New Year’s Eve on Paulista

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(photo by matt masin)

Last night, the crew trekked up the street to Avenida Paulista for the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration any of us have attended. News stories said the crowd would number in the millions and there would be millions of security officers.

I can’t say if there were that many, I can’t say if there were more, but it was packed as far as the eye could see and everyone was having a great time.

Toward one end of Paulista, the street where the celebrations were held, there was a stage where massive Christmas decorations had been a few days before.

The speed of the infastructure work in Brazil continues to surprise me…from my rooftop vantage point where I shot once by myself and once with Matt for my motoboy story, I noticed that in a matter of days all of Brigadeiro, a main cross street of Paulista, had been repaved. In similar fashion, the whole street of Paulista was revamped for this one evening in what must have been record time. I do feel bad for the cleanup crews, though.

Festivities started at 8 p.m. and I’m not sure that they ever ended.

Here’s what our cameras saw last night; we wish you all a happy new year.

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(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by anna reed)

(photo by anna reed)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by matt masin)

(photo by matt masin)

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(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by brianna soukup)

(photo by brianna soukup)

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(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

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(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by brianna soukup)

(photo by brianna soukup)

Happy 2013. Stay well, stay happy, stay safe and appreciate everything and everyone that you have.

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Bertioga or Bust

Precursor: Please listen to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding while enjoying this blog post.

After three months of research and planning, 60 or so emails, a week in São Paulo and a two hour bus ride, I arrived in Bertioga, Brasil. It looked like a postcard.Image

The harbor is full of fishing vessels and other small watercraft. The downtown area right next door to the shipyard is a picturesque tourist spot complete with traditional Brazilian food vendors and rows and rows of souvenir shops. But, the serene river where the boats are docked is the real sight to behold.

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In the “low season” (Brasil’s winter months), Bertioga is considered a small town of around 50,000 citizens. But, during the height of summer in December, the population booms to over 200,000. I celebrated Christmas in Bertioga with my translator, Karla, and her family. There was no turkey on the table here; Christmas eating in Brasil is all about the Chester (a.k.a. turkey/chicken/butter all rolled into one and cooked to perfection in a ziplock bag).

I will celebrate the New Year in Bertioga as well. I’ve been told that Dec. 31 is the craziest night of the year and that I probably won’t be able to sleep from the fire works and loud celebrations. Nonetheless, I’m still looking forward to starting of 2013 with a splash! Dang it, I love puns.

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From above

Last night I had the opportunity to take photographs from atop one of the many skyscrapers on Paulista Avenue, thanks to Andrew Dickinson, who needed roof access for his motoboy story.

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Being high above the streets was the first chance I had to truly grasp how huge this city is. It doesn’t matter which direction you look toward, there are too many skyscrapers to count.

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There was a light rain while Andrew and I were up on the building, so I figured finding some sort of rain feature photo was necessary. I messed around with probably a dozen different shots before taking this frame. It’s rare to go a day in Sao Paulo without rain, and when it didn’t rain for nearly two days this week, we all started to miss the rain.

Thanks for looking,

Matt

Beach prowlers

Bertioga, a municipality in the state of São Paulo, is a beach town surrounded by lush mountains and low-sitting clouds. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

Bertioga, a municipality in the state of São Paulo, is a beach town surrounded by lush mountains and low-sitting clouds. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

On Sunday morning Brian, Bethany and I woke up before the sun rose and made our way through a series of mishaps to the bus station to travel southeast to a little beach town called Bertioga. Bethany’s story required a trip to the coast and I –– being a first-time photo trip taker –– went along for the ride to see how a story is shaped and contacts are made in a foreign city. We spent a lot of time touring the city with Bethany’s guide Ailton and trying to find surfers for Bethany to talk to about starting her multimedia piece.

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A fisherman gets up from his post at a pastel stand near Bertioga’s ferry. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

A little girl leans out her family's VW bus while parked on the ferry that takes travelers from Bertioga to Guarujá. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

A little girl leans out her family’s VW bus while parked on the ferry that takes travelers from Bertioga to Guarujá. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

The cloud cover over the mountains was absolutely gorgeous, but we were getting antsy with the lack of surfers on Bertioga’s main beach. We decided to take Ailton’s advice and hop on the ferry to get over to this surfer trail through the mountains. The winding path led to a beach in Guarujá that is notorious for surfer camps and communities (perfect, right?). We walked for about 30 minutes through the jungle, listening to the sounds of the birds and bugs and trying our best not to fall flat on our faces on the slick rocks under our aching feet. The trip was worth it tenfold –– we found the surfers that Bethany was looking for, and spent time interviewing various natives about their surf stories.

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Eduardo, a 10-year-old surfer from the hills of Praia Branca, poses between his grandparents’, aunt’s and parents’ homes. Eduardo comes from a family of surfers and is already lining his dresser with trophies and prizes from surf competitions around Brazil. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

We met a lot of friendly faces, walked a lot of miles and got plenty of help from Ailton along the way. I’m excited to see what kind of story Bethany gets from the people on the coast –– I know there are plenty to be told. I will be heading down to the far southern coast of SP tomorrow morning to get to work on my photo story, so check back soon to see how it unfolds.

A balloon salesman waits next to his helium pump in Bertioga. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

A balloon salesman waits next to his helium pump in Bertioga. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

Thanks for looking and giving us feedback. It means a lot.

–– Kat Buchanan

Lack of shelter, abundance of character

I spent Christmas Eve with the homeless. Contrary to popular belief, these people are far from being miserable. They may go through some miserable situations, but that doesn’t change their personalities. During today’s celebration, I saw more joy, excitement and passion than I’ve ever seen at my own Christmas celebrations.

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But there was suffering too. The man pictured below got into a confrontation with another man who tried to steal his belongings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture that moment, as a nearby police officer told me to put my camera down.

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I saw bare feet and filthy clothes, empty alcohol bottles and crack pipes. People slept on sidewalks covered in plastic bags. But these negative sights don’t make me think any less of these beautiful people.

Their spirits were high today, as they celebrated Christmas just like the rest of us. Feliz Natal.

Until next time,

Cara Wilwerding

Recycled treasures

Subway

A favela is seen through the rainy windows of a subway station.

Today Nickolai and I spent hours riding the subway and train with our translator, Kayam, in search of garbage collectors.

We first stopped under a bridge on João Moura street to look into a huge collection site, where trash is sorted. I was excited when we found the right spot because there was garbage everywhere. Bottles, shoes, cardboard and glass littered the site inhabited by three workers and a couple dogs, that we assume were infested with fleas. But after talking to a woman who organizes collections, we were told we couldn’t take pictures today.

A bit discouraged and already getting thirsty, we left João Moura and headed across town. I got my first glimpse of favelas, some of the most inhabited, but poorest communities in the city. After a long journey, we arrived at the home of Luiz Carlos, a 45-year-old man who doesn’t seem to waste anything.

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Carlos works in his garden, as he does nearly every day when he’s not working as a car mechanic.

Over the years, Carlos has collected an assortment of unwanted items to decorate his garden. He has motorcycle helmets, dolls and mannequins, lights, posters and toys, just to name a few items.

A bird's eye view shows Carlos' garden where he collects unwanted items.

A bird’s eye view shows Carlos’ garden where he collects unwanted items.

Carlos painted a mural on the back wall of his garden to show the beauty of Sao Paulo and to promote world peace.

Carlos painted a mural on the back wall of his garden to show the beauty of São Paulo and to promote world peace.

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Carlos lives in a small shack next to his garden. It was cramped and dark with a gravel floor in some areas — unlike any home I’ve ever seen in the U.S.

A broken-down guitar rests on Carlos' bed.

A broken-down guitar rests on Carlos’ bed.

While I wasn’t able to spend much time with Carlos, I plan to return within the next couple days. I’ll also explore a different trash collection site on Wednesday, and hopefully I’ll have better luck than I did today.

Until next time,

Cara Wilwerding.

Wheels

Today, Bethany and I spent some time with the same photo group that she and a few other students met earlier this week –– this time, at a makeshift skate park under a large sheltered walkway. Tons of teenagers, children and adults were wheeling their way around the area, enjoying snacks, stopping to look at artwork, playing ball and lounging around the sheltered area to stay out of the rain.

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Stay tuned. Thanks for reading.
–– Kat Buchanan