Brazil feels more and more like home. It’s been three months since I moved here, and I have adjusted, bro. The Brazilian people are lovely, the food is lovely, the culture is lovely. My Portuguese improves every day, mostly because I throw myself at every Brazilian, willing or no, and with a blend of some Spanish-trained guessing, actual Portuguese, and what I hope is a lot of charm, try to get my point across.
My students think its hysterical when I speak, but I also think it makes them feel comfortable speaking English. Because if Miss Weight doesn’t mind sounding like a moron in her own classroom, completely undermining her authority, you can’t help but feel a little bit better about your English. (They tell me, “Meeess Waaaay you can’t speaky the POHtuguese! Nao. Youuu is terrible.” But they know all the words to Katy Perry songs.)
We had Teacher Appreciation Day here last week, and hey, America – catch up – all that teachers *really* want is a day off! Thank you, Brasil! We went to the beach with a bunch of our coworkers, forgot to wear sunscreen (for which I am still paying), drank cheap beers, ate cheap kiosk food, dove through the waves, took silly pictures. It was so nice to be together and not be tired. To talk about things that weren’t students or dates or emails. I really do love the people I work with.
We were treated to a sweet brunch at school, and got some really cute cards from students. They will warm me on a cold day. Which is about 75 degrees here in Rio. I put on a cardigan around 80.
I went on a tour of some of the lesser-known places in northern Rio. It was fascinating. It’s humbling to think about how Western-centric my schooling was. One of my majors was socioeconomics and politics of Latin America, but study of Brazil was a small part of it. There are worlds of people I know nothing about, and I live in a country large enough to contain many of those worlds. It’s cool to think I have so much to learn and see.
We went to a sweet market, fell in love with new kinds of street food, resisted buying the oddest (and inappropriate) of things, but were not mature enough to stop from pointing them out to each other. We drove through favelas and and past examples of the mess that is Brazilian government. (ie building a huge stadium for the PanAmerican games, realizing the roof is about to collapse, having to rebuild it for the Olympics. Billions of dollars later….)
The church we visited was in the middle of some favelas, some which appeared to be on fire atop a small hill that probably qualifies as a mountain in Rio. Construction began in like 1609 or something, which is amazing. You can take a small alpine gondola type thing, walk the 400 something steps, or go on your knees in prayer up to the top. The views were incredible. This city is incredible.
I miss my dog and I miss sour cream. There is nothing remotely like it available for purchase in Rio.
Today I was feeling a kind of hormonal blah. So many highs, so many lows. A kind of “this is fun and all but when will I get to date someone and make out and hold hands and go places and do things and get married and all that stuff” blah. A kind of “if anyone says one nice or mean thing to me and I will burst into tears” kind of blah.
So one of my best friends talked me off the cliff. And then Lele and I went to a passable Mexican restaurant, had two for one margaritas, ordered a legitimate mountain of sour cream, and enjoyed the freedom that is sitting in a Brazilian anything for as long as you want, until you are forced to ask for the check, because no one is ever in a rush in this country (unless driving).
And I’ve lots more to say: my students make me cry in both good and bad ways; I went to an orphanage, and to no one’s surprise, had to be dragged out of the building; I’m going to visit big Jesus via another death-defying hike; I can make jokes in Portuguese; turns out I love tapioca; and my Giants are in the World Series again.
life is good.