Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Interim at Home

Now that I've been back in the US for two weeks, I can finally say I'm adjusted. That's not to say I don't miss Brazil. I'm just clearly not in the throws of "reverse culture shock," where Portuguese is spoken by accident instead of English, my stomach adjusts to not eating beans and rice daily, and where I even am curiously shy around my own boyfriend. Glad that's over!

From the time I landed in Atlanta to just a few days ago, I spent all my time with my boyfriend. We were both anxious to spend as much time as possible together since we had been apart two months. We had to get him ready to move to Germany, which he did this past Thursday. We only had a week and a half together, but I'm just thankful we got that much time. With my globetrotting tendencies and his employer being the US Army, it's a rather significant miracle that he didn't leave for Germany while I was still in Brazil. Anyway, it was a nice time, and I miss him terribly.

Now I'm living another transitional period. Daily existence is more about getting ready for the next phase of my life instead of focusing on the here and now. I don't really do anything at the moment besides prepare. I feel constantly restless, assaulted by the phantom to-do list that seems to grow in size everyday. My priority is to compile all the necessary papers, photos, and cash before my Spanish visa appointment in Miami. The required documents aren't difficult to acquire, but the process is pretty tedious. I also am slowly beginning to pack, again. This time for 10ish months. How does a person do that exactly? On a more fun note, I'm planning on visiting a lot of people I haven't seen in awhile. So, maybe I'll get to go to New York, San Francisco, and even Florida a few times.

With all that to do, this month and a half will fly by. I'm leaving for Spain sometime in mid to late September. The lull in activity is a pretty big change though. I always do that, where one minute I'm traveling every other day, and the next minute I'm home, normally sleeping for days on end. When I do finally catch up on sleep, I realize that I'm lonely and pretty uncertain as to what I'm doing with my life. Brazil was such an amazing decision. I learned so much about myself, both professionally and otherwise, I made great friends, and I got to see new parts of the world. It was a dream. But I still have no idea what kind of "career path" I'd want to pursue or even an idea of what to study for a Master's.

Thinking about life in those terms, however, doesn't work for me. I find that they're so overwhelming that my brain just shuts down. I either cry or black out and later find myself playing Skyrim or eating cookies. I'm trying a new tactic where I focus more on the relative present and only do things I really want to do. Sounds like a no brainer, I'm sure, but I've really done a lot of things in my life out of obligation, for a resume boost, or convenience. People just tell me to be happy. Do what makes me happy. Well, I'm going to try and find out what those things are. That's what this whole travel and teach concept was for me last year. Now it's grown to be something much more real. I'm much more aware how challenging the profession and living abroad can be. I also know I'm a great teacher, and I'm also really good at making it in another country, hence me continuing the adventure.
In rewards for reading my post, here are photos from my second photo shoot with Marlan, one of my Brazilian students who is a great makeup artist!





Monday, July 16, 2012

The Rest of the Trip

Mom and I had a wonderful time in Rio together. She was a bit sick, so we took it pretty easy and enjoyed the more or less good weather. We watched the sunset from Pão de Açucar, we had caiparinhas and coconut water while lounging in small bikinis on Copacabana beach. We went to the Fine Arts Museum and the Museum of National History. We ate. We shopped. Oh, did I mention we stayed on the 29th floor of a 5 star hotel that's right on the beach? Thank you Delta discounts!

Climbing Sugarloaf together
Amazing breakfast place we found

Even though it rained or was cloudy most of our stay, we still had a great time! Rio showed its true colors enough to take my breath away, so when the sun did disappear for a time I honestly didn't mind. Mom and I's museum and shopping day was perfectly timed for such a rainy day, and it also happened to be Sunday, so the museums were free! It's such a great, fun city. I can see myself returning again and again.

Beautiful theater downtown


Tram to the Sugarloaf Mountain

Pão de açucar/Sugarloaf Mountain

What a view!
Mom left on July 10, so I packed up from Rio to go to Ouro Preto. I had planned to fly to Belo Horizonte, then take a bus to Ouro Preto. The trip was a bit harder than planned due to the airport and the bus station being an hour bus ride apart (who planned this?). Despite the delay, I still arrived in Ouro Preto in time for lunch.


Maracuja juice mixed with coconut. Nice!

The city is beautiful! It's small but packed with things to do. The city is famous for its old gold mines as well as some very unique Baroque architecture. It's also hilly enough to give San Francisco a run for its money. I did as much as I could in the 24 hours I was there, but I definitely will have to go back. I had the luck to arrive there during Ouro Preto's Festival de Inverno, which is an annual arts festival. I went to see a concert in "the oldest theater in the Americas that is still open" and was pleased with myself for not falling asleep after realizing the concert was purely, solely harpsichord.

Visited one of the mines outside Ouro Preto

Had to ride this thing down 3 stories underground. It was a steep descent!
In the gold mine

That's a lake behind me

Praça Tiradentes

The next day I decided to head out early, at 1pm, to make my flight to Rio at 6:30pm. I'm glad I decided to leave so early because we ran into traffic on the bus, so the trip took an hour longer than it had the day before. The flight was delayed as well! To top two delays, the flight itself was unfortunately the worst flight I've been on in a very long time. We flew in circles, were assaulted by thunderstorms and prolonged turbulence, and then had to land at a different airport. Lovely!

It was worth all that to see my friends and fellow AIESEC trainees Anne, Ana, and Camila waiting for me at the hostel. I was so exhausted and irritated because of the trip, but when I saw them I knew I'd do it all again just to see them.

In Lapa
We had a great time together in Rio despite constant cloudy skies. We partied as much as we could despite most of us being a bit sick and just enjoyed each other's company. Anne is the only one of us returning to Goiania to continue working after this trip. Camila and Ana still have a week or two left of traveling.

Crowded visit to the Cristo statue

Saying goodbye was so hard! It was such a fun trip, and I wish I could have stayed longer. I know we will all see each other again though, maybe for Carnaval or a European road trip. Who knows! Love you girls!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

In Salvador

So, mom and I are leaving Salvador today. Plans changed once we got here. It started raining on and off, and we had the smart idea to check the weather for Natal, our planned next destination. It was going to rain there for a week solid! Considering the main reasons for visiting Natal were all beach related, we decided to skip Natal in favor of spending more time here in Salvador and having some extra time in Rio.

Backing up... The Argentine side of Iguacu Falls was amazing.If someone had to force me to choose one side over the other, I think I'd have to choose Argentina. You get to see more waterfalls, and you're also closer to them. The only drawback is that it was much more crowded than the Brazilian side. I got the same kind of religious experience as in Brazil being face to face with giant waterfalls, whether standing right on the edge of Devil's Throat or standing right where one was crashing down into the water below. Needless to say, you get soaked.

Rick left for home after Iguacu. Mom and I continued onto Salvador. I had heard a lot of mixed things about the city, most falling into love-hate extremes: it's the cultural capital of Brazil; it's dirty and get the picture. It was definitely a change of pace from Goiania and Iguacu. There were entire parts of the tourist map that our hotel crossed off, telling us we shouldn't go there being two women by our lonesome. When the sun went down, I felt pretty trapped in the hotel. Even the friendly plaza we were staying in turned pretty dead and dark after 9pm. But despite the shady parts of the city, during the day Salvador really lights up. The buildings have really beautiful European architecture, but they're painted bright colors and they seem to be decaying. I know the main area, the pelourinho, was "saved" in the 80s, and that it has come a long way since then, but it still isn't exactly clean. I honestly like it this way! The pelourinho is also very hilly and it can be slow going walking around on the steep, cobble stone streets.

Even pretty in the rain

Really amazing breakfast at our hotel! So much fruit.

One night mom and I went to a folkloric dance show, and that was probably the highlight of the visit for me. The danced Capoeira, Candomblé, samba de roda, and other various dances showcasing African Gods. It was amazing! I unfortunately was not allowed to photograph.

This past night mom and I moved to a hotel right on the beach to enjoy what little good weather decided to show itself. The beach here, Stela Maris, doesn't seem to be great for swimming. Not sure if it's due to the storms, but the water is really rough: more fit for surfing than swimming really. It is really beautiful though.

View from our second hotel in Salvador
Now we're packing up to go to Rio! I'll post more photos when I have the time. Got some great ones, especially of the Falls! I also booked all my flights and hostels to go to Ouro Preto by myself, then to return to Rio to meet up with my AIESEC Goiania friends. It's going to be great!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Past Few Days and the Next Two Weeks

To take full advantage of my last two days in Goiania, Amanda and I decided to go out both Friday and Saturday nights. Friday we went to a Bolshoi Pub in Marista that had a band covering 80s rock. It was awesome and hilarious. There was band posters all over the walls, a street fighter arcade machine, and even Space Jam pin ball. I was the only person in the audience who knew all the lyrics. Maybe the whole place. The singer had to read them off an iPad. Props to him though because he could sing Queen, Blondie, and Journey quite well! Amanda and I went there with 3 of her girlfriends, and we danced and had a lovely time until late.

Statement lipstick!


Group! Amanda designed the dress I'm wearing.

Space Jam pinball? There was also Phantom of the Opera.


Saturday night we went to a festa junina dance. People here have tons of parties in June due to all the saint holidays. A lot of people were dressed in "farm inspired" costume. The women wore dresses that reminded me of something Little Bo Peep would wear if she was into bright floral patterns. The men wore plaid shirts and attached patches all over their jeans. Many of them resembled scarecrows. People were dancing samba, foja, sertenejo, zuki,  name it! I was asked to dance 4 times, and I learned a lot. A few of Amanda's dancer friends were there, and they were amazing. Practically skipping and running all over the dance floor whenever a samba number came on. Incredible. There was a mini show too, where some dancers danced a quadrilha and a forró number. The quadrilha was particularly funny and confusing. Everyone was dressed in costume, and I was told this dance happens a lot around the region. There's always a couple dressed as a bride and groom in the front and everyone runs around and dances in a really exaggerated, almost mocking fashion.

Why doesn't blogger allow me to upload my cool videos???
Needless to say I didn't sleep Saturday night! My bus left for Brasilia at 6am. We didn't get home until 4am, so I spent the next hour packing everything and chatting with Amanda. It was so sad to say goodbye! I hope we can meet up in the future, maybe for Carnaval. She might also study in Spain, which would be an amazing coincidence, but she has yet to hear anything back from the program she applied for.

I'm in Foz do Iguacu now. I met mom and Rick here, and we're planning on staying here 2 days to really see both sides of the waterfalls, so in Brazil and Argentina. Today we tackled the Brazilian side, and it was incredible. Makes Niagra look sad. My favorite part was this platform towards the end of our hike that extended out across the base of one set of falls and on the edge of another. So, on my right side I'm looking straight down over a giant waterfall, and to my back is another waterfall pouring into the pools of water I'm standing over. The mist from the waterfall to my back soaked us completely. It was amazing! 

Giant waterfalls to both my right and left. Can't hear anything. Loving it.
 Tomorrow we're going over to Argentina to see the falls from another perspective. Here's a really rough sketch of our trip...

Sorry about my bad handwriting. :p

So, I met mom and Rick in (1) Foz do Iguacu, where I am now. Then Rick is going home through Rio, while mom and I continue onto (2) Salvador and (3) Natal for several days. We then head back south to (4) Rio. Mom leaves, and I go to (5) Ouro Preto by myself. Then it's back to Rio again this time to meet up with the other AIESEC Goiania trainees like Anne, Ana, Camila, etc. !!!! I'll be back in the US on the 15th. Ahhhhhh! Let's get started!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A List

So, I thought it would be funny and reflective to compile a quick list of things I'm going to miss about living in Goiania and things that...well I'm not going to miss so much! Let's start with things I won't miss so we end on a positive note!

Things I will not miss...
1. Riding the buses, which are, by law, always full.
2. Coffee made from powder that's served sweetened.
3. Small breakfasts lacking in protein.
4. Being treated like an idiot.
5. Not having air conditioning.
6. Boxed milk.
7. The general vague process for making plans.
8. Always having at least 10 mosquito bites on my legs and feet.

Things I will miss...
1. Gente boa!! My students, the friends I've made, the families that have hosted and fed me...
2. Amazing juices and fruits I've never heard of.
3. Speaking Portuguese...not to mention Engliportañol.
4. An incredible variety of sweets, like brigadeiro, cremes, and bolos (cake without icing).
5. Consistently beautiful sunsets.
6. Maracujá, otherwise known as passion fruit (juice, creme, ice cream, mousse, milkshake, even sashimi made with maracuja!)
7. The excessive use of words such as doido, loco, and bagunça, as well as their English translations (crazy and a mess).
8. Having a job that makes me feel appreciated.
9. Hearing the locals I know talk about "the Americans" and realizing they aren't referring to me.
10. Street fairs!

That's just a smattering of things I thought of off the top of my head. Can you think of anything else? I love Brasil!