Well, it's safe to say I have failed as a blogger. Partly this is because I've been without a laptop, but honestly I've also just gotten so caught up in life here that it's hard to pause sometimes to update everyone. Anyways here goes. Seeing as it's been over 3 months since I posted I'll do my best to explain what I've been up to without this getting too lengthy. Bear with me!
In November summer began (I know who weird that is..) so my host parents and host grandma took me on a 10 day vacation in the south of Brazil where we visited several different beaches and did a little sightseeing. We were in the state of Santa Catarina and visited a few different towns. It was absolutely beautiful and blew me away. What I was most impressed by is that all of the beaches are totally public and accessible but were still 10X cleaner and less crowded than any beaches I've been at anywhere else. Another thing is that almost everyone on vacation there was Brazilian rather than foreign so there is no "touristy" atmosphere. The cities we visited also impressed me because despite being big urban centers they were extremely clean, quiet, well organized etc. Remember, this is because I was in the South of Brazil which is the richest part with a lot of European influence, I've heard very different things about the Northeast.
I had summer break from school from December until the beginning of February. Soooo much happened in that time! Brazil seems to come to standstill in the last/first months of the year with most adults getting holidays from work and kids being out of school. There were lots of parties surrounding the holidays, some with family and some with friends. It doesn't seem to me that most brazilians have very formal christmas traditions, mostly everyone just gets together christmas eve and christmas day for meals, drinking, present exchanging, and lots of good conversation and laughter. Christmas was definitely very informal and laid back. For New Years, my family all got together to eat dinner, then I went out with some friends. First we hung out in the street where there was some live music and a stage and just tons of people in the street. At midnight there were fireworks, and instead of kissing your significant other, the tradition here is just to hug everyone around you. After all of that we to the club here in my town. One cool tradition is that everyone here dresses in all white for New Years to symbolize a fresh start.
Another thing is that the school year here starts in February and ends in December, so everyone graduates around the end of the year. Graduations here are crazy. The graduates each get a certain number of tickets to sell, and they sell them for around $30. They take place in a sort of place you might have a wedding reception. They are all you can eat buffets and open bar all night. They start around 10 pm and end around 6 am (although most of the adults and families leave much earlier). There is a dance floor and DJ all night as well. I went to one and as you can imagine, it was a really good time.
Then of course, in February, came carnaval. There are a variety of ways that Brazil celebrates carnaval, but in my town we have "street carnaval" (which in my opinion is the best). For 5 days there were DJS, live music, lights, and thousands and thousands of people dancing in the street. One night it was even pouring rain all night but the streets remained packed with people. There are things going on all during the day as well but most people go out into the streets from about 10pm and the music stops at 5am. The cool thing is that all of this is completely free and organized and put on by the city. You don't have to spend a dime to enjoy carnaval and I think that's awesome. There was also a small parade which showed off my town's two samba schools and a few floats but it really wasn't a big part of the festivities here.
Well, as you can see I've been having way way too much fun. Brazilians just love to celebrate and party and enjoy life and I absolutely love that. Now I'm back in school and my "normal" life which is slightly depressing, but I'll never forget all the crazy memories I made during my "summer" break. And I still have something to look forward to: my sister Emily is coming to visit in 3 weeks! And as if that wasn't exciting enough, my host parents will be taking us to vist Iguazu Falls, one of the 7 wonders of the world and something that has been on my bucket list forever.
By the way, since I can't (unfortunately) stay here forever I recently had to pick my return date, so I'll be home June 16th!
Ill post some pics in the next few days when I can get them all off of my phone and onto my laptop.