Saturday, July 25, 2009

Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme...

I discovered lots of new rhythms this week, but have yet to find my own! Last Sunday I woke up early and attended a lively Protestant service at the Igreja Assembléia de Deus in Leblon with a friend from my program. We arrived a little bit early and found ourselves in the middle of an enormous Bible study that occurs before every service. Participation this week was overwhelming, and it appeared as if the pastor was having trouble maintaining control of the congregation! There was one little old lady in the front who kept asking the meaning of random scripture vocabulary at every opportunity, and a balding man who would stand up and boisterously recite every verse mentioned throughout the course of discussion. The poor pastor was saved by the bell, so to speak, because as soon as the clock read "10:30" he pointed at his watch, shrugged his shoulders, smiled wryly, and summoned the worshippers to the stage. Two women with booming voices visiting from a sister church in Brasília led the music, and then one of them gave a mini-sermon on keeping the faith despite hardships. The church is struggling to make payments on the facility after 75 years of continuous operation. Real estate prices in Leblon are ridiculously high, and the members of this church body are more likely to work in the neighboring homes than own them, gnome sayin'? I plan to continue attending until December because I liked the atmosphere and I met a couple people there who welcomed me with open arms, literally and figuratively.

Sunday night I had a fever and a cough, so I quarantined myself in my room. The next morning when I told Regina I hadn't felt well the night before, she freaked out and asked if I had swine flu. The fever had already broken and I was feeling better, so I said no and told her not to worry, but she told Monica to put more blankets in my room and keep refilling my juice glass. Regina is not the only Brazilian on ultra-alert about the swine flu right now- lots of my program friends have been sick with colds and ALL of their hosts responded the same way!

On Tuesday we had a lecture on Brazilian cinema before Portuguese class, and I felt like a boss because I had already watched all the films he discussed, thanks to my Brazilian Cinema course last semester. In class Tuesday and Thursday we learned some amazingly useful carioca slang from Adriana. I try out all my new vocab on Gustavo, who's getting a kick out of it. I especially like sinistro, which literally means "wicked" and describes something cool or great (just like in Boston!), as well as arroz, which means "rice" and describes someone who always tags along with large groups, particularly groups of attractive girls, and has no individual personality or aspirations. Rice is always a side dish in Brazil, and can never stand alone. Haha! It's also a Brazilian superstition that if you serve yourself rice before the other dishes at a meal, it means the money will soon stop coming into your household. Culture and language, my favorites!

On Wednesday I had to be at PUC at 7am for a trip to the Federal Police department at the international airport. Everyone who stays in Brazil for an extended period needs to appear in person at the police station within 30 days of arriving. Failure to do so can result in arrest and imprisonment. I know, I read the warnings plastered all over my visa. It was lots of bureaucracy, but everything's better with one Ipod bud in your ear and the other in the ear of the pretty Colombian girl sitting next to you.

Last night after class I ate dinner on my own in the apartment. Regina is traveling this weekend and Gustavo is with his dad, so I'm home alone and I'm enjoying it immensely. I went out with four friends from the program, first to grab an espresso at a bar in Copacabana and then to the renowned Clube dos Democráticos in Lapa, the nightlife center of the city. We went to a show by a famous French-Brazilian violinist named Nicolas Krassik featuring the 7-string guitar phenomenon Nando Duarte, whom is the husband of Alina (our housing coordinator) and son of Bella (a neighbor two floors up in my apartment building and hostess of the baby shower I attended). As it was my first time at a show in Lapa, I didn't really know what to expect. The music was a mix of Brazilian styles and perfect for dancing. I held back until the end, definitely intimidated by the men and women spinning and jumping and flipping each other around on the dance floor, but I eventually got up the courage to bust a move or two. Don't trip, I dazzled. It might have been the first time they've seen a thizz face at Democráticos.

Since I got home at 4:45am this morning, I slept until 1pm and woke up feeling like a bum who needs to do something with his life. I hate that feeling. I ate breakfast and lunch back to back, just to pretend to myself that I had a full day, and then went to the Leblon Jazz Festival at the bottom of the hill. The festival was free and took place in a main street of Leblon that was entirely blocked off for the celebration. Hundreds of happy Brazilians chugged beer in the street (the event was sponsored by Itaipava, one of Brazil's premier beer companies) and swayed to the live music, which ranged from bossa nova to hard rock. I thoroughly enjoyed the free entertainment- always do- and beautiful crowd, but after four hours I decided to head back up to my empty apartment for a finger-lickin' microwave spaghetti dinner. I'm staying in tonight because tomorrow morning I have to be back at PUC at 7am for an excursion to the imperial city of Petrópolis. More on that next week! Until then, valeu

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