crocodile thing on top, swimming capy head on bottom.
crocodile thing on top, swimming capy head on bottom.

So guess what I saw? A crocodile. Two, actually. My boat driver knows that I like seeing capybaras, and will often drive me over to go look at the small herd of them on the little patch of lagoa where they huff about. Yesterday he took me to go see a crocodile! I asked if he ate American girls and was assured that he only ate fish. It was pretty cool. Sometimes I forget what a wild place Brazil is. I mean, we got the Amazon, yo. But Rio is a city. And then I notice that all the birds are bright colors, and sing different songs, and when I go running at night I see these weird mega-rat things that mosey past you without a care in the world and live in trees somehow. And there are monkeys in the trees beside the playground that look at you with their beady little eyes and I remember – oh, yeah. We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Super pumped about the lack of squirrels here. I hate those things.

heads up - don't google "scary cockroach." google "fun cockroach."
heads up – don’t google “scary cockroach.” google “fun cockroach.”

Also on the hate list – cockroaches. Now that it’s “winter” here in Rio (and I only acknowledge it’s Winter because I’ve been to the beach three days in a row with no sunscreen on and haven’t gotten a burn) I see less of them. But I bought some grapes today and when I opened the container, there were two dead baby ones in it. I did my usual disinfection routine for fruits and vegs that I get here. I did it three times. But I still can’t make myself eat the grapes. They weren’t cheap grapes, and I don’t have any money left on my grocery card. So I want to eat them. I don’t know what to do. Also – don’t ever look up “cockroaches and where they lay eggs” on google. Ever. Under any circumstance.

I wonder how long these grapes will sit in my fridge before I eat them or throw them out. On the one hand, I spent a lot of money on them, washed them thoroughly, and I’m pretty sure that most of our food has buggies on it all the time when we’re not looking. On the other hand, despite my ever-burning desire for fame, I don’t particularly want to be known as a Discovery Channel freak case of “Woman who swallowed roach-infested grapes and became walking hive of roaches.”

We shall see.

There’s a few things you have to do before you can truly say you are living in another place. Figure out the grocery store, get lost and find your way back home, get a new bank account, make new friends, etc. And probably another one of those things is go to the doctor’s. And figure out how your health insurance works. Those aren’t things I’m good about doing at home in the States, so imagine how irritated I was with God when the trouble with my arm escalated to the point where I truly needed some medical attention. The answer is “super irritated.”

no idea what they're doing gifMy cries of “but I think maybe it will just get better” and the very loud “but I dont WANNA” were met with death glares by my Candice, who every once in a while goes all Mom on me. She’s raising two toddlers and has managed to tame a hellish first grade class, so she’s very difficult to disobey. Her delivery of instructions is on point. She gave me until noon one day to call and make an appointment. I chickened out and had a friend do for me. Then I went to the doctors, and was so anxious that I didn’t realize that when I hit floor 3 on the elevator, we actually went down instead, and wandered about for a while before I discovered a service elevator and went up that, scrambled over some “Caution” signs (in hindsight, terrible idea) and arrived breathless a Brazilian ten minutes late. I was made to wait another 20 minutes before being seen by the orthopaedic surgeon, armed with a post-it list of symptoms I had translated from the internet. “arm” “sore” “numb.” Was also prepared to cry in order to get some drugs.

reporting live from Brazil! more on this later.
reporting live from Brazil! more on this later.

I tend to err on the side of dramatic – not sure if you’ve noticed – so I was ready to be told I needed surgery or to learn to write with my left hand or face amputation. I was already imagining the kind of wedding photo poses necessary to hide my arm stump in (much like when I had a spider bite and was convinced it had laid eggs inside me).

One thing I have learned from older people is that if you smile a lot and are polite, they think you are beautiful. I am starting to notice that this works for me, too. Polite people are so attractive. Grandpa doctor was sweet and bumbling and spoke broken English and went above and beyond to help me. Turned out he LOVES California, especially going to Target, which is my mothership. He told me what was wrong with my arm, I understood none of it, and then he gave me some prescriptions. He said I was beautiful, had a beautiful name, had to stop walking around at night where I lived, and we hugged and kissed goodbye.

The appointment cost the same amount as my entire food allowance for the month, and the prescriptions almost the same, but my arm is feeling a lot better, and I am so proud of myself that I managed a doctor’s appointment in a foreign language.


Yay! I leave you with this: we took an all-staff photo in matching shirts to go in the yearbook. Who has two thumbs and was the only one with her eyes closed?

Currently investigating ways to photoshop around this mishap. Here is a sample.