Saturday, September 06, 2008

NEWSFLASH: My media presentation is today at the Adventure Travel Trade Association South American Summit here in Sao Paulo, Brazil!

Karen, hard at work, talking to tour operator Javier Lopez of Cascada Travel at the Expo Center Imigrantes in Sao Paulo, Friday, Sept. 5.

Today's update: Two is the magic number!

2 a.m. - Last night, the time I caught a taxi back to my hotel, Green Place Flat. Dinner at an outdoor downtown cafe was at 10 p.m., followed by dancing at another place, til 1:30 a.m.
It was my first time out in Sao Paulo. It was fun to be with a lively group of international friends from the ATTA convention - and far away from the hotel and convention center. It was authentic Brazil!

2 - Number of caipirinhas I drank last night. Since this is THE drink of Brazil, it was my duty to try it! The first one was so delicious and sweet, I had to have a second. Then I realized how strong they are!

2 - Hours of sleep, maybe a little more. I caught the taxi at 2 a.m. and was in bed by 3 a.m. I slept on and off til I got up at 7:30 a.m. today.

2 - Hours of panic this morning on two issues: 1. I am almost completely out of money. Tried two ATM machines so far, and can't get any money using my WAMU bank card. I'm spending a small fortune in taxi fare. I must resolve this money problem immediately! 2. I found my Apple power cord in the Lost and Found today at the expo after leaving it behind yesterday.

2 p.m. - The hour today that I join Nancy Harrison of ATMS, a media news service, to give my presentation, see below.

2 - More days of conference - today and tomorrow! Tomorrow won't be too much work: I am going whitewater rafting as part of the conference Day Outside!


Track 3 - Public Relations Atacama Room
Beyond the Press Release: Creative Strategies for Increased Media
(and consumer) Visibility
Learn how to look beyond the press release to access a much broader
audience for your special news. Learn how news services increase
visibility through popular search engines, creating photo and/or video
libraries for journalist access, establishing media/press centers that
positions you/your company as THE experts.
Nancy Harrison, Adventure Travel Media Source - USA
Karen Kefauver, Freelance Journalist - USA
Kiko Nogueira, Editora Abril - BRA

Friday, September 05, 2008

Adventure Writer Tackles Big Conference Center - and Wins!

In this harrowing tale of survival, one woman* reveals her emotional transformation during four days in Imigrantes Pavilion Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
* The source has requested that her name not be used to protect her job.

First Night: Monstrosity - This sprawling conference center is intimidating! Where are the bathrooms, the electrical outlets? Can I get a wireless connection? Are people smoking inside?

Day 1: Concrete Jungle - It still feels overwhelming, but now I know where the bathrooms and outlets are. Bonus: perfect wireless connection!

Day 2: Workplace Playground - I am friendly with the guards at the entry, have located the press room and found a few quiet spaces. I know my way to the lunch and dinner area, have located my favorite booths at the expo and know to sit far away from the booming sound system.

Days 3-4: Home, Sweet, Home - I have memorized the names of all the conference rooms. I know the bathroom attendants on the first and second floors. I don't smell the smoke anymore. I am ready to conquer new turf! I  boldly venture to unknown parts of the Expo Center to explore the even larger Adventure Sports Fair! I am an adventure writer after all!

To those of you who make your living attending trade shows, I salute you.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Photos from day trip in Laguna, Santa Catarina, Brazil

Fishing is a way of life in Laguna.

Lost in Translation - language barrier leads to mishap: I can't believe I slept through the whale watching trip - or did I?

Monday, September 1
Vida Sol e Mar Eco-Resort, Santa Catarina, Brazil

I woke up in a panic at 8:15 a.m. Monday morning, certain I had slept through the 7 a.m. phone call summoning me to the whale watching trip. I called the front desk to see if I were too late to join the expedition to observe the massive right whales and their calves - that was my reason for coming here. Through a jumbled mix of English, Spanish and Portuguese, I learned that the trip would depart in ten minutes. I jumped out of bed into my clothes, grabbed my camera and dashed to the dining room.

I found my new friend and fellow guest, Margarete Pollner-Schmidt, a German tour operator who specializes in organizing custom trips to Brazil and Argentina, ( She was drinking coffee and studying the breakfast buffet: yogurt, granola, sliced bread, cheese and slices of turkey and ham to make sandwiches, and a large tub of chocolate Nutella spread next to the toaster. I quickly assessed the sweets: six types of pastries and custardy-cheeses. I made a sugar-laden selection.

"I am so glad I did not miss the whale trip!" I gushed to Margaret, gulping a glass a fresh-squeezed orange juice and trying to pat down my disastrous, bed-head hairdo.

Alayde of Brazil, Karen of California and Margaret of Germany in Laguna.

"Yes, we leave at 10 a.m.," replied Margaret, watching my frenzy. "We are headed to the town of Laguna to see the dolphins. It is too windy to whale-watch."

Whoops! Looks like I had my first language mishap: we were leaving at 10 a.m. - not in 10 minutes! I regretted that the conditions were not good to see the whales, but relieved I had more time before our outing to Laguna, a historical town known for its dolphins in the bay. The dolphins and fishermen cooperate in a unique way - the dolphins help show the fisherman where the fish are; the fisherman corral the fish with their nets and the dolphins get to eat some fish that escape the nets. The fisherman have named each dolphin for a characeteristic - for instance, "Electronico" is the speediest dolphin.

Rodrigo Litman, our guide and part of the family that owns Vida Sol e Mar Eco-resort where I stayed, chats with a fisherman in Laguna.

Warm welcome to Brazil - first night in coastal eco-resort, Vida Sol e Mar at Praia do Rosa Beach

Warm welcome to Brazil - first night in coastal eco-resort, Vida Sol e Mar at Praia do Rosa Beach

Florianopolis is the capital of Santa Catarina, a state of southern Brazil. Known for a high standard of living and attracting many tourists from South America and beyond, Florianopolis (population about 370,000) draws the most visitors in the summer months. The eco-resort where I am staying for three nights, Vida Sol e Mar, is located on the popular Rosa Beach, a haven for surfers and an ideal spot for whale watching from July to November. I plan to go on the resort's whale watching tour tomorrow at 7:30 a.m., accompanied by a biologist and other guests from the lodge. We will be on the lookout for the Right Whale, a 50-million-year-old mammal that rebounded from near extinction. Right now, the mother whales and their calfs swim near the coast, in the bay. If the wind is over 12 knots we will not sail; the conditions will be too unpleasant to view the whales. Regardless of the conditions, I plan to take medication to prevent sea sickness since I am a notoriously weak-stomached sailor.

Earlier today, during the 45-minute drive from Florianopolis airport to the Vida Sol e Mar eco-resort on the coast, my shuttle driver, Eduardo, chatted with me in fluent English. He also let me practice my Spanish with him since I don't know Portuguese - other than "obrigada" for "thank you." When we stopped to fill the gas tank, the topic turned to fuel and politics. Eduardo told me that natural gas and ethanol are both commonly used in Brazil. I hinted that I hoped that U.S. energy policy would soon change with the next president, then I had to add that I supported Barack Obama. He seemed relieved and replied, "I think the whole planet hopes that Barack will win!"

Upon arrival, all vexing thoughts of the upcoming U.S. election vanished - I was thrilled by the beauty of the hilltop Vida Sol e Mar resort and its panoramic ocean views. I will post photos when I have a better internet connection. 

Tonight, I dined at the resort's restaurant with Vida Sol e Mar owners, Enrique Litman and his wife, Francesca. The Argentine natives opened this lodge in 1993 and operated it since then in conjunction with a tourism company that runs whale watching, surfing and other day trips. Over a delicious fish dinner and exquisite chocolate souffle for dessert, the couple told me that they are the only certified green lodge in the Praia do Rosa Bay. The lodge is also home to the Right Whale Institute; they donate 5% of their profits to the institute. The couple has five children (ranging in age from 12 to 32); three of them actively help in the family business.

This winter marks the 15th anniversary of Vida Sol e Mar. More on the resort to come...

Highlights of Day:
Arriving at Vida Sol e Mar Eco Lodge, perched on a hilltop, with sweeping views of the ocean. 
Entering my modern, stately, two-story villa (named Piru Piru, after a bird) where I stay Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. Gorgeous views and can hear the waves.

Lowpoints of Day:
Finally falling asleep on a hot, cramped flight that departed Miami at 11:30 - only to be awoken by smell of overcooked veggies and the commencement of a 12:30 a.m. airline dinner. I know South Americans eat dinner later than Americans... but really!
Finally falling asleep after a noisy dinner hour - only to be awakened by loud voices of cheerful flight attendants eagerly selling duty-free goods from their cart.

Aug. 30-31 Travel Logistics Report
1 hour - drive from Santa Cruz to San Francisco Airport (Thanks for the ride, Jec!)
6 hours - San Francisco airport to Miami airport
8 hours - Miami to Rio de Janeiro
1.50 hours - Rio to Florianopolis
1 hour drive from airport to Vida Sol E Mar eco-resort

TOTAL TRAVEL TIME: 17.50 hours door to door

TIME CHANGE: 4 hours later here than in California

Farewell Florianopolis and hello Sao Paulo - fly to conference on Wed. Sept. 3

Bom dia - Hello from Brazil!
I survived the whale watching expedition today - photos and details later! I have had some internet connection problems and am recruiting my mother to help me publish a few earlier entries on this blog. Thanks, mom!