4th dispatch: Happy Purim! (from the Southern Hemisphere)
Candle-lighting is in ten minutes, and I'm at Hillel Rio de Janeiro, where I will be eating Friday night dinner. I don't have time to write a full update, but I just wanted to wish everyone a happy Purim (in its waning hours). My Purim was totally fantastic, even though it rained the whole time and I got VERY soaked again last night. Wow. It reall rains here.
On a related note, the showers here are all amazing. I haven't felt water pressure like that since...I don't know. I guess maybe before everyone started installing water-savers in the 1990s. The showers at the Shprechers, at the budget hotel in Foz do Iguacu, and at my currrent hotel in Rio de Janeiro (a very nice hotel in Ipanema, a ritzy, semi-residential neighborhood right near the beach), were all terrific. A good shower is very important when it can easily top 90 degrees and is very humid.
The good thing about all of this rain is that it has lowered the temperature considerably. It's been around 23 or 24 Celsius, which feels like somewhere in the 70s Fahrenheit. I think it's very nice, although every Brazilian with whom I have conversed about the weather has remarked on how chilly it is!
The Jewish community in Rio has been very friendly. I am eating Friday night dinner at Hillel with a bunch of American college students from Washington state, and I got invited to a family I just met for Shabbat lunch tomorrow.