Brazil, I love you

I was born in Santa Rosa, a small town in the southern-most state of Brazil. A place that takes one 11-hour airplane ride, another two-hour plane ride, and an eight-hour bus ride…

I never thought too much about how long it takes to get there… Until the trip we took in December of 2015 came.

This time, my boyfriend Cody came along on his first trip outside of the U.S.A. I was so excited for him to meet everyone, to see where I came from, and to experience the food and culture of my country. The trip seemed endless because of this anticipation.

We finally arrived at my maternal grandmother Adelma’s house late on December 18.

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It was so surreal to revisit the house I grew up in with my love… The days were spent eating “churrasco” and drinking “mate” in my grandma’s garage/patio. Since the house does not have an AC system, the garage is the best place to spend hot and humid summer days. The door is always open, there is never a car in there, and it is complete with couches, a dinner table, and a full kitchen.

We had such a relaxing time there, and as always I wish we could have stayed longer.

On December 19, still jet-lagged and ready for naps, we prepared to party all night at my paternal grandparents’ 50th anniversary.

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My grandpa Romeu and my grandma Nair celebrated their 50th anniversary in true Brazilian fashion, with an all-night blowout! Complete with heart-warming ceremony, delicious food, and a party that seemed to go on for days!

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My aunt Pati and uncle Ricardo dancing the night away.

 On December 22 we left for the beach…

We said “bye” to my childhood home, my parents, brothers, and my grandma Adelma knowing that they would join us later at the Wallau’s beach house after Christmas.

My grandparents, Romeu and Nair, came to pick us up in the morning and we took off on yet another road trip. This time it would take us eight hours to arrive at our destination.

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Cody was amazed by the restaurants that served travelers on the side of the road. We stopped at several buffet-style restaurants that were filled with Brazilian goodies. The one pictured above was a “sit-down buffet” where the waiter just continued to bring heaping plates of hot food to the table, sometimes before we had even finished the previous plate!

After spending one night in Porto Alegre we arrived at the beach!

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We all had such a great time, as always, in Palmas. Every day we would wake up, have breakfast, lather on some sunscreen, and then go enjoy the beach.

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Our first day on the beach! (Notice how pale we are.) Coconut water became our vice…

There is really no better place to have a vacation. Surrounded by family and simply relaxing. Nothing to worry about except how cold the drinks need to be…

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Beautiful Palmas, an absolute paradise. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

After just a couple of days we celebrated a Brazilian Christmas with the Wallaus! Complete with the coolest Santa Clause I’ve ever met…

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My two littlest cousins, Rafa and Gi, with Santa!

Just like many other families celebrating Christmas around the world we exchanged gifts and then were treated to an absolutely beautiful homemade meal. A dinner that was served at the traditional Brazilian time, just after 9:30 p.m.

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What beautiful people! Inside and out!

We then spent a few more days enjoying the beach time…

And even went to the Brazilian Disneyland! Beto Carrero World!

As our trip was coming to an end, so was 2015. So we celebrated the new year in the best way possible.

Dressed in white we spent the night celebrating 2015 and the fact that we were all together for this special time of year. The night was filled with laughter, superstitions, rituals, dancing… and a little bit of drinking.

The last “hoorah!”

Visiting Brazil makes me so happy. I miss my family constantly and I wish the road to see them was not so long… This year’s trip was truly special. I have never felt more connected to Brazil and to my family then I did during this adventure.

I can’t wait for the next time I get to give them all a big hug!

Te amo Brasil!

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