Today I celebrate one month in Rio! And I am happy and I am at peace. It’s not all rainbows and caipirihnas and capybaras, but I’m content for the first time in a year. I haven’t cried in a month, which is a record for 2014. I’ve been stressed out exactly once, for an entire week, but now it’s over, so…dirt off mah shoulder!
I organized the annual upper school lock-in we held this weekend. As most youth events are, it was barely contained chaos. Herding freaking cats. It’s crazy that I would be put in charge of an event for kids I don’t know, most of whom speak a language I don’t understand, at a school I don’t have keys for, in a country with a million rules and prices and things I don’t know. And it was a LOT of work. But one of the nicest things about hanging out with teenagers is the realization that you will never have to be a teenager again, and that is a precious gift from Jesus Christ.
I love seeing kids be completely unselfconscious – dancing, singing, puking up milk and marshmallows, begging for candy, screaming their heads off in competition, losing their shoes. And even the ones who are too cool for school are fun to creep up on while they’re gossiping in a corner and taking selfies, or trying to sneak some PDA, and thinking I’m a total jerk for reinforcing rules designed for their safety.
Working with kids is the most thankless and most important job in the world. And also the most entertaining. I’m glad I did it. I got to make my boss sing Taylor Swift in front of the students AND teach them how to play the most violent card game in the history of time. Success.
Anyway, just so you don’t think my entire life is instagram photos of beaches and sunsets, hashtag blessed, I thought I would run down my daily sched for ya:
- Alarm goes off at 6:30. . .Second alarm. . .Snooze. . .Second snooze goes off at 6:56.
- Struggle to bathroom, try to avoid encounters with chipper roommates. (in fairness, she was only chipper the one time, after ten hours of sleep, but once was enough.)
- Stare at clothes as if something new will have appeared. give up, wear dress. douse self in bug spray.
- Drink all the coffee, spiked with sweetened condensed milk and powdered chocolate. swipe at aggressive ants.
- Start three minute walk to work by 7:30am. say hello to EVERYONE I SEE. KISS THEM ALL. Greetings are very important in Brazil. Grin like an idiot because it’s so cute when the ladies say “bom dia my love” to me.
- BREKKIE – Smother an innocent breadroll with butter, and, God willing, some yummy cheese. More coffee.
- Staff prayer and announcements at 7:40 under trees.
- Swat at bugs. (just add this every other line)
8am – head to my classroom, check emails, teachery stuff. I’m currently in the process of testing students for English. Each test is 1.5 hours. I do three a day, and then make charts and graphs and plan things.
- MORNING SNACK followed by more teachery stuff
- LUNCH and then teachery things
- SECOND LUNCH – depending on the awesomeness of first lunch, sometimes I go for seconds and eat with other teachers who don’t know I have already eaten.
- AFTERNOON SNACK
- Recess duty, where I try to convince fourth graders that my first name is “Your Majesty.”
- Walk around, cause mischief, leave love notes on everyone’s white boards.
- 3:10pm – kids are dismissed.
- 4:30 – teachers are dismissed!
- Tuesday/Thursday – Portuguese class, where my head tries to not explode as my blood sugar dips lower and lower towards rock bottom.
- Wednesday – Bible study, where I mostly stand in the back, drink salsa, and suggest funny Youtubes we could watch.
Other days, I take the boat over the lagoa to the beach to run around.
- Fight roomies for hammock access.
- Figure out how to feed myself dinner using as few dishes as possible.
- Enter the internet-free cave that is my room, complete nightly bug spray ritual, sprinkle bed with homemade hippie anti-bug remedies, figure out optimal fan oscillation pattern, pick favorite book to reread, and go nighty night.
It’s very exciting, I know. I haven’t really gone out and experienced much of Rio yet. I haven’t exactly gotten paid yet, so am wary of spending too much money.
But I’ve been doing the important work of settling in and making amazing friends – the kind you work with, then hang out with, then plan the next day together, then text, then facetime when you get home. And I’ve been laughing and feeling like I belong.
So thanks, God. You hooked me up. I won’t forget.