"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." Angela Schwindt

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Where In The World is Matt ? Brazil Edition Day 15

We ended up working 12 hours Saturday, but I think we are in good shape and will be able to return home Wednesday, after work. Of course, I won’t be back in the US until Thursday morning. I’m flying back to Traverse City, Michigan where Kiana and the kids are picking me up at the airport. They are there camping up at Higgins Lake right now. I can’t wait!
Three of our group of five left for home this afternoon. I ventured out on my own after they left and walked along the river until I got to the street vendors that I had seen two weeks ago. There is an area of the river that has some small water falls in it and all the rapids associated with them. There were many people gathered around this area, taking pictures, and socializing. I walked up and down the row of street vendors until I found the two that were selling the sugar cane juice. This interested me because they have a mechanical press that they run the cane through several times as the juice drains into a pitcher. I really wanted to taste fresh sugarcane juice. In Portuguese, it is “caldo de cana”. I found that phrase on a sign and from what I could tell, a cup was $2 Real (Brazilian). I had my two dollars ready and told the guy I wanted a “copo”. That means cup, I sure didn’t want the whole pitcher. Then, he started asking me something else… sounded like a question… something or lemon… Yea, I’ll try the lime flavored sugar cane juice. He handed me a cup, poured it full, and took my $2. It was great! It tasted extremely sweet and with just a hint of lime. I wouldn’t be able to drink much more than one cup, but it sure was good.

The vendors also have green coconuts that they cut the top off of and stick a straw into. I didn’t try one of those. Maybe next trip.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Where In The World is Matt ? Brazil Edition Day 12

We had a great time last night.  My co-worker and friend, Derek, plays in a band (www.realitynox.com).  He brought his guitar along so that he could stay in practice for a show immediately after he returns home.  Marcos, a Brazilian co-worker found two other engineers that can play drums and bass guitar.  He reserved a room at the Cat Club and worked out a deal with the bar for some beer and soda.  Marcos also brought pizza for dinner.  We met there last night and listened to music until 10 pm.   It was wonderful to see the two cultures combine and mix.  What is a classic in the US mostly holds true in Brazil.  They maybe only knew about 20% of the songs that Derek was playing, but they were good enough musicians that they could fake it very well.  Total cost, about $10 per person.  Cheap entertainment, but a very rich experience! 

I also found it interesting that in an informal situation like we had last night, it is acceptable to eat pizza with your hands.  At a restaurant, it would be eaten with a knife and fork.  I have noticed that everyone has a knife and a fork when eating.  They never put the knife down, it seems to be just as important as the fork.  I never see them use the side of the fork to cut food either.  One of the options for lunch yesterday was fried chicken.  Everyone ate it with utensils.  I was glad that I went with the steak again.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Joe Cool

Jadon loves his sunglasses lately.  He likes to just wear them around the house.  He had me put them on him this morning as soon as he got up and he walked around the house wearing them the whole time he drank his milk.  He puts them on and just looks around.  He likes the way things look different through the glasses.  Of course he looks super cool in them also!  I get a good chuckle everytime I look over and  he has them on again. He is hilarious!

Joe Cool

Notice he must have his lovey AND his milk.

He wears them on top of his head when he needs to see better.  Hilarious!

I am too cool for you! 

Oh and he even gives people the over the top of the glasses look sometimes.  Jake was talking to him and he pulled down the shades to look at him! 


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Where In The World is Matt ? Brazil Edition Day 10

Here is Matt's latest update.


When Cesar picked us up to go to dinner tonight, he asked if we would like to go get a sandwich for something different. I immediately thought that this would be a welcome break from all the eating we have been doing. I was wrong. This sandwich had a slice of grilled pork loin, a layer of ham, a fried egg, cheese, lettuce, grilled peppers and onions, and was served on a loaf of French bread. It was the size of a dinner plate. They just don’t eat light down here.

The restaurant was located on a corner and had overhead, roll up doors that were up. This allowed them to open up most of two walls to the sidewalk. The couple that ran\owned the place had been in business for 35 years in the same location and live in the building right next door. They served packaged frozen ice-cream treats, beer, soda, and cigarettes. They also offered a homemade mayonnaise that is just incredible. However, I’ll have to take Cesar’s word for it as I wasn’t brave enough to try any.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Where In The World is Matt ? Brazil Edition Day 9?? Losing track!


The barbeque was great. The “Cat Club” is an area that Caterpillar employees can use for swimming, basketball, soccer, reunions, parties, etc... There are 3 different pools, a gym, tennis courts, sand volleyball court, a children’s playground, a large room for wedding receptions or other parties, a bar, and several shelters with grills, sinks, and restrooms. The place was amazing. From what I understand, employees are only required to pay under $20 a month for the membership and then have access to the facility.

The CAT Club

Some arrived at 10 am to get the charcoal lit for the barbeque. The chicken and fish went on the top shelf above the fire first, because they cook slowly. As people started arriving, the beef was put on the fire, closer to the coals. This was sliced up thinly and served with salad and fruit. There was papaya, pineapple, and bananas. The meat was cooking the entire time. After the beef, two different cuts of pork were cooked, then more beef, then the fish, and finally the chicken. Towards the end, they put bananas on the grill, in their peel. When they were warm and soft, they cut them open lengthwise and sprinkled them with cinnamon. That really made a great tasting, healthy desert.

Grilled Banana

The barbeque is a time to get together and eat and visit for the entire afternoon. Some played soccer, but of course they called it football. Derek found a bamboo stick and a tennis ball, and attempted to play a little baseball. The pools were not open, and won’t open until October. They all laugh when we mention anything about swimming at this time of the year. It is winter, you know. The temperature was only in the mid 80’s after all.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Where In The World is Matt? Brazil Edition Day 6+7

 This is late because we did not have internet from the time we woke up until about 6:30!!! So frustrating!

My posts really seem to gravitate towards the topic of food, but so much of  the Brazilian culture depends on food and time spent with friends and family, eating.  Last night, our friend and coworker, Anselmo, wanted to take us out for dinner again.  Anselmo, his wife, and son stopped at the hotel to get us at 7:45.  We had pizza (at a different restaurant) and talked until 11:15.  As we were walking to the car, Anselmo’s wife confirmed that, “this is a normal time for us to finish dinner here”.  Wow.

The pizza was very good, but not unlike American pizza.  Of the three that we tried, there was a four cheese pizza that was my favorite.  One of the cheeses had been smoked with eucalyptus wood and really made that pizza stand out.  The appetizer was mozzarella balls made with buffalo milk.  I’m not sure what they were called officially, but it was a ball of mozzarella cheese about 2.5 inches in diameter and served with a sauce made of yellow mustard.  Of course, these were good also. 

Yesterday, we went to the mall and bought some items to take to the park.  We needed something to do while one of the guys I’m with went for a run.  He is training for a marathon and ran 12.5 miles yesterday.  Even leaving the mall was difficult when you can’t read the signs.  As we entered the parking lot, the machine at the gate gave us a credit card.  We fully expected a slip of paper with the time on it typical of paid parking back home.  When we went to leave, we had money ready but the machine wouldn’t take the card.  There was a security guard on a motorcycle there in no time.  He didn’t speak English, but from a series of hand gestures, we figured out that we had to go inside the mall and put money on the card before exiting the lot.  He escorted us back to the mall and walked in to show us where this had to be done.  

 What is this store selling exactly?

"The" brand of flip flops in Brazil.  Anselmo gave Matt a pair about a year ago.  He has them with him. 

At the park, we found a broken broom handle to use as a bat and played a three man version of baseball that we made up on the fly.  We used a tennis ball that we bought at the mall.  I bought a boomerang that said it was made in Brazil and that provided quite a bit of entertainment as well.  Out of about 4000 throws, it only came back close enough to catch, once.  It was good to get out and burn off some of the excess food that we are eating!

 Cacti growing on the roof of the thing at the park. 

Today, from 11-5 they are having a barbeque for us at the Cat club.  I’m sure that’s going to provide plenty for me to type about tomorrow.  I have a feeling that I will be stuffed by 5 pm.  Right now, I am going to get a slice of papaya from the breakfast bar here at the hotel. 


Friday, July 16, 2010

Yuck, Yuck, and Double Yuck

We have had a not so welcome visitor twice in the last week.  It is some sort of  Black Snake or Rat Snake.  I don't really care what kind of snake it is.  All I know is that it is huge and it is gross!!  This nasty creature made it's first appearance last Friday.  Matt was packing for his trip and I was resting on the couch with Jadon.  We heard the dogs going crazy on the front porch.  Matt looked out the front door to find the dogs lunging and barking at a HUGE snake.  He called the dogs in the house and went outside to check it out.  I could not resist.  I had to go see it also.  These creatures really gross me out.   We just left him to go away on his own.  I guess they do eat rodents.  Something I don't want in my house. 

 Visit One-On the front porch.

Then yesterday afternoon the dogs were going crazy again.  Jake looked outside and said "Uh Oh".  He put his shoes on and said he was going to go get the dogs.  I asked him why.  He said the snake was back.  EEwwwww....  I of course had to go out and take some more pics.  It was really mad this time.  I told it if it does not go away I will let the dogs get it next time!!

Visit Two under the pine trees out front.


Where In The World is Matt? Brazil Edition Day 5

Good Morning Everyone!  I slept in a little this morning.  I am starting to feel a little worn out.  Jadon has not been sleeping through the night pretty much since surgery.  We had one good night Wednesday night.  Between the restless nights and getting up several mornings at 5 to take Shelby to detassle I am sleepy.  Sleeping until 7 this morning felt good even though I woke up with Jadon by my side.   When he woke up around 3 I put him in bed with me.  It took about a 20 minutes but he fell back to sleep.  Luckily he stayed asleep when I moved him to his crib when I woke up.  Enjoying some quiet time right now!  Here is Matt's latest update!  Hopefully there are not typos that I missed.  He says I am keeping him up to late chatting on Google!  LOL!

Things are going well in regards to the real reason I am in Brazil, the work at the factory.  All other aspects are fine as well.  Last night, our friend Marcos and his wife took us to dinner at a great Italian restaurant within walking distance from the hotel.  You would never believe this place would be so nice if you saw it from the street.  Inside, it was wonderful, a large open room with many windows and a brick fireplace at one end. The smell from the wood fire added to the ambiance and was just enough to make me feel like I had stepped into a different time and country.  However, the Portuguese menu brought me back to reality quickly.  The owner\chef and his wife had lived in the US for 14 years and had worked in Las Vegas and Florida.  They each were able to communicate very well in English.  They came out and personally greeted us and explained the menu items thoroughly.  I had a spaghetti dish that was very good.  Dessert was a chocolate cake and ice-cream.  The cake was very moist and almost like a mouse inside, and the entire dish was drizzled with chocolate.  This was another wonderful meal and another notch bigger on my belt.

There were three people tending to our table, not including the owner and his wife.  There were also two security guards that he hired to watch his restaurant from outside.  All of these people on the payroll and there was only one other couple in the place the entire time we were there.  Serving the six of us, and two others can’t pay the bills.  They must get very busy on the weekends.  We were there from 7:30 to 10:15, very typical for dinner hours here.

An interesting thing about Marcos, is that he is the only person in the world that I have met on 3 different continents.  I’ve shook his hand on Asia (Middle East), North America (East Peoria), and now South America (Brazil).


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where In The World is Matt? Brazil Edition Day 4

Good Morning Everyone!!  We are still surviving here at the Nafziger house without Matt.  So far so good.  Crossing my fingers that things continue to go somewhat smoothly!  Thank goodness for Google chat on gmail.  We would not be communicating much if not for that!

Our Friend Anselmo and his son Gabe.  His wife could not make it.  She has been out of town caring for her parents. 

Here is Matt's lastest update!

Jason decided to rent a car during this trip.  At this point, I don’t think I would suggest doing this.  The car was the only automatic that they had and was about $100 US per day.  He could have gotten a manual transmission for $30 less per day but he didn’t want to have to brush up on his clutch skills while learning the rules of the road in a foreign country.  I don’t blame him.  Speaking of “rules of the road”, there don’t seem to be any.  Only slightly more rules here than I witnessed in China.  Crazy!  The streets are old, full or holes and nowhere close to running straight.  Just getting to and from the plant is an adventure now!

Tonight, we split up so that two of the guys I am travelling with could go play basketball with a group from the office.  That left Derek and I looking for dinner on our own at about 7:30.  The lady at the hotel desk told us of a pizza place that was within walking distance and she assured us that they took credit cards.  That’s a good thing, because we never have made it out to exchange any US dollars for Brazilian money.

After getting a seat and explaining to the waiter that we wanted a beer and water with no gas (much of the water here is carbonated), we picked up a menu.  He didn’t speak English, but he appeared to be telling us that we didn’t have to order pizza, he would bring it out.  Ok, we thought, we’ll see what he brings.  This place was like a pizza buffet but the waiters carried trays of pizzas around and dumped a slice on your plate whenever they thought you needed one.  Not bad.  Most of the pizzas were much like their American counterparts, with the exception of the dessert pizzas.  The dessert pizzas came in several flavors like chocolate and strawberry, chocolate, banana and cinnamon.  The strange part was, each of these flavors still had mozzarella cheese too!  The other strange thing that I noticed was that everyone in the restaurant was eating pizza with a knife and fork.  Of course, I did too.  When in Brazil, do as the Brazilians.

Oh, and the lady at the hotel desk was wrong.  After eating, we found that they do not accept credit card payments, nor would they accept US cash.  Luckily, the couple sitting next to us consisted of a young woman from Missouri and her boyfriend who was a local but attended college in Missouri.  They offered to exchange our US dollars for Brazilian money so that we could pay the bill.  We were glad that we met them.  Tomorrow, I find a place to exchange some cash!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Today I finally captured some appropriate pictures that I feel perfectly explain why we call Jadon "Monkey".  

Jake was laughing when I took this pic. He was picturing me snapping the photo as Jadon disappears out of site down the other side. Luckily that did not happen.  We got him down as soon as I snapped this pic.

Jadon will climb anything. Dining room chairs, couch....you name it! If no one is at the computer we have to move the chair away so he does not climb up and bang on the keyboard. He tries to scale the recliner just like the couch trying to get to the set of windchimes I have hanging above it (a special gift from our Brazilian friends).  Oh...and the other morning I found him on the dining room table!


Where In The World is Matt? Brazil Edition Day 3

Hi Everyone!  Kiana here!  Matt just sent an update.  I was glad to hear from him.  He never called last night.  I waited, and waited, and waited.....I have no life!  LOL!  He explains  below that there is not internet at the hotel right now.  He was not able to send the pic he refers to yet either.  I will update the post as soon as I get it!! (post updated)

There has been no internet all day today at the hotel.  The woman at the hotel desk told me that this was a city wide problem.  This is exceptionally bad, because it is my method of communication with home.  Luckily, the Cat factory still has an internet connection. 

I did get the hot water to work in the shower on Monday night.  I turned the cold knob way down and the hot all the way on and just let it run for about 15 minutes.  Now, I have hot water every time, almost instantly.  I don’t understand why, but as long as I can take a hot shower, I don’t need to. 

Last night, our Friend Anselmo and his son Gabe took us out to dinner.  He chose a restaurant by the river that serves fish.  Not just any fish.  The one we had was called “Filhote”.  This is a 60 kg (2.2 lbs per kg) fish found in the Amazon.  We had two steaks and it was more than enough for 6 of us.  It was slow cooked over hot coals and served with salad and white rice.  I attached a picture of one of the fish steaks after we had finished it.  You can see the skin and vertebrae still in place.  That is one big fish.  We also order a side dish of French fried cassava or yucca.  Cassava is a potato like vegetable that I found at Wal-Mart in Bloomington once.  We tried it raw, and it was horrible.  Fried, it is wonderful but what isn’t?  Dinner was great.

Dinner plays a major role in the Brazilian culture.  It appears that this is not something that should be rushed.  People end their day with it.  They start showing up at the restaurants at 8 or even later and sit and talk and slowly eat for two hours.  This aspect is nothing like home.  I am stuffed.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where In The World is Matt? Brazil Edition Day 2

 Here is the latest installment of "Where In The World is Matt Nafziger?":  
 The Pool

I sent pictures of the the hotel pool and my room.  No, the walls aren't completely bare as I had indicated earlier.  You'll see that there are a couple pictures of palm trees or something on one wall, but with the floor travelling up it, I wasn't sure it was officially a wall.
Matt's Hotel Room (not very spacious)

We started the tractor build yesterday and it seemed like a slow day.  We had a quality issue with one of the parts and started off in "what can we do to fix it" mode.  We came up with a solution and had a washer machined into a spacer that should work for the first 1000 hours that the machine operates.  After that, we will have an opportunity to repair it correctly. 

The factory was clean and bright and lunch was great.  The visitors badge gets us into the cafeteria and is what lunch gets charged to.  They had a salad bar, fruit, rice, beans, grilled salmon, and a selection 
of desserts.  Everything that I tried was all very good.  The rice and beans are served with every mean here.  Usually white rice, but they had brown available at the cafeteria.
For dinner last night, we walked to the restaurant next door at 7:30 (that's when the open).  The crowd didn't really come in until about an hour later.  The food there was also great.  Chicken Parmesan, served with rice, beans, and french fries.  The portions are huge (like 3 chicken breasts apiece) and cost $109 Brazil $ for four of us.  I'll let you divide by 1.8 to convert to US $ and then divide by 4 to get the individual price.  We each had a beer also.  Oh, and in the process of asking if we could get 4 individual checks, they brought out an after dinner coffee for each of us.  Our Portuguese could use some work.
Oh, and how could I forget the accident that we saw while eating dinner.  A garbage truck sides swiped a small Chevy and kept going up the street collecting trash.  It left quite a mark.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Where in the World is Matt? Brazil Edition-Day 1

Matt flew to Brazil for work on Saturday night.  He arrived there around between 9 and 10 their time on Sunday.  Here is his email about his first day.

Hotel Beira Rio, Piracicaba

We landed in Brazil and were picked up by two drivers as planned.  Four of us and all of our bags wouldn't have fit in one vehicle.  It was a 2 hour drive into Piracicaba.  Most of the vehicles are smaller cars, with the biggest being a Ford Fusion.  The taxi that we were in was a Citroen.  There were motorcycles, lots of motorcycles zipping by us, weaving through traffic, splitting lanes between cars.  All going as fast as they could.  The cars seemed to abide by the 120 km/h (75 mi/h) speed limit but the motocycles seemed to just run wide open. 
The hotel looks nice, but it really isn't much to write home about.  I will anyway.  The pool is outside and looks to be just big enough to cool off in.  More of just a landing for the water slide.  No one is using it beause it is winter.  The lows are in the 50's and the highs are around 80.  Not bad at all for winter!  The room is about 13' x 13' including the bathroom.  It is completley white, with bare walls, and a light beige curtain.  The sheets are white.  The floor is wood (laminate) and continues half way up one wall to act as a headboard.  The shower has a frosted window in it that never really closes well.  It pivots open (no screens anywhere) with a chain to keep it from going to far.  I can hear traffic through it all the time because there is no seal at all.  Glad I am on the fourth floor.
Speaking of the shower, I have not figured this thing out.  There are two faucets up high labeled hot and cold and one down where you would expect it.  When I failed to get hot water from the one down below, I adjusted the cold knob above down to off.  Still only cool to warm water at best.  After my cold shower, I noticed that turning off the cold in the shower had turned off the sink completley.  Something is amiss with the pluming, I suspect.  
We had a pastry of some sort and a yogurt on the plane for breakfast yesterday at around 8 am.  We thought we would meet around 3 for a late lunch after unpacking and taking a short nap.  Turns out that the hotel resturant (a steakhouse) doesn't open until 7 pm.  We saw nothing whithin walking distance so we sat and watched the world cup game at the outside hotel bar.  Finally at 6:45, the restaurant manager let us in to the salad bar.  The food was great and this morning, I am still stuffed.  A brazillian steakhouse cooks different cuts of beef and chicken on big skewers and bring it out and cut it off as you want it.  You get a red and green coaster-like peice of cardboard that tells them whether you want more meat or not, depending on how you have it flipped.  At the point that we were all stuffed and had had plenty, the hotel manager came out and said, "too early" and flipped all of our peices back to green.  It was great food, but a dangerous way of eating.  All those small peices of meat add up.  In the end, it was only about $35 each.  I hope I don't have to eat like that everday! 
Now, off to the factory to start building the first tractor.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

No More Hernia!

Hi Everyone!!  I just realized I have so much to post about!  Much of it will have to wait until another day though.  First I want to give you an update on Jadon.  Jadon had surgery to repair right and left inguinal hernia's yesterday.  Of course as luck would have it the hernia had to cause him problems one more time the night before surgery.  He started acting like he was in pain around 2 in the afternoon.  I checked and his hernia was out.  He was miserable and it stayed out until almost 7 pm.  Here is a picture of him in the middle of his episode.  We were so thankful that this was going to be the last one!  It would all be over in the morning.
The last pain episode!! Amen!!  Poor baby!!

We were told to get there at 8 because surgery was scheduled at 10.  We arrived early just because both Matt and I hate to be late.  We got Jadon signed in and were taken to a pre-op area.  You could definitely tell that this was a children's hospital.  There was a whole shelf unit of toys for Jadon to play with and even some ride on toys.  Jadon LOVED the car.  Once we got him in his little surgery outfit he played and played and played.  He was really in a great mood for not having eaten since 8 pm the night before.  I think it was all the new toys.

 Jadon playing with the car in the pre-op area.
Toot, toot!!  Watch out!!  Here is come!!

When the nurse came in to ask questions and get his history she informed us that the surgery was now on for 10:50.  Ugh!  It was such a long time to wait. 

They came around 10:30 or so to take him back to get him ready for surgery.  That was a very hard thing.  He did not want to be taken from us.  He screamed and cried.  I could hear him all the way to the elevators.  I hated it!  They told us that the surgery would take about an hour or so.  Just a little over an hour later we got the page that he was in recovery.  Only one of us was allowed to come into the recovery area, and we decided that would be me.  When I got back there he was just waking  up.  He was not very happy.  After the recovery nurses decided that he was waking up okay they moved us into a different area which is where we would stay until it was time to come home.  Daddy was able to join us there.  Jadon was very happy to see his Daddy.  No one cuddles him like his Daddy.

The doctor came in to speak with us about the surgery.  He said that the left hernia was a very normal one.  However he did not use the same term for the right one.  The right one is the one that I found.  Matt and I knew it was huge just from the bulge it created whenever it decided to emerge.  The doctor was surprised about how big it was.  I really, really wanted to say "I told you so!!"  but I refrained.  I think that he used about 19 adjectives to describe how ugly the right hernia was.  He said it was red, large, and nasty.  Those were just of few of the words I can remember off the top of my head.  It was so large that he was not able to repair it using the technique they normally use for children.  Normally they just put a few stitches in and they are good.  However, that was not going to be good enough in this situation.  In adults they use a kind of mesh over the area but they can't use the mesh in children because they grow, and would outgrow the mess.  Then the hernia would return.  Not something we want to happen.  So he said that he used an older technique that involved creating a flap with some of the muscle.  He said that he will hopefully never have a problem again!  Woohoo!  That sounds good to us!!

We were able to leave around 2 pm after they checked his vitals a few more times to make sure he was doing good.  We stocked up on Tylenol and Ibuprofen on the way home.  When we got home he was still pretty groggy from the anesthesia.  We were told not to let him sleep alone until he had been up and acting normal for awhile.  Since he had not done anything "normal" Jadon and I slept and cuddled on the couch.  Daddy was busy packing for his trip.

About 6 pm he woke up fussing.  It was time for Tylenol.  Within a half an hour Jadon was up and playing.  He was hungry to he ate.  He then got down and was a maniac!!  He was climbing on furniture and running around like he did not just have surgery earlier in the day.  He finally went to bed around 9 for the night.  Only got up once around 2:30 and I know that was because all his pain meds. had worn off.  I thought maybe he would sleep in since he was up in the night.  NOPE!!  Up bright and early this morning at 6:30!  Ready to rock and roll!!!  We have been keeping Tylenol and Ibuprofen in him and as long as we do that he is acting like nothing happened.

Here is a video of him playing peek-a-boo last night!  Not at all acting like a kid who just had surgery.

His two incision areas were closed up using Dermabond instead of stitches.  He can't swim or get the area wet for the next two weeks.  We have a recheck in two weeks.  Right before we go on vacation!!  Hopefully he will get cleared to play in the water and sand!  Fingers crossed!!