Sorry for the quiet… we have a spacecraft anomaly that I am supporting the activities on… Will write more in a few days
On Days 3 & 4, the meeting was in full swing. We took the metro down in the morning. This was AFTER our amazing breakfast. The staff at the hotel must be used to business travelers and adults because they treated our kids like royalty. Every morning they got bon bons and treats. a special french toast or waffle was brought out everyday with maple syrup. None of this cheap crap, but real maple syrup.
We braved the metro on the way home for Day 2, so we decided it wasn’t as scary as the tour books said it was. I had made a plan after the problems of the day before, and the girls and I were going to a Museum of national history. First, I had posters to view. If you’ve never been to an astronomical conference, they work like this: talks talks talks with poster breaks. A poster is a 3ft by 4 ft presentation of recent work. Our posters were still in transit which was a mistake by both Jay and I. We have made plans to fix that. Fortunately, they arrived Tuesday afternoon. In the mornings, I would wander the poster room, grab a snack, get the girls a snack and read posters. One of the groups had a TV with an astronomical cartoon playing. Something about Super X Ray. It was the same episode in a loop. The girls didn’t care. They sat there for 3-4 times in a row every day. Made it much easier for me to go around and get some science done.
When the talks started up again, I would take the girls on an adventure. This day was the museum. We got on the metro and rode down town. Then I followed our maps to the museum. The roads were great until about 2 blocks from the museum. Then they suddenly became walkways instead of roads with a plethora of homeless. I tried to keep the girls close without scaring them. Finally I explained that they needed to stay away from anyone "scruffy" looking. We talked about how they might be sick (mentally) and this may be why they live on the street. I explained that not everybody who lives on the street is sick, but some might be, so it would be better if they stayed with me. This opened up a large discussion about homelessness. I think I surprised the girls by letting them know that this was NOT exclusive to Brazil. They never realized that people in the USA could be without homes.
We finally got to the museum. I got the kids a coke and a coffee for me and then discovered they wouldn’t take my R$50 bill because it was too big. i was able to scrounge up R$4.50 for a R$6 bill. They let me have it for that amount. We snacked and continued our conversation and visited the museum. Have I ever mentioned my kids are weird? They LOVED the museum. LOVED IT. I would have never thought that. We took photos (don’t ask..please?)* we watched movies, we learned about the sugar cane farming and the slaves and how the King of Portugal moved to Brazil when Napoleon took over, it was cool! We played with the fountain and I taught the girls about oxidation(the cannons were green and rust. I got to explain the oxidation process and how things changed color).
I was able to break my R$50 to get in the museum, so I took the change and we went back to the cafe. I got us a cake to split. I tried to pay them the money I owed them, but the owner wouldn’t let me. How wonderful. Then I screwed up. I took the wrong road back to the metro and ended up going down a street that had many homeless sleeping on the sidewalks. I then had to explain how it was safer for those men to sleep during the day than during the night. Very sad for me. Then we passed a port-a-potty that had overflowed and a shirt that was covered with…well you can imagine that! Soleil wanted to understand why there seemed to be more poor people in Brazil. We had a long discussion about socio-economic classes. In terms that a 5 & 7 year old could understand. The hardest part was trying to explain that people just don’t give their money out to other people. I mean we do donate things, but not to the point where everyone has a home and is healthy. Sigh…social injustice. How do you explain THAT?
To be honest, I was very proud of myself. Many people, including my MIL, were terrified that the kids would be injured, kidnapped or killed in Rio. We saw some pretty harsh stuff, mostly on this one day, but really? the people were amazing. They were caring and loving. Many people would pat the children on the head. So many people let me flounder with my bad Portuguese and explained what I needed in slow terms so I could almost understand it. There were only two times I didn’t feel safe in Rio. And this day was not one of those two times.
*SHUT UP! Jay has the photos on a USB stick and I keep forgetting to get them from him. I am an idiot
**$R is a real (pronounced HE-al with a hard H) This is the currency in Brazil and is about $0.50 American.
On Saturday, Aug 8, we put the finishing touches on the trip. Jay went to get his hair cut, the girls played a water gun fight with the neighbors and I went over the packing. The taxi was coming at 12:30 for a 2:30 flight. We did the usual stuff, get to the airport, get through security, grumble at security, find friends on the same flight, get food for the kids…like I said, the usual.
The flight to Miami was great. But then… the flight to Rio de Janeiro. Oy. We had a 2+ hour layover in Miami. We got some Pizza Hut, the kids played games with Jay’s post-doc and we got on the plane. And waited. and waited. First for passengers that were coming in to fly into Rio. Since this was a once a day flight, the people would have to wait 24 hours…. Then the cargo door wouldn’t seal when they added the new passengers’ luggage. Soleil watched almost the entire movie "The Tale of Desperado" before we took off. She finally got to sleep. I didn’t.
We arrived in Rio, bright and early. We breezed through customs and got a taxi to our Hotel. We had hit the "unfortunate" circumstance that 4 people are not allowed to share a hotel room in Brazil. So we ended up with a suite. The girls slept on the pull out couch and we got our own room (nice!). We went swimming in the ocean, ate lunch on the beach, and found a place for dinner before Luna lost it. We also picked up a few food stuffs and while the kids were starting to melt, I had a pick pocket stop by and try to take advantage of the confusion, but I felt him and steered the kids away. He was suitably non-plussed and moved on to his next victim.
The second day meant it was meeting time. We decided to take a taxi down to the meeting. The girls found a TV and sat in front of it. It was playing the same TV cartoon in an endless loop to promote scientific cartoons. They couldn’t care less. Jay and I found where our posters went, but our posters had not yet arrived. Jay was pretty upset about this.
We finally decided to go for a walk. Now, Jay had been telling me that the Convention Center was "just off" my map. After 35 minutes of walking, we FINALLY made it on my map. Grrr. After another 25 minutes, we found the park that was "just off the map" (my ass!) We saw some animals that looked like mini capyburas apparently they are called "agoutis". We made it back to the hotel via the metro and decided that the metro was not as scary as one of our guide books said it was.
We are working on getting our GAZILLION photos up, but here are two to start you off with…
This sucker is about 2 feet long. Seriously. And they came up to you like a stray dog. Soleil wanted to pet one.
My parents dragged me all over Rio de Janeiro and all I got was fricken exhausted.
Yeah, so I went to post while I was away at the International Astronomical Union meeting. And somehow, I emailed my password to the wrong account and then I lost it for good and I had to get into my web hosting site to change the wordpress database files…. Yeah- so Sorry about that!
Anyway, the password is working again and I can now post about our visit to Rio De Janerio!
Yeah- It’s been THAT bad.
I worked at home last Friday because I had an appointment for acupuncture, which I truly believe is a medical procedure. I then got a considerable amount of work done for the day despite continuing meetings on the fact that our momentum unloading thrusters have shown a drop in temperature in the fuel tanks. Um, yeah, we still don’t know if it is a real and very strange leak, or if the electronics that are measuring the pressure has malfunctioned, but only partly. I have learned far too much about this particular item since then.
At 3pm, I get a phone call: The day camp has a lice infestation and both of our girls have lice, come get them. WTF??? Okay… My flight doesn’t leave until 8:55pm (going to Buffalo for my nephew’s graduation party). We happened to have some RID in the house from the last lice scare with a friend. I picked up the girls and de loused them (Luna might have had one..hard to tell. Soleil ALWAYS has an itchy head and what I was shown as a nit was flicked off, so I believe it was dandruff.) As we are doing the Rid and combining, I get a text message. My flight is delayed. Okay- Until…10pm. Good, I haven’t packed yet, so this might help me. Then another text message… delayed until 11:00pm…then text message…delayed until 10:35pm… Okay then text message…delayed until 11:45pm…text message delayed until 11:30pm.
I have the girls washed and cleaned. We have eaten, I have packed, can’t find a camera battery charger. Frick. oh well.
Go to airport, get delayed again. I finally arrive in Buffalo at 1:30am.
Have a great weekend, but it is marred on Sunday when my Aunt’s niece (no real relation) is killed in a car accident on Sunday morning. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEAT BELTS PEOPLE!
Monday- Ended up working all day. Sigh. And not getting paid for it. Redid the lice treatment- this time, Listerine and vinegar. I found more adults in Luna’s hair. Yuck.
Tuesday- today: Work heck. Found a nit in Luna’s hair yesterday. Yuck. So we redid the Listerine (no adults) and vinegar (pulled out three nits).
Trying to get ready for our trip. Sigh.
Wow, it is crazy