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Sunday, November 20, 2011


Lately, I've been roaming around Brazil. Enjoying my last month here and its bittersweetness is getting to me. I remember people telling me before I left that I would come back a different person, that I would learn so many things by leaving my comfort zone and that my perspective on things would begin to open up once I experienced a foreign country at its fullest. Now, with just 2 weeks and a half left in Brazil, I can say that I've definitely become more aware of societal problems and cultural differences different from the ones I've always known, but I still don't consider myself changed or scarred from the experience, just awake. There are so many things about the world people usually don't think about or if they do, they don't know the actual truths behind the situation.
Last week I traveled to Salvador, Bahia, one of the poorest regions in Brazil. Before going there we were warned several times about the ways of the people in that city, but the things we heard were just basic. "People will ask you for money,"and "don't take your money with you," or "don't stay out too late." What no one told us was that despite the high poverty rates, the only beggars I encountered were kids under the age of 10, who were mostly crack addicts and homeless, knowing this I can only assume they rely on being part of a street gang or just part of a group of kids with the same problems relying on crimes to survive. Mentioning this it is obvious that the poverty rate in this city is above average and absolutely nothing like I expected.
My parents are going to kill me for doing this, but the point is that I am alive and nothing happened. But while I was in Salvador, my Australian guided m3 around the section of our hostel and invited us to see a favela, yes, it wasn't a paid or planned tour, but during this "tour" we were walking inside of it and it was literally a labyrinth, up and down, little streets and alleys with houses smaller than my bathroom, once we reached the top my heart was beating really fast knowing that all the stories I had heard and the pictures I saw on what I believed were fictional movies were true, a very deep feeling of frustration followed by realizing that these people have little options and their only resort is to live on top of two more houses with little roof. Once I reached the top, across the street was a very tall apartment building with a private entrance and a view of the ocean... when they told me that the class difference was very noticeable, I never thought it would mean me standing in the middle of a street in between two different worlds within a walking distance.
The first thing they told us when we got to the hostel was, come here we'll show you the map, mind you this was the safest part of the city. Nick, our australian host takes out a map and starts circling little by little all the sections around our hostel except 3 streets, all he said was don't go here or here or there for 3 minutes... it was only a matter of taking the wrong turn and we would end up in the most dangerous part of town or the safest one. It's a sad reality we were forced to face, but still we really couldn't afford to get scared of the culture we've already been emerged in for almost 4 months, the only thing left to do is be cautious and trust the advice we were being given.
The weather was absolutely great, it was too hot to breathe in but it was exactly what we were looking for, the type of weather that allows you to be lazy and just lay on a hammock in the sun or on a tapestry at the beach and after passing out for a few minute wake up to the bell of the ice cream man passing by only to find your favorite fruit popsicle (goiaba) waiting there to hydrate you... yup very corny, but that was my life for a few days. Going to an island with deserted beaches and cheap caipirinhas and people doing capoeira on almost every corner can also be added to the list.
Salvador, was by far the most cultural aspect of my study abroad experience. Seeing little kids asking for food or money just to exchange it for crack money or big Brazilian men stopping us in the middle of the day acting like our best friends only to give us a handshake and say that they will happily be our drug dealer for the remaining of our trip was the extreme I was missing from living in Florianopolis. This extreme left me shocked at times and left me wanting to understand these people's lives more, understand why it is that they are faced with certain circumstances. By far the most outrageous experience I was faced with was the day we were relaxing at the most crowded beach I've ever been on and in front of us there was a kid running like a gazelle and then we see a man running after him screaming, "ladrao" or thief. At that moment it was as if the entire male population at the beach stood up to chase that boy, but it wasn't long until he was kicked on the side with a capoeira kick by the same man that started chasing him, later he was being trampled by the rest of the men at the beach... did I mention this happened less than three feet behind me? No cops around or at sight... 15 minutes after being beat, there were still no cops. Later, the same men take him 'captive' to who knows where and the last thing I see is a kid, could've been 14, crying and bleeding. After commenting this with a local, he answered very serious, "Yeah, we hate thieves here in Pelorinho. If people get a hold of him it's almost certain he'll get killed." These are the type of things that make me think that criminals really don't have a choice sometimes, if a tourist knows about what can happen if you take the risk of stealing a local must now, but still it's survival. If they can't get a job, food, money or even a place to live in, their only option may be to steal with the possibility of getting killed... they must really have no choice.
It was a shock to be in this city for an entire week. But it was a great experience overall. I learned more about the Brazilian culture or at least another spectrum of it. Even after seeing the other extreme of Brazil, I still love this country and its diversity, although I still don't know half of what I came here to learn about it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's based on understanding

When I think about it, the world is a very big place. But for some strange reason people always find themselves either trapped or living in a really small world. Similar acquaintances, similar interests, same group of people around you week after week, routines never seem to end and a very big percentage of people refuse to allow change in their lives and minds due to the effort it takes to readjust to those changes. And when I say change, I'm not referring to a spontaneous life with no direction, I think I mean that it's hard to accept that everything is not what it seems, that our worldview is not another person's worldview and that we can not impose our opinions on others due to the different scenarios and circumstances the other person's life is currently experiencing. I would say that cultural differences are the only barriers between people, symbolically of course, I could be a literally meaning and the list would go on and on. But the only thing separating an American from a Mexican is the lack of understanding of the difficulties the other culture lives, whether it is the absence of governmental authority causing chaos in one's life or the frustration that comes along with that leading to emotional and psychological complications. Same as to an African and an American, how is it that an African will ever be able to comprehend the american lifestyle when it comes to the amount of food consumed compared to their country? And its not that one culture is right or wrong, but the misconceptions or the idea that the problem is out of our control, projects hopelessness to the concept of change. How can we make a change when we don't realize we are living in a world with people that are less advantaged than us or that simply need help? Because mostly, advantaged people are on the spotlight creating a perfect visual world while it blocks and distracts us from the real problems of this world. Why do we concentrate on being rich, studying more to earn more or being better to make other people proud? Why don't we focus on the world as a whole, instead of just our world, and its problems to obtain a balance?
I read an article today, it said that this monday, our world will reach 8 billion people living on Earth. Just fifty years ago we had 5 billion people less living here and in fifteen years we'll have a billion more. How are we supposed to live in a world where we are consuming all its resources in the hopes of having a more successful business or a more comfortable life?

But Earth is still a place we all call home, I think its time we start acting like we are an actual family with different cultures and issues. I don't mean to get hippie or like i am in a kind of drug, but I think we are all the same, just different appearances due to our environmental adaptions. Cultures are so complex that they mislead us into thinking that we are from a different species. But the truth is we are all in it for the joy of living a life that who knows, maybe its could be our only life, we all have different purposes, but we still all deserve the right to live without being misunderstood and due to that not being helped.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Last friday I had my plane ticket printed, no hostels booked, 100 reals in my pocket, my backpack and my camera. I had nothing planned and neither did my friends James. We got on the plane scanning through a tourist book to at least help us get to the bus we needed to take to go to downtown and 30 minutes later I was unconscious sleeping in a very uncomfortable seat because I slept 4 hours the night before. An hour later we arrive to Belo Horizonte, its pouring rain and I only have flip flops, shorts and of course, I forgot to bring a jacket once again. Meteorology is horrible in Brazil. But it was fine because I didn't have to worry about it for at least one more hour, the duration of the bus ride from the airport to downtown area.
I have always considered myself a pretty lucky girl, luck always finds my way and this weekend proved it once again! It didn't rain once we got to downtown. So we began our backpacking experience. My friend is majoring in history and economics; the city is the third largest city in Brazil and is essential to Brazil's economy; I was just looking for something different to do during the weekend and the mix ended up being perfect for me, I had a free tour guide in a city with a lot of things to do.
The first day we basically walked around in circles looking at buildings, eating good food, getting on a boat that was very much sinking and could clearly NOT fit three people in it, yet the "boat man" said it was totally fine, as long as he could get another 3 reals more from the gringos, but everything was fine, we all survived the boat ride, no one got wet and most importantly, my friends got to rest from me screaming, "Please stop rowing. Please don't turn!" That day I came to the conclusion that I don't like being on a boat at the verge of sinking. Still, the adventure continued. We still had no hostel and we had 3 hours until it got dark. First, we stopped at the most expensive, luxurious one with the hopes that they would like our personalities and give us a discount and then after an hour of looking for a place to sleep in we settled for a cheap, under-construction, cute hotel in front of a park. That night we celebrated the fact that luck was with us in this trip and we headed to a very popular bar avenue in downtown, I mean we were in Brazil's bar capital, it would've been wrong if we didn't and it was great!

On our second day, after a long night of not sleeping because our room was facing the LOUDEST street in the city. We were out and ready to visit all the museums, monuments and once again look for a place to stay in. It was raining, so the walk was not very pleasant, but the museums we went to were breathtaking and the city was beautiful. After drinking some coffee, we called the hostel and they had two beds available for the night, so naturally, we went to another museum and waited until the last minute to check-in, we took the metro ( interesting transportation method) and the view that welcomed us was terrifying, two huge abandoned buildings taken over by low income families, one was burned and the other was in "stable" conditions, we had hopes that the reviews in were right so we continued on until we found the hostel. Let me say this with all honesty, best hostel ever! Ran by a french couple, free internet, cute books to read, amazing view of the city and most importantly it smelled great!! That night, we went out once again, but with the strangest man as our companion. Too serious, too knowledgeable and so difficult to take seriously at the same time... it was a fun night after a couple of beers.
For a city that most Brazilians called ugly or the last place I would visit in Brazil, it blew my mind. The history of it was scouring out of the walls and buildings transforming it into a very likable city. The friendliest Brazilians live there and the magic of it will only make me want to go against most of the Brazilians I know by saying, "I really recommend you visit this city."

Monday, October 17, 2011


I flew out of my niche here in Brazil and lived in Rio de Janeiro for 5 days. I say lived and not visited because the experienced woke me up and made me feel like I was still not at home. I am really moving around a foreign country which I still consider the opposite of what I've always known and feel comfortable experiencing life as I know it to be a random journey that never ends.
When leaving Floripa, I was named the light-packer of the group with only a backpack and my camera in hand, my money hidden inside my bra and my ipod on the go. I was the first to get in the plane and pass out as soon as I sat down... it was 7 am in the morning meaning I had to wake up at way-too-early a.m. But it was all good because after an hour and 30 minutes I was in Rio de Janeiro.
On our way to our hostel, I didn't say a word. The city hypnotized me. It had wide streets and huge trees everywhere tunnels going under huge mountains and, bad drivers and people everywhere (I fought for my life every time I crossed a street.) And then there was a big red house where the taxi stopped, marking the beginning of my first hostel experience... it was great! Great people, great breakfast, bedbug-less and clean bathrooms, although I did get in trouble for being to loud at 3 a.m. once, but I shared my Gioba juice with the receptionist the next day and we made peace.
The first day, I spent a little too much money on food, but it was worth it when you're sitting in front of Copacabana beach, drinking caipirinhas with good friends and eating the best real meal in probably a month an a half, only to get ready for one of the biggest street parties I have ever witnessed. We got there in a taxi cab, keep in mind that this taxi has 10 seats and we were 25 people in it... they allowed it and it was cheaper, also, they were driving really slow. And as soon as we got there we lost half of the group, people from all over the world bumped into us every 10 minutes, tequila shots were being sold at 2 reals and the vendor took one with the customers every time, a big brown mr. clean carried one of my friends out of nowhere saying that she was a beautiful black princess in portuguese and just to balanced the good and the bad here, one of my friends got mugged. I guess, you can't really trust street parties or people that grind on the floor when they dance Funky.
I could really go on and on and on and on, but the point of my trip was that it was the first and best trip so far. I saw the Christ Redeemer; it's really incredible how a statue can make you feel that you are part of the world and not because it made me religious, but because it is a symbol of the world and the people, in my opinion. After, I went to sugarloaf the best view I've been lucky enough to see in my life, I had all of Rio in front of me at sunset and I could just feel the energy of the moment I was living. I knew at that moment that I am living a life that is beautiful and unusual.
The next 3 days I spent them at the beach burning my skin until everyone was sure that I was indeed Mexican and brown, eating fruit ice cream while I saw bare asses everywhere in front of me; women wearing thongs, no matter what the body type, and men wearing speedos, again no matter what the body type, all they had in common was the BUTT... they are all huge and me and all my friends were all depressed because of it. So to feel better... we went out the last night and danced samba, yeah most of us sucked at it, some people stared, but we all had fun and we were all feeling Brazil in our blood.

I guess all that I really want to say about Rio de Janeiro is that everyone should experience it and put it on their bucket list.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting rid of cultural misconceptions.

Being a middle school teacher has never been on my plans. The thought that comes along withboys and girls all together in the same room at the time in which their puberty is expellinghormones and drama has been enough to make me disregard that career option completely.Still, I thought it would be interesting to volunteer and teach Spanish for a day, especiallybecause that meant me having the opportunity to visit a new city called Tijucas, have free mealsworth 20 reales instead of the 6 reales meals I am accustomed to, free transportation and hotel, and did I mention being worshipped by kids because you are a foreigner?
I know that last one may win most people over, some people really find it appealing to be idolized by 12 to 15 year olds and then having your facebook invaded by numerous friend requests and making it necessary to block your wall due to the constant postings from them. But that was not the reason why I loved volunteering at a middle school. No, I am not that conceited... although I am mentioning it in here so maybe I am just a little. Instead, the reason why I loved volunteering so much was because it gave me the chance to learn about the kid's perspective on foreign cultures and learn about their own culture as well by listening to their everyday issues. It was interesting to understand their concept of Americans and Mexicans and how they are not that closed minded about what goes on outside Brazil. In fact, I was a little bit embarrassed when I realized that the 13 year-olds were actually more knowledgeable about political, economic and cultural issues in the US compared to what I knew about Brazil's issues before I came here, maybe the tremendous and constant influence that American media has here makes it harder to avoid them, but then again they seemed to have lost all stereotypical judgements about Americans and simply got informed about these issues and were genuinely interested in these.
It was a great experience to talk with Brazilian kids about how they see their own country and to just be able to talk to them about anything they wanted to without having any formal barrier in between our conversations. And I was shocked when I was being asked questions about sex and drugs and the teacher would just say, "It's fine, they're just curious and so am I," again... these kids were 12-15 years old and some of these answers I learned a year ago.
In conclusion, the bus ride was very comfortable, food was amazing, the hotel experience was horrifying, but in the end all that I brought back with me was knowing that I was able to inform kids about the world they don't know or have experienced, but what I do know for sure is that I learned a whole lot more from these kids than from my Brazilian culture class here. Which is why I am doing it again this weekend at a city called Rio do Sul. I realized that if I want to learn about this country, I am going to have to do it on my own by talking to people and traveling and not so much siting in my classroom being taught anthropology by a teacher that can barely speak English and misses class every other day.
I may not want to become a full time teacher, but I sure do want to volunteer a whole lot more and hopefully in different countries so I can loose my own misconceptions about foreign cultures and attempt to get rid of cultural barriers. Because if there is something I have learned in my two month stay here is that by knowing the places and people of another culture you learnt to loose all stereotypes and cultural misconceptions. The world is bigger than we believe it is and there are different people from us with different world views and all of them are right in their own way and when trying to change something into something that is not the solution to create a neighborly world becomes harder to attain.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

All I did today was lay on a hammock, listen to music and think about life.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sunset in Floripa

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Still clueless and curious

It is really hard for me to analyze relationships and dating here. Hell! I am not the greatest at relationships, so it's hard for me to analyze relationships anywhere I am, but for some reason I am very intrigued by Brazilian's dating life and will continue to study some of the complex answers I get from casual interviews I have made and understand some of the things I observe.
Again, the things I'm posting are the glimpse of the start of my research project, meaning that they aren't very serious remarks or observations, although they are building up to become them... hopefully.

Last week, I was having a conversation with one of my gay friends. We were sitting on a bench below a huge tree watching people walk by and then he just asked me,"what would've you done if a guy asked you out and then just talked to your friend the entire night?" Then he continued to say that this guy was never disrespectful or a jerk, he was just very into the conversation with his friend, and at the end of the night when his friend left, the guy continued the conversation with him, still enthusiastic and interested in him, but by this time my friends was mad and ended up leaving. Normally, my dating advice is not the most reliable and I am not ashamed to admit it, I think my relationships work because I don't take anything seriously and if I get mad about something I will just tell it to the person's face and leave. Maybe not the best way to deal with things, but then again I usually don't find myself in these cat and mouse games. But after meditating and considering the possibilities of why Brazilians in general act so alive and forward, I came to realize that maybe they are so honest with their feelings that they seem bipolar at times. They seem to act just as they are feeling at the moment, putting their reactions out there for everyone to see and expressing their feelings so freely that Americans are usually scared to take part in this emotion parade and interpret them as a betrayal, falseness or hypocrisy.

To make this a little bit clearer. What I've come to see and know about Brazilians has mostly been through comparisons with Americans. I know for a fact, that Americans take longer to get used to a person they are dating and can even take a year before they say the gargantuan three words of I love you. But a Brazilian can say I love you the second time he or she sees you because they just feel like that at that moment, it might not mean he or she wants to spend the rest of his or her life with you, it just means that in that moment that person really does love you and is not scared to say it, but at the same time they are never too serious when it comes to relationships. So far all of the guys I have met below the age of 25 have had less than two girlfriend but have lost count of the n umber of girls they've kissed and they all seem to be scared of commitment because everyone here is so free when it comes to meeting new people and the possibility of falling in love that they feel scared to commit to just one person, they give of the impression that they want to be in love all the time with everyone and they are not able to put all of those emotions into just one person. As to Americans, most of my guy friends have had several girlfriends or are actively looking for one, most of them have never said I love you and a lot of them are afraid of commitment but for other reasons. In my opinion, I think it is the fear of getting hurt or predisposition to the relationship's failure. I might be generalizing a lot here, but the core observation that I have made here is that everyone here is so in love with the idea of falling in love and they will do anything to attain it even if it means being with a different girl every week.

In the end, my friend agreed with me. He was so enlightened by the idea that for some reason honesty can seem as hypocrisy when we are dealing with our feelings. And although, he said he understood the guy better when he saw him through his cultural customs instead of his actions, he still said he wasn't into it and that he considers himself more reserved to the expression of his feelings to handle so much freedom with another person's feeling. I don't think they talk anymore. I always thought dealing with the rules of dating was a burden, but now I know for a fact that cross-cultural dating is even worse.

 Comment if you agree or disagree or think I am generalizing a lot... I need help with me research paper!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Breathtaking Day

Dalton and I had a mission. To find the waterfall we saw a picture of on a website. 
The Sun came out and we decided it was time to go on the search of the trail that would lead us to a beautiful waterfall surrounded by vegetation and fresh water. Brendolyn and Mike came along without any idea of what this trail was about. Again, it was something Dalton and I needed to check off our list before we left Brazil. We got on a bus and got off on its last stop and with no idea of where the trail started we started walking up a hill that was not leading us to where we wanted to go. This hill was not just any hill, this hill makes small mountain seem childish. So we paused the torture of climbing and asked a local where the hell we where and with my little knowledge of portuguese obtained new directions to this wonderful place. Minutes later, we were lost again... walking in the middle of a neighborhood with apartment buildings and elementary schools made us feel like we were never going to find the trail. So here I go again, ask another local and he ended up leading us all the way to the street we needed to go to, without this man we would have been doomed. 
As we reached the end of the road there was a sign indicating the beginning of it all and so we began. Trees and trees, all I saw is green, a little brown here and there, but everything was so natural and clean. Then, I start hearing water rushing near me, only to find a river that needed to be crossed. But there is one problem: we need to get our feet wet because there are no rocks to step on to cross it. So we all crossed the small gap barefoot feeling nothing but cold, fresh water caressing our skin. And then proceeded to climb, jump, and walk. After twenty minutes of walking through green and transparent fresh water we saw the breathtaking waterfall. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Here comes the sun

Argentina gave us a break today and I saw the sun for the first time in a week. Waking up at 6 in the morning to go on a field trip is worth doing when you wake up to a soft ray of sunlight playing on your face rather than an alarm clock.  As soon as I got off the bus in downtown, it seemed that Brazil had woken up, pampered itself and presented itself as the place I was waiting to meet and it showed me more than I was expecting.
First, there is no better feeling than being on top of a hill watching a breath taking view at 9 a.m., except maybe standing still in the middle of a deserted beach with nothing on the horizon but a fisherman's boat and blue waters. And maybe it shouldn't be a big deal to be at a beach when I live in sunny San Diego, but it's kind of a big deal when you're getting over a cold you got from the continuous rainy weather the Argentinians' blew to our side of the continent and the beaches I visit are from a Utopian dream; deserted, calm and blue.
After spending some time at school, an hour of portuguese class and lovely weather. I felt motivated enough to do something about my medium level portuguese and turn it into an additional language on my list. Currently with two portuguese essays on my hands, a novel by Jorge Amaro and all of my host family communicating with me in portuguese only... I think I might just be able to squeeze this language onto my list.
Tomorrow, will be yet another sunny day. I will buy my plane ticket to Salvador, Bahia, the largest city on the Northeast of Brazil or also known as the Capital of happiness, mostly because of the laid-back lifestyle and rich Afro-brazilian culture. Also, I will be booking my two night stay on a city called Blumenau for the festivities of Oktoberfest in Brazil- A maior festa alema das Americas. Considered to be one of the biggest german parties in the America's and sometimes even pondered to be at the same level as Germany's Oktoberfest.
With two more days until my one month anniversary in Brazil, doors have been opening for me. I already have a volunteer job to teach english and spanish to high school students on another city with all expenses paid, I have yet 5 more Brazilian cities to visit and maybe Buenos Aires, my portuguese is only improving and time is only going by faster. Soon it will be over and my life will be back to normal and I will have this adventure imprinted in my memory. But as for now, I still have three more months of enjoying the Brazilian lifestyle and having saudade of my mom's cooking, father's cuddles and my boyfriend's loving.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Beginning my project.

To write about what you think you know is hard to do, especially when it involves an alien subject that I've been exposed to for less than a month. As I mentioned on my first post, my intention was to understand this foreign country at the best of my ability and to open my mind while loosing all prejudice and stereotypical characteristics I came to gather before coming here.
At first, my project consisted of comparing feminism in the Brazilian and American culture, but then I became more interested in the subject of religion affecting sexual education in Brazil, considering that Brazil is one of the most HIV/AIDS infected populations, I thought this would be an interesting subject to touch in as well.
I've always found it interesting how religion would sometimes prefer to not educate it's followers on taboo subjects such as sex and give them a false feeling of purity and innocence by keeping them ignorant instead of giving them the knowledge and awareness to make them make responsible decisions that could protect them from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. To me it seems that Catholicism, Brazil's and Latin America's leading religion, prefers to keep it's followers pure of mind or in silence rather than knowledgeable and speaking of taboo subjects such as sex. And I've always found this to be a real concern for young boys and girls that are trapped in a world were they don't want to commit a sinful act, but naturally their biology is giving them inevitable sexual urges. With no official studies, interviews or detailed observations I do not feel qualified to comment on the way sexual education works here and what they do to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. But what I've noticed is that Brazil's erotic lifestyle is stressed upon human instinct and affection towards the significant other seems to be a need rather than a want, whereas in my culture it is a slower procedure were you don't want to get close to the person until you know what his or her intentions are and the erotic lifestyle is based more upon the object of sex or a sort of reward rather than a need. This being said, Brazil is still one of the countries with the most HIV/AIDS recordings, but then again it has one of the strongest and most effective government prevention and treatment services due to the high recordings.
I still need to research all the aspects that surround the sexual education spectrum. I still need to figure out why it is that the percentage of sexually transmitted diseases are so high here; if it has to do with religion, low sexual education overall; including public and religious education, cultural customs and behaviors making them more instinctively sexual rather than being more cautious and aware of the dangers. Or then again, maybe I am jumping into conclusions... I've only been here more a month after all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Outro dia no Brasil

For a gloomy, rainy day... today was a good day.
7:10 a.m. I am having a dream were I have a hunch something horrible is about to happen.
7:30 a.m. My alarm clock beeps.
7:45 a.m I am still in bed. Acknowledging that it will rain all day, my shoes are still wet from yesterday and that my bed is really warm is not the best way to motivate yourself and get up and go to a class you're not very interested in attending.
8:05 a.m. Eating bread with jelly... again and off I go.
8:30 a.m. Bus got here on time! But as I am waiting for it to make a complete stop, the driver decides to make an awkward maneuver to successfully get the puddle of water in front of me on my already wet shoes.
9:10 a.m I am late to class and I don't know why... the bus only takes 10 minutes to get to downtown and it's only a 10 minute walk from the bus stop to campus. I guess I am just one of those people that will never be able to witness what it feels to be on time.
9:20 a.m. I can barely open my eyes.
12:00 p.m. Class is over!
12:30 p.m. Booked my plane ticket to Rio de Janeiro for October. After this happened my day became another day. Birds started singing and stopped flying at 100 mph towards my face, a stray dog followed me all the way to campus and I named him Bobby and my ipod was playing pretty good songs on shuffle, oh and did I mention I am going to Rio?
1:00 p.m. I almost fell asleep at the couch at my program's office. I just find sleeping on the Brazilian flag very relaxing, but then I decided to do some homework and call my mom. Just talking to her for an hour made me feel homesick. I miss her food !
4:00 p.m. I got home and took a nap.
5:00 p.m. Dinner.
6:00 p.m. Took another nap. The weird thing is that I used to hate naps, but now I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to that obscure world with no nap time or 2 nap times.
7:00 p.m. Looking for cheap hostels for Rio. I am seriously considering staying at a surfer hostel located at the beach, sleeping on a hammock, and getting 15 dollar surf lessons for 21 dollars a night. Downside is that one review mention something about seeing a cockroach... other than that everyone else loved it. But I do hate cockroaches.
10:00 p.m. I don't know what I did in three hours, but I probably got way too into wasting time on the internet and talking to my roommate about stupid stuff.
10:15 p.m. Took a shower. And bragged about it to my roommate because my water was delicious and warm, on the other hand, she swears a tear came out when she got into the shower and encounter hot water for 30 seconds and by the time she grabbed the loofa there was nothing but ice cold water for the rest of the shower.
11:00 p.m. Writing to the people that follow my blog and are interested in my trip. I miss you all and thank you for reading.

School and juice

Estudando a lingua portuguesa

Drinking Juice, that's what I do best.
Where's Ana???

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My family

My brother, Murilo
Good old Freddy
Family reunion
The lovely couple
Mom and Dad

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My host mom.

This is my host mom, Marize, modeling for us before she goes off to her college reunion. She is the sweetest person I've ever met and has the sweetest voice in the world. And I am not just saying that because she bought tortillas for me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The bread parade

When my host dad said, "I am going to the supermarket to buy bread." I never expected him to buy 10 bags worth of bread. And when I say 10 bags, I mean 10 bags with doughnuts, cakes, banana breads, loafs of bread and other types of bread. Once he got home the table had mountains of bread and all I could hear was: "eat more bread it's good, don't you like bread?" I of course, was polite and ate one of every type of bread... or at least most of them. I mean bread is good, especially when it has powdered sugar surrounding it.
Anyways, if there is one thing I've learned from Brazilians is that they love bread. And when I say love, I mean that there could very possibly be a secluded religion here in Brazil I don't know of that worships bread.

I wish I could've taken pictures of the bread parade happening at the table.
At Praia Mole, the best beach so far.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On my way to the beach, walking up the hill, everything is normal until this goat starts eating something an inch away from my foot. You have to love Latin America.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why I love Brazil

For a few days now I've been trying to come up with reasons why I love this place so much. The first thing that came to mind was that it was the polar opposite of what I have at home, but that's not it because I love home and while it is very different when you're walking down the street and all you see are buildings painted in vivid colors and you find yourself dodging stray dogs, pigeons that fly at 100 mph heading towards your face and cars, you still feel very safe and Brazil managed to make me feel at home right away. And I don't know if it is because my host family treats me like I am part of the family, with my mom kissing me all the time calling me sweetheart and my brother coming down to chill in our living room to tell us about his day and why he decided to quit his job, but once again these people managed to make me feel at home right away.
The food is great! At first I hated it because all I eat here is bread and potatoes, but now that I found this great shack that sells the best natural juices I have ever tried for a dollar and eating all these starches is actually making me lose weight( don't ask me why, I figured that if I eat like a Brazilian maybe I'll get the chance to look like a Brazilian) I feel amazing. My hair and skin have never looked better and maybe it's paranoia but I think my butt is transforming into the Brazilian butt (a small version of it at least.)
I finally got my routine back, I go to school from Tuesday to Thursday just for a few hours and after it is either going hiking, beach or take advantage of the 4-5 day weekend and travel somewhere. Today, I have my portuguese class for the second time and after that I am either booking my flight to Rio de Janeiro on October or filling out an application to go teach english and spanish to middle school kids for two days to a city in Santa Catarina with all expenses paid.
Maybe I just love this place because I know it will be over soon, people always seem to want what they can't have or is bound to end.But for right now, all I know is that there is no other place I would rather be today, when I am 20 years old and one more year(and a half?) until I graduate. The only thing I can think of changing is having all my favorite people from back home to be here with me, especially the American boy that I miss more with every new day that comes.

Brazilian lifestyle

How can I explain life in Brazil? Some may say that it is a very laid-back lifestyle and while it is for me, as a foreign student or "gringa", Brazilians are very hard workers. I realized their dedication to work when I saw my "brothers" working 13 hour shifts or sometimes even 15 hour shifts, while at the same time their lifestyle is very relaxing once at home or off work. Who can blame them? Here in Florianopolis, they have over 40 beaches, countless hiking trails and so many other things to do to have fun, but when you are a foreign student like me, having all the time in the world to visit all of these places even on a tuesday after school.
Today, I had my anthropology class, 2 hours later I was free and experiencing a 72 degrees weather ready to head to the most beautiful beach. We got on the bus, an hour later we were walking up a hill to witness at the top the most beautiful view: blue water. This blue water thing is a big deal to me, my roommate and I have been asking everywhere and everyone where the blue and green water is, the water that they show in the postcards and google map pictures. People kept saying the north of the island, but we never found the blue water until today. It was amazing, except for the fact that the blue water almost digested Brendolyn, almost leaving me without a roomate, because the current was so strong she could barely get to the shore. But not me, I know my limits and I know that although I know how to swim, I usually just float and if I would've committed the mistake of going into the freezing water just to experience the "blue water" I would've probably died proudly at the beach in Brazil. But there is no time for dying when there's so much traveling to do. Although, for now the only thing left to do is finish writing this post enjoying my new addiction, suco de morango (REAL strawberry juice) and enjoy a nice hot shower because I still have sand in my hair from earlier today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Getting adjusted

The smell of pao de queijo is unbearable at the moment. I've been eating that and japanese peanuts for two days now because all they eat here in Brazil, or at least the places I can afford, is breaded meat, chicken and beef. My classes are great because they are very laid-back and it seems like my facebook is about to explode with all the notifications of new friends and group discussions about upcoming trips. So far, the bus is okay, I don't hate it yet, it is the one place where I can listen to music and relax while sitting next to the window looking at the chaotic street in Brazil.
Every time I speak with a local in portuguese, I astound myself by how they could even comprehend the words and semi-phrases that were coming out of my mouth, but they are very polite and they just tease me and ask me where I am from. Which is better than being completely ignored and frowned upon I guess. For example, today Brendolyn and I went to the supermarket, Angelinos, the equivalent to Walmart and with all the variety and quantity of things that are sold there, not a single aisle had chile, salsa, good candy or big bottles of water. We realized at that moment that we are extremely american and that we were attracting a little bit to much attention by laughing hysterically in the middle of the aisle because we saw that they sold the underwear next to the papayas and maracujas. They did not appreciate our good sense of humor or as they may think, our childish humor. On our way back my umbrella turned over, a bus splashed water on all our clothes and our shopping ended up consisting of gummy worms and hamburger gummies, very worth the 10 minute walk. And once we got home...more pao de queijo!! (Or at least something that looks like it.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

My host family.

After a long day learning about Brazilian culture and an overload of information about what I will be doing in my four months here, Brendolyne, my roommate, and I were picked-up at our hotel by our new parents. The mother, Marize, was very excited repeating, " As minhas filhas, as minhas filhas," as she hugged us and then our father, Mauricio, stood there smiling as he hugged his wife. I call them mother and father because they asked us to call them by those names. 10 minutes later we arrive in the house and are received by a weiner dog and Sara, a very cute dog and his type is unknown. Communication was strange, both our parents speak little english and very fast portuguese, I speak what I call portunol (mixture between spanish and portuguese) and you could say that my roommate feels dizzy whenever she is spoken or exposed to any portuguese. We could barely ask the maid for an umbrella that would serve as protection when walking through a thunderstorm on our way to the bus stop that is a block away ( the thunderstorm has been going on for 15 hours now.) But it's only our fourth day here and we are hoping for the best when it comes to our ability to learn portuguese. Other than that, our family is perfect, 3 dogs, 1 fat old black cat, mom and dad, and two sons, a thirty and a twenty-six year old. So friendly and nice that we almost couldn't believe it and it made us freak out at night, making up stories that this is what happens in horror movies; a perfect family receiving foreign students in a huge house, feeding them until they explode with delicious food and providing the most comfortable accommodations just to murder the students in the end. I almost killed my roommate when she put those thoughts in my head, we laughed about it afterwards. These people are harmless, don't you worry mom and dad, we are just in shock of how nice these people are.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Meu primer dia no Brasil

20 hours. That is the amount of time I spent flying today. No window. No aisle. Simply stuck in between two brazilian women that found bird watching and kung fu panda very fascinating. The saying, "It's not the destination, it's the journey," seems completely unreasonable after my experience; yet the true hero of my journey was Advil p.m. that made me pass out for more than 7 hours.
The great thing about being in a foreign country for the first time on your own is how completely unaware you are about what you are getting yourself into until you are there, in the point of no return and trying to communicate with very fast-paced speaking locals about how to get to your connection flight (Brazilian airports are not very organized.) But the good news is that I am here and it is beautiful. There is no place I would rather be studying abroad in. The streets are filled with old people playing chess, weird men attempting to jump through a circle surrounded by knifes just for the opportunity to sell two dollar creams that supposedly help you loose weight and absolutely no traffic lights or stop signs anywhere, which made my walks a whole lot more chaotic and entertaining.
The first person I met was Will, a student from Boston from Brazilian ethnicity that was adopted by americans; here for the first time in hopes of finding his biological mother with nothing but two clues: first name and owner of a milk farm. With no portuguese knowledge or expectations of Brazil, we spent the entire afternoon together strolling around downtown getting completely lost to the point that not even the locals knew where our hotel was. But it didn't matter because we encountered our best discovery yet: pao de queijo. The most exquisite thing a vegetarian can eat and bad news for people that may care about my weight, because it looks like this is all I am eating here since Brazilians seem to have ham and cheese sandwiches only everywhere we go.
Other than that, just a normal night in Florianopolis drinking dollar beers with very friendly people and the funniest drunk old people I've seen in my life. Other than that, it's just me passing out in my hotel room getting some rest before I wake up to breakfast on the roof with the most beautiful view eating pao de queijo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Florianopolis, Brazil

This is the beautiful island of Florianopolis or assuming I am already a local, Floripa. It is an island and the capital of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil. According to wikipedia, not a very reliable source in my opinion, the island has more than 42 beaches and I am thinking this is the perfect time to finally learn how to surf. Also, I apologize for hurting your eyes with such beauty.

My man

The countdown begins

My plane leaves in exactly one week, my baggage is not ready, I still need to buy more underwear and my parents seem to believe that I am completely unprepared for this trip. Yet, I still find time to start a blog for all the people I wish could fit in my luggage and take them with me, so they can know a little about what my career and life goals are and why this trip is such an important factor to make those goals a reality.

As most of you know, I am studying journalism and international studies. I still remember the day I decided to study this instead of going to veterinary school. It was senior year in high school and I was obsessed with traveling novels and photography and one day I took a picture of a homeless guy sitting on a bench with a plastic bag in his head reading a newspaper, and I thought: "Why does this man seem to be completely unimportant and yet, he intrigues me so much it makes me want to know his story?" And then I became obsessed with photographing strangers, which I've come to realize it's weird, but at the same time it makes them part of my world without them knowing it and gives me hope that I can someday be the same to a reader or maybe just a stranger. At that moment I decided that I would tell stories about those who have been forgotten and wander in this world unnoticed and give them a voice or just a chance to feel alive by knowing someone thinks they are worth it. This takes me to my other obsession that is the world's culture. Therefore, people, culture, writing and photography are what my thoughts go into most of the time. Which brings me to what I am doing in this trip. For four month I will be studying and analyzing feminism in Brazil and how women are affected by this movement due to the very popular movement in Latin American cultures that is Machismo or “masculine pride,” to then come back to the United States and compare both cultures and try to find a way to promote equality between men and women. This study will be documented through photographs, videos and journals, creating a type of documentary that I will put together with hopes of it creating a change or trigger some movement in the neurons of the ignorant and stubborn. I will also be perfectioning my neophyte Portuguese and will be traveling to places that my limited saving allow me to visit.

This is just a brief introduction to what my aspirations for this trip are and a glimpse of what I am trying to do with my life. Wish me luck and I will see you all in a few months.