Monday, July 27, 2009

People in glass houses...

...wasted money on their entrance ticket. Luckily for me, I had the foresight NOT to enter Princess Isabel's Crystal Palace in Petrópolis, a transparent tourist trap. I walked around the outside and had the same experience, enhanced by the knowledge that I got mine for FREE ninety-nine!

Sunday's excursion to Emperor Pedro II's Imperial City an hour north of Rio was kind of a letdown. Don't tell the coordinators, please. As this was a field trip open to all 398 international students spending this semester at PUC, we had to cram into two buses. I liked meeting new university colleagues from California, Ecuador, France, and Denmark. I liked the fact that it wasn't raining. I liked the special slippers we had to wear upon entering the Imperial Museum in Emperor Pedro II's summer home. I didn't like that the tour was conducted in English. I didn't like paying admission to explore Santos-Dumont's virtually empty house. I didn't like spending R$20 for an average lunch. I'm such a whiner, but what did you expect after our Brown in Brazil excursion to Paraty, where we lounged on a boat and sang songs and ate fresh fish on secluded beaches and didn't pay for anything at all? Now THAT's an excursion! Alas, Petrópolis was a positive experience overall. I'm especially glad I had the courage to strike up a conversation with a pretty Brazilian girl who was tagging along with the coordinators. She felt out of place because she didn't understand English, Spanish or French, but she was a talker when I introduced myself in Portuguese. Her name's Keli and she lives in Rocinha. She aspires to be an actress and visit New York. She loves the Mexican novela pop group Rebelde and has two younger sisters, fifteen and six. Although she's studied English for two years, she was too shy to try it out on me. She'll have a chance though- she works at the PUC International Students' office. I told her I'll make up some fake questions as an excuse to visit her every once in a while, and she responded with a giggle. Ay, brasileiras!

I forgot in my previous post to describe the events of last Thursday evening! To celebrate the arrival of Professor Luiz Valente, the head coordinator of the Brown in Brazil program, we all went out to eat at a churrascaria called Barra Brasa in Leblon. For an idea of how nice it was, the basic price was R$56 per person. It was, without a doubt, the most exquisite restaurant I've ever visited. We began with a buffet offering everything from sushi, lobster, and mussels in lemon juice to fine cheeses, salads, and assorted nuts in honey. When we sat back down we were bombarded by men wielding large knives and tender cuts of chicken, pork, and steak in all shapes and sizes. We had personal tokens with a red side and a green side, and basically we played "Red Light, Green Light" with those meat men until our stomachs were on the verge of explosion. Red means "No thanks" and green means "Pile it on, my man!" It was fun and delicious while it lasted, but standing up at the end of the meal was a task in and of itself. When we conquered our nausea and managed to walk out, all of us pigs went our separate ways. On my walk back to my apartment I met a large group of Princeton students who are here for two more weeks. I chilled a little bit with them in their hotel- yeah, I thought I had it good until I saw the view from their room on the 23rd floor- and then headed back home to bed. Never know what you're gonna get, huh?

This is our final week of the intensive Portuguese course. Today I gave a ten-minute presentation on the state of Ceará, and we have a test and paper due Friday. I should be really focused on school right now, but my mind has already skipped ahead to Saturday, when we're traveling as a group to Salvador, Bahia, for a week of cultural insights and craziness!


1 comment:

  1. Loved the restaurant "red light-green light" idea - may use it at loud family gatherings in Arnold!