Oi from the beautiful city of Curitiba. The house where we’re staying (THANK you to my wonderful friends, the Combs.) backs up to Bosque Almao (“German Woods”) where the parrots are noisily discussing o fim de semana (weekend) plans. Our plans are to go to Foz do Iguasu, but I can’t leave Curitiba without sharing more of my adventure.
The day I arrived, my Curitiba host, the incredible ISC elementary principal Paul Combs, suggested I walk through Bosque Almao, and much to my delight, I discovered the witches’ kiosks–with pointed hat roofs–that lead you through the forest, retelling the story of Hansel and Gretel. (see my fb photos). At the end of the path is an “enchanted cottage,” where a “witch” dresses up on the weekends to tell stories. Truly enchanting were the cottage shelves of children’s books in Portuguese! What a perfect welcome to Curitiba!
I didn’t have school visits until Thursday so I had planned to take the hop-on/hop-off bus on Tuesday to do some sightseeing, with my verrry limited Portugues. I could recite Este onibus vai para onde? (Where does this bus go?) and my host’s address so I figured why not? The Why Not arrived in a small grey Fiat with three willing tour guides and translators, Monika, Erika, and Jael–all of whom have children at ISC and had volunteered to personally show me Curitiba. Si, si , si!
In seconds I felt like I was with my best friends from home. We explored everything from Jardim Botanico to the intricate wire opera house, Opera de Arame, and the Museo Do Olho, built by Oscar Niemeyer in the eye-shape of the famous Acaria tree (think Dr. Seuss trees). My three lovely Why Nots were not only knowledgeable, seriously gorgeous, fluent, and oh so much fun, but they made sure I sampled every traditional Brazilian dish ,drink , or fruit we could find! Lunch was at Quintana run by chef Gabriela Carvalho, with more traditional dishes and delectable flavors. On the walls are poems by Mario Quintana and his caricature as well. More books linesd the shelves of this cosy house-turned-restaurant. (Erika thought this would be a great place for an author to eat lunch. You were so right, my friend!) And if that wasn’t enough, we saw capybaras at Bosque Tingui–giant rodents (they sort of look like miniature furry hippos to me…) up close and personal!
The telecommunications tower with the 360 degree view made the perfect last stop. Jaime Lerner, Curitiba mayor in the 1970’s, must be so proud of the city he so lovingly planned. Curitiba is the most sustainable cith in the world, with 16 parks (Bosques=woods) and their recycling rate of 70% continues to grow. Many families are originally from Germany, Italy, Poland and Ukraine so the feel of the population is very international. And the kids and staff and parents of International School of Curitiba welcomed me with open arms.
The assemblies were a big hit–starring (Grades 1-2) Henrique, Antonella, Jeremy, Laura, Joa Pedro, Vania, Izabella, Gabriel M, Amanda, and Eduardo; and (Grades 3-4-5) Matias, Emily, Stella, Maria Emilia, Angelo, Alejandro, Sofia, Diego, Leticia, and Oded.
With the children in the ISC nursery and PreK/K, we sang songs and had fun with books and fluency games. At the 6-7-8th grade assembly, Leo–the BEST beat-boxer ever–helped me with my Writer’s Rap. (I think some of the kids got it on video and word is we’re on Facebook–haha) At the assembly and workshops with the high school students, I couldn’t help thinking how I am meeting the leaders of the next generation–future leaders of many countries, businesses, corporations–and creative problem solvers who will make a difference in our world. And did I mention the fabulous writing the students did at my workshops? WOW! I had two days at ISC and I am truly sad to leave. I hope I touched their hearts and inspired them even a tiny portion of how they’ve touched mine. Muito Obrigada, my friends.
I mean this. I truly feel I’ve made some amazing new friends –as well as reconnected with my old friends, high school principal Bruce Leiper and his wife Rae, whom I’ve known since our days of teaching at Black Oak Mine Unified in California! The world keeps getting smaller, and I am thrilled and so fortunate to be on this incredible journey.
Next stop: Foz do Iguasu with my favorite traveling companion. Yes–my hub arrived last night after many flight delays and an overnight in Lima, Peru (that’s a blog by itself!) and we are off to explore one of South America’s wonders.
If any ISC kids or parents or staff are reading this, please give obracos (hug and a kiss) to Mr. Paul Combs–who made this trip to Brazil happen. He and Antoinette opened their home to me. Also thank the PTA, especially Larissa Martins and Lisa Davis, for all they did as well. the ISC communtiy is so lucky to have these wonderful people in their extended family. And now, so am I. : )
So interesting, Erin. What an unforgettable trip. Thanks so much for sharing.