Monday, April 21, 2008

Rio de Janeiro

The day after we visited the farms outside of Brasilia, the entire team got on a plane and we flew to a place called Rio de Janeiro....or "Rio" as the locals say it. Rio is big city along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. See if you can find it on the map.

Kristin says Rio is famous for its beaches including ones named "Ipanema" and "Copacabana."
I've never heard of these beaches, have you? I'll have to ask Aunt Lynn if she has heard of them.
It was pouring rain when we landed at the airport. It was also really late at night, so I didn't get to see the beaches. But I did get to see the beach the next morning from Kristin's hotel room. This is "Leblon" beach.
Here you can see me and Flat Gabby with Keith. Leblon beach is behind us.

There were people swimming in the ocean and I wanted to swim too. But Kristin said we didn't have time. :(

But we didn't have time because we had to take a cable car to a place called "Sugar Loaf Mountain." How cool is that?! It's like riding a cable car except the cable is ABOVE my head instead of under the street like in San Francisco.

Here you can Sugar Loaf Mountain from the ground.

Kristin says the mountain...which overlooks the Atlantic almost 1300 feet tall. WOW! That's really tall. She says it is named Sugar Loaf because people think it looks like a loaf of sugar. A loaf of sugar? I've heard of a loaf of bread but I've never heard of a loaf of sugar, have you? Kristin says many years ago, sugar used to be packed into the shape of a loaf to be shipped. I had no idea!

Riding the cable car was REALLY fun! Here I am with Keith and Flat Gabby on the the cable car.

When we got off the cable car, this is what we saw. How cool is this photo!?

I could also see this really interesting statue that I had also seen from Kristin's hotel room. She told me it is called "Christ the Redeemer" and it is a very famous statue in Brazil.

The clouds kept moving over and across the statue while we were on Sugar Loaf. Here is another view of Christ the Redeemer.

I also noticed a number of small houses packed along some of the hills across from Sugar Loaf Mountain. Kristin says these are some of the "favelas" of Rio. She says the people who live there are poor just like the people we saw in Sao Paulo. This makes me sad.

Just as we were leaving I saw this lizard on the rocks. It was the first lizard I have seen on the entire trip. And yes...Keith was NOT super happy to see it.

Here's a photo of the radio team during our visit to Sugar Loaf. From left-to-right: Kristin, Simon, David, and Keith.

After our visit to Sugar Loaf, we stopped at a gas station. This was a cool gas station. It was in the MIDDLE the road.

I thought we were there to get gas for the van. But Keith told me we were there to look at the station itself. That's because the station sells "Alcool" or ethanol. Now I understand why we visited the sugar farm and the place where they make machines that make ethanol earlier in the trip.

Keith told me that 90% of the new cars in Brazil run on ethanol. I also learned that the taxi cabs in Rio can also run on natural gas. I had no idea!

Here you can see the gas pump. The ethanol pump is on the right. The gasoline pump is on the left.

While we were waiting for Steve and Simon to finish filming at the gas station, Kristin walked down the sidewalk in the middle of the road so I could see this really cool sand castle. It shows some of the famous places of Rio.

Not very far from the sand castle, I saw these interesting buildings along the beach. Kristin says they are food stands.

But the food stand on the right in the photo above isn't just any food stand. It's a McDonald's! This is the most interesting McDonald's I've seen yet!

I really wanted to go to McDonald's to get some ice cream (it was HOT outside). But Kristin told me we didn't have time. :(

We didn't have time because Kristin and Keith had to get into cab so we could get to the airport for our flight back to Chicago. Bummer...I really wanted to spend more time in Brazil. I definitely want to come back here again.

I want to thank Kristin and Keith for taking me on another great adventure. I also want to thank my friend Simon and my new friends Steve and David for being so nice to me.

That's all from Brazil. Until my next adventure....bye!

On the Farm

Hi everyone! I must apologize for not finishing my Brazil updates until now. I have had SO much homework since I got back. And Kristin has been so busy with her computer that she hasn't had time to help me with photos. So please accept our apologies.

The same day we rode on the boat in Santos, we got on a plane and flew to Brasilia. Brasilia is the capital of Brazil (I guess that makes sense). See if you can find it on the map.

Brasilia is a very interesting place. All of the buildings and bridges look very modern. Kristin says that's because the city was built in the 1950's by "modernist" architects. I'm not sure what Kristin means by "modernist" but I can tell you that many of the buildings look like they were taken straight from the Jetson's cartoons.

I also learned that Brasilia is something called a "planned' community. That means there are specific places for everything in the entire city. For example, ALL of the drug stores were in one block. How strange is that?

Like in Sao Paulo, we spent more time in our van than actually visiting the cool buildings, so I only have a few photos to show you. This is a really cool bridge that goes across a lake that was built when the town was built.

And this is one of the many interesting buildings I saw from the van.

The morning after we arrived in Brasilia, Kristin told me we were going to drive outside of Brasilia to visit a farm. At first I thought Kristin was kidding, but then I started to see this as we got further away from Brasilia.

Can you tell what's growing in that field? If you guessed soybeans, you are correct! I didn't need to fly all the way to Brazil to see soybean fields. I see them everyday in the summer back in Iowa. I even saw the same seed corn signs I see in Iowa. Can you believe it? Look closely and you will see Kristin is holding me in the photo below.

I could tell Kristin didn't think I was too impressed with the soybean fields. So she asked me to look closely and tell her what was different about the fields here in Brazil. Hmmm....they look the same to me. That's when she pointed out that many of the fields we saw were brown and ready to harvest. So? Then Kristin reminded me that the farmers in Iowa had NOT planted yet this year. She's right! Now I was really confused! Kristin smiled and told me that because Brazil is south of the equator, it is fall here right now. And because Iowa is north of the equator, it is spring at home. Who knew?!

Kristin also told me that Brazil is the largest "exporter" of soybeans in the world. That means Brazil sends more soybeans to other countries than any other country in the world...including the US. I had no idea!

The first place we stopped was something Kristin called a "farming cooperative." That means several farmers were working together to make as much money as possible. Don't tell Kristin, but it was kind of boring at this place. No one was really working. I did get to see an interesting "elevator" or place where grain is stored.

A few miles up the road we visited the site of something called "AgroBrasilia 2008." It wasn't open yet, but workers were setting up all sorts of displays including small fields of different crops. I could also see where tractors were going to be on display (but they weren't there yet).

I told Kristin that "AgroBrasilia 2008" looked similar to something I've seen before...I just couldn't name it. Kristin told me it reminded her of the Muscatine County Fair. YES! That's exactly what it reminds me of! I had no idea they had fairs here in Brazil.

Since there wasn't much for me to do at the ag fair (there were no rides for kids), I was bored again. But Kristin told me to be patient. She told me we were going to visiting a working farm in a few hours. Plus, she said I might even get to ride a combine if I was good. I promised to be REALLY good.

Well I must have been good, because Kristin kept her promise. Soon we visited a farm not far from the ag fair location. Here they were harvesting soybeans.

I was really exited to get to ride on the combine....but I'm not sure my friend Flat Gabby was excited. I convinced her it would be OK to ride with Kristin. Flat Gabby still wasn't convinced so I told her I would even hold her hand. She agreed. Now before you say anything...I don't like to hold hands with a GIRL, but it was the only way Flat Gabby would ride with me. In the end, it wasn't SO bad to hold her hand.

Kristin would only let us ride in her pocket because she was worried we would blow away. At first I was upset, but it really was windy on the combine since the driver had the door open so Kristin and Steve could tape the ride. Don't worry, Flat Gabby and I did get to see through the top of Kristin's pocket. Here you can see a photo Keith took while we were riding the combine.

And here I am with Kristin and Flat Gabby after we got off. It's a good thing I have some spare clothes because we were COVERED in dust!

Here you can see the combine transferring the harvested soybeans to a truck that will take them to an elevator like the one we saw earlier in the day.

If you look closely in the photo above, you will see Kristin near the rear of the truck with her recorder and microphones. She sure looks funny there, doesn't she?!

Here's what the field looked like after the combine was done.

Kristin says the sky looked amazing. Well I'm not so sure about that, but it did look interesting. What I thought was amazing was the farmer's truck. It's a small Chevy truck. How cool is that?!

Well that's my review of my visit to the soybean farms near Brasilia.

Until next time.....