Dance, Dance, Wherever You May Be . . .

Quarta-feira, Março 19

Today is Saint Joseph’s Day – Dia de São José.  St. Joseph is the patron saint of workers and in some Brazilian communities it is a holiday. It was explained to me that if it rains on St. Joseph’s day then it will be a good year.  Well let me tell you it rained pretty hard here today.  A good year lies ahead.

Dancing is a great way to celebrate the prediction of a good year and today we were fortunate enough to learn the basic steps to a Brazilian style of dance.  The students were keen to try and the steps were sometimes hard to follow.  But, by the end of it, our guys had the basics down.

On our way to Dance class.

On our way to Dance class.

One, two, three, four ...

One, two, three, four …

Our instructor.

Our instructor.

five, six, seven, eight, ...

five, six, seven, eight, …

Heavy rain. It's going to be a good year.

Heavy rain. It’s going to be a good year.

How it should look.

How it should look.



After with more expression.

After with more expression.

Maybe when we return, Alex will teach you a few moves.

Falo um pouco de portugues. (I speak a little Portuguese.)

Tuesday, March 11 by D’Arcy.

Tudo Bem?

Yesterday, we were given a class schedule to follow.  Juliana Camarao, placed the students into as many classes as possible because the Brazil students were all asking to have a Canadian student in their class.  Escola Crescimento has so many students that there are two shifts of classes – the first starts at 7:10 am and the second starts at 1:10 pm.  Whenever we have classes scheduled, they are during the same shift that our homestay brother, or sister, attends.  So, some of our students attend classes during the first shift, and others during the second shift.

With all that being said, today was a full school day for the morning shift and only a partial school day for the afternoon shift.  The reason for this is that we were having a Portuguese lesson at the via Mundo office. Our teacher was Jessica.

Hanna with our Portuguese teacher, Jessica.

One of our students with our Portuguese teacher, Jessica.

Jessica taught us some basic terms that we might need to use as we try to communicate with our new friends, and families. We were all making notes to have as our cheat sheets.  You can just imagine us in conversation, having to resort to our cheat sheet (notes) to try and make sense of what is being said or what we are trying to say.  The key word here is that we are trying.

Tomorrow we have an Arts Workshop at Crescimento School in the morning and then Beach Volleyball in the afternoon.

Até logo.

Getting our Bearings (Orientation)

Monday March 10 by D’Arcy.

Today was our first day at the school where our homestay brothers and sisters attend. Escola Crescimento is a private school located in the city of Sao Luis, Brazil ( Our schedule today provides us with an orientation to escola Crescimento and its neighbouring Maple Bear School. Maple Bear is a global school that has students from Toddler Level (age 2) to grade 6 and operates using a Canadian based curriculum ( We will have another opportunity to visit with Maple Bear on Friday morning when we will come back for Story Telling.


Mullen, Hanna, Baileigh and Kristen awaiting the start of the presentation.

Kids awaiting the start of the presentation.

Emma, MacKenzie, Hanna, Mullen, Jimmy and Alex awaiting the start of the presentation.

Kids awaiting the start of the presentation.

Juliana Camarao, a director at escola Crescimento, greeted us in the auditorium and gave us a presentation about the school and its history. During this presentation, we had a group of character actors come into the auditorium and dance for us. These actors were dressed in traditional costumes representing the cultures and Carnivale characters that are familiar to Sao Luis. It was quite interesting to watch. We were not the only Nova Scotian students in attendance. There is a school group from Middleton Regional High School who are also on a school to school exchange with Crescimento. When the presentation was finished, there were snacks and some “Jesus” before leaving the auditorium. Not to worry, “Jesus” is a soft drink that is only made in Sao Luis. We sometimes drink it religiously.

Juliana Camarao

Juliana Camarao

Look at all the technology.

Look at all the technology.

The whole group with the dancers.

The whole group with the dancers.

Afterwards, we were taken on tour through the school. Each classroom has a full glass door so it was very easy to look in to every class we passed. Likewise, it was very easy for students to look out and see all these strange Canadians walking through their school. Escola Crescimento is a very nice school which uses technology very well. Classrooms are equipped with Apple TV and each student has an iPad assigned by the school.

Touring Crescimento.

Touring Crescimento.

After touring escola Crescimento, we then had a tour of the Maple Bear Canadian School. We were invited into classes and given an opportunity to speak with students and see the work they were doing.

Maple Bear School

Maple Bear School

Waiting in lower floor of Maple Bear.

Waiting in lower floor of Maple Bear.

After touring Maple Bear, it was break time and the Crescimento students were very curious about the Canadian students and their impressions of their school and of Brazil. Lots of sign language was being used to help communicate.



Waiting for rides.

Waiting for rides.

Homework getting completed.

Our girls, working on homework.

In the afternoon, we had a orientation session with via Mundo, the educational tour group coordinator. Via Mundo operates as the liaison between escola Crescimento and the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board. During this orientation session, Selina Sell, one of the representatives from via Mundo, talked to us about the different cultural perspectives that exist in a school to school exchange. She also gave us a brief Portuguese lesson and a back pack for us to carry our supplies around. In the back pack was our class schedule, a can of “Jesus”, chocolate candies, cashews, a book with the story of Maranhao (the state which Sao Luis is part of), and a yellow via Mundo shirt which will be our school uniform while attending classes. After Selina’s presentation there were even more snacks for us. It will be hard to go hungry while we are here.

The via Mundo Back Pack.

The via Mundo Back Pack.

Tomorrow, we will get to go to classes and we also have a Portuguese lesson in the afternoon.

Traveling in threes

Update by D’Arcy…

They say that things happen in threes and the start of our Brazil exchange would prove to be the same.  To start, we met at Stanfield International airport at 3:00 pm to begin the check in process for our journey to Sao Luiz, Brazil. Not only will our journey take place over three calendar days but we will have been in three time zones, landed in three Brazilian cities – Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Sao Luis – and travelled on three different planes. Finally, we are scheduled to arrive in Sao Luis just after 3:00 am on March 9, which is the third group of three days in the third month of the year.

Before passing through security.

Before passing through security.

Stanfield International (HFX)

Waiting to board flight to Toronto.

On our way to Toronto.

On our way to Toronto.

Our first stop was Toronto, on flight AC 619, departing Halifax from gate 20 at 5:05 pm.  We arrived in Toronto at 6:40 pm, local time, and made our way to gate E80 where we would board our second flight with Sao Paulo, Brazil, as our destination.  We had a wait time of approximately 4.5  hours, which was lengthened to 5.5 hours as our flight was delayed due to a late connecting flight from Vancouver. We passed the time playing cards and exploring Pearson International Airport.

Penguin Wall Colouring (Pearson International)

Alex and Georgia colouring Penguins in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

The second flight was aboard a Boeing 767 and was a smooth ride throughout.  We departed from the gate at approximately 12:25 am and arrived in Sao Paulo at 12:25 pm, Sao Paulo time. On this flight we were served a meal at approximately 1:00 am and breakfast at around 9:00 am  There were no issues and everyone fared well. After passing through Immigration, we picked up our luggage and proceeded through Customs and made our way to the TAM check in desk where we re-checked our luggage for the third leg of our trip from Sao Paulo to Sao Luis.  Now began our 10 hour layover in Sao Paulo International Airport.

Kristen and friend 2

Kristen helping a little boy colour a picture.

Boeing 767

Inside view of the plane to Sao Paulo.


The view out the window.

The final leg of our trip was aboard an AirBus 320. TAM airlines flight 3180 was scheduled to depart at 10:00 pm but did not leave the gate until approximately 10:25 pm. This was probably the shakiest flight of our journey as we experienced a little bit of turbulence on our way to stopping in Brasilia. We arrived in Sao Luis at 3:10 am and were greeted by friendly faces with beautiful smiles waving Canadian and Brazilian flags.  Our journey to Sao Luis was complete and now we look forward to the experience that awaits.

AirBus A320

Finally in Sao Luis, Brazil.

First Brazil Update from Alex

First of all, if you have helped me get to Brazil in any way, such as: letting me collect your recyclables, buying things from my fundraisers, or any thing else that you can think of… I can’t thank you enough! Brazil has been a blast already and today is only our second full day here! I can’t wait to see what will else will happen over the rest of this wonderful adventure.

The total travel time was somewhere around 17 hours. Which was kind of boring but at the same time was also really fun! The first thought in my head while landing in Brazil was, “WOW!” Because the city that we landed in (São Paulo) is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere!!

After ten hours in the São Paulo airport we finally made our way to São Luíz with one quick stop in Brasilia. It was a great feeling to know that this would be the last plane that we would be on before starting our wondrous adventure!

So far we’ve gone to a barbecue, toured the school, and had an orientation at Viamundo which is the travel agency that is helping with our trip.

Once again thank you (Obrigado) to all that have helped me over the past few months to get me where I am now. I can’t wait to update you more as the trip goes.







Bon Voyage!

Since we got home from our epic Christmas vacation, our lives have gone non-stop. We got home after 9pm on Saturday, January 4, and picked up our exchange student and exchange teacher just after noon on Sunday, January 5. We had a fun two+ weeks with Gabriel & Fabiana, introducing them to curling and snow; snowshoeing, lobster, snow angels, and building snow men. They were a perfect fit for our household!

The whole family, saying goodbye for now at the closing dinner

The whole family, saying goodbye for now at the closing dinner


An unusually warm winter’s day at Peggy’s Cove


Lunch at the pub in Mahone Bay


Visiting a Canadian icon – The Bluenose II.


Digby Scallops – first time and they were a hit! ( So much so we served them again the following weekend…)

Gabriel shells lobster.

Gabriel shells lobster.


The gang with Frosty the Snowman

We had a wonderful time and were sad to see them go home, despite the fact we knew that D’Arcy & Alex would be visiting them in just two months.

Like Evan two years ago, we were happy to encourage Alex to travel, but as part of a family with four children, we told him he would have to raise the cost of his trip himself. He has worked so hard over the past year: babysitting, mowing lawns, raking leaves, collecting recyclables, selling tickets on a raffle basket & cow patty bingo, and doing paperwork; he designed cards and sold them at the Christmas Craft Fair; we made and sold 49 litres of baked beans and loaves of brown bread. Last weekend, we made and sold 33 litres of corn chowder and 54 loaves of brown bread. He peeled all the veggies, helped cut onions, and prepped the front steps and driveway for delivery.  Amidst all of this, he has curled seven times per week, plays saxophone and clarinet in two different bands, and had a report card that shows he’s at the top of his class.

Selling his self-designed cards at the craft fair.

Selling his self-designed cards at the craft fair.

Who says teenagers are lazy?

On Wednesday of this past week, he made the final payment on his $3,000 trip to Brazil.

So. Proud.

During this process, D’Arcy was asked to take over as male chaperone. As I write this, the two of them are in the air, on their way to an adventure of a lifetime.

All three of us will be posting over the next two weeks, keeping each other and Alex’s supporters up to date on all adventures…

They will land in Sao Paulo around 12:30 on Saturday, March 8, (just as Sarah & Olivia hit the ice at home at their first curling bonspiel). In Sao Paulo, they have a ten hour layover before a five hour flight to Sao Luis, on the Northern coast of Brazil. They are scheduled to arrive at their final destination at 3am. With the time change tonight, we will be in the same time zone, so luckily won’t need to worry about adjusting to that.

The Brazil 2014 group

The Brazil 2014 group before going through security at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.


Father & son embark on the adventure of a lifetime together


Somebody is going to miss her dad…

There are ten teens from four different schools participating in this exchange, along with D’Arcy and a female chaperone. They are a fantastic group of teenagers, and Alex (only student from the Truro area) fits in with them well. When we arrived at the airport, he was immediately embraced and we might as well not have been there… (That’s what we want, right?)

We are so happy for them and wish them safe travels and many happy memories.