Brazil, May 2006
By: William R. Cotton

You can view a slide show of Dr. Cottons's trip here.

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My flight to Sao Paulo went well and we arrived a bit early, around 0800. It was an 8-hour flight from Dulles to here. Time difference is 3 hours.

It took another 2 hours to cross town. Temperatures seem to be in the upper 60's with about 60% cloud cover. It is quite green and does not look at all like fall. Some of the trees like tulip trees and some purple flowering trees(not jacaranda) are in bloom. The air is relatively clean by Sao Paulo standards. Traffic however is ugly.

I am scheduled to give a seminar at 1400h.

I shaved in cold water at a bathroom on campus and spruced up a bit. I hope I don't fall asleep in my talk!

My talk was well attended with the class room completely full and some standing. I got cranked up and didn’t fall asleep although I noticed a few in the audience did. There was a lively discussion that followed.

At 4PM Edmilson drove me to Utatuba. The drive began with about an hour of stop and go traffic getting out of Sao Paulo. Then on a tollway for an hour or so. Then we headed NE along a two lane, sometimes 2.5 lane highway that wound over two mountain ranges. The drive reminded me of driving eastward after dark heading to the coast in Costa Rica. But the roads in Brazil were wider and the truck traffic less dense. Much of the drive was after dark. Finally at about 7:30 PM we arrived at the resort which is about 10km outside of the town of Utatuba.

The resort is called Itamambuca Eco Resort. Its name and that of Itatuba is of Indian origin. They sound African to me. The resort is a tropical jungle with lush plants all about. It has very nice grounds with flowering tropical plants, birds of paradise and the like. It obviously rains a lot here.

We arrived in time for dinner(just barely) where there was an extensive buffet spread. I will have trouble keeping my weight down here!

I walked toward the beach before breakfast today but to get to it one has to cross a river. The hand-pulled ferry operates after 0730 so will go over at lunch time. At low tide the river is shallow enough to walk across.

After a buffet-style breakfast with lots of tropical fruits, the meeting began at 0900. There are many acquaintances as well as former students attending. I took a picture of the attendees and one of Alex Costa who has long curly hair, a mustache and goatee. He looks like someone that lives in a palm frond covered shack on a beach!

I attended the morning session of the RAMS workshop. It is pretty much like a normal conference with little critical analysis of RAMS. I snuck out about 12:30 when they were still going strong. I jogged up to the beach where I took a human-powered ferry across the river to the beach. I ran up the length of the beach and back which took me about 50 minutes or so, so it must have been at least 3 miles. Because the sand was soft and the beach highly sloped, it was quite a hard run. The temperature was in the middle 60’s but with the high beachside humidity, I was covered by perspiration. The waves are most impressive and surfers were quite active. These are not beginners surfing waves.

At the time of the breakup of the workshop it was raining hard.

Dinner was OK but it appears the offerings don’t change much from day to day.

While walking around the grounds before breakfast, I observed a brilliant red bird. It was quite striking! I also observed a woodpecker that was about 8” tall and had bright yellow feathers on its head. I also heard what sounded like a flock of parakeets. I think bird watching here could be quite fun.

Mid morning I snuck out of the meeting and rented a kayak. I paddled along the river nearby. I could imagine myself paddling along a river in a tropical jungle in Africa. Fortunately it was sans killer crocodiles and hippos. I saw some flowered trees and bushes and an anhinga drying its wings on a log sticking out of the water. I did hear some rather large critter crashing through the bushes on the shore and have no idea what it was.

Back to the meeting. Most of the papers are on air pollution simulations which I find rather boring. No clouds so far.

After lunch and attending one talk I went for a jog along the beach. I then took a trail that cut into a neighborhood where I saw nice homes with nice landscaping including flowering trees and plants. Incidentally I had hung my running stuff out to dry yesterday and it was nearly as wet as when I hanged it. It would have dried in an hour at the Fort. My running shoes are getting very smelly as they are not drying either from my foot perspiration. I am going to see if I can buy some foot powder before they start running on their own. Welcome to a coastal jungle!

I am now listening to a talk by Debby Abbs. She came here with husband Terry paying their own way. It sounds like things are really tight with the Australian research budgets.

After dinner a musician who played the guitar in a soft bar style was enticed to spice it up a bit to get us dancing. But he had difficulty doing that. Nonetheless they got me to dance a bit with Maria for old times sake.

In the afternoon I noticed my nose started running a bit.

I awoke to a runny nose and a sore throat. I am beginning to feel I have a fever. I clearly have a cold. Probably the loss of sleep on the way here compromised my immune system enough to allow me to either catch a cold here or activate one already lying in wait in my system.

I gave my talk today outlining our work on aerosol interactions in clouds as well as other microphysics developments, and demonstrated the precipitation bias in RAMS and our attempts to alleviate it. A lot of questions were asked following the talk. Maria Silva Dias said they experience a precipitation under prediction in the Amazon basin. Why their results differ from all of ours is not easy to understand. Does BRAMS have some changes in the dynamic core? Or is it just that LEAF-2 is not transpiring enough to provide enough water over the basin? I would expect transpiration to be a big factor in the moisture budget there. Maria admitted that they don’t have very good measurements of precipitation.

One of the students mentioned they had found several bugs in Chris Castro’s implementation of Kain-Fritsch. One is particular involved not resetting precipitation to zero in each cycle of use.

I stood near a birdfeeder(a board on pedestal with fruit on it) and observed and photographed a number of very colorful birds. I think I got good shots of a green, blue, and yellow bird as they were not so shy. But this beautiful red(crimson) bird briefly appeared but I couldn’t even get my camera raised. This is the second time I have seen one of these.

Everyone who hadn’t left prepared to leave today. After breakfast Edmilson and I rented kayaks and paddled up the river until we ran out of deep enough water to continue. At first Edmilson, who had never paddled before, had trouble going in the direction he wanted but after a while he did nicely. We paddled around one hour.

We then loaded the car to head towards Rio. We had two additional passengers, one Rick Small who lives in Israel and planned on taking a three day holiday in Rio. The other was a young fellow who planned on visiting family in Rio.

The road to Rio winds along the coast usually several hundred meters above the ocean with spectacular views overlooking islands and small coastal beaches. The rest of the time the road went through thick forests or plunged to low areas where there was often a small village and speed bumps in the road. Pedro insisted with stop at the town of Paraty. So we stopped there for lunch. Paraty was founded during the early years of the Portuguese colonial period. Much of the city lies at or below sea level. The streets are made up of large cobble stones and the sea rolls in along these cobblestone streets. It is a beautiful old town with a church near the shore and lots of colorful boats. The town has become quite a tourist trap. In fact, once in Rio, we walked by street side painters and many had painted the church and streets of Paraty. We had a nice lunch in a restaurant where the floor level is raised nearly a meter above the streets. After lunch we continued on the main highway north. As we approached Rio the traffic level increased until it became almost as bad as Sao Paulo. The population in Rio is only about 9M whereas Sao Paulo is 19M in the metro area is 23M including surrounding towns!

We drove along the coast while entering Rio so we got a good view of the town.

Edmilson dropped me off at the hotel and then went on to drop off the other riders. About 0830PM Edmilson came by and we found a restaurant where we had pizza, Rio style. It is a thin crust pizza with mild flavors compared to what we are used to in the U.S.

My cold continued to give me a runny nose and mild coughing.

I woke about 0630 and decided this would be a fast day. My cold is still acting up and now has centered in my chest so I am coughing a lot. I had juice for breakfast and then took a jog north along the beach about 2 miles. I was quite fatigued by the time I completed the 4 mile run. So after showering I laid down and napped until Edmilson called me to go touring. First we took the cable cars up Sugarloaf Mountain. It has spectacular views of the coastal region and surrounding mountains. Sugar loaf is anything but sugar as it is just one large rock. Near the foot of the cable car was another mountain of solid rock with a number of rock climbers scaling it.

After sugar loaf we wound our way around town to drive up Corcovado, which is another rock mountain with a statue of Christ with his arms outstretched. Swarms of tourists were up there. The views are fantastic again! The drive up switch-backs through lush rainforests.

After that Edmilson dropped me off at the hotel where I napped and worked on my two talks tomorrow as well as this journal. I hope I will be able to lecture tomorrow. I did buy some cough medicine which helps a bit.

I took a light jog before breakfast. Then Edmilson picked me up and we drove through some mountains(lots of tunnels here) to the U Federal Rio de Janiero. The campus has lots of flowers and tropical vegetation. The buildings are for the most part stark concrete structures. As you walk between classrooms you are walking outside for the most part with tropical plants along the walkways. I was able to get on the Internet this morning.

My lecture began at 1100. I talked about aerosol influences on precipitation and how models and forecasts in the future should take into account aerosol variability. The class is made up of professionals mainly from the various states in Brazil. I believe most have a hydrological background. I don’t know how much they understood as they don’t talk in English to me at all. I believe they can read the text on my slides, however.

We then went to lunch at the campus cafeteria. The food was OK.

Then I lectured about predicting MCSs based on Israel Jirak’s dissertation and using a slightly modified PowerPoint presentation he gave me.

After lecturing I got on the Internet and caught up with e-mails. Edmilson dropped me off at my hotel and then he drove back to Sao Paulo.

I went out for dinner alone tonight. I ordered a fish dinner with a half-liter of wine and it cost over $50! I guess that is the price to pay for eating out on the Copacobana. The fish was salty and overall it certainly wasn’t a $50 dinner. I ate outside but under awnings which was a good thing as a heavy rainshower came through while I was eating.

I jogged again this morning in light drizzle and along the way near the hotel there were some very nice sand sculptures. After breakfast I walked back to take pictures of them. I felt the cool outflow from a shower blowing by so I rushed back to the hotel. I no more than got inside when it rained heavily.

I completed my lectures today. One was on Derechos and the other on Flash Floods and Extreme Precipitation. I think the latter lecture and the one I did yesterday on the MCS index were most appreciated. At least one woman said she will try to implement the MCS Index forecast scheme here.

After an Internet session they took me to lunch. The professor that took me can not speak a word of English. Another lecturer in the short course is from Buenos Aires. His first name is Gustavo but now I can’t find out where I wrote down his last name. He knows Gustavo Carrio as he apparently overlapped with him in Matilde Nicolini’s group in Buenos Aires. He now works here in Brazil for CPTEC. The cafeteria lunch was OK but it is hard for me to figure out what I can and cannot eat sometimes as nothing is labeled, not even in Portuguese.

I have mixed feelings about the campus here. It has a lot of nice tropical plants around but it is not cleaned up well. There is trash around most of the grounds. I did not see as much trash at USP. The buildings themselves could use a fresh coat of paint as well. Some of the bathrooms are deplorable with water on the floor(don’t ask from where), no TP and no hand tissues, doors hanging on one hinge in one, and so forth. Why things can’t be maintained better I don’t know.

I asked the young woman who drove me back to the hotel if she recommended any restaurants. She suggested an Italian restaurant called Da Bombrini. It was on the other end of the Copacobana from my hotel or about 2mi. I decided to walk over there. The restaurant was a small place and felt comfortable. I ordered a mixed green salad, spaghetti with sea food, and a half liter of wine. The salad was great, the wine good, the spaghetti sauce was nothing special and the sea food was mainly calamari. But it was the best dinner I have had here. But at over $50 the restaurant wouldn’t have made it in Fort Collins.

I walked over along the hotel side of the street and came back along the beach side which is well lit with many walkers and joggers even in the evening. In spite of the reputation of Rio, I never felt threatened. Walking over to the restaurant on the hotel side there was a section with homeless people hanging out and some unsavory guys hanging about but it was heavily policed. Returning on the well-lit beach side I never saw anyone that looked at all threatening.

Air quality in the Rio area is quite good especially compared to Sao Paulo. This is probably due to the frequent rains and clean ocean air invading the city. Water quality in both cities is very bad however. In Rio there is a large bay comparable in size to San Francisco bay. It is a very attractive bay and the university is situated on its shores. But the bay is extremely polluted with black looking waters and shallow areas and well the smells—ugh! The ocean flows directly into Cococabana so pollution is not so obvious here, but I have no interest in testing out its waters.

I jogged for about 40 minutes to get some exercise before spending the night and part of tomorrow in the torture chambers called commercial aircraft. Because the Rio airport is close to the University campus, I was picked up and taken to it. There I did some e-mail work and then went to lunch. After lunch I was dropped off at the airport. They certainly have taken good care of me here.

The flight to Sau Paulo was along the coast for quite a bit of the time so I got great views of the beautiful coast. Looking out across the land there is this continuous haze with local areas of smoke plumes pumping more aerosol into the haze layer. Descending into Sau Paulo the haze thickened further, so much so that the cumulus capping the boundary layer could hardly be seen except when the plane penetrated them.

We landed at the domestic airport where I had to first find my required checked bag, and then find an Airport bus that brought me to the international airport. It was after 4PM so traffic was heavy but it kept moving all the same. It took about 1.5h to get to the international airport. But since my flight was a 9:45PM this was not a problem. Check in, security, and customs went rather fast so I was at the gate about 2h earlier than needed. I even stopped to have something to eat getting to the gate!

The flight to Dulles was uneventful and I must have slept for at least 4 hours. We had a tailwind all the way and the last couple of hours the realtime flight information on my screen showed a 50kt tailwind. As a result we arrived at 0610 instead of 0630. Since my flight to DIA was at 0830 I figured I had plenty of time—NOT!

We arrived too early for customs to be operating out in the terminal C area and thus had to be transported by those ridiculous people movers at Dulles to the main terminal. It took 20min for that to get under way while they tried to locate a wheelchair. Arriving at customs the line snaked back and forth in what seemed like an endless line. At first there was only one agent clearing US residents. It took over 40min to get cleared. By this time it was 0730 and the plane was supposed to begin loading at 0754. Fortunately, I didn’t have to collect baggage off the carousel as I hand carried it. But, coming out of customs I was not in a cleared zone and had to snake through another long line to go through security. The whole system there is so darn inefficient, it must have been designed by some of our congressman. Then it was back on one of the weird people movers to Terminal C, where I had disembarked nearly 2 hours before. Naturally my gate was at the other end of the terminal from the people-mover gate, so I race-walked to the gate. I got to the gate and walked directly on the plane and even found a spot for my carry-on luggage. By this time I was quite sweaty, need a shave, feel gross, and probably smell gross too. Now for 3 more hours in the torture machine.