Moving: Departing Brazil, heading to Cuba!

We’re officially Havana-bound, now…

Our HouseHold Effects [HHE] and the Unaccompanied Air Baggage [UAB] will soon be on their way to our next Post Assignment!

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Celebrating Mother’s Day in a very ‘Brazilian Cerrado’ style – hiking to the Itiquira Waterfalls!

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It’s about a 2 hour drive from Brasilia, in order to get to the waterfall, but it is definitely worth the trek![as described by Giddyforpoints, on First2Board – thank you for sharing!

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Map to Itiquira Falls

Local name: Salto do Itiquira
Location: Formosa, Brazil

The Itiquira Falls is a waterfall in Brazil. They are located 34 kilometers north of Formosa in the state of Goiás and 115 kilometers from Brasília on a paved road. The falls have a height of 168 meters, making them possibly the highest accessible waterfall in Brazil and the second highest overall. The falls are formed by the drop of the Itiquira River from the higher central plateau north of Formosa into the deep Paraná River valley. The waters are unpolluted and a bottling plant is located on the river above the falls. The area is a municipal park and is protected from development. There are tourist facilities outside the park, near the entrance. (source: Wikipedia)

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Thoughts on our regular ‘socially busy’ weekend…

Not much to report… our expat lives on-the-go continue to move according to plan.

We’re, although, entering the countdown mode: family pack-out scheduled for May 22nd; pre-packing, sorting, desperation mode should likely kick in about now 🙂

So much to do, and yet, not enough time, very common complaint from our fellow Foreign Service friends.

Not much to report… our expat lives on-the-go continue to move according to plan.

We’re, although, entering the countdown mode: family pack-out scheduled for May 22nd; pre-packing, sorting, desperation mode should likely kick in about now 🙂

So much to do, and yet, not enough time, very common complaint from our fellow Foreign Service friends – it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done. How many HHEs and UABs your family has separated for packing and shipping; how many pieces of advice other families with school-aged children have been shared with you. Really. You may have moved a dozen times, lived under not-so-easily-adjustable conditions, and yet, you’ll find yourself questioning your life/career decisions – exactly the same way you did during the very first move!

The Stress is Real!

 

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to avoid it. The moment the pre-packing survey takes place, we [always!] come to the realization:

“Why do we keep doing this?” or “Why did I buy this gigantic piece of furniture/decoration/local artistic whatever??”

“Why?”

And the worst part, is the look of disbelieve the movers give you hat very moment:

“WOW! We’ve encountered some strange people in this line of work”… followed by their words of ‘comfort’:

“Don’t worry Sir, we’ve seen worse” 🙂

All that said, The Mirandas have decided to begin our ‘pre-moving entertaining mode’, a proven strategy to safeguard our healthy intra-family relationships, and our sanity! 🙂

Here are a few examples of our recent weekend activities [links will take you to the images]:

And… cooking, hosting and sharing our challenges and lessons learned with friends

Or, taking a break from work! 🙂

Or even, enjoying uniquely strange moments with like-minded, equally stressed expat folks! 🙂

From our Mexican-American-Brazilian household to yours: Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Want a quick view into our expat lives? Follow us on Instagram!!

 

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Snapshots of our little expat life in Brazil…

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Some may think being an expat is hard, living the ever-changing routine, adapting/adjusting as you go…

Some others may find it intriguing, exciting and worth pursuing, despite the constant uncertainty and the last-minute life-changing decisions ones is often faced with.

Our family falls right in the middle. It’s definitely not the easiest lifestyle; nevertheless, worth every bit of it!

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Coming back to reality…

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Spending a couple days in Belem, Para, Brazil

Expat Identity Crisis: on Privilege, Mobility and Belonging. A Personal Essay.

Wegener's Wanderlust

Lately, there have been a few articles circulating on Facebook describing life as an “expat” (here and here) and the book club I recently joined just picked “The Expatriates” as our next read. So I have started to think a lot about what it means to be an expat—and this has brought on a bit of an identity crisis for me.

When I moved from West Virginia to Germany at the age of ten, no one considered my American mother and me to be “expats”. In a village with a population of 3,000, we were simply “the Americans”. My mother had married a German, and we had settled into a very rural (and very German) way of life. Of course, there were no other Americans in the village, nor traces of a significant international “expat community”. As a pre-teen, I was quickly absorbed into life in…

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Getting the House Ready… Outdoor Halloween Decor



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The First Bierwagen: making passing-by tourists happier, every Oktoberfest!

During the Brazilian October Beerfest 2016 festivities, one might find surprises anywhere… everywhere! Even crossing the city of Blumenau’s traditional street, the November XV, as you may see below…

Free beer being given by these lovely mom-and-daughter set. Old German pappa is responsible for the driving duties!

One can’t beat the uniqueness of mixed cultures! 😊

Liederkranz at the Blumenau Oktoberfest, 2016

Show dos ” Velhos Camaradas” na Oktoberfest de 2016, em Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brasil.

Video by the Lima-Miranda traveling couple 😊 Enjoy!

For more info on this folk group, feel free to visit:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1786675414884228&id=1420663611485412

Oktoberfest Princesses!

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More to come, obvioulsly, since we are currently on our way back home.

Airports never are a great “blogposting” choice!

For now, leaving you with the husband’s choice of ‘princesses’, and his unchallenged Queen! 😊

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Life on the Superblock

I know I haven’t been the greatest blogger recently – life finds its way of escaping us, somehow…
In any event, a close friend, and now, a brand-new WP blogger, just published her first impressions about their assigned city – Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. I’ve written about this place before, the city I tend to call ‘my-own’, despite growing up as a military/government brat here, back in the 70s, 80s… and departing away in the 90s…
Brasilia has a very special place in my heart and in my life – that’s the reason this blogpost is here. My congratulations to the newest WP author, and my best wishes for The Wegener’s Wanderlust, which I leave you all here with her beautiful pictures of Brasilia and the sunset on (the artificially-designed) Lake Paranoá. Enjoy! 🙂

Wegener's Wanderlust

A little over a year ago, my husband and I moved to Brazil. When friends and family first heard that we would be moving to Brazil, they immediately assumed we would be in Rio de Janeiro and were likely envisioning their next vacation on Copacabana beach. We had to break the news to them that no, we weren’t going to be in Rio, nor in São Paulo. Instead, we’d be going to the center of Brazil’s vast country, to live in its capital Brasília, a city that has only existed a mere 56 years.

Brasília is surrounded not by the beach, but by a tropical savannah region known as the cerrado. Yet its defining characteristic is the layout of the city–depending on whom you ask, it resembles either an airplane, a bird or a cross. The main ministries and government buildings are located on the Eixo Monumental, which runs west to east; on…

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Interview for the ExpatFinder.com: An American-Brazilian in Brasilia

Thank you for the expert folks at Expat Finder for publishing the interview!

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Please find complete text below:

14 September 2016

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\We’ve had the chance to talk to Raquel Miranda, 44, a Brazilian-American expat who has moved to Brazil with her family. Mrs. Miranda who has been living there for two years now works as a public health specialist.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: From Itaguai, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Q: What made you move out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?

A: A post-doctoral research opportunity at UCDavis, California, in 2001

Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: In Brasilia, Brazil

Q: How long have you been living in Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Since August 2014

Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: With family. Yes, the husband and our three third-culture children are adjusting pretty well, despite their young age [almost 11, 8 and 5]

Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I do. We Skype, call each other on the phone, write emails and have a family WahtsApp group

Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Right now, we’re living in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and it’s coincidentally the city I grew up in, since both my parents used to be federal public servants

Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Brasilia, Brazil? How did you manage to find a social circle there?

A: Coming back to the place I grew up in, some 22 years later was quite interesting, and challenging! Making new friends, as a working mother, and being perceived as a ‘diplomatic spouse’, was an intriguing piece of the puzzle! After six months back, I already had a good group of friends from work, other parents from the school, and acquaintances, associated with the US embassy.

Q: How does the cost of living in Brasilia, Brazil compare to your home?

A: Comparing to the US
•Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: A couple of dollars
•Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: Anywhere around 5-10 dollars
•Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Could be pretty expensive. One could easily spend 100-200 dollars one a meal with wine/drinks [date night!]
•Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine tends to be quite inexpensive since Brazil and neighbouring Argentina and Chile are good producers. Anywhere from $7 – 25 a bottle

Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Pack lots of patience! Have your CPF [tax number], have proof of local residency [any utility bill would do it!]; know your full address and have a landline phone number. Besides that, just bring a good reading book, be prepared to sit down and wait, with the patience you remembered to pack!

Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: We come in as a diplomatic family, therefore and fortunately, those steps are taken care of before our departure [from original country/post]

Q: Would you say that healthcare Brasilia, Brazil reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Extremely reliable. I’ve had the most diverse medical experiences after we joined the expat life/foreign service. Had a child in Brazil [Recife, 2010], have been hospitalized for seven days with some sort of infection… had allergic episodes… and was cared for. Our children, like any others at school age, have had their share, as well. You name it – from lice, flu, allergies, cuts, immunizations… and we have nothing to say but good things about the medical care. Obviously, we follow strict ‘home rules’, considering their ‘mama’ works with public health, at the first sign… I am on the ball!

Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or Brazil? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: Yes, we did. ER visits, pediatric visits, dental coverage [basics] and minor medical interventions should be covered.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Always being accepted as the ‘new kid on the block’. Trying to prove that despite being a ‘foreigner’ or, in my case, for having lived away for so long, to be understood by others as being just like everyone else – with the same flaws, weaknesses, facing the same difficulties, and sharing the same dreams.

Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Positive: the very warm, colourful, characteristic Brazilian soul. The negative? Unfortunately, the well-sung diversity creates gaps within the society, which leads to discrimination, and corruption.

Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Enjoy the local architecture, the surroundings. Other cities offer beautiful landscaping, the so-famous beaches, waterparks… enjoy the culture, the music, the colours… and the food!

Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Yes. Probably in a year or so, when we have our new international assignment. Who knows what the future has in store for us?

Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Try to understand the culture: Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish [insert a smile here!]. Not many people speak English, so, don’t expect to find someone on the street that can give you directions to that fancy Peruvian restaurant! Brazilians are friendly, warm and very, very chatty! Try to be sympathetic, and listen to their [sometimes, endless!] stories!

Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Obviously, our family nomadic photo and op-pieces blog, 3rd Culture Children also, Facebook groups, like Diplomatic Baggage in Brasilia and Conheca Brasilia.

 

The 2016 Olympics in Brazil, by the Lima Mirandas!

Greetings from Brasilia!

Well, the Olympic Games have come to Brazil… and our family has been very fortunate to have been part of these magnificent events.
Obviously, not the easiest task for our host country, but nevertheless, a pretty enjoyable experience.

How beautiful is the main host city, Rio de Janeiro? Here are a few shots I took from the “Cidade Maravilhosa”, while they were still getting ready to receive their guests:

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We do live in Brasilia, the capital of the country. We normally go to Rio for work (believe that?). Between games, social events, cheering… our children showing up on global social media channels (okay, I’m bias, but isn’t this 8-year-old girl the best representation of the sports fans??), our diplofamily made sure everyone would have great life memories from the Rio2016 Olympics.

Go Team USA. Go Team Brazil!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

Exercising our best parenting pride – snapshots of a regular Saturday morning, running between kids sports activities… our jubilant attempt to raise healthy children.  We’re satisfied, proud, and exhausted…. until next Saturday!😉

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http://wordpress.com/weekly-photo-challenge/jubilant

Snapshots of an expat life in Brazil: working with Science and Public Health

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Snapshots of Project ‘The Time is Now’ in Brazil: #Test4HIV #ahoraeagora_cwb

Snapshots of Mother’s Day in Brazil

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#ExperimenteBrasilia – Miranda Family Sunset Lake Experience

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A long overdue return to my blogging tasks: Now, sharing a few experiences from our packed weekend in Brasilia. a rock concert, a farewell dinner, a family boat trip along the waters of the Capital’s famous Lago Paranoá.

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As a child, growing up in Brasilia, back in the 1970s, 1980s… the Lake Paranoá was a mysterious place, surrounded by endless possibilities.

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Now, as an adult, the opportunity of enjoying a boat ride, accompanied by my husband, our three children, seeing the joy on their faces when they got to go down on the life boat and row around the floating gazebo, was priceless.

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And I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of a friend’s birthday celebration, witnessing the uniqueness of the Brasilia sky, and vouch first-hand for the local saying of “the sky in Brasilia is our sea“… Brasilienses [the so-called people from Brasilia] may not have their own beaches, they have an artificially-built lake, but they sure have one of the most beautiful skies this planet may offer!

A paradisiacal experience, the delight it is to navigate the gentle waters of the Paranoá lake aboard a private floating gazebo.

Thankful for the #ExperimenteBrasilia opportunity. Thankful for sharing this memory with my children and husband, who unlike me, did not grow up surrounded by the never-ending artificial waters of the Paranoá Lake. Thankful for enjoying the majestic views of the Brasilia skies, beside the love of my life… 🙂
More pictures yet to arrive!! Stay tuned for a soon-to-come blogpost update!

In the meantime, go ahead and follow us on Instagram… we just opened up the account to share images and stories from our Foreign Service Family! Lima.Miranda.Bsb

 

Sad, sad times for Brazil… The country tumbles… the unfortunate House of Cards…

Not much of a “talk-about-politics” person. In fact, not at all. Recent events have made me change the way things are perceived. Frustration and dispair have left a dark cloud over this country’s unique lanscape…my frustration has kept in silence, a wise choice in times like these. The social media covering the recent events has left people feeling sad, hopeless, frustrated.

Dark times ahead? Only time will tell. “My political party is my country”. Meanwhile, people go out claiming for a better nation.

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Blogging hiatus – foreign service life, work and love: Brazil in times of Zika

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This is not a real post, at least, not per se. But I felt like I needed to have something out there. The Lima-Miranda Family is still is Brasilia, Brazil. Enjoying live, working like crazy, traveling [for work and just not enough for leisure…], keeping friends close and ensuring the Little Miranda kiddos are being brought up in  a nurturing, enriched and compassionate environment.

Mixed languages at home. Our youngest child is now 5, and spends her days at pre-school. The two older kids still keep their dad and I on our toes. Love still surrounds us.

Work in Public Health  [better saying, Zika virus & its possible implications – oh, boy!!!] has kept me busy, and quite happy, I’d say. Meaningful work in an enjoyable work environment – the dream to any EFM/FS spouse, I dare to say! Apologies for the ‘blogging hiatus’… better [and calmer!] times will come…

More to come. For the time being, my deepest appreciation for the ones who remained for the long haul, standing strong while we move at our slow pace….

Peace to all, and see you very soon,

RM

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Snapshot of Inter-embassies soccer tournament, Brazil – May 2015.

Glad to see my “big child” displaying a healthy return, playing with his team mates. Very proud to see our son following his dad’s footsteps. Literally!

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Sportsmanlike conduct!

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A great weekend for all parents. Watching their kids replicate home-learned manners! Broadly, conducting oneself with sportsmanship! Besides the great behavior presented by the school team during a recent inter-clubs tournament, our boys won! 😮

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Sightseeing in Brasilia: Esplanada dos Ministérios

Well, it only took me pretty good 9 months after arriving in Brasilia, to finally come up with a quais-decent post. It does feel like I’ve reached the end of a long gestation. Work, kids, trips to Buenos Aires (Argentina), back to the USA, Rio, São Paulo, Curitiba (Paraná), Recife (Pernambuco, where we lived from 2010-2012, and the birthplace of our youngest child), Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul) and the common lifestyle have taken much time away from blogging. Now, back on track, with the plan to do a much better job on “sharing” beautiful images. That said, here are the images of our current home, from our first “tour” as a family!


[From the Go Brazil site:]
A quintessential symbol of work by Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in the creation of Brasília, the Esplanade of Ministries (Esplanada dos Ministérios) is situated on Eixo Monumental, one of the avenues forming the core shape of Costa’s design for Brazil’s capital, commonly compared to an airplane.Costa’s project for the creation of Brazil’s new capital is still a source of wonder. It beat 62 other entries in a contest launched by President Juscelino Kubitschek and was implemented by Novacap, the company created to build the city, as Plano Piloto.Costa said of his plan for the city, “Nasceu do gesto primário de quem assinala um lugar ou dele toma posse: dois eixos cruzando-se em ângulo reto, ou seja, o próprio sinal da cruz. (“It sprang from the primary gesture of one who marks or takes possession of a place: two axes which cross at a square angle, in other words, the sign of the cross itself.”)Eixo Monumental and Eixo Rodoviário form that essential cross shape. The city’s ample scale, exemplified by the Esplanade of Ministries, was intended to express an idea of dignity, Lucio Costa said in an interview available on Casa de Lucio Costa.Those generous dimensions also guided Brasília’s residential “super blocks” (super quadras) which the architect designed with wide green belts.Brasília, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also listed by Brazil’s National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN). Lucio Costa’s original report for Plano Piloto is available as part of the Institute’s description of the city’s heritage. The 16-kilometer long Esplanade has 17 buildings which house ministries and other federal administration organs, placed on opposite sides of the Eixo (pronounced AYE-shoo) and separated by a lawn.

At the start of the long stretch is the Metropolitan Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece which reopened after a three-year renovation.At the far end, the towers and the convex and concave structures which house the National Congress as well as Praça dos Três Poderes, or Three Power Square.The best view of the Esplanade is from the lookout point on Brasília’s 230-meter tall TV Tower. Inaugurated in 1967, the tower was designed by Lucio Costa and inspired in the Eiffel Tower. Other landmarks you can see from this vantage point at a height of 75 meters – which is visited by about 1,000 people a day – are the Mané Garrincha Stadium, the Nelson Piquet Autodrome and Lake Paranoá.

[Photography] 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil: Week 3

Brasilia has no beaches, just a few waterfalls a couple hours out of the city.
Some people, though, tend to say that ‘Brasilia’s sky is their sea…’ Here are a few snapshots taken this week, before heading out to work:

[Photography] 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil: Week 2

The center of Brasília, capital of Brazil. The very own way I see [and feel!] it. With its constructions, architecture, the unique concrete jungle I’ve had the pleasure to grow up in… and now, back in time, 20 years later, have the opportunity to be part of its work force…

A few snapshots of Brasília’s commercial center – the ‘heart’ of the old city, the original buildings and their unique architectural displays… and besides all that, these images represent a little of my ‘work surroundings’… The so-called Setor Comercial Sul, de Brasilia. Brasilia seen as their creators had envisioned… Wishing all a very healthy 2015! 😮

[Photography] 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil: Week 1

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Happy New Year to all of us!

Starting a new series of snapshots: 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil.

And maybe, here and there, due to [required] work or [fun] family trips, we could be sharing a snapshot from a location outside Brazil’s capital… who knows? For now, like many others, we’ll try to begin the year on a “healthy note”: finally got our bikes assembled [all 5 of them], and decided to take advantage of the beautiful ecological park, close by…

Wishing all a very healthy 2015! 😮

#ZeroDiscrimination Campaign – Movie Festival in Brasilia

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Movie Festival in Brasilia – Campaign #ZeroDiscrimination

All content presented here below, extracted from:

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/campaigns/20131126zerodiscrimination/

Hoje é o Dia Mundial de Luta Contra a Aids!

Se você é de Brasília, participe da Campanha #ZeroDiscriminação promovida pela Unaids Brasil junto com a comunidade internacional no Brasil. A Embaixada dos EUA - Brasil participa da I Mostra Internacional de Filmes essa semana, com o filme “Clube de Compras Dallas”, na Casa Thomas Jefferson da Asa Sul, amanhã (02/12). Você está convidado! Se achou a iniciativa relevante, convide seus amigos para o filme! #MostraZeroDiscriminação #WorldAidsDay

Countries around the world celebrate Zero Discrimination Day

UNAIDS is inspired by the incredible response to the first Zero Discrimination Day

GENEVA, 1 March 2014People from all walks of life and in every region of the world are commemorating Zero Discrimination Day with a wide range of activities. UNAIDS called for the annual event, which is being celebrated for the first time on 1 March.

“Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century,” said the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Discrimination is a violation of human rights. It is immoral, hurtful and dehumanizing. Yet too many people around the world continue to face unfair, harmful or violent treatment simply because of the circumstances of their birth or environment,” said Dr John Ashe, President of the General Assembly.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé has expressed his appreciation for the outpouring of support for the campaign. Working with Nobel Peace Prize winner and UNAIDS Global Advocate for Zero Discrimination Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, UNAIDS launched the #zerodiscrimination campaign in December 2013 on World AIDS Day.

“For all who seek a more just world, for all who strive for peace and prosperity—let us start by stopping the inequality and discrimination happening around us,” said Mr Sidibé.

Many government ministries, lawmakers, business leaders and international organizations are supporting the zero discrimination campaign.

“Institutionalized discrimination is bad for people and for societies,” said Dr Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. “Widespread discrimination is also bad for economies. There is clear evidence that when societies enact laws that prevent productive people from fully participating in the workforce, economies suffer.”

“Achieving zero discrimination is critical for the success of the AIDS response. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is fully committed through its Getting to Zero at Work campaign,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO.

“Eliminating discrimination is the one step that can enable the world to achieve the UN General Assembly’s 2011 target of a 50 per cent reduction of HIV infection among people who use drugs by 2015,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. “Take that step, say yes to #zerodiscrimination, commit, transform and let’s reach the target.”

The butterfly is widely recognized as a sign for transformation and the campaign has adopted it as the symbol for zero discrimination. People have supported the campaign by taking photographs holding up the butterfly symbol in places across the globe, including snowy mountain tops, office cubicles, amusement parks, fire stations and the world famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At a commercial shopping complex in Kandy, Sri Lanka, campaign supporters are organizing a mass photography shoot with the zero discrimination symbol.

The Asia-Pacific Transgender Network has used the occasion of Zero Discrimination Day to produce in partnership with UNAIDS a powerful video about the transgender experience. The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS is holding a series of country-level and regional dialogues with government, civil society, business and religious groups, as well as young people, on the importance of building solidarity for everyone. The Youth Taekwondo Association of Tajikistan is holding an event called “Sport against stigma and discrimination.”

Many celebrities have recorded video messages or taken photographs with the butterfly, including the global Indian icon and UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the popular Russian science commentator and naturalist Nikolai Drozdov and the highly acclaimed musician from Mali and International Goodwill Ambassador Toumani Diabaté. The international television broadcaster CNN is supporting the campaign and many local and regional media outlets are featuring discussions on zero discrimination. In Pakistan, Radio Pakistan and PTV World, the country’s only English channel, hosted talk shows with people from key groups who often face discrimination.

More information is available at:

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/campaigns/20131126zerodiscrimination/

https://www.facebook.com/zerodiscrimination

http://zerodiscrimination.tumblr.com/

#zerodiscrimination

Living & working in Brazil as foreign service family: Our fifth month.

After being in La Paz, Bolivia for the past 2 years, we followed our hearts [and our assignment!] to Brasilia, capital of Brazil. Before I go any further, my blogsphere apologies for the hiatus – being a full-time mom of 3 children, one not yet at school age, who have decided to [re] join the wonderful PEPFAR team, working 40+ hours outside the house, life’s still good.

We’ve adjusted quite well, I’d say. Kids are pretty satisfied with the school; weekend have been crowned with social events, ranging from previously arranged and impromptu play dates, to barbecues at friends’ homes, to endless trips to the grocery store.

 

For the average ‘ trailing family’, we seem to be doing well. With all that said, I believe I can get back into blogging, updating family and friends on our whereabouts….

Work has me traveling quite a bit, which could be seen as exciting, but nevertheless, requiring excelling logistics skills, and a state-of-the-art household managing plan! 🙂 One of my work trips brought the whole family to Rio… and how? Well, October is Children’s Month in Brazil. And because of that, one of the airline companies was flying kids for free. Taking advantage of the Columbus Day holiday, we packed our bags, and went to the Cidade Maravilhosa. This post showcases a few images from our visit.

 

*. Parque Lage

“Parque Enrique Lage” is a public park in the city of Rio De Janeiro, located in the Jardim Botânico neighborhood at the foot of the Corcovado.

The atrium of the mansion, has a lovely café, enjoyed by families and tourists.

The land was formerly the residence of industrialist Enrique Lage and his wife. During the 1920s Lage had the mansion remodeled by Italian architect Mario Vodrel, with interior paintings by Salvador Payols Sabaté.

 

In the 1960s the land became a public park, with walking trails through subtropical forest. The Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage (Visual Arts School of Parque Lage) and a café open to the public operate from the former mansion.

 

*. Meeting up with friends in Leblon…. nothing like taking a pic at a bus stop in Rio… so classy!!! 🙂

 

*. A quick stop at the Girl from Ipanema Bar… the so famous corner where Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim complosed the long-loved poem to the eternal beach-tanned beauty…

 

*. …on our way to the beach!

 

*. Moving on…. Looking at the city from the shoulders of Christ the Redeemer – Nothing like enjoying the view from the “Cristo”!

 

*. And finally… The Ipanema Hippie Fair… got get there to understand it’s size, dimension and unique flavors & colors!

Wonders of life as a Foreign Service Family – Life at the New Post.

Greetings from Brasilia!

Brasil_MeioAmbiente2

After several weeks of ‘transitional homes’ we safely made it to our permanent housing assignment. And why is it important to mention it is a ‘permanent house’? Maybe for the curious ones, with friends cruising thru the joys of the Foreign Service life, there’ll be a long explanation out there waiting to be spelled out. 😮 For now, it’s enough saying we’re glad we don’t have to move to a difference residence. We’re comfortable and settled down. At least, as comfortable as possible – kids have enrolled into a Summer camp program, and we’re getting to know new families, learning the ropes for the city…

What and where to find our immediate needs for the house (forgot to mention that, although we like our ‘new place’, it’s pretty bare, hence the need to go out and buy not only groceries, but trash cans, cleaning products… You name it!).

The illusion of two hands together reaching up to the sky creates the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia
The illusion of two hands together reaching up to the sky creates the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia

Despite all the usual initial difficulties, inherent to the nature of the move, we believe we’ll have a nice time here. That’s the ultimate hope. We now have cable TV and internet – a great milestone! Kids have already made friends with some other children who would likely be attending the same school. We’re trying to build our own niche, despite the smell of fresh coat of paint that greets us every time we come back to the house… 🙂

I believe we’ll be happy here – at least we’ll try… Right now, wearing my most-hopeful-foreign service-spouse hat… The only one I was able to fit on our suitcase… Yeap, the same suitcase I’ve been living out of, for the past 8 weeks… But, who’s counting, right? 🙂

Now, let me get back to checking on my 3 little ones – just heard some clapping, so, I’m assuming the movie outside-and-popcorn event just ended – will go hug my kids with the most thankful smile to the Summer Camp supervisors and organizers: they enabled this very busy mom to enjoy some quiet time (and a coffee!), while getting back on the blogosphere horse!

Ate mais!

Wonders of life as a Foreign Service Family – Random Thoughts on Home Leave

Well, we’re back in Washington, DC – the last part of our ‘transitional’ Home Leave, surviving thru the perks of living out of our suitcases since May 19… but you know, not bad at all! 😮 No complaints on hauling our three children around, departing La Paz, Bolivia, heading to California for some family catch up… taking the kiddos to Disneyland and Legoland, surviving the long lines, the screaming, the cries for attention and for over-priced popcorn… picking up a few family members along the way, driving all of us to witness in loco the magnificent views offered by the Grand Canyon… and flying back to the East Coast… much has happened, and definitely, no time to spare… not even for blogging!

Need to do a better job trying to catch up with our lives… Haven’t had much free time, I must admit – the little ones keep me on my toes, and as any parent around here must know, Summer Break has all of us [parents] pulling our hair trying to find educational, recreational, interesting and fun activities for our lovies, during this time… it’s work, people… and we’ve been doing this for some 5 weeks already.. again… living out of suitcases, staying with family, long car rides… a few car sicknesses along the way… always fun! 😮

Now, it’s home stretch – a few days in the DC area, and we head out to our newest work and life adventure – Brasília, the capital of Brazil [yeap, the beautiful country that just put out the most unbelievable performance during the recent World Soccer Cup – don’t even get me started on that… as a Brazilian-born soccer-passionate soccer-mom-wife, I’m still recovering from the ‘bad dream’ many of us witnessed these past weeks…] Our family will be in Brasília for the next 3 years. Husband’s duty, as many wives/spouses here would relate and sympathize... 😮

Presently writing from a government-per-diem-acceptpleasant hotel room, packed with my noisy and restless adorable and very understanding little children, enjoying some quite time while I gather my blogging thoughts together [who am I kidding?? And why do we need to have both TVs on, and so loud??] But, all in all, I guess we’re ready for what’s in store for us… let’s wait and see! 😮

Classic pic, right? Gotta have your moment in the sun with Mr Mouse! A quick snapshot from our first stop during Home Leave 2014 - not-yet-tired parents at Disneyland!
Classic pic, right? Gotta have your moment in the sun with Mr Mouse! A quick snapshot from our first stop during Home Leave 2014 – not-yet-tired parents at Disneyland!

 

 

Great Bidding Victory! Guess where we’re going?!

The illusion of two hands together reaching up to the sky creates the Metropolitan Cathedral
The founder, President JK

This city is well-known for its unique architecture, and the use of other media, like the water, to create architectural and sculptural illusions. Here is a bit of the city, showing that, even with the lack of focus on the main feature, the city constructions and its urban art remain unique, powerful and fabulous!

The Cultural Center

Have you guessed where will be heading out to next Summer? 😮

64 weeks at Post. Great bidding victory – we got our #1 choice [again]!

We’re a couple of months into our second year at Post, and we’ve enjoyed every bit of it.

Soon we’ll have news to share: The Mirandas are going to their #1 Choice – once again – hard to believe! The stress is over, and now, we oughta begin looking into our future – gotta love the Foreign Service – never a dull moment!

No, not sharing much at this time… Just wanna leave these images here… maybe it’s a clue?  😮

greenpeace

caldinho

Let’s just wait and see… 😮

Revisiting the ‘Picture of World Project’: sunset in Brazil

Brazil-PTWP

http://www.thedepartureboard.com/picture-the-world-project-brazil

Getting ready for Carnaval: Making food from Brazil!

Keeping this little tradition: Holidays, talk about food. This weekend, it’ll be no different.

Bolivia also celebrates Carnaval, and kids are off school, for a grand total of 5 days… (!). Work will also be off, for Monday and Fat Tuesday – the best thing to do? Get together with friends, and plan fantastic meals! Let’s see if I’ll be able to come up with a fairly decent Brazilian feijoada, using my Bolivian ingredients… More to come on this post, but for now, let’s just get our appetites ready for what could be in-store for us! 😮

Whenever I meet someone from Brazil, I ask them what their favorite food is. After steak (picanha), it is almost always feijoada. It’s an old bean, pork and beef recipe, brought to South America, like many foods in many places, by those intrepid, globetrotting spice traders, the Portuguese, and then enhanced, like many other foods in many other places, by African slaves and their descendants.

Feijoada Completa

1 1/2 cups dried black beans (turtle is preferred, for texture)
1/8 lb. carne seca/cesina (about the size of your flat hand)
1/8 lb. pork ribs (about 2 thick ribs)
1 pig foot, split
1-2 pig ears
1 pig tail (smoked, if possible)
4 strips smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 paio sausage, cut into thick slices
1/2 lb. of linguiça calabresa (Portuguese-style smoked pork sausage), cut into thick slices
1 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 orange, peeled (remove all of the white pith!)
8 cups water

The night before, soak the pig foot, tail and ear in cold water to draw out blood/impurities. Separately, soak the cesina in cold water overnight. In yet another bowl, soak the beans in cold water.

The next day, put the foot, tail, ear and cesina in a pot with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, boilf for 10 minutes and then drain. Refill the pot with cold water, bring to a boil again and cook until the meats are tender and beginning to fall apart. Drain well.

In a large pot or dutch oven (preferred), place the beans and 8 cups water, bay leaves, and peeled orange. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmering. Cook for 45 minutes. Add all meats, and cook for 20-30 more minutes.

In a saute pan, fry the onion and garlic on olive oil. Add about 1 cup of beans from the pan, cook briefly and mash well with the back of a spoon. Return the whole mess to the dutch oven and adjust for salt. Let simmer for about 20-30 more minutes, until beans are tender and meats are falling apart willingly. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.

Serve with boiled, medium-grain white rice, orange slices, farofa and (chiffonaded) collard greens (that have been quickly fried in canola oil and drained on paper towels.

Farofa
2 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, minced
4 slices smoked bacon, minced
1 cup toasted manioc flour (farinha de mandioca torrada)
1 bunch scallions – only the dark green tops! – thinly sliced
salt and black pepper to taste

Saute the onion and bacon in the oil over low heat until the bacon is fully rendered and crisp. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring to coat. Add the scallions when the flour has just begun to brown. Remove from heat, mix well.

Serve at any temperature, and refrigerate any unused portion.

2012 in review, according to the WordPress stats helper monkeys…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 68,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in 12 Pictures.

How was the year of 2012? Apparently, we all did okay through the Mayan quasi-apocalipse, so, that’s a pretty positive point!

It’s often said that images speak more than words, so…. Here’s our 2012 through photos!

June 2012: After 2 years at post, our family says goodbye to Brazil in style, surrounded by friends, family and co-workers!
June 2012: After 2 years at post, our family says goodbye to Brazil in style, surrounded by friends & family!!

2012 will mark the 12th New Year’s Eve with my guy… yeah, the one riding the Peace & Love 70s van with me, just pictured above… ♥ And this December we celebrate 110 months of married life… it sure goes by pretty fast!

How was the year of 2012?

Apparently, we all did okay through the Mayan quasi-apocalipse, so, that’s a pretty positive point!

It’s often said that images speak more than words, so…. Considering that during 2012, we had homes in three countries, it was a bit of challenge to pick an image to represent each month, but, why not give it a shot? :

Here is our 2012, through photos!

This week’s photo inspiration is to portrait 2012 in pictures… one per month… Let’s see how good of a job I did over here!

Happy Holidays to all!

“Lost in Time”: Flora of the Jericoacoara National Park, Brazil

Walks along the beach coast are one of the best ways to temporarily, leave reality, trading urban stressful images for exquisite coastline sites, immersing into natural beauty… Here are a few examples of nature’s hand, samples of the flora collection observed during one of our walks along the Monte Serrote, located at the National Park Jericoacoara (environmentally protected area, APA). Typical flora representatives are Caatinga and Cerrado.

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Found a post I never published… don’t know exactly how it happened… and such a beautiful place, a paradisiac beach, surrounded by… nothing! Just unique natural beauty… the spot some 12 years back I met the one who’d became ‘my guy’…♥ Oh, well, these shots were taken during our ‘solo trip'[no kids!]

Sometimes, even memories fall thru the cracks… 😮 Glad I found it! With you all, the Flora of the Jericoacoara beach, in Brazil! This is the place some 12 years back, I found the one who’d become ‘my guy’… ♥

Walks along the beach coast are one of the best ways to temporarily, leave reality, trading urban stressful images for exquisite coastline sites, immersing into natural beauty… Here are a few examples of nature’s hand, samples of the flora collection observed during one of our walks along the Monte Serrote, located at the National Park Jericoacoara (environmentally protected area, APA). Typical flora representatives are Caatinga and Cerrado.

190 anos de Brasil Independente. Let’s keep moving forward… please!

Chinese proverb says: “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.”  

Travel Theme: Curves.

Ailsa, from “Where’s my Backpack?” asked this week’s question: “Are you ready to show off your curves?” Sometimes, the best way to see and ‘feel the curves’ while traveling, is not actually by road… what about by plane? Definitely, a different experience!

“Curving over’ the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, South AmericaMy appreciation to Where’s my backpack? for the inspiration! 😮

Picture the World Project: Brazil!

Picture The World Project, BrazilPosted on July 3rd, 2012

Brazil-PTWP

Photo by 3rdCultureChildren

I am so honored to be nominated to offer a photo from my collection to represent Brazil. What to choose from? I went with nature – one of the most beautiful beaches my ´Brazilian eyes´ have ever seen! The picture chosen a unique orange-toned sunset, overlooking the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean…

It’s my duty to nominate two people to submit photos of another country. I would like to nominate Heather (of thewanderingdrays.blogspot.com.br) who has moved with her family to Egypt. I would also like to nominate Carla (of carlarunstheworld.com) currently in the Philippines, and getting ready for their next move in January 2014, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!

Thank you 3rdculturechildren for this beautiful photo for Brazil. Looking forward to seing Heather and Carla’s contributions.

Paraíba, home of the Brazilian blue tourmaline, encloses the Easternmost point of the Americas

Family day trip to Cabo Branco, in the State of Paraíba. Hidden in one of the Norteastern Brazilian states, it’s possible to discover this ‘gem‘, the geographic place, corresponding to a cape on the Atlantic coast of Paraíba state, which forms the easternmost point of the American continent, five miles southeast of João Pessoa, the state capital. It is surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches bordered by flat-topped forms of sedimentary strata called “tabuleiros“, which rise sharply above the beaches to heights between 150 and 500 ft, and enjoys abundant rainfall. The name of the State comes from the combination of the Tupi words pa’ra (river) and a’íba (unsuitable for navigation). The Ponta do Seixas, on Cabo Branco beach, where, according to a traditional saying, “the sun rises first” is the land of the sun indeed, and of an enviable shore — but also of other historical, ecological and cultural beauties.

We got to see the famous lighthouse of Ponta Seixas, and enjoy the idea of being by the farthest East of the Continent.

Ponta do Seixas é o ponto mais oriental do Brasil e da América continental, localiza-se na Parte Leste da cidade de João Pessoa, capital do estado da Paraíba, a 14 quilómetros do centro da cidade e 3 quilômetros ao sul do Cabo Branco, que já foi considerado o ponto mais a leste do continente e que devido à erosão marinha que ao longo dos anos fez com que suas ondas desgastassem o Cabo Branco e depositasse estes sedimentos na Ponta Seixas (fazendo-a aumentar) e passando a ser atualmente o ponto mais oriental das américas.

Do alto da Ponta do Seixas, erigido sobre uma falésia, fica o formoso Farol do Cabo Branco, no formato de um pé de sisal, de onde se tem uma bela vista da orla e do oceano Atlântico. Muitas pessoas confundem a Ponta do Seixas com a falésia do Cabo Branco. São duas formações geológicas diferentes. A ponta é que representa o ponto mais a leste da América e não a falésia do Cabo Branco. A ponta do Seixas é uma estreita faixa de terra mais ao sul da barreira que se prolonga para o leste.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to teach the kids a bit of Geography:


Family & Friends at Carneiros Beach, Pernambuco, Brazil.

Waving along the Southern Coast of Pernambuco, Carneiros Beach (“Praia dos Carneiros”) discreetly possesses all the requirements to become a paradise. Sea of calm and crystal clear waters in shades of blue, palm trees, coral reefs and even a river that ends into the ocean. Likely, our last weekend at the beach in Brazil, surrounded by close friends – at least, the last one, for a while… Who knows what the future has is planning for us?! 😮

Rustic bungalows have been built and decorated to meet the needs of comfort, and privacy, so tourists, or vacationing families may enjoy the peaceful setting that reigns in this paradise, still respecting the environment, its unique features and learning about preservation and ecological conscience.

Collecting Brazilian states: the mystic city of Juazeiro do Norte

 Brazil is famous for its ´mystic´places… Some believe, some others, don´t… Another well-know ´mystic place´ is the country´s capital – at least, unique on its beauty and touristic sights… Believing or not, all the sites are great for visiting, and for learning about culture, tradition and stories…

From Recife, Pernambuco
To Juazeiro do Norte, Ceara, Brazil
Distance: ~ 309 miles or 498 km

The city of Juazeiro do Norte in the state of Ceará has approximately 212,133 inhabitants, with an area of 248.56 km2, resulting in a very dense population for a city in the interior of Brazil.  Juazeiro do Norte is becoming a center for artisans, with a large vocation for the production of souvenirs and mementos. One of these mementos is the little rag doll or “boneca de pan”,  whose primary materials are cloth scraps, corncobs, thread, needles, cotton wadding, and a lot of imagination. The city has become famous for its religious pilgrimage. Here is a little bit of historical background, from Wikipedia:

“Juazeiro do Norte is best known as the base of the charismatic priest and politician Padre Cícero (Cícero Romão Batista) (1844-1934). A pilgrimage in his honour takes place every November, attracting thousands of followers. It was initially a district of the nearby city Crato, until a young Padre Cícero Romão Batista decided to stay as a cleric in the village. Padre Cícero was then responsible for the independence and emancipation of the city. Because of the so-called “milagre de Juazeiro” (“miracle in Juazeiro”, when Padre Cícero gave the sacred host to the religious sister Maria de Araújo, the host became blood), the priest was associated with mystical characteristics and began to be venerated by the people as a saint. Today the city is the second largest in the state and a reference in the Northeast region thanks to the priest.”

Find below a series of peculiar images from this mystic city, a site visited by tourists all-year around – religious or not…

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