today was family day, so we took the metro to Central and the train to Vila Militar to visit Eli's fam. *(I should include here, by the way, that I have already done most of the touristy things in this city, like go to the Cristo, the Pao de Acucar, a funk party, a favela tour, the beach, Ipanema, etcetc so I haven't felt the need to go out and "see" stuff since I've seen the majority already).
So we headed over for a great lunch of churrasco (BBQ) of random meats and sausage, salad, russian salad, rice, and some other stuff. We had amazing mousse de maracuja (mousse of passion fruit) and caramelized banana stuff for dessert. I gave everyone their gifts and they loooved them and I was happy. I helped them set up their different ITunes and translate the names of spices. It was really nice to be back, since I've been there plenty of times and it feels kind of like my home here. it was good to be back there and know I wasn't going to have to leave again so soon. It is so nice to actually live here!
So we ate and hung out and me and Eli watched 300. And now we're back at the apartment and looking for something good on tv.
so tonight me and eli had our first real night out here. first we went to Rio Sul, a mall in Botafogo, to check out the movies and shop around, but there weren't any good movies really and so we wandered about and I bought a cell phone, though it's not activated yet. Everything here you need some sort of ID number for your life to function. Brazilian bureaucracy SUCKS.
Anyway. So I have a lovely cell phone and I feel human again. It's a small comfort, somehow. So then we were starving so we went back to Copacabana and wandered til we found this place Eli knows, a pizza rodizio restaurant. Rodizio means all you can eat, but not buffet. They have waiters who bring different types of pizza around to you and you say yes or no and you can eat as much as you want. We were both exploding by the end of the night. Eliseu had 8 or 9 slices, I think I had about 5. I had margarita, pizza with hearts of palm (very yummy), tomato, cheese, and the most AMAZiNg pizza ever: pizza with leite condensada (condensed milk) and coconut shavings. It was SO disgustingly good. We were too full to try the chocolate slice one or the chocolate sauce with strawberry one. Eliseu had a bunch more, like shrimp, weird pepperoni, caramelized bananas, and four cheese. They also had Hawaiian and some really odd combinations of toppings. The waiters slice pieces off using this thing that looks like scissors but is actually two knives connected, and they carefully snip you off a very oddly shaped piece of pizza. Afterwards we lumbered out and caught a Kombi back to our apartment (it's a small van and they charge as much as the bus). Then we tried putting some music on Eli's new ipod and suddenly my computer crashed and i had several coronaries and tried to blame it on Eli but for the moment my compy is functioning. I will cry if it dies while i'm here. my poor computer. anyway eliseu has passed out, and i think he could probably sleep through an earthquake. by the way, there are no major natural disasters in Brazil aside from occasional floods: no earthquakes, landslides, tidal waves, hurricanes, snowstorms, forest fires...but on the other hand, there is a lot of violent crime.
Ok let's not leave off on a sad note. Tomorrow we have a churrasco (bbq) at eli's fam's house out in the burbs so we have to wake up early to go over there. ate logo!
So today was my entry into real Brazilian life. It truly hit me what I've gotten myself into when I saw two tourists wandering around with bikinis under their clothes and I realized oh man this is NOT a vacation.
I find that when you're abroad, or doing something very difficult, it's a good idea to make daily goals for yourself. Simple goals. That way, at the end of the day, you feel like you've really accomplished something.
Here were my goals:
Walk to and find the metro without getting lost, mugged or harrassed: Check
Take the metro to downtown: check
Find English school: check
Get job: check check
Go to bank: check
Eat alone: check
So I took my chances and went out by myself. But since I wanted to try to look semi-Brazilian I decided to wear my heels to the interview instead of flipflops (and put the heels on before I went in) and as a result I have blisters all over my feet. Good job.
Here are my thoughts on the Metro in Rio, which I successfully took to the Carioca station in Rio's business district. It is clean, beautiful, and each station is designed in an amazing way. The Arcoverde station has these long hallways lit with different colors and then the actual metro stop looks like it was carved out of a cave, with modern paintings hung in the middle part between each track. At the Carioca station on the way back, I saw this absolutely bizarre thing. Maybe it was a train that cleans the track, but what is was was these two funny locomotive looking things with a huge cut-out Coke ad wedged in between them. And that's it. No subway car or anything. So weird. Also, in the Carioca Metro station, they had a classroom! There's this college, called UniverCidade that has satellite schools all over the city. So they have this weird computer lab classroom IN the metro station. Bizarre.
So I found the English school and I had my interview, and I am apparently hired, though they don't do contracts since it's technically not legal work (nobody has work visas, though supposedly a few of their teachers have permanent residency). I'm going to have to go to companies and teach there, but the classes are small and they're during decent hours. The pay isn't awesome but I'm going to try to tutor and/or get a second teaching job so I don't go totally broke. The people who run the school are British and very nice and efficient. I think it will all work out well. Plus they helped me find my apartment and even helped to give my rent directly to my landlord.
After that, I found an HSBC and talked to the people there to try to get an account, but after talking to 3 people and a call to Sao Paulo it was apparent that, no, I can't get one without being a permanent resident. Lovely. I'm at the point with my language skills that I feel confident enough to get around but occasionally humiliated when I can't get across a key word. Because when else have I discussed banking in Portuguese?
Entao...after that I hobbled back to the metro. I'm on a mission to study cariocas (Rio dwellers) to see how to dress and accessorize and behave. I've found from living abroad that the best way to learn not only the language, but also the culture, is pure imitation. Luckily, women here dress pretty similarly to Americans, though cut down on expensive jewelry (I think I need to go buy a cheap watch). Also flats are in style here so I don't have to repeat my feet abuse every day.
After I got back to Copacabana, I decided to stop and eat by myself, the cherry on top of building my confidence of being independent in this city. So I got a big cup of acai, this amazing weird Amazon berry that they crush into a smoothie type thing. I went to this place that's called a lanchonete, which is on almost every block, even more than one. They're basically juice bars but most have salgados (lunch pastries) and or sandwiches and hamburgers. But they also have fruit juices of every imaginable Brazilian fruit, and they put the actual fruits on display in back of a counter. They also have Coca Light, so superior to Diet Coke, and Guarana Antartica, a soda made from guarana, another Amazonian fruit. They also have caldo de cana, which is sugarcane juice. They have a machine and a couple rods of sugarcane that they store on top, and then they feed the cane into the machine to make juice. All this in a huge city. It's awesome.
So now I'm watching news about the car bomb in London and I just called my landlord and found out I can't move into my apartment until July 4th, so I need to stay here another day, but I called my Colombian renter here and she said it's ok. Let's hope that's true.
Anyway I have to go look into some other job ideas now. It's raining so I'm not tempted to walk a block to the beach...
The other weird thing about the metros is some are encased in ads, like this one for Ipods (which by the way cost 2 - 3x as much as in the US). Today I rode on one encased in bank ads.
this city is LOUD. or at least the street we're on in copacabana is. or the walls are made of paper. needless to say between the trucks, people yelling, loud music, and rain that was like small explosions on the outside air conditioner, i didn't sleep much. eliseu left for work and i am left to my own devices to find the metro. and my interview at 11. luckily i'm starting early. i'm watching the news because that is what the brazilian thing to do is-turn on the tv as soon as you get up. chavez is in brazil apparently. hm.
anyway. last night after eli got home and i got myself out of my travel stupor we went over to his aunt's house in Botafogo. The last time i was there, their dog was this shaved little rat thing that growled at anything that moved, and now it has so much fur it looks like it was electrified. anyway, so it was the usual hi-im-a-gringa-but-i-do-understand-the-words-coming-out-of-your-mouth type thing, but luckily Eliseu's aunt led me by hand to the dinner table and made us eat. i think she would have fed me by hand if i'd asked her to. she had this amazing freshly made suco de maracuja (passion fruit juice) that was delicious, and some spaghetti and meat. then i had to endure what seemed like ages of Eliseu and his cousin playing soccer...ON PLAYSTATION. oh brazil.
Lesson: Men never grow up, no matter what country they are from.
i am eating a guava nutrigrain bar and coca light for breakfast. i know that sounds kind of gross but my appetite is always shady when i'm adjusting to somewhere.
ok i have to go study the map to find the metro. and someone is hammering in the adjacent apartment. what else is new. i'm pretty excited to move into our real apartment because maybe it will be quieter. hoepfully.
so this morning at 6am i arrive in rio de janeiro, brazil. holy crap.
a chronicle of my journey:
so i get to JFK and i find myself surprisingly stoic and move through everything like a dream. I finally am shaken into reality by a slightly crazy elderly rich Brazilian woman who decides to adopt me at the gate for our flight to Miami. She tells me what not to wear in the streets in Rio (any jewelery, basically) and about her rich kids living in the states and goes to get food and brings me back half a sandwich, insisting i eat it. she wanted me to help her find the Rio gate at miami airport but jetted before i had a chance to find her there. even though i only had to wait an hour in miami i was exhausted and was sure i'd be able to sleep naturally on the plane. but oh. no such thing.
first of all we hit some RIDICULOUS turbulence and i thought maybe we would just crash somewhere in the Amazon. There were lots of crying babies and also just a lot of VERY CHATTY brazilians who love making conversation. at all hours. standing in the aisles or across aisles. so needless to say i did not really sleep. i somehow made it through the airport smoothly (though they almost made me try to pay a tax on my laptop but i was like NO) and then i found eli and it was all great!
Eliseu, my Carioca (boy from rio) boyfriend has been amazing these past couple weeks helping me get all my shit together. It was weird to see him after 3 months, which felt like ages, but he is his usual sweet cute self. He cut his hair and looks great! i will post pictures later, since i've mostly been sleeping all day. i gave him a huge pile of presents and he was a very very happy camper, especially with a new ipod.
so we got to our apartment we're staying in Copacabana for 6 days, before we move in to our real apartment, and despite a few hitches everything worked out. it's a block from the beach (not quite necessary for us since we are not headed there anytime soon) but near the big transportation routes and all the fun little shops and things in Copa.
We went food shopping at Pao de Acucar, a slightly more upscale food store and bought $20US worth of groceries for this place. Though it may sound dumb, being in the supermarket makes you realize just how far you are from home but just how ridiculous globalization is. I couldn't find peanut butter or Easy Mac but they had Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Campbells's soup. They also had amazing exotic fruits and crazy fruit-made delicacies and a HUGE basket of gargantuan jumbo shrimp just sitting out in front of the fish market. i had to get a fresh suco at one of these corner juice bars they have everywhere, so of course i got a ginormous suco de mamao (papaya juice) and i was very content. we passed a beautiful open air fruit and veggie market that i want to hit up soon. so then i passed out and Eli went to work. when i woke up it took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to make the internet work but now it is working!! and i set up my interview for a teaching job tomorrow!
this sounds lame but i am still intimidated to go wander around by myself. Copa especially is not the safest neighborhood and i definitely have that shocked gringa look on my face and getting mugged my first day would not be ideal. eli gets back soon and then we're going to his aunt's house in Botafogo to get his stuff and also try to get some real food. oh my god it is going to suck to have to start cooking again. eliseu managed to make himself ramen today so i suppose that is slightly promising.
i am in super shock that i am actually here. that i am an actual adult. a slightly broke adult. in a huge beautiful not very safe city. that i am living here for at least the next six months. i hadn't believed it, not til i opened the window on the plane and saw rio rising out of the darkness. if you ever come visit, which you obviously should, landing at sunrise is an experience in and of itself. but the first thing i thought when i saw i was here was, holyfuckingshitthisisreal. and though i love eliseu i'm not sure how much i love this city yet, despite its heart-wrenching beauty. i need to overcome a fear of being on my own here and start integrating myself. even though i've done this many times, somehow i think this time may take longer than usual for me to start to feel like a part of the city.