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Studying Portuguese Language Classes in Brazil

I am awful at languages (aside from English, I hope I can say…)

I tried learning Spanish (quit after obtaining a basic proficiency), tried learning French (totally hopeless), tried learning Thai (failed MISERABLY).

I’ve had a wide range of teachers, schools, and styles.

And aside from Casa Do Caminho Language Center, I can’t recommend any.

The school offers intensive group classes (3 hours a day, 5 days a week) for a super low price. The classes incorporate grammar, reading, writing, speaking, listening, and even culture, through real-world activities and discussions, including Brazilian dance and music, political/social issues in Brazil. (note: if you have a restrictive schedule, you can also take private lessons at a great price)

The school has free activities every weekday for students, including guided favela tours, hikes, capoeira, Samba lessons, football, and volleyball.

Every friend I have in Brazil, I met through the language school (one way or another). It attracts some awesome people.

Best of all, the proceeds from the language course benefit children. One program includes after school activities for at risk children from the favela, providing fun and functional activities and teaching social, life, and educational skills. Did you know that public schools in Rio are not mandatory, run for only a few hours a day (including a recess), and have teachers that are woefully overburdened (sometimes close to 100 students in a class, no air conditioning, and without adequate resources)? Many children cannot properly read or write, even at the middle school level. Other programs offer language classes to deserving students, and scholarships to help motivated students get out of the poor public school system and receive a quality education at a private school.

Casa do Caminho is AMAZING. Finally I feel like I am making real (but slow, due to my own fault) progress towards learning another language. Portuguese is not easy (the pronunciation!!) but I am enjoying the challenge and working hard.

4 Months Into Brazil

I’ve been pretty quiet lately.

Actually that’s a total understatement. I’ve been silent.

Things have been pretty busy “in the real world” and I’ve been contemplating either shutting down my blog, or doing a major revamp, overhaul, and dedicating myself.

I’m going with the second.

In two weeks, I will have completed my position at work (my last day is March 15 – I put in my notice in January), and I will have more freedom to dedicate to the parts of my life that are so important to me but that I have been neglecting. Such as – writing and traveling.

I’ll write a more thorough post later, but a sneak peek into the highlights of my last 4 months into Brazil have included:
-Studying Portuguese
-Volunteering with Casa Do Caminhoes now three days a week – teaching one on one English lessons and assisting with -group classes for children from a nearby favela
-Trying desperately to find a decent Mexican, Arabic, or Indian restaurant (and failing badly)
-Enjoying our ocean view, amazing sunrises and a little pool on our own “private” porch
-Soaking up the sun on the beaches of Rio
-Experiencing the wonders of Carnaval

White Carnaval Sambodrome Rio 2015

photo credit: Tania Thorngreen

Vang Vieng Kayaking

Every time I go to a new city, I try to take in at least one new activity (or revisit an old favorite) that I normally wouldn’t do in my day to day life

In Vang Vieng, the answer would normally be obvious. TUBING!

But, due to the low number of tourists during LOW season the tubing scene was absent (and let’s be honest, my total unwillingness to participate even if it was rocking.. lame what a day job can do to you!).

And I really wanted to kayak through some of the magnificent scenery I had glimpsed.

Vang Vieng Laos

The dark gloomy morning and the mist rising through the hills was almost otherworldy, when myself and my PRIVATE guide (lucky me!) set out at 8am.

The river was completely silent, aside from the tiny raindrops that started a pitter patter when we were about halfway through the journey. I saw buffalo, little boys playing in the river, and men fishing together. I had so much time for quiet reflection, and could truly appreciate the beauty around me, in a way that I would not, had there been a bunch of other kayakers (or for gods sake, TUBERS!)

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Nearing the end, we stopped the kayak and got out for a tour of some caves.There was a beautiful blue pool, where the clean water flowed out from under the caves.

Vang Vieng Laos

Inside the caves, it was completely dark, and completely silent aside from the drip drop of water condensing and falling onto the floor, and a lone Japanese tourist who had forgotten a flashlight joined us.

Vang Vieng Laos
You can see here, where the clean blue water from the caves meets the muddy rainwater of the river

Name of Tour
Kayaking and Cave Tour

Cost
10 USD for what ended up being a PRIVATE tour with my own guide, as no one else booked!

Where to Book
Any of the tour operators or guest houses can set this up for you

Would I do It Again?
DEFINITELY!!!