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.


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