sweet tarts?

Here’s something else I wanted to share that I came across in Brazil: this package of little snack cakes. Not so much the snack cakes, but the packaging:


A package of Bauducco Gulosos, Bolinhos Sabor Morango (Strawberry-flavored little cakes)

Recognize the the cartoon characters?

Bubbles, is that you?

In case you are not familiar with the Powerpuff Girls, a animated TV series from Cartoon Network, this is what they usually look like.

The Powerpuff Girls looking more like sweet-looking little girls. (image source)

However, it would seem that in Brazil, the little kindergarteners are not quite sexy enough to sell snack cakes. So they have been tarted up a bit.¹

This is, of course, not the first time the little superheroines have been given a more grown-up makeover. In Japan, they were transformed into leggy anime teenagers:


The girls from Powerpuff Girls Z: not in kindergarten anymore. (image source)

Anyhow, my package of snack cakes unabashedly displays both the Cartoon Network and Powerpuff Girls logos. The transformation of the characters is somewhat mysterious to me, and is possibly only snack-cake-related. I haven’t been able to find any other similar images of them. Even on the Bauducco website itself, the same product is shown this way:

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¹Anyone else reminded of Xuxa, the scandalous sexpot hostess of a kids’ show?

(By the way, this post title is in part inspired by a recent post I read involving a whole hell of a lot of Sweetarts.)

Brasil, dia 6 e 7: out and about in São Paulo, and out

Here is the last installment about my recent trip to Brazil. Sorry it’s so long, but I thought I should wrap up rather than drag things on. I also have some pictures from the last 2 days posted.

Dia 6:

I ended up choosing a moderately nice hotel in a moderately nice part of town. I felt like I splurged a bit, but the cost was only 129 Reais per night, which I think converts to around $80 (US dollars) a night.

I had grand plans to sleep in Saturday morning, which were disrupted by what sounded like a gaggle of teenage girls in the hallway from 7:00 on. I took my time getting going, anyhow, and went down to breakfast at 9:00. I was good and ready to eat, having actually skipped dinner the night before, almost unthinkable after my week-long binge of large meals every 2 to 2.5 hours.

A portion of my café da manhã: café com leite, pastries, watermelon, papaya and persimmon.

I went back to my room afterwards, and mostly lounged till it was time to head out for my 1:00 rendezvous with C, the student from the conference. Our plan was to go for lunch and then do some touristy and museum-oriented things afterwards. We met at the metro station from the previous night, about a 15 minute walk from my hotel. She was a bit late, and told me that her boyfriend would be meeting us, too. Once he showed up, we headed down to a vegetarian restaurant that he’d heard was nearby.

Lunch was very pleasant, and the restaurant (called Cheiro Verde, or “green smell”) overlooked a park across the street. We each got panquecas, pancake-like things filled with vegetables and baked in little ceramic dishes with gobs of cheesy sauce. Mine had some mandioquinha in it, a tasty yellow tuber, along with other more familiar vegetables. I also had a fresh juice with orange, papaya and passion fruit. We were treated to some live samba-type percussion music streaming in through the window, from a large group having a lesson in the park.

After lunch, and a brief stroll to check out the source of the music, we hopped on a couple of buses¹ to go to Ibirapuera Park, where we planned to visit the Afro-Brazilian museum. Since we started lunch late and hadn’t rushed, it was a few minutes after 4:00 by the time we got to the door of the museum. To discover that they had just changed the hours to close at 4:00, instead of the 5:00 that was posted on their website.

We dropped by the MAM (Museu de Arte Moderna, or Modern Art Museum) instead, also in the park, which had an exhibit of contemporary Brazilian and Japanese art, which I quite enjoyed.² (Interestingly, there was also a Contemporary Art museum in the park, which appeared to be hosting a modernist exhibit.)

It got dark promptly at 6:00 p.m., and as there is virtually no twilight, it was very dark when we left the museum to head back to the bus. C and her namorado invited me back to their home for dinner, and I accepted in spite of being tired. They ordered out for pizzas, one of which had corn as the topping, and C made some fresh juice (acerola and then star fruit). We hung out chatting, eating and watching a bit of TV, and then they were kind enough to call a cab for me.

Day 7
The next day I spent running around by myself. My flight was at 9 p.m., and I planned to head for the airport by 4. I wanted to head to some outdoor markets and try for a bit of shopping, as I hadn’t managed any so far. I went to the market held under the MASP (The São Paulo Art Museum), but it turned out to be all antiques, most of which appeared to be European and North American. And also expensive.

The feirinha under the MASP.

I then hopped on the subway to go to the Praça República, for a large outdoor market known for crafts and stones. I bought some stuff from a few stalls in rather a hurry, and then rushed back to the hotel to pack the new items and check out by 2:00.

Since I still had a couple of hours, and didn’t want to waste more time than needed sitting around, I left my bags at the front desk and I went out for one last jaunt. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, and I wanted to stop by a grocery store. I strolled up to and along Avenida Paulista, in search of a place to eat. I ended up having a rather disappointing (and slow) lunch at a lanchonete with outdoor seating across from the MASP. (I had a grilled cheese sandwich and some overpriced french fries, but also some tasty fresh coconut juice.) It was later than I planned when I headed back to the hotel, but I did still stop by a small grocery store on my way, and loaded up on Brazilian chocolates and goodies for gifts.

I was going to take an airport bus from another nearby hotel.³ The hotel called me a cab⁴, and when I mentioned I would be taking the airport bus, the cab driver offered me a deal to take me directly to the airport. Things were slow due to it being Mother’s Day, he said, so he offered a fare of 60 Reais instead of the usual 90. I took him up on it, and thus got the airport much faster, and before dark even. It gave me a chance to take a few more photos on the way out of town.


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The last 2 days made a good end to my trip, and made me feel more like I was in Brazil rather than just being at a conference hotel. Also good for me was that I spoke almost no English the last 2 days. My Portuguese was starting to come back. (However, it did get harder for me to find words as the day got later.)

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¹ The public buses made for a wild ride, by the way. It was a bit like being on a rollercoaster without being strapped in. Happily, there were no upside-down loops.

² You can see some photos and short movies I took at the exhibit. You can also see a photo of me looking pregnant in that batch, in case you are curious.

³ I had toyed with the idea of taking the subway to a bus station, but I was pretty beat from running around. And realized it would be insanity to try to lug my luggage up the long hill to the Metro stop, followed by the 3 subway trains I’d need to take, and who knows what other obstacles.

⁴ “You’re a cab!” they said…

Brasil, dia 5: heading to São Paulo

As promised (or threatened), here is the next installment of details of my recent trip to Brazil. (In case you haven’t been by in a while, I’ve posted a bunch of things, such as day 1, day 2, days 3 & 4, and day 4.5.)

Day 5
Friday was the last day of the conference, and my roommates and I arrived somewhat late after sleeping until the late hour of 7:30. There were more talks, lots more eating, and a final discussion session that was pretty interesting. (It largely turned into a debate between about 6 people, though, with the other 100+ just watching the show.)

My plan was to take the bus to São Paulo with a student, C, who was working at the conference. (She had also offered to show me around São Paulo a bit on Saturday afternoon.) It turned out to be later than she expected when she was ready to go, but a friend of hers did give us a ride to the bus station. There was a crazy long line at the station for bus tickets, and we weren’t able to get a bus until 8:20 p.m. It was quite a big bus station, with dozens of different bus companies and lines going all over the country.

The buses were all running a bit late, and the platform was crowded with people waiting to go to other smaller cities around the state, along with their copious bags and large boxes of things likely purchased at Campinas’ giant malls.

(Also, as I may have mentioned, not a whole lot of tourists go to Campinas. And waiting out on the crowded platform for the bus, I may have stood out as non-local. At one point, I noticed this guy who appeared to be taking a picture of me with his cell phone. He looked away sheepishly when I looked his way. What, don’t they get a lot of pasty-faced pregnant foreigners at the bus station?)

The bus was late arriving in Campinas, and then there was moderately unexpected traffic once we reached the São Paulo limits after 10 p.m. São Paulo, in case you are not aware, is a freakin’ gigantic city. With lots and lots of people. And lots and lots of cars. And lots of trucks passing through, which were apparently the source of the traffic jam.

After arriving at the São Paulo bus station, we took the Metro. We had to change trains a couple of times. My new friend C went with me to my Metro stop, and helped me get a cab before heading to her own Metro stop. Seeing as it was 11:00 at night, I was glad not be left standing alone, exhausted and largely clueless, not to mention loaded down with my baggage, on a busy street corner. It was 11:30 or so when I checked in at my hotel, and I was on the tired side.

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Still to come: my visit in São Paulo.

I also have just posted a bunch of photos from my trip. Like this one of the bottomless basket of pão de queijo offered for the conference coffee breaks.

The bottomless basket of pão de queijo

Brasil, dia 4.5: feasting, and food for thought

Here are some bits that I wrote up while still in Brazil. I hope to fill in the last couple days soon, too, and share more of my photos.

(more of) Day 4:
The conference banquet was on Thursday night, and I was excited about going to it largely because it was held at an old coffee farm. It was a cool building, from what I saw, but it was already well after dark by the time we even left the conference hotel. So I saw very little.

I did enjoy the banquet, though the food wasn’t terribly exciting for me as a vegetarian. I got to eat a couple of hors d’oeuvres, the salad, the rice and the vegetables. I did like the couve (sauteed, finely shredded collard greens) and some sort of little dish of polenta with mushroom sauce that came in a ramekin (and looked like chocolate mousse). We also got to have this traditional Brazilian dessert:

The white bit is cheese, the orange is a sweet made from pumpkin, the green is made from orange peels, the red is a goiabada (guava paste), and the brown is doce de leite (basically, a dense caramel).

I had been commenting to people that I had yet to hear even a little bit of Brazilian music on my trip so far, so I was pleasantly surprised that there was a live band at the banquet playing MPB (“musica popular brasileira”) and various other Brazilian styles. (When the buses arrived at the farm house, there was also a guy with a saxaphone playing Garota de Ipanema/Girl from Ipanema, which actually made me laugh a bit. It seems to be the anthem played especially for foreigners.)

I got to sit next a new Brazilian friend of mine, F, and her husband. The music was so loud that I couldn’t actually have a conversation with anyone else at the table. But it was cool to sit with my new friends. We talked a bit about poverty in Brazil and the US, and I got to learn some things. For example, that there were about 40,000 people that had moved to Campinas since 1997 or so, and set up favelas just out of sight of the resort where the conference was held.

I tried to see the favelas from the hotel the next day, but the resort has high walls and trees all around the perimeter that block the view from the ground level. As I walked around admiring the gardens, I thought a lot about the contrast of the 5-star resort, with its sprawling recreation areas and mounds of expensive food, being so close to thousands of people living in cramped quarters and stark poverty.

I’m back home now, by the way

I got home Monday. My flight arrived in Boston a bit before 11:00 am, and John and Phoebe met me at the airport. The return journey was a bit quicker than the way down, clocking in at about 18 hours. I had a 3 hour layover in New York. I managed to get maybe 3 hours of sleep on the flights.

I’ve been a bit out of it the last few days. I’m tired, for some odd reason. I have some posts and photos to share from my trip, but I keep running out of steam. Maybe tomorrow (she thinks for third day in a row…)

Phoebe and John did really well (without me!) last week, but I think that Phoebe is reacting to my trip a bit now that I’m home. She went to bed just fine on Monday, but last night and tonight were a challenge, eating up a lot of time and energy.

Tomorrow I head into Boston for work meetings again. Now that the conferences are behind me, I’m hoping to crank forward with my own research. I have some goals of stuff to accomplish before…um…late summer, when I’m expecting …um… some additional delays to my academic progress.

I’ve been trying to catch up on reading the various 100s of posts in my feed reader, but have managed to leave only one comment. I’ll try to drop in and say “hi” soon. You know, maybe tomorrow.

And here, to add a bit of color to this otherwise dull post, I’ll share a picture of São Paulo. This is a view from behind the MASP:

Brasil update: algums fotos

Here are (finally) some photos from my arrival. Below you can see some views from my hotel room.

Looking towards downtown:

Looking down at the street behind:

Looking across towards a nearby neighborhood:

I’m not sure what these big dirt mounds are, but they were, um, some big dirt mounds:

This photo is not from Brazil, but from JFK airport on Sunday. The flight there was a shuttle (or perhaps shuffle) flight, and we deplaned down to the tarmac. The sunset was improbably dramatic, and the sun was very big and red as it sank behind the skyline. Not surprisingly, the photo doesn’t do it justice:

Brasil, dias 3 e 4: on with the conference

Here I am again, on my 4th day in Brazil.

Yesterday was spent primarily eating and attending talks. And then eating and having the poster presentation. (It was fine, but the space was too crowded for my comfort.) Then eating and attending more talks. Here’s a look at what the schedule has been like:

    7:00-7:45 eating (breakfast)
    8:30-11:00 talks
    11:00-11:30 eating (coffee break)
    11:30-1:10 talks
    1:10-2:30 eating (lunch)
    2:30-4 posters
    4-4:30 eating (coffee break)
    4:30-6:10 talks

As you can see, there are some opportunities to eat. And I have been doing my duty. Tonight there is the banquet, which will take place at an old coffee farm. So we can add the following to the schedule:

    7:00-?? eating

Last night, I was determined to see more of Campinas than 3 corners of this large traffic circle (hotel, conference motel, and mall), so I went with some folks to dinner downtown. My goal was accomplished, though I still didn’t see much, and it was too dark for pictures. Also, the food was pretty mediocre and overpriced. (It was a Japanese restaurant that the cab driver knew, and I think he was getting a kickback.) But I had fun with the people I went with.

Internet access has been a bit sporadic. At the hotel, we have to pay for wireless. At the conference, there is internet access via ethernet cables, but you largely have to miss talks to get a chance to use one of the connections. I’ve decided to skip the last session of talks for the day to put my feet up and sit here like a lump. (My ankles are are swollen up like sausages.)¹

Oh, and I do have reservations for a hotel in São Paulo tomorrow night. I’ll be taking the bus along with a student from São Paulo, which is great.

I have a couple of pictures, have even gotten them onto my computer by various means, but can’t seem to get them up on WordPress. I will post them when I can. However, I can almost guarantee that you will be underwhelmed.

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¹Also my brain is full. Actually, I’m just generally full. Why in French, you could even say I’m pleine

² Now the question is, am I really just full of it?³

³ Please don’t answer that question.

Brasil, dia 2: getting my conference on

Hi, again. I’m back online for a few minutes at the conference, where I don’t have to pay through the nose. However, there will shortly be a line for the ethernet cables, so I should be quick. Here’s what I wrote last night:

It’s the end of the first day of the conference, and I’m back at the hotel. It’s been a good day so far, though I have seen nothing but this hotel, the conference venue hotel, and the complicated twists of streets, on-ramps and rotaries that connect the two. But I have eaten a lot of food.

Breakfast at the hotel is pretty good, and much more elaborate than the more typical coffee and roll that I remember. (But the coffee is not as good as I remember…) There’s a full buffet with various stations: cold cuts and cheeses (including Romeo and Juliet), fresh fruit (small papayas and pineapple seem to be in season), breads and pastries (including more pão de queijo and a gooey chocolate cake) as well as scambled eggs and various breakfast meats.

They are feeding us lots at the conference, too. There are two coffee breaks, featuring different baked goods and also fresh squeezed juices. Morning juices were either orange or watermelon, afternoon had orange or pineapple. There was also a big lunch buffet. The more interesting things (to me) were okra salad and palm hearts. The hot food was very salty, and shockingly, had a vegetarian entree (gnocchi in cream sauce).

Also, did you realize that I was not just down here for the food? There were actually some talks and posters going on today. Plus I’ve gotten to see a bunch of people I don’t see often, and I’ve met some cool people, too. Including some Brazilians. I even have plans to meet up on Saturday with a woman who lives in São Paulo. (I’m hoping to get her help making a hotel reservation, which I still don’t have…)

I still have no pictures to share, due to some technical difficulties. I’ll hopefully solve these tomorrow.

Now I need to get to sleep, as we need to get up early tomorrow. You know, for the breakfast. Oh, right. And the conference. Our poster is tomorrow, and all.

dia 1: chegada no Brasil

So, here I am. Safe and sound in the hotel in Campinas. It took me about 22 hours to get from door to door.

The flight was long, but largely uneventful. Which is what one wants in a flight. (At least the uneventful part. The long bit, not so much.)

We landed in São Paulo around 9:00 a.m., but had to wait around a while at the airport to get the bus to Campinas, as the earlier one was full.

My first meal here was therefore eaten in an airport café. I had a salad, a somewhat stale pão de queijo, and a can of guaraná.

The bus ride was about 2 hours long, and I slept through much of it. The bus was able to let us out “at our hotel,” by special arrangements of the conference organizers. This meant letting a group of us out on a busy highway so that we could climb up a pedestrian overpass, and then cross another busy street with no light or crosswalk, traipse through a gas station, and arrive at the hotel on foot. This was not so bad, in and of itself, but seemed a bit rough on the distinguished professor from Japan in his late 70s. Especially since we were all toting our luggage. On the bright side, we didn’t get squashed by a bus.

Have I mentioned that Campinas appears to not be very pedestrian friendly? It would seem that we need to take cabs everywhere (or a shuttle to and from the conference when available)¹. There is not even a restaurant (outside of the hotel) or little market nearby.

My travel companion and I ended up taking a cab over to the nearby “small” shopping center, which turned out to be a pretty substantial mall. We found what we hoped would be a supermarket, but turned out to be more like a Walmart (named, appropriately, Big).

We did pick up a few things for dinner and snacks, including some goiabada (a condensed guava paste) and Minas cheese, which when eaten together are called “Romeo and Juliet.” We also got a bit of fruit, including some little bananas that were not as ripe as their degree of yellowness and and softness led me to believe. (Hopefully they will redeem themselves later in the week.)

My Portuguese vocabulary is coming back to me in dribs and drabs. But I feel like I’m in a totally different country than the Brazil I knew 16 years ago. I don’t know how much of that is due to being in the outskirts of a very industrialized city without claims to tourism, and how much is due to the passage of time. Both, I think.

I’ve taken a couple of pictures of the view from our hotel window, but can’t seem to get my pictures to upload off my camera. I’ll post some when I can.

The conference starts tomorrow, so I expect I’ll be pretty tied up for the day.

Oh, also, a word of advice for those travelling to Brazil. Make sure to call all your banks or credit card companies if you hope to have access to your accounts in Brazil. I called one credit card company, but neglected to call our regular bank. My attempts to get cash from an ATM have resulted not in me getting cash, but in a hold being put on our account.

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¹ I may actually adopt the term “shuffle bus” into my vocabulary, as this is what was listed several times on the conference bus. It appeals to me that we will get shuffled around, especially since many of us feel a bit mixed up.