A few things you should know before we begin our journey:
1. I *hate* Blogger. And gmail. And Google. And computer shit in general.
2. I am working on my friend Rafael´s computer, which has different keys (because it is Brazilian, as is he) and occasionally displays everything in Portugeuse, at which point I have no idea what I am doing, so if I start sounding strange just stay with me.
So, I tried to log into my regular blog, The Carlson Zoo, but Blogger decided to be a hater and wouldn´t let me in, so I had to start a new blog just for the trip. Whatever.
Our story begins over 10 years ago in the lab of John Marshall at UCI. I was a new post-doc and adjusting to post-doc life, going from being the person in the lab who knew EVERYTHING, to being the person who didn´t know where the tape was, a difficult transition. Fortunately for me there was another post-doc in the lab, Nadja Schroeder, who had arrived a few months before me and knew where the tape was kept. She was amazingly sweet and held my hand as I found my place in the lab. She was from Brazil, and had come to UCI with her boyfriend, Rafael Roesler, and her 5 year old daughter, Carina. We became good friends, and I spent many happy evenings with them, eating delicious Portuguese dinners and playing with Carina. When Brian finished his PhD and moved to California he got to know them and we spent many fun times together.
They returned home to Brazil after a year at UCI; I remember their going-away party - I cried all the way home. They said we should come visit them in Brazil, but we were poor post-docs and didn´t have the funds to visit another state, much less another country. A few years later we both got grown-up jobs, but our time of accumulating fabulous wealth as DINKS was cut short by the arrival of our beautiful babies. When the kids were 1.5 we took them to Chicago, a trip that, though we now look back on it fondly, scarred us deeply at the time. We vowed that we would not travel with them again until they could buy their own tickets and carry their own luggage.
But we do love to travel, and when the kids were 5 we decided to test the waters again and visit my mom in Hawaii. We had a great time, it was wonderful to watch the children discover a new part of the world, and we decided the ban on travel was officially over.
In the meantime, Nadja and Rafael had returned to Brazil, gotten married, secured their own grown-up jobs and had a little girl, Isabella. In 2010 they all came out for the annual Society for Neuroscience conference, held in San Diego that year. They were wonderful enough to come up to Orange County to reconnect with some old friends from UCI, including us. They came to our house and we had a wonderful time catching up and marvelling at the new family members on both sides. Our conversation was easy and enjoyable - it was as if we had never been apart - to me a mark of real friendship. They again asked us to come visit them in Brazil and this time when we looked at each other we could both see the "YES" in eachother´s eyes. "Let´s do it!"
And so we did.