Monday, September 14, 2009


Big news! I found my dream home this week, or at least one of them. Wanna know where? Wanna know how much? Well you're gonna have to read through this entire post, because I'm saving the best for last! (Alternatively, you can just scroll down. Cheater.)

This past Tuesday, just like the Tuesday before that (and the one before that), I had class from 9am until 7pm. Nothing very exciting to report, except that I'm beginning to meet and befriend some of my Brazilian classmates. I already have seven friends on Orkut, the Brazilian version of Myspace. Yeah, so there. Beat that. By the end of this week I bet I'll be in the double-digits!

I spent most of Wednesday writing my first article for the GlobalPost website. This opening assignment was supposed to deal with initial impressions, so mine detailed the hours between stepping off the plane and really realizing I was here in Brazil to stay. The surreal moments leading up to the real moment, so to speak. "And that's when it hit me..." I'm not sure when it will be published, but I'll keep you GlobalPosted.

On Thursday I went to class in the morning, wrote and mailed two long letters during my four-hour break, then watched a sweet documentary about Portuguese language around the world. Did you know that Portuguese is spoken officially in Angola, Mozambique, Guiné-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé e Príncipe (islands off of Nigeria), Goa (India), Macau (China), Timor-Leste (Southeast Asia), the Azores and Madeira (Atlantic archipelagos)? It looks like I really will be able to travel all over the world with Romance Languages!

Friday was beach workout day. I ran from my apartment at the end of Leblon to the top of Arpoador, around 2.5 miles. When I reached the end, I rested a bit and watched the skateboard tournament in the bowl at Arpoador. I don't know the first thing about skating besides the anti-gravity cheat in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater videogame, but even I could appreciate the gnarly-ness of those tricks. On the run home, I stopped at every post to do pull-ups and sit-ups. I'm gonna get sufficiently tanned and ripped just in time to lose it all in Bologna.

You've all been aware of my desire to explore someplace new each week, and on Saturday I ventured across the bay to the charming city of Niterói. I initially planned to just visit the saucer-shaped Museu de Arte Contemporânea designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the same architect who designed the space-age buildings in Brasilia. On the way there, I got enticed by an enormous outdoor market under the freeway across from the ferry station. I wandered for over an hour without seeing everything, feeling like I was back in Mexico. Eventually I caught the ferry and was thrilled to discover that we would pass right by Ilha Fiscal, a castle-like building that used to manage import and export taxes but now serves as a cultural museum. That was one of the places I intended to explore, but now I can cross it off my list!

When we arrived at Niterói's dock, I got deliberately lost for a while in their enormous Saturday street market, then finally found my way back to the beach and walked to my original destination. The Contemporary Art Museum is a little eerie because it's SO out of place. Perched on a cliff (see the photo above) and blinding white, it could be a forgotten prop from a 60s sci-fi movie. I ended up not even entering. Instead, I took lots of spectacular photographs of the outside of the museum, which is undoubtedly the coolest part anyway, then paid a trip to the grocery store for lunch. I ate my nutritious focaccia and wafers on the stairs of my future apartment building, with its beachside views of the museum, Sugarloaf and the Christ statue. Niterói is a tranquil city 45 minutes outside of a crazy city, just the kind of place I'd like to call home. Sitting there in the shade of the afternoon sun, I imagined myself living comfortably with a panorama like that. Especially out the window of a plush million-dollar penthouse. Once I took my fill of photographs, I caught a bus back to PUC and walked home, finishing the perfect day at an all-you-can-eat pizzeria with some friends. Oh, what a life.

Sunday and today were lazy days of drizzling rain and indoor responsibilities. I read the first 185 pages of the 400-page book due for my literature class on Thursday, prepared tomorrow's 10-minute presentation for Portuguese class and managed to write a new song (with lyrics!) on guitar. This coming weekend I'm gonna do something big. I don't know what, but I'm already feeling extra-adventurous! Vamo' ver!

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