Monday, February 28, 2011

beast/beach mode


It's been a bit since I posted last... my b. This past week has been a little busy since I finally found a way to play soccer often... so I've been doing that nonstop. So, to reward your waiting, there will be two (yes, 2) embarrassing moments at the end of this post, just do add more incentive for you to stick with me until then (unless you're a butt and you scroll down now because I said that).

I FINALLY went to the beach, the weekend before last. It was really nice, both in aspects of scenery, and "scenery." Nameen? The water was green, and the beach was in this inlet-type deal, with green-coated mountains in the background... it was unbelievable. But you know me, rather than taking a ton of pictures of the beautiful natural setting, I just took weird pictures with the dudes I went with (feel free to scroll down to see those, you impatient readers).

Soccer has been the theme since my last post... there is an indoor futsal court at FGV that I play at 3-4 times per week now (haha I say "per" week like I didn't start doing it this week... you know what I mean though) and it is by far the best part of Brazil so far. Two of my great passions, soccer and diversity... present in one place (Savannah and Dea that diversity was a shoutout for you, I know you appreciate my love for it haha). The first time I played, we did a Brazil vs. Rest of the World type game, with my team consisting of American (cough me cough), Guyanese (Johnathan), Colombian, French, and German backgrounds. We did better than anticipated and frustrated several  Brazilian squads. 1 thing I've learned.... not to tell people I'm American before I play with them. If I do, the ball doesn't come my way for a good 5-10 minutes until people realize that I'm not just a dumb yankee that'll try to pick up the ball with my hands. However, I have received several ego boosts and have done my individual part to alleviate the US from the stereotype that no American is capable of playing a decent brand of soccer. "No way are you American, I thought you were Brazilian" and "I've never seen Americans play like that" do wonders to inflate my already hot air balloon-sized ego. At least now I'm respected enough that people tell me when everyone is going to play. Good week in that respect.

I danced forro last weekend for the second time... it was Johnathan's birthday. I'm starting to get it a bit more... I have the basic step MASTERED haha. Right when I think I'm getting the hang of it I look over to see if Junior saw, but he's in the zone twirling girls and looking like a beast. Plus he has his eyes closed the whole time.... showoff. He, however, is a very good forro "pimp;" he impresses girls with his skills, then asks them if they'd be willing to teach me and/or Johnathan. Since he's such a snake charmer they usually agree, so Johnathan and I appreciate it greatly since it's hard to work up the courage to ask a girl with a line like "hey... I have no clue what I'm doing but let's go!"

Alright, I know you're waiting. So here's the #1 moment of the past week and a half or so:
So, as many of my friends will tell you.... I wouldn't be considered the LEAST sassiest human being on this planet. If I hear something that is sass-able, odds are I'll be obnoxious and call you out on it. Since I've been doing that since I can remember, it was about time that all that "crap" caught up to me (foreshadowing quotes...). Johnathan and I were walking from my place to a bar called Rabo da Peixe for my international buddys, Ana Luiza, birthday celebration. I don't even remember what idiocy Johnathan was rambling about... I suppose it doesn't even matter. The only thing that matters is that my sass was cut short: "Johnathan, that was probably THE stupidest thing I have ever.....splaaaaat.... squisshhh.... oh. my. lord." Apparently dog owners here aren't courteous about the sidewalk souvenirs that they're "cute" little furballs leave behind.

Hokay, here's number 2: (maybe the previous one should have been number 2.... zing!)

This one is probably more in the more horrific/uncomfortable category, rather than embarrassing. I was riding the bus home from my second soccer session, all gross and sweaty and whatnot, in a pretty good mood from playing/ego boosting. Usually all the seats are taken on these buses, since around 6 or 7 trillion people live in this city. But on this occasion, there were 2 open seats. I considered sitting in the first open one (a logical and efficient choice) but immediately regretted my decision to even CONSIDER it. Sitting near the window was this... guy...? Girl...? Well it was definitely a tranny. I'm not sure which pronoun to use if I'm trying to be politically correct. But all political correctness aside... no thanks. And, to put the icing on the cake, this hybrid Dennis Rodman / Hillary Rodham Clinton lookalike (maybe I should have called this person Rodhman... haHA!) DEFINITELY WINKED AT ME. Ugggghhhhh. My euphoric mood from soccer immediately turned into a nauseating one. Now, before you righteous readers think to yourself "come on... I bet it was a tranny" IT WAS TOTALLY A TRANNY. Mr./Mrs. Rodhman had bright red eyebrows drawn onto the most prominent brow I've seen in recent years, plus an adam's apple the size of the Epcot center. Sorry, I didn't have the quick thinking to snap a picture, so you're just going to have to take my word for it. I decided to walk past the second open seat also and stand in the back.

Until next time... I'll stay on adam's apple patrol and make sure to do more entertaining for you/ disturbing for me things over the next week or so. Tchau.


Franklin REALLY likes Johnathan haha
p.s. I was the only guy wearing shorts that went past... wherever theirs go past haha. Yes, girls wore thongs... but so did the guys. Guess you give and take.
Fat people get preferential seating on the bus as much as old or pregnant people... they can't fit through the turnstyle

that's my sexy "bout to eat some batatas fritas" face

Ana Luiza, my int'l buddy

where I'll be spending the majority of my time

no idea what I'm doing... she knew it too

probably my favorite picture of Johnathan thus far haha

Friday, February 18, 2011

vineyards and creepy grannys

Greetings hypothetical audience,

It's been over a week since I blogged last... I've had a few computer issues. I'm sure their not really interesting to anyone except me, so I'll be brief. We went to on a weekend trip to Vinhedo, a small town maybe an hour outside Sao Paulo, and like some kind of idiot I left my computer plugged in. Didn't think it was a big deal, since the voltage here is actually less than in the US. Well, my hard drive was scorched. Like with fire. So I had to pay a nice sum of money to buy a new big hard drive (500gb was the smallest option... are you kidding me) and a surge protector (that doesn't work because it uses some goofy 3 prong connection... dammit).

So beyond the frustration of that, the past week and a half or so has been awesome. I've started to learn a lot about Brazilian culture...

1) I have accepted the fact that the word "plan" does not exist here. It was unbelievably frustrating for me, a reasonably punctual human being, to have plan after plan put off for sometimes hours. I've realized that there is literally nothing I can do about it, so there's no point in getting mad.

2) I have accepted the fact that my life is in the hands of the driver when I'm riding in a car. My blood pressure probably doubled the first few times I drove around in a car (Franklin: driving here is like fighting UFC). But, as I have driven with people several times now and have yet to die, I have "let go" and I just let it happen... even if it's terrifying to witness the absolute zoo that is the road here.

3 (and probably the most valuable... although it took guts to admit it haha)) Girls don't love you just because they kiss you on the cheek. That's just what they do. People are very friendly and talk to you here, and once they realize you speak English, they jump at the opportunity to practice English with you. I have learned to not interpret this as "every girl here wants my bod." I've gotten phone numbers and contact info from random people on the bus, simply because they asked me a question and I stared at them for 10 seconds then managed to jumble the words "uh.... nao falo portuges" which is met with "YOU SPEAK ENGLISH??!! WHATS YOUR NAME?" I thought I was just naturally sexy, but I think people just want my language expertise (sniff....). Learning a lot about myself....

Anyways, I started school this week. The classes have been very interesting... the semester is split into halves, and I take 3 classes in each half, or module. This module I'm taking Marketing in Latin America (professor is a joke), BRIC analysis (Brazil/Russia/India/China....future world powers), and Politics and Culture in Brazil. So that I don't bore you by saying how interesting the material is (because it is) I'll entertain you rather by describing this aforementioned joke of an educator. See, most teachers use facts when they teach... that's how knowledge is normally passed from one person to the other. Not the case with this gem. We spent the "first" 30 minutes of the class (first is in quotes because the class starts 30 minutes late ALWAYS, so its really minutes 31-60) debating for fun, without previous knowledge, which latin american countries had the largest populations. Everyone knew Brazil was #1... but all countries after were in question. One girl (from Mexico) suggested Mexico. The professor immediately rejected the guess, saying that the state of Sao Paulo had more people than Mexico did. The following dialogue is as follows (P = professor, G = girl):

G "no."
P "really? are you sure?"
G "yes."
P "no... i think it's true."
G "no."

So it turned into this whole research fiasco... and we brought up a statsheet that had Mexico at about 112 million and the state of Sao Paulo with.... 40 million. 

P "oh....."

...yeah. Well the class material is interesting and its fun to see what she will make up next, so I'm not complaining. Plus the other 2 classes are great... interesting and the professors really seem like they know what they're talking about. 

So this Vinhedo town was pretty sweet, Vinhedo means "vineyard" so the town is obviously famous for its grapes and wine production. We were lucky enough to get there for the "Festa de Uva" (grape party), which was this giant grape convention I guess. It was really more interesting than it sounds... there were a bunch of families that owned wineries in the area that offered wine sampling and an explanation of how they made their wine. There was also a big concert with this Samba guy... who I had never heard of but I guess he's pretty famous in SP and Rio de Janeiro. The family we stayed with was very friendly, the dad was my host-moms brothers... so I had a chance to meet some cousins, Tata who was 16 and Filipe who was 12... I think. We had a lot of fun with the kids and their dog, Madonna. I finally got my video game fix out of the way... Filipe, Franklin, and I had some pretty intense Pro Evolution Soccer and guitarhero battles. We had grilled meat for the meals there... which seemed a lot like Fogo de Chao... so that was optimal.

Those are the big things that have happened I guess.... I finally met my international buddy, Ana Luiza, who is very nice and speaks excellent English. She said she might go to the beach with us next weekend. Well, at least going to the beach is THE PLAN but we all know what that could mean. I'll probably have some nice/super-creepy pictures from the beach in next week's blog. There should be plenty of camera-worthy "scenery" there.

Last but least... I've decided to create a theme for the end of my blogs. From here on out, the last paragraph will be dubbed "Andy's embarrassing Brazil moment of the week." As you recall... last week we had a little "Pao vs. Pau" de Acucar incident that left me crying on the inside. Since another equally as questionable thing happened this week, its safe to say that I will do at least 1 stupid thing worth mentioning each week. So, it's like your own personal reward for bearing with me through the more boring parts of the blog. So here's Andy's embarrassing Brazil moment for this week:

Host dad told me the first day I arrived that when I use the bathroom, I should lock the door. Now, to all of you that are already assuming what happened based on that first sentence, that's logical, but LET ME FINISH, geez. I have never forgotten to lock the door... to go to the bathroom, take a shower, what have you. So I was showering the other day.... and forgot that there's a window in the shower. Now, the apartment I live in is shaped like a giant U... and since it's so humid here, they have more open shower ventilation so that the bathroom doesn't get all steamy when people shower (which is irrelevant to me, since I take ice-cold showers here). So... I left that WINDOW open, not the door unlocked. And since the apartment is U-shaped... the laundry/cleaning supply room is visible through the window. SOOOOO...... along comes granny... humming the same song she has since I got here. This time she added some different words when she realized the window was left open: "mmmmhmmmm diga... meu amor... mhmmm AY MEUS DEUS". That "ay meus deus" was an "oh my god" at seeing my body through the window... awesome. I've never seen her move that fast... pulling that quick 180 like Fogel in Superbad when he got caught checking out that girl and then told her what the time was. Grandma and I have not discussed our encounter since. I think we're going to keep it that way haha. Anyways, until next time, peace! Oh, and the pictures below are mostly from Vinhedo, a couple of the first ones are from the city center, where Sao Paulo was founded, and the big church there, Catedral da Se.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

week 1... (feels like month 1)

What it is, readers?

I've been in Sao Paulo for about a week now... it feels more like a month. Not because I'm not enjoying my time, because I am, but because I am constantly learning new things and overstimulating myself with this fascinating culture, it feels like I've been here learning for a much longer time.

The language is starting to become easier to understand; the only members that speak ANY English in my host family are 2 of the 3 kids, and their English is often difficult to decipher. It's almost easier to understand them speaking Portuguese than it is to speak English... plus I would prefer Portuguese anyways to improve my own ability. When everyone is at work during the weekdays, I usually stay at home with Grandma and we watch Portuguese soap operas... pretty ridiculous plotlines but it's helpful for learning the language. When I'm in my room (like now as I write this) I try to watch other Portuguese programs... for example right now I'm watching Kung Fu Panda in Portuguese, which makes learning faster because I already know the lines in English so I can learn new words. I've gotten pretty good at charades to speak to my family when I really need too. This week there was one pretty major mishap... in Portuguese, the word "pao" with a ~ on the A (I don't know how to do that on this blog software... what a noob) means "bread" but pao without a tilde is Brazilian slang for "dick." So the grocery store here is called "Pao de Azucar" meaning "sweet bread." Obviously, a novice speaker such as myself might not say the world correctly... and needless to say my host family got a kick out of me inquiring about "sweet dick" instead of sweet-bread.... wooops.

Other than that, I guess I haven't really "messed up" besides just not being able to speak about philosophical or deep things with my family. Conversations are limited to: how are you... do you like coca-cola, etc. The only other major mistake I've made was sitting in Grandma's chair, which I guess is for her and her only, even if she's not in the room. That got a laugh out of everyone, and now my host brother in law Franklin loves to sit there just to piss her off. He's starting to do it less because he gets slapped upside his head by her whenever he sits on  what he calls "o trono da avo" meaning "Grandma's Throne."

As far as activities go, school doesn't start until next Monday so I've just been hanging out. I played basketball in this big, beautiful park filled with palm trees with my host bro, Junior. We ended up sharing the court with a bunch of kids that were probably my age that wanted to play a game. We played 3v3 with me, Junior, and this maybe 12 year old kid versus 3 kids that were all roughly 6 feet tall. I was the tallest on my team... needless to say we didn't do so hot. I called them James, Bosh, and Wade, which they loved since it was really the only 3 words they could understand me say. They liked that I was trying to speak Portuguese and were willing to teach me basketball-related vocab. They play a very not-American version of half-court 21... you don't have to take the ball back here so after every rebound you can just shoot again. Seemed ridiculous to me... but it was fun.

I learned this great dance called Forro here. It's a common Brazilian dance apparently... it seems like a combination of salsa, bachata, and good old-fashioned grinding. Junior took me and my English-fluent Guyanese pal Johnathan to a Forro bar. Johnathan and I didn't really know what we were doing so we just watched the dance for a while, but Junior was a pro. Girls seemed to flood towards him... but he was a great friend and said to some of them "you should teach my American friend over there how to dance Forro." One girl, Daiane, was stupid enough to agree and try to teach me. She spoke good English and told me that she thought we were playing a trick on her, because I looked like a Brazilian. However, once I tried to speak Portuguese to her she quickly understood how American I was haha. She was patient with me as I learned the basic step and she taught me a few different moves and spins. She told me that she didn't think Americans knew how to dance but I was an exception (ego boost!). Another girl who was Daiane's friend taught Johnathan, and we all exchanged contact info afterwards. Hopefully we can hang out with them again later or drive to the beach or something.

Later that night we went to a hip-hop club called Camara, which was an unnecessarily expensive (40 reais... roughly 25 dollars.... are you kidding me) place that played techno beats over American songs by Katy Perry and Justin Beiber (who they love... yet make fun of constantly. They call him Justin Biba... Biba being short for Butterfly... which is slang for gay or transexual). I had fun with my host siblings and Johnathan teaching them American dance moves like the dougie, jerk, and stanky leg. They, in turn, taught me some Brazilian steps, which seemed pretty similar (but in my non-biased opinion, more lame).

It's been a fun first week, I hope once classes start things are still this fun. Leave some comments or something... I feel like I'm talking to myself. Tchau.

the view from my bedroom

My host sister, Ana Izabel

"Os Bros" Junior, me, and Johnathan

Mom and Dad, Ana e Augusto senior


p.s. I don't have any pictures of the other sister, Anne Melina, or her husband Franklin. Hopefully I'll get some soon. And, Grandma doesn't like her photo taken so you can't see her only I can muwahahahaha