but then I realized that some houses were built on top of other houses. Very interesting.

I was busy looking at the different houses when the van suddenly stopped. The police officer jumped out. Before I could figure out what was going on, Steve jumped out of the van with the video camera and Kristin jumped out with her digital camera. That's when I saw the police had stopped some men who were walking on the street.

The police made the men stand against the wall until they checked their identification cards. The police officers actually had their guns out, so I decided to stay inside of Kristin's bag. I watched the action through a small opening.

Then just as quickly as the men were stopped, everyone got back in the van and we continued driving through the neighborhood. Five minutes later, we stopped again. This time, the police stopped a man riding a motorcycle.

Here you can see one of the police officers calling the police station to check the man's license.

And here you can see an officer making sure the man didn't have anything bad in his pockets.

I noticed while the officers were checking the man's pockets that they also made him show his tattoos. The police officer riding in our van said certain tattoos would tell the police if the man was a gang member of had been in prison.

I was so busy watching the police officers that I didn't realize that we were attracting a crowd.

I was starting to worry about the crowd when the police officers let the man on the motorcycle go. Whew!

Next, the officers took us to a place where we could get a better view of the neighborhood. Wow! I knew I had counted a lot of houses, but I had no idea how many houses were in the neighborhood.

Here are a few more shots of the neighborhood.

Did you see the painting on the wall in one of the photos above? I've seen just about every place we have visited in Brazil. I asked Kristin why I kept seeing the same image and she told me that it is Brazil's flag. Who knew?

After spending another hour (or so) with the police officers, we left the neighborhood and our driver took us to another neighborhood about an hour away. This neighborhood is called "Parelheiros." I could tell right away the people who live in this neighborhood don't have very much money. The streets weren't even paved...and we were still in town. I thought everyone who lived in a city had paved streets.

We were visiting this neighborhood to meet Deise and her daughter Silvia. They own a beauty salon.

The salon is located in a converted garage. It sure doesn't look like a salon in Muscatine. Kristin agreed but she told me the salon is really important. That's because Deise (pronounced "Daisy") and Silvia got money from the local government to go to school so they could open the salon. Now they make their own money and soon they will not need aid from the government to buy groceries and the things they need for their family. How cool is that?! The salon was busy the entire time we were there, so Deise and Silvia must be good.

We left the salon just before dusk and went back to the hotel. I must have been really tired because I fell asleep in the van!

That's all for now. Until next time....