Nova Scotia Artist, Joy Laking, posts ramblings while she's travelling and painting in South America.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


On Tuesday we took a bus north from Tilcara, Argentina to the border. The bus trip was through incredibly colourful beautiful mountains. When the people in the front seat got off we nabbed their seats and basked in the marvelous views. The mountains are barren and are undulating stipes of red and yellow. Occationally we passed a bunch of cacti that looked like large people standing and waving.

After arriving at the Argentinian border we departed the bus and walked across the bridge to Villazon Bolivia. Immediately we were struck by the noice, excitement, confusion, and colour that is Bolivia. The women wear their traditional dress and it felt like coming home to see the hats and shawls and full skirts. The women are short and with the full clothing and carrying packs of babies, bricks, vegetables, they look as wide as they are tall. It´s a relief to be back in Bolivia also because we found Argentina too expensive for our slim budget, but the main pleasure is seeing traditional people going about their daily lives, away from the posh comfort that lures most tourists.

Yesterday we took photos from our hostel window of people walking by on the street. The colours and shadows were strong. Then I set off to do some sketches on the street. It´s a little scarey to go off alone in a strange town and then to actually paint but once I find a spot for my little stool and become a fixture of the street, I settle in and totally enjoy myself. First of all a boy selling icecream started watching me paint the orange juice ladies squeezing their oranges. Then more and more people gathered, even policemen. As I finished sketches, different folks would borrow them and run off to show their friends. Of course they also showed the orange juice ladies!

At three oclock we hopped on the train to Tupiza. It was more breathtaking scenery of mountains, arid plains and beautiful dry washes. Unfortunately the train also played movies and I got sucked in watching a Michael Douglas thriller in Spanish. I alternated between worrying about the little kidnapped girl and savouring the fantastic Bolivian scenery.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday, January 29 2009

The bus station of Tilcara
Is crowded with beautiful young women
Waiting for buses.
Self absorbed, they stand
With their packs and bed rolls
And sleeping bags.
These girls don´t acknowledge me,
This large women in tee shirt and shorts
From another place and time
Who sits on a bench
Clutching packs and watching madly.

The beauties pose in groups.
They move their heads or shoulders
And preen,
Knowing that the world is watching them.

Their eyes are piercing blue,
Or richly dark with full arching brows.
Their hair shines as it`s tossed
Over shoulders, tucked behind ears
Or swung as they lift their chins
To smoke or drink matte.
Berets, alpaca hats with ear lungs,
or shimery bright scarves are worn
With pizzazz and purpose.
Their eclectic outfits
Run the gamut from flowy trousers
With knee length crotches
To mini skirts with
Fluorescent leggings.
Dr Martin boots, Converse All Stars
Or flip flops are the footwear of choice.
Tops are colourful spandex
Often strapless,
Often reveiling flat tummies.
Tanned curving bodies
Are adorned with tatoos,
Discreetly creeping up the neck,
Behind the ear, under the arm,
Or on the lower back.

A local girl in drab sweater,
skirt and worn woven shawl sits
Beside me on the bench.
When she returns my smile,
I see that all her upper teeth are missing.
Her eyes are very wide apart
And dull.
She holds her tiny son,
Dressed in woven shirt
And trousers and peaked cap.
He appraises me with his
Enormous dark eyes
Full of life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Well we had a good couple of days in Tilcara Argentina. In the guide book, it was listed as a small quiet village with an artist colony. Unfortunately it is neither.
No artist colony and it is overrun with thousands of young Spanish kids having fun.
Oh well. It is beautiful. Tilcara is situated in a valley between very glorious gorgious colourful mountains. I did three quarter sheet paintings yesterday despite the sun (it is ever so slightly cooler) Last night we ever put on long sleeved shirts as it was only 80 degrees. Two of the cleaning ladies where we are staying also wanted me to paint their portraits so I stopped one painting mid ptg and obliged and they were thrilled.

Jim´s anxious for me to pack up as we´re off to Bolivia. You can check out his blog if you´re interested at

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday January 24

Intense heat,
Dripping sweat, we order cervaza frio
And bask in the cold gold
Cooling from the inside.
Too soon the big bottle is empty
And we´re on the bus.
The bus that cost allot
And should be so comfortable,
But perhaps South Americans
Are shorter in the leg.
I relax in the comfort of air conditioning
Only to be roused by loud Spanish rock videos
On the buses television.
Almost naked women
Thrust, bump and jiggle
Their flesh,
To the incessant steady beat
Of song after song after song.
Then hours of loud Spanish car crashes,
Gun fights, brawls.
I bury my head in my book
To avoid the violent images
But the noice is relentless,
Like Chinese water torture,
Hammering away at my soul.

After five hours,
A chubby Latin in bus uniform
Delivers cold flattened sandwiches
Which taste wonderful.
Anything to escape the boredom.
And a glass of fruity fizzy pop,
Which means an hour later,
I have to brave the stairs of the bus
While it heaves and rocks,
To find the filthy disgusting loo.

Eventually, after many hours,
The noice ends.
Almost heaven,
If only I could straighten my legs and arms.
I doze until morning.
At 6AM, we arrive in
The strange dark city of Salta, Argentina.
Fifteen hours on a bus.
We get a taxi,
Book into another expensive hotel,
(Again listed in South America on a Shoe String)
And sleep.
Sleep until the traffic roars,
Sleeps until the sun is up
But the shadows are still long,
Sleep until the morning air is fresh.
Then we are ready to embrace the day
And start another adventure.

And we did have a marvelous day hoofing it around Salta yesterday after the night on the bus. It`s a lovely city, quite upscale from what we are used to. Lots of good plades to stay, places to see and places to eat. (And you can eat the salads). Salta is situated in a large valley surrounded by enormous hills. The centre area is filled with glorious old architecture. We toured several churches, one museum of history and two museums of art and we both survived our first gondola ride up a mountain. There we shared cervaza grande and still managed the over 1000 steps to get back down to town. Today though my legs still feel a little rubbery.

This morning, I did a quarter sheet painting of a balcony with flowers (always one of my favourite subjects). It´s all about the fabulous lighting and the shadows.
While I was working I had lots of people stop and talk, although almost entirely in Spanish. One girl had amazing English. I asked her where she learned it and she said she learned it from watching television!!!! Also a woman came out onto the balcony that I was painting and watered her flowers!!! I grabbed the camera and this will definitely be a subject for a studio painting once I am home again in Nova Scotia.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

January 22, 2009

A couple of things that I find amusng in Resistencia.

The pet shop that sell pets rats and their food also features rat poison right up at the checkout!!

The famacia (drug store) is called Klap Famacia

The welcome mat at our hostel features welcome on one half and goodbye of the other (I´ve never seen this before)and neither of which anyone here can read since it is totally Spanish speaking.

The highlight of our hotel is that it has the worlds biggest swish when the toilet is flushed. I just imagine it grabbing me and sucking me into the centre of the earth.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 21, 2009

Like Cameleons, we dash
from one patch of shade to the next.
The air is noticably cooler,
The intense colours muted.
We weave from the shade of giant trees,
to the full shadow of awnings,
to the tiny strip that edges store fronts
when the sun is overhead.
Jim sings:
Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.
And it´s true.
The streets are empty,
Gone are the scooters, the cars and the walkers.
It´s siesta time.
Even the supermarcado is cerrado!

Yesterday in Asuncion, Paraguay, Jim and I went out to our favourite bar for breakfast and on the way discovered that the door to the museum of culture was not locked, not exactly open but not locked. In we went and found a worker upstairs who showed us to the third floor and put on lights for us. One gallery was all Paraguayan and the other European, none of it memorable. Then we headed to the bus station. One of the hazards of our kind of travel is that it´s hard to plan ahead.Getting to a bus station even once in large unfamiliar cities and speaking almost no Spanish is a challenge and so usually we just get to the bus station and then wait until there´s a bus headed where we want to go to. Sometimes it decides where we want to go to! Yesterday we arrived at the station at 10 and booked a ticket on a bus for Residencia, Argentina that left at 3. Last night at 11 we arrived. Our Lonely Planet , South America on a Shoe String is somewhat out of date.
The first hotel we asked the taxi to take us to had been closed for three years.
The second one cost twice as much as was in the book but thankfully had a room.
Some of our worst meals have also come from places in our guide. (La Vica Verde)
but to be fair, we´ve also had some of our best meals at places in the guide: Bar San Roque, with its spiffy black suited and crisp white shirted waiters (food to match) and the Lido Bar with it´s curving bar and behind it´s plump middle aged waitresses, in kneelength straight orange skirts, striped shirts and tiny orange pill box hats held on with two enormous bobby pins. Perhaps the orange theme is relevant since the jugo de naranja is the best orange juice in the world. Definitely two of my highlights of Paraguay are the fabulous orange juice and coffee con leche just the way I like it.

This morning we woke up in Resistencia, Argentina. and set off to explore before the heat limited our ramblings. In the big square on opposite sides there were two large demonstations brewing. Horse drawn carts were clipping by and being parked. Their drivers marching to protest for the workers party. While on the other side of the square, protestors for ???????? had spent the night in tents and were gathering up bedrolls and children. Resistencia seems a perfect name for this town.

Now I haven´t been in a good protest since 1982, when Danica (a new born) and I made the front page of the Truro Daily News with our placard against uranium mining at the Bob McCleave inquiry. I am good at making placards. So when we next have a demonstration or a protest in Portaupique, I volunteer to do the signs, Jim says he´ll rouse the rabble. Now we just need a drummer, some protestors and a cause.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday January 19

When we awoke yesterday in the depressing cool noisey box that was our room at the Plaza Hotel, I got out the guide book and started reading about alternative accomodations. I also unshackled the window of it¨s metal cladding, opened the curtians, folded back the windows and turned off the annoying thrumming of the air conditioning. When Jim came in after his shower he was surprised. Especially when I told him I wanted to check out a different pension up the road!! He´s a good man.
Much as he thought I was crazy, up the road we went. We´re now in a gorgious old old house with a central courtyard and blessed quiet. We then hopped on the bus and after getting off and walking for a couple of hours in extreme heat we found the only book store in Paraguay that carries some English books. Heaven. I felt so indulgent since we spent 680,000 quierani. (don´t panic too much 100,000 is $ 20 US.) I now have four books to read, John Updikes, Seek My Face, Margaret Atwoods Moral Disorder and Dave Eggers What is the What, also a book by an unknown to me author Anne Enright, The Gathering and it won the 2007 Booker. For everyone who knows me, you´ll understand how hard it was for me to be without a good book.
No doubt we will now find a book exchange with cheap or free English books but in case we don´t I´m all set. I didn´t buy a table cloth because I´d have to carry it and now I happily will have to carry four new books.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday January 17

Yesterday we left Casa del Monte by taxi and went to Atyra. Our taxi was half as much as what we paid the chap that offered us the free ride up to Casa del Monte two days ago. We stowed our packs at the municipal office and set off around the town on foot. There were signs with messages of inspiration and about equality and respect in the park. The town was very tidy with lots of nice houses and helpful people. Just no hotels or hostels.The women who had helped us find the municipàl office when we arrived by bus two days ago gave me a big hug and kisses She was so pleased to see me again.Another chap was hitching up his oxen and insisted on giving me a ride. Several groups of men have business doing leather work but we couldn´t see any other source of income for this perfect little town in the middle of no where.

At noon before the municipal office closed for the weekend, we collected out packs and went to the bus station. Because we didn´t jump right up and holler and flag the bus to stop, it just drove right on by. We knew what to do when the next bus came by! It was only $ 1 to travel the 60 km to Asuncion. It took us several hours of bumping along in the bus. Windows were open. Seats were hard. People laughed and talked and people kept getting onto the bus for a short distance. While they were on the bus they tried to flog stuff--- suckers. chipas, icecream cones, chocolate donuts, candy. One man was even flogging mens underwear. Another chap that had gotten on with six enormous bags of buns bought a three pack size small. He didn´t look like a size small to me!!!!!
One man got on with a huge box taped and tied and then proceeded to talk loudly on his cell phone, while another chap gave us a loud spiel to buy him cds and dvds!!!

Eventually we arrived in Asuncion. Now, suddenly, we can have to be afraid of everyone even the little kids. And even the mosquitoes since dengue fever is around. And it is so incredibly hot that we just have to stay inside in the afternoon. We did do a long walking tour of the central area this morning. Lots of wonderful wonderful old buildings and houses and presidencial palaces etc. I have never been a beer lover but quickly Jim and I have formed the habit of stopping to split a large cold cervasa.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday January 15

Thunder rumbles in the distance,
Occationally crashing overhead on this mountaintop at Casa Delmonte.
The jungle like air is hot and wet,
One minute dripping and the next pouring.
It slides over yellow green, to blue green to green green,
Wrapping us all in a soft heavy fragrant cloak.
Trills, chortles, piercing cries, deep screeches eminate from overhead,
Their owners hidden in the foliage until the rain passes and the day turns glorious.
Large ants scurry by, always on a mission.
Are these the same ants that make the giant red mounds
that jut up like large bolders in the fields?
A gecho races up a tall straight palm
heading for the explosion of foliage overhead.
Insects buzz and dart.
I wonder which ones carry denga fever.
Our room in this expensive eco lodge is simple, austere.
In the cheap hotel in town which was within our budget,
we slept under a hideous red and brown tapestry bedspread
edged with gobs of slithery red satin.
Now we sleep under off white woven cotton.

Hello All
Yesterday we packed up in Caccupe and took our bags down to the main street and waited for a bus to Atyra. The day before we had seen numerous buses to Atyra but we had to wait about an hour until one appeared. I forgot that that carrying my suitcase, I couldn´t get up the steps of the bus! Somehow we got on. The ride up was on a long red sand road. We kept wondering how would we know Atyra when we got there? Eventually we arrived at a marvelous little town. We asked an older lady about hotels and she took us up the street to the municipal office and eventually we were driven several kilometers up a mountain to an expensive compound resort, Casa Delmonte. Perhaps Atyra doesn´t have a hotel. Although this isn´t at all what we wanted we´re here for two nights. We´re enjoying the pool, the good food (expensive) and we have plans to spend all day tomorrow seeing Atyra. We´re also studying our Spanish with more vim and vigour since it´s our lack of language that really makes travelling difficult.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday January 12

Yesterday we caught a local bus from Caaguazu to Caacupe. Getting a ticket amidst a crowd of locals all speaking Spanish was a challenge itself. Ond chap told us with actions to sit down. Another chap offered us sips of his mate. Now I realize sharing a straw and drinking strange water wouldn´t be the best idea but we did want to try it so we did and so far no bad reprocussions. Eventually we got herded onto a bus going to Caacupe. Someone had been sick on this bus and this held things up. Eventually we all pushed on. More and more and more until you couldn´t squeeze another person into the aisle. It´s a feat to stand up in a bumpy bus for two and half hours! I was too high to see out the windows but my face was only a foot from the television screen so I watched some Jackie Chan comedy and violence in Spanish whether I wanted to or not.

It was sort of scarey to arrive with packs in melting hot temperatures having no idea where to stay, when you don-t speak the language however we did manage to find a place and the air conditioning is worth every penny. I think this year air conditioning might be our new requirement. Last year it was that I had to have a window, this year I just want a place to escape the extreme heat. We are drinking quite a bit of beer and it has never tasted so good.

This morning we set off walking and went to a municipal building. Jim and I managed to find a wonderful tourist information person. She didn-t speak much English but a tiny bit and she took us on a hours walk around the town. We even got to the top of the big church. Then we went to a small old church that has holy water that heals so we are both now YOUNG again.

After the walk around, Jim worked on his blog and I headed off with my paints and did a quartersheet painting in the full sun. Unfortunately it isn-t as wonderful as I wanted it to be but such is the challenge of being an artist.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday January 12

We are in Caaguazu, the first town we´ve visited on this trip that isn´t in any of the guide books. If feels wonderful. Even though Jim and I are tourists ourselves, I find that tourists ruin the fabric of everyday life in a village. And it´s that fabric that I enjoy seeing.

After we arrived here by bus we hoofed it around Caaguazu and just saw whatever there was to see. I also took a walk around by myself and did some painting. Even last night, we dragged a table and chairs out onto a deck overlooking the street and watched the traffic.
Jim did a study about the nuber of women on motorcyles. According to JiM: 90% of women after 6 pm go 2 to a bike. Once we started recognizing all the people on the bikes (ie. here´s the family with the two small children and another on the way) we gave up the study and played cards. We also shared a delicious $ 1.00 a bottle of wine!

Earlier when we´d been out for a late afternoon ramble we saw a bride on the back of a motorcylce. She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and was holding her veil and hair so it wouldn´t fly about. Ten minutes later we walked by a church and there was a bride getting out of a car. Darn I said. It´s not our bride, this one has different hair and veil. We stopped and watched for a few minutes and another car and bride pulled up and this time it was our girl. Then much to our amazement a third bride and bridal party arrived!!! Who knows what this is all about!

When Danica was is Asia, she gave us lists of the weirdest things she saw on a motorcyle. We can´t come close to Danica´s record but motorcycles in Paraguay (some even made by Yamazuki) are a major form of transportation and in the evenings, entertainment. They might even be a form of birth control because of how many people can you really fit on one bike? Enormous speed bumps on the roads attempt to slow the traffic but everyone weaves around, wearing bare feet and shorts and clutching infants. We even saw one girl text messaging while driving her bike. Luckily most of the bikes don´t have loud sterio systems but the cars more than make up for this.

The town of Caaguazu has an inordinate number of bridal dress shops, cell phone shops and farmacias. Jim and I speculated on the relationship. We also walked by lots of video stores one even aptly named Pirata Video.

A few of the main streets are paved and some of the cross streets are cobble. Quickly, away from the town centre, the streets are just red sand and some have enormous ruts and holes and wouldn´t be passable by car. This morning before the temperature made being outside upbearable we wandered into the countryside. The houses on the edge of town are basic shacks, people are sitting outside drinking their mate, and horses and chickens and dogs and little kids wander freely. We are still trying to figure out exactly what mate is. Everyone carries large two litre thermos jugs of it and they have special cups and metal straws which also sieve the leaves out. Yesterday we tried a chipa. Chipas are the size and shape of a small donut and they are are like a warm solid bun flavoured with anise. It was really tasty. I´ve also been noticing emperados of empernos for sale. They look like Cornish Pasteries. The first one I tried was awful, dry, cold chewy bun filled with dry cold chewy meat. Today´s was terrific. It was hot and filled with ham and cheese.

It is such a relief to find air conditioning that my reports from Paraguay may continue to be really long since I want to postpone going out into the heat again!

Friday, January 9, 2009

January 9

I have discovered that it always good to stay more than one day in a place as after the initial panic of a new place, I settle in and start to enjoy myself.
This morning, after a good breakfast and a chat with the resident parrots, Jim and I set off walking to find the bus station. Jim boldly went though a gate to a government building. I was ready to bolt. He explaned to the suited chap at the table at the door that we were from Canada and we needed tourist information. This chap took us upstairs to the office of another chap who everntually took us to the office of a third chap. Our third chap spoke some English and had been to Canada with a Rotary exchange. He was very interested in giving us ideas of places to see in Paraguay. He called another chap who was responsible for tourism and translated for us. Now we have some ideas of towns to see and we will catch a bus to the first on tomorrow. Jim, who´s ever prepared and resourceful pulled out Canada and Nova Scotia pins for our new friends and they were pleasse.

On our hike back from the bus station, I even found a spot where it was safe enough to get the camera out and take a photo. We were in front of the armed Dept of Justice!! I got a couple of photos and then I hunkered down to do a little sketch. Across the street there were three men sitting in the shade with a big rack of two litre colourful matte thermoses. Unfortunately I haven´t had the opportunity to try matte yet. I think it´s a cold tea which is sipped with a straw that has a built in strainer. So far Jim and I have stuck with beer but eventually I´ll find some matte that I´m sure is made with clean water.

It is amazingly hot here. A few minutes ago we had a sudden wind and thunder and rain and still it is hot but the air may be a bit less heavy.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

January 8

This morning Jim and I got a local bus in Foz de Iguacu and went to the Itaipu Dam, a joint project of Brazil and Paraguay. Now that Three Gorges Dam in China is built, it is the second largest in the world. First of all we had to watch a nausiating film full of propoganda about how wonderful this project is. Recently I rented Üp the Yatze River¨ from the Bass River store.This documentary on the Three Gorges Dam should be shown to balance out the Itaipu film. In any regard, the Itaipu Dam is an enormous hydro electric project and perhaps that´s still the safest best way to produce electricity.

It is scortching hot today, even still at 7 pm. When we returned from the dam, we collected our bags from the hotel and got a taxi to Ciudad Del Este in Paraguay. Luckily the first hostel we went to was full and so we are in a slightly more upscale place with air conditioning!!! and a patio. The town itself is very frightening. Maybe I´ll acclimatize by tomorrow. Although I had my camera tucked out of sight in a shoulder bag that I had my arm around, the lady at the hostel lent me a backpack and told me to put it on my front and to clutch it. At this rate there will be not be any photos in Ciudad del Este. The streets here are lined with stalls and dirt and cheap stuff and noice. It feels much worse than Bankok.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wednesday January 7, 2009

We spent the past two days at Iguazu Falls; yesterday on the Brazilian side and today on the Argentinian side. Yesterday was glorious but oh so crowded. We almost didn´t go back today but I´m so glad that we did. The Iguazu Falls are very extensive and the Argentinian side has lots of trails so that at some points you occationally experience the jungle atmostphere all by yourselves. I started out today sketching people waiting for the train. I savoured how all of our faces are the same (two eyes, one nose and one mouth) and yet we are all different like snowflakes. It´s a buzz for an artist just to try to capture a look in a few seconds with just a little black squiggled line!

During the day I also did two watercolour sketches of the falls. The first was okay, but a bit tight. In the second one I sort of captured the power and amazingness of these waterfalls. It´s hard to do a painting standing up holding everything, especially when tourists keep leaning over your shoulder and saying look this way, turn your painting this way. Suddenly I was the tourist attraction.

Jim and I hiked allot today and when we stopped to sit on one shady stone bench a large lizard (about two feet) slithered out in front to get its photo taken. We also saw many long nosed racoons (just as much a problem here as at home) . We also saw some huge fish and a camen. The fish have evolved differently above the falls and below the falls. I have many photos of birds and butterflies and of course allot of water. Everyone seems to want to have their photo taken with a back drop of the falls. This is a totally new thing for me to have my picture taken so often by Jim!

I hope any of my friends and family who are travelling along with us vicariously are enjoying the trip! I´m glad you´re along and I miss you all

Monday, January 5, 2009

January 4th (day three of the trip)

After breakfast this morning we headed downhill on foot for about 25 minutes to a huge huge park. On the way we enjoyed a street filled with a Sunday morning market. The park has 5 or 6 big galleries in it but most were closed until Jan 6 for renovation except the Museum of Modern Art. The first piece we saw was by Yoko Ono and was an installation of about 100 coffins, all in various sizes each with a tree growing out of it. Is this about life after death? Another piece had two enormous screens with one man facing outwards and the other with the same man facing inwards. Non stop he made weird noices, birds, gargling, screaming etc. Not a piece that I would care to live with!! Probably the piece I enjoyed most was a large room with four walls. One wall had small wooden men with briefcases hurrying forward- many rows of many men. One was had the same men in different scenerios of life. The aspect of this that I loved was the cast shadows from the scenerios, especially the man climbing a ladder. On another all the briefcases were being gathered in a giant funnel and then men turned into birds and flew away!!!

Once back outside in the enormous park we joined the throngs of people- running, biking, walking, skateboarding. We decided that since we are leaving Sao Paulo tomorrow we should find our way to the bus station and investigate destinations and times cost etc. We got on the subway okay and off at the right stop but at the bus station I was overwehlmed with the crowds of people, and all the bus companies and no way to communicate with anyone. Somehow although I was totally scared. we managed to book an over night bus to the Falls on the border of Paraguay, Argintina and Brazil for tomorrow. The bus trip is 15 hours and was over $200 dollars. It is only a tiny leg of our trip. I´m hoping it`s cheaper when we`re out of Brazil.

On our way back to our hotel we got off the subway at Luz and right in front of the stop was another fantastic art gallery! (Jim is a saint) This one had a huge collection of Brazilian art from x1x to xx1. Again it was organized by theme not time period and the exhbition walls were very high and hung in the old gallery style of five or six painting deep so that some of them were at 14`feet overhead. There was allot to look at and we enjoyed it all. I loved the styalized sculpture and the modern sculpture better than the realiztic female nudes. Some of the abstract work had real sizzle and a few of the oils of faces and landscapes made me want to come right home and paint in oils. We left the gallery at 5:45 to see the park before it got dark since it is known to be unsafe. We only had 15 minutes before the guards kicked us out. That´s one way to handle unsafe. Eventually we headed home on the subway and we went to the restaurant that we ate the buns at on night one. We managed to figure out the buffet and I had my first fantastic healthy meal. Sometimes it is very scarely to travel in a large city where you can`t communicate with anyone. Despite that, Jim remains peaceful and I feel amazed and proud that we´re having fun and surviving. The journey is the adventure-- just as in life.

January 3.2009

We set off up Avenue Paulista. It is lined with amazing sky scrapers. The architecture is astonishing. Art made out of buildings. Many of the buildings were fully decorated for Christmas with swatches of fabric the height of the buildings. They looked like giant presents. And the decorations at ground level are out of this world: columns wrapped in blue and gold, a santa train, giant christmas trees. One big one that I found lovely was made out of huge metal shapes covered with crushed pop cans. This afternoon we wandered into one bank doorway and the entire mesanine was filled with small houses from different countries, each one decorated for christmas and with a life sized santa and mrs. claus. The balls on the ceiling were at least 8 feet in diameter and there were also a zillion stars in lights. In amongst the mechanical santas there were real people posing as mechanical.

I never know when something will catch my eye and I`ll have to dig out my camera. This morning I got a great shot of a reflection in wall/ceiling of two tables with different colours chairs and one woman eating was seen from the top of her head.

Also today we saw the biggest cultural book shop that you can ever imagine. Three architecturally stunning levels. Disappointing to me that everything was in Portuguese. Also in this complex called CAIXA we saw an exhibition of art by Inha Bastos, called Feminino. Her style is distinctive and reminisent of my potatoe people paintings. I loved the whimsy and the gentle consistency of this exhibition.

As usual, I have a hard time walking by an open church and so we found one to have a few minutes of quiet. The city is not really frenzied though. The traffic is respectful and nobody lays on their horns. It is safe to cross the road on a green walk signal. Much of the fast traffic must be on the highway that runs under Avenue Paulista! Everyone in Sao Paulo drives a tiny car and nobody hangs out of the buses holloring as in Bolivia.

Jim and I wandering into an amazing park across from the Museum of Art of Sao Paulo MASP.
This park was two city blocks of rain forest right in the city!! A high arched bridge spanned the road in the middle down below and it didn`t interfere with the park at all. It has been consistently raining or misty and that definitely added to the rain forest perseption.

The MASP gallery was just wonderful. Jim got in for free since he`s over 60. He`s 66 today!
The main exhibit was Virtue and Appearance (on the way to modernity). It was marvelous and huge and organized by theme rather than by time period, which made an interesting juxdapositon of images. All the big names were represented--Degas, Monet, Manet, Picasso, Da Vinci, Cezanne, Tintoretto, Rodin etc etc. They even had a Kath Kolwitz, the artist whose exhibit I loved while visiting Japan. Recently Jim found a book on her at our Truro Library and we book really enjoyed it. Its amazing how much of my current reading keeps popping into life. The recent biography of Leonardo Da Vinci that I read in Texas talked about his notebooks. Reproductions of these notebooks were on sale in the cultural bookshop in Sao Paulo.

After the Virtue and Appearance Exhibit, we went up to another floor for an exhibition of Chinese contemporary art. and then to the ground level for some Brazilian art.

Needless to say, we were very very hungery after all the walking and looking. I took Jim out for a birthday supper. Its a total crap shoot to order food from a Portuguese menu!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sao Paulo, here we are

January 2,2009
We arrived today in Sao Paulo, Brazil this morning. It was a long overnight flight and we were so tired. We had a half hour walk looking to buy some water and then took a nap in our digs. booked into the Hotel Real Paulista for the next three days. Our room is definitely very very cramped but welcome to South America and our slim budget. Our room is about $ 40 a night-- way over our budget in Bolivia. But despite the rooms tiny size and mean appointments, we do have a private toilet and hot water- both luxuries that Jim enjoys. And the location is wonderful and the area feels safe.
After the nap, Jim was in the shower and I headed downstairs to sketch. I did the sculpture in the little corner park right outside the hotel door. It felt so good to be drawing, surrounded by `park people`` beggars, infirm, cyclists and old men. It did cross my mind that I was the only female and definitely the park regulars (including the pigeons) were interested in this newcomer. I was having a really good time when the skies opened, the park emptied and the rain poured.

Jim and I set off in the rain exploring. We found a lovely garden and later a marvelous art exhibit. It was called 300% Spanish and was two floors of exhibitions. One was of lighting, one was posters and one was chairs. I just loved it and I``m inspired to design a lamp, a chair and a poster!! This exhibition followed on the heals of seeing the movie Helvetica in Texas. This movie about graphic design was just what these exhibitions were all about. Of course my favourite chair was designed by Salvidor Dali!!!

By 6 pm I was starving having only had a coffee and yogurt on the plane this morning. We went to a small cafe and couldn.t quite figure out how to get what we wanted but we did share a piece of crepe and buns and we bought some cookies and a bottle of wine. We may have to open it with our teeth.

Tomorrow is Jim~s birthday so anyone who is following this blog you might want to send him greetings, to
and of course email me too if you want to.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Day 2009

Happy New Year to all!
Jim and I are off to South America today.
The photos about I got in Dallas at the Aquarium.