Tuesday, November 15, 2011

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West

Happy 1 year brazilanniversary to us (thanks Danielle for this very appropriate diction)! It feels like yesterday and then again many years ago. But when our feet hit the ground in this wonderful country 365 days ago we were running sideways, forwards and backwards all at the same time. I took up this blog as a way to remember our journey and share our many experiences with family and friends but it has also been therapy for the sometimes tough but usually beautiful moments we've had trying to get a grip on it all. I thought I grew up a lot after college but I didn't realize that was minuscule in comparison to this past year abroad. A and I are both in a place in our lives where we are trying to figure out our future professionally in the midst of new career paths and zip codes (CEP codes to be exact) and we have been tested, tried and sometimes brought to tears. But there is nothing like a journey with your partner, one year of marriage down and one common adventurous goal checked off the life list for us both.

The good news is the first year of anything is always the hardest and if you go by visual imprint only, I'd say we had it pretty good thus far. We've seen the most incredible waterfalls in Iguazu, beaches in the north, two fabulous carnivals of completely different scale in Tiradentes and Rio respectively, the incredible landscape of the Pantanal, a few trips to Buenos Aires and lots of amazing things in between. We've met wonderful people and made lifelong friends and that is just the beginning.

The bad news is that I miss country music and chocolate chips. But in learning to manage, I've gladly replaced both with bossa nova and every fruit you can imagine and then some you can't. It sounds healthier if you forget that I also pretended like I discovered steak and cheese bread for the first time and together they bought a not-so-luxurious duplex apartment in my stomach and butt; eviction notices ignored.

What a year, so here's a few things we've learned so far...

-the mule travel system is sacred and its important to happily inform any visitor they will probably have to dodge fed ex for a month prior to departure and carry another duffle down just for us. 

-how best to spend an entire afternoon and evening eating. just eating. and enjoying eating. and talking about eating. and thats on sunday. every sunday. 

-that the gym is not just for working out your muscles, but more importantly your vocal chords and your spandex collection. 

-that in every crowd of brazilians there is always a Bruno and a Leticia so if you can't remember anyone's name best try those first. 

-ha, you thought NY was expensive. 

-drop crotch pants are the new skinny jean, for some reason a la crotch extends down to your knees. i dont understand it. men and women both. its terrible. 

-the farmers markets here rule. 90 cents for 20 bananas? ill take it. it makes all the other expensive things feel better. well not really i lied about that last statement but i like farmers markets. 

-novelas are awesome and thats a fact. 

-i get to kiss (on the cheek) a lot of people and i like it.

-nothing like a coffee after breakfast, lunch and dinner. and you get a cookie too. bonus!

-my butt's gotten bigger but my bikini bottom's gotten smaller? fact of life. (As Carmen Miranda said, "Look at me and tell me if I don't have Brazil in every curve of my body")

-get over yourself and show more skin. americans are way to demure.

-louis vuitton is apparently the stamp of approval you've made it. brazilians are obsessed with this brand more than any other. 

-nothing is ever on time. you are never late. there is always traffic to blame and generally people are very forgiving. its both a blessing and a curse.

-cab drivers are your friends. they don't believe in a plexiglass separator it would be insulting. when i use the same one over and over we kiss and hug like long lost pals. 

-Brazil is beautiful and I can´t wait to spend more years here!

Ahh the stage is set and the adventure continues.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Ohh thats braziliant

In preparation for our upcoming voyage to the Pantanal next week we just found out we needed yellow fever vaccinations. Yes, we probably should have known that but I guess since its not exactly the Amazon I didn't think to research. Anyways my mother in law is coming down for a few weeks and we are all going to these beautiful wetlands for the big 4 day holiday around the corner. With a yellow fever vac, you need 10 days for it to settle in before you might need its all mighty medical powers so basically today was the last day I could get it done. So here is a little story about how my mother in law and I both received our vaccine, hers in Chicago and mine in Sao Paulo.

MIL: Finding out at the last minute before her trip, frantically she calls the doctor to get an appointment. Luckily they had one available the next day. She goes in, waits over an hour to see the nurse, finally gets into the little patient room, chats with the nurse (probably hitting the two hour mark here) and is informed that not only does she need the yellow fever vaccine but she also needs malaria pills. The nurse had over 50 pages of diseases and problems that could occur and basically asked her, you sure you want to go? Um was there a choice? She finally receives the shot and a prescription for the pills. When she goes to check out she finds out insurance doesn't cover this and has to pay over 400$ for both the vaccine and the pills (which mind you according to travel websites you really don't need malaria pills but you know how over the top better safe than sorry american doctors are). She's now very upset at both the cost and the now half day spent at the doctors office.

Me: I inquired about where to get a vaccine on a newcomers facebook page, immediately was given a very helpful website found here to locate your 'vaccine posto' nearest to your neighborhood. Nervous it could take all day I took a cab over and was embarrassed at how close it was to where I live. 8R later I walked into a big building with a blue sign that read VACINAÇÃO and found a room much like the DMV. There was a man by the ticket dispenser (to receive a number and wait) and clearly his job was to dispense tickets from the already automatic machine and answer questions. He told me I didn't need a ticket (ohh how nice) and that I should go down a hallway to a room on the right. Inside sat two nurses at a table and no one else. I told them I needed a yellow fever shot and they asked if I had a passport number or RJ (resident card) which I had neither with me. They mulled it over for a min then decided that was ok and I just gave them my name and address. Literally 2 seconds later the nice little nurse sat me on a chair, whipped out a shot, administered it and gave me some instructions that I gave a smile nod to even though I had no idea what she was saying. I asked how much? They smiled and waved me off and said "free." Within 10 minutes I was saying thank you to mr. ticket dispenser and out the door I went. 

The first thought that came to mind... Ohh, thats braziliant*!! (happy dance)

*I give credit to the very funny Born Again Brazilian blogger who discovered this fabulous adjective! I even found you can buy a t-shirt with the above logo here