Chapter 9: Estou no Brasil!
Trip Start Jan 18, 2008
14Trip End Ongoing
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I'm in Brazil! Can I please secure some sympathy by first telling you that I wrote the mother of all blogs yesterday and then the internet stopped working as I pushed send, deleting everything. So I'll do my best to cover every awesome thing I covered in that one, but I am slightly bummed.
Firstly, can I please mention the weirdest thing about Brazil?? Here we go. I didn't know this before I came, so I was slightly freaked out for the fist couple of days (today is my third day and I have gotten used to it,) but after you are done in hte toilet, you take the paper you used to wipe, and put it in a little bin next to the toilet, thus ensuring that no paper enters the toilet area. You flush, and you leave your paper in a bin. Yeah, nope, still a bit weird.
Anyway now I've got that off my chest....the good news is that since yesterday I have located the apostrophe, and I can use it whenever I want. Oh, freedom.'''''''''''''''''''''''''
So anyway. I will start recounting my journey from when I left Salt lake City airport. Before I left, I had to remove 2 jars of peanut butter (here called pasta de amandoim, I learnt yesterday) to lighten my luggage, and I gave them to the nearest person, who happened to be the lady at the desk, who I hardly need tell you was thrilled to have a lifetime supply of peanut butter for free. Dangit. I read my book (the third of the Twilight series) (thanks Annessa) on the plane and it was great...when I arrived in LAX I called my friend, who had said she would be able to find me a place to stay, and I waited and waited, all the time wondering if I shouldnt just call Elisas Chilean cousin to come and get me. By 5pm the answer came back, no go. It was a bit late to call the cousin so I settled down for another brilliant night in hotel LAX, ie the public phone area. It was a lot better this time, because at least I had a fully charged ipod and a computer, not to mention my phone. I called my friend Michael and talked to him for an hour while I was waiting. That night, just when I had nabbed the most sought after spot on the landing (theres that part with 3 chairs with no armrests, I think I mentioned it before) and was feeling all proud of myself, and had finally fallen asleep.....they decided to clean the whole area. I ad to pick up all my stuff, stumble into the bathroom area and change into a tracksuit fo I could finally be comfortableish as soon as they were done. It tok so long. I sat next to An asian girl who looked fairly bored with life and fell asleep clutching my passport and computer under my jacket which was doing a good job of keeping half of me warm. After about 2 and a half hours they were done, but someone else had pinched my spot. I waited another helf hour, looking hopefully over my shoulder, and sddenly he was gone. I wheeled my cart over, lay down and fell asleep. (Of course it was not as easy as it sounded. You try sleeping on a hard surface with metal bumps in your back and a loudspeaker every five minutes in French, Korean, Japanese, English and UGH German (was the worst, I kept waking up and looking around in horror,) while the dim light is flickering and you can hear people ordering McDonalds and talking on the phone.)
Anyway the morning came, and I went in the bathroom and tried to make myself look like something other than a zombie. I put on a hat to cover my nappy hair, and pulled up my hood. I ate an egg McMuffin and a fruit and yoghurt thing (the price of McDonalds in the airport is extortionate, by the way,) and went downstairs to check in, relatively uneventful until we reached security and I realized I looked like a terrorist. I was told to remove my hood, hat, shoes and my bags were thouroughly inspected before I was told to leave. They let me bring my McDonalds in? And I took the yoghurt thing on the plane with me, weird. It was good though...
I was so happy just to be leaving America and starting on my real trip, in Brazil. I got on the plane and realized that none of my important devices were charged, which was a bit of a disappointment, but I looked on the screen and realized I could watch a number of movies or TV shows or games at my leisure. It was pretty awesome. Ironically, I chose to watch "Proof of Life," which is about kidnapping and ransom in South America. I did raise my eyebrows a bit when I pondered the significance of such a choice, but I really didnt know what it was about when I chose it. Lunch rolled around and was actually edible, which, in conjunction with the personal screens and variety of entertainment offered, propelled LAN to the top of my list of best airlines.
When we arrived in Peru (about 7 hours later, I had been amusing myself with the first season of Prison Break) the stuffy air hit me and I reconsidered brining 3 jackets. I guess I wouldnt have if I wasnt planning on snowboarding in Chile. As we changed planes I walked past some people eating fruit and rejoiced. REAL FRUIT! It had been too long.
I watched Prison Break again until we arrived in Sao Paulo, (I tried to have a Portuguese conversation with teh man next to me on the plane, which lasted about one minute. I was still impressed with myself. )
As we got off the plane and lined up for customs, I realized I didnt have the forms necessary to go through. Apparently we received them on the plane. Prison Break is a really riveting show. Anyway I asked a Japanese man (in Japanese-these are the advantages of speaking other languages) what it was and went to get one from the place by the wall. An indifferent South African lent me a pen and I tried to do it even though it was in Portuguese. Now, I had printed all kinds of things in America, because I had read that you need to have proof of a return ticket, of sufficient funds, of address, but as I had them all ready in my pocket, the girl took my passport without even looking at me and gave me a big stamp, handing it back to me without a word. I could have been there for any reason. At least they dont make you go through the charade of "why are you here" like in the USA. I love Brazil. However if my bag got stolen, it would be better to be in the USA than Brazil, for sure...
Anyway I got to the arrivals gate and there was Joana's mum, waiting for me. She is so great!! The weather was kind of rainy and I was sleeping on my feet, we drove some distance back to their house but we stopped at a bakery, which is where I first fell in love with Brazil. I cant even describe to you how awesome and delicious everything looked. Plus they have real fruit and real cheese! So many different cheeses!
We went up to their house, they have a nice house, which is up some stairs, I have WAY too much luggage... well a bit later I noticed that they have a swimming pool and a tennis/soccer/basketball area (a whole court! so cool) and a really cool area for doing barbecues, which I will explain later. That day I pretty much dumped my stuff on hte floor of Joanas room and went to sleep on the bed that pulls out from under hers. It was like 7:30 when she woke me up, she had come home at about 4 but let me sleep. I was zonked. Anyway I woke up and went to have dinner, which was delicious, plus they drink fresh juice all the time. I love this place. I pulled out all my souvenirs (which is a heck of a lot, even without the peanut butter) and put them in a drawer Joana had cleared for me. We slept at about1:30.
The next day we woke up at about 9 and went to a market with Gabi, Joanas friend, and that market is like Otara in NZ but without the disgustingness. I bought a bag and ate a "mini-saia" iceblock which was flavoured half condensed milk and half chocolate. Pretty good. Then in the food part, we approached a stall with like 10 huge bowls filled with delicousness, like brigadeiro (a kind of chocolate pudding), cocada (like the inside of a bounty bar but soft, miost, warm and delicious), goiabada (like a jam made with guavas) or ambrosia (??) anyway there were more but I cant remember the names. One had like, condensed milk pudding. Anyway the guy gave me one cup for free, to welcome me into the country, and even though I couldnt understand one thing he said, he was really nice and the girls told me what was going on. Mine had cocada, goiabada and like some peanut powder I forgot the name of already.
That day we went to the house of her cousin, to get a ride home because it was someones birthday and we were having a barbecue. Can I please say that I love Brazilian barbecue, and Joanas dad, who was the "BBQman" and did a fantastic job. I was happy to drink guarana, which is the national soft drink, and I must have had 8 or 9 cupfuls, that stuff is so good. The party lasted into the night even though at the moment its a little cold here, I havent been able to wear shorts yet.
The next day we woke up and went to their friends house, who happen to be Japanese, though not everyone there speaks Japanese. I was happy because it would finally be a language I understand, so I went along and chatted with the grandma for a bit, she was great, and I sipped this gross stuff which turned out to be wine and condensed milk, which I immediately gave to Joanas dad, and I drank the Brazilian equivalent of sprite. They had "stroganoffi" which is like a curry, minus the curry. There were chicken and beef, and they were both good. We ate it with rice and salad, and had torta (pie) for dessert. So good. I didnt understand the conversation but would occasionally jump in in Japanese if I understood something, or something would be explained to me in either Japanese or English. My brain soon got tired and I found myself zoning out entirely and wondering random things. They thought it was very funny that I could speak English, French and Japanese, but not Portuguese, the most important language at the time for me. I said I was working on it. And I am. For having been here 3 days, I'm pretty good. I can have a basic conversation, understand most things if they are asked slowly, and I always get told my pronunciation is good (thanks Andy!) Plus I can say some slang, hahaha. It was kind of frustrating to sit there and here all these jokes going on but not knowing what was funny...I'll get over it. I'm gonna learn this language. This is just like in the beginning of Japan! And it was good to speak Japanese yesterday.
Last night we just came home and went to sleep. I did mynails too, and sent emails, but we were asleep by midnight. Today Im going to the phone shop at 1pm to get a card for my phone, and fortuitously, LOST was on yesterday at exactly the episode after I left off, so Im going to watch it tonight because its the following one.
This is a long blog again. I've been having a great time here, Brazil is a cool place, I just wish the weather would get better! Its raining now, I call this kind of rain jungle rain. I'm posting pictures on facebook, of all my adventures so far.
ps the maid just came in and tried to talk to me, its hilarious, Im making up Portuguese and really sound like an idiot. I kind of love this stage of learning a language and kind of hate it.