I've been back in the US for almost three weeks now, but I've only been home for a few days during that time. My three week old Subaru already has more than 2,000 miles on it! I´ve been taking appraisal classes in Minneapolis in preparation for my appraisal license in Minnesota. I still need to take two more classes, but I´m taking another month off to travel in the US. My heart is still back in Brasll, but I have six friends from Brasil coming to meet me and travel with me here this month.
I had a great weekend in São Paulo with Dante and Lenora before I returned home. We went to the theater, a good restaurant, and spent time with good friends. After we said goodbye to Lenora, we had returned to Dante´s apartment for a quiet night at home, when his cousins Luciana and Angelo and Uncle Tómas from Goiâinia called to say that they were in São Paulo for a few days. They came over for brownies and ice cream, and we had a great time visiting. I had planned to spend the whole next day alone in the apartment because Dante had school, but Tómas invited me to join them for some exploring in São Paulo. My last day turned out to be one of the best days of my stay in Brasil. I successfully took the metró alone to meet them near the downtown area, and we spent the morning exploring a street called 25 de Março. This street could be considered to be "shopping on steroids!" I´m sure I looked like a complete tourist as I gawked at all the buildings and took photographs with every step. As we left one of the buildings, I noticed the Mercado Central. This is the largest market in South America. I had heard a lot about it and there are pictures of it in one of my cookbooks. The building was amazing - there were stained glass windows around the entire building. It´s a "must-see" attraction in São Paulo.
After a morning of window shopping, we went to the Japanese area of Liberdade to meet Dante for lunch. From there, we walked to the center of historic São Paulo, where we saw one of the largest churches I have ever seen and the municipal theater. What was supposed to be a day of packing turned out to be one of my most fun days. After this, I will feel almost as comfortable in São Paulo as I do in Chicago, and I will want to come back to explore a lot more. What´s more, I´m really pleased that I got to spend more time with Tómas and his family. We have a very similar travel style, so we all had a great time together. I´m looking forward to traveling with them again soon, which brings me to the subject of this journal. Tómas and Fafinha´s daughter Daniele is getting her master´s degree in Architecture next week from Harvard University in Boston. I´m leaving tomorrow morning, and spending the next week traveling around the east coast of the US with Dani and her family. Tómas and Fafinha are arriving in Boston tomorrow, and I´ll meet them on Wednesday.
I´m driving to Chicago in time for my niece Marie´s graduation from middle school, and then I´ll take a bus to Boston. I don´t want to drive alone and flying is difficult because my plans are too uncertain. I´ve thrown away too many unused tickets already! I´m looking forward to comparing the bus travel around the US with that of Brasil. I´m expecting the roads to be better and the buses to be worse here. We´ll see.
After I arrive in Boston, we will spend a couple days there with the graduation ceremonies and some touring around Boston. From there, we´re going to New York City for a few days. We will see the Statue of Liberty, Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and probably a lot more. After that, we´re going to Washington DC for a few days. I´ll return to Chicago in time to meet my friends from Goiânia who are coming to the Rotary Conference. I´m going to show them as much as I can in a long weekend in Chicago. I´ll return to Duluth for the weekend of June 25, but I´m going back to Chicago on the following Monday night as the chaperone on the bus with the AFS exchange students returning to their own countries. I´ll be back in Duluth to stay starting in July.