Thursday, December 24, 2009


Ai familia- or rather, famiglia... Saudades for Brazil are overwhelming. Now that I'm gone I truly know what it means to miss that place. I really miss Rio. I miss the hot sun (although I can't complain about this wintry California sunshine that still lets me play soccer in shorts every day). I miss spontaneous samba circles and sidewalk barbecues. I miss swimming in the ocean and struggling to choose which suco I would buy at Sumol, the corner restaurant near my house. I miss seeing friends and speaking Portuguese.

But California has its perks. Spanish is a lovely language as well, and my friends aren't letting me forget it. In-N-Out burgers are still delicious, as are the tacos from the trucks on Sebastopol Road. It's fun to see family and long-lost amigos, to play soccer with my brother and laugh at my deaf/dumb/blind 13-year-old perrito. I had a low-key 21st birthday last Saturday, and I'm looking forward to Christmas tomorrow and New Years soon after.

Most of all, I'm looking forward to Bologna. On January 4th I'll drive down to San Francisco to pick up my student visa, and three days later I'll be on a plane headed to Frankfurt, Germany. I'll spend the night in the airport and hop on another plane in the morning to Rome, after which I'll catch the train up to Bologna and start my 2010 European adventure. My best friend and his family called me yesterday from Italy to say ciao and wish me happy holidays- I could tell through the telephone that they were having a blast! In two weeks I'll be joining them, but in the meantime I need to re-learn Italian... I'm looking forward to everything that is Italy. Storia, ragazze e pizza, HERE I COME!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More bullets, then I'm out with a BANG!

At first I felt bad for missing my weekly blog post deadlines, but then I realized that not having the time to write is a good thing. It means I'm busy, with places to go and people to see. It means I'm not sitting around in my room on the internet, counting the hours until I fly home. In addition to this blog, I keep a journal where I jot down gibberish whenever I find the time or am procrastinating on schoolwork. On June 22, before I had arrived in Brazil, I wrote this entry: "After I settle down in Rio, I want to get hella involved. I want to join a soccer team, take guitar lessons, intern with a non-profit, write for a publication, and meet friends in classes. I want to go out to clubs and meet pretty girls, lift weights on the beach and watch the sunrise at Arpoador. I want to take the bus to São Paulo and travel to Montevideo, Iguaçu Falls and Buenos Aires. I want to eat tons of delicious food and get up-to-date on the novelas. I want to take amazing pictures and post unbelievable blog stories. I want to never want to leave, and then to repeat everything in Bologna! :p"

I didn't do everything in that list, but I did WAY more. The last line is the most important, and with my plane home departing in 10 hours (I wasn't counting, I just did the math right now on my fingers!), that's exactly how I feel. I don't want to leave Rio. I could stay another week, another month, another semester and be totally content. But I am leaving, and that's a blessing as well because it means that I'm gonna come back to Brazil. Sooner as opposed to later. I have lots of reasons to come back- most of them are friends, but climbing the Cristo and Pão de Açúcar and Pedra da Gávea make the list as well. Without further ado, here are some more bullet points catching y'all up on my wild December activity...

* The Exaltasamba concert that Friday night was amazing! The venue was unbelievably packed- like barely enough room to samba- and the band's energy was contagious! I loved singing along to most of the songs with my friends and the lovely Brazilian strangers around me. I had expected to take a bus back after the show, but Daniela- a friend from my Cultura Brasileira class at PUC- invited me to sleep over at her house and just return in the morning. Since Barra is over an hour away from Copacabana and it was already 1am, I accepted. Another friend was sleeping over at Daniela's three-story *mansion* as well, which was cool. When I entered the immaculate house I remarked, "Wow, it looks like a museum!" I meant it as a compliment, but the connotations of "museum" in Brazil are very negative. I explained that I was talking about pristine American museums, and the nickname caught on. We were spending "a night at the Museum," haha. The three of us watched an Ivete Sangalo concert DVD in Daniela's home theater and then took a 3:30am dip in her pool, followed by pizza and eventually sleep. The next morning Daniela's mom made us a complete breakfast, and then we headed to the beach where we met up with Camilla, another friend from PUC, and took pictures. Daniela's mom liked me so much that she offered to take me out to lunch (at a restaurant where the cheapest prices of each dish were exactly equivalent to the amount I spend on food for the week!). I humbly accepted and we dined like royalty (ironically, Daniela's last name is "Rey"). We went to the mall after, and then to a brand new housing complex where Daniela bought a 9th-floor apartment, not to live in, but as an investment. Different worlds, huh? Sunset came quickly, and the family invited me to stay another night and return home Sunday morning. I obliged, we watched another movie, fell asleep early, and after breakfast in the morning I caught the bus home to my apartment. I hadn't noticed how modest it was before those two nights at the Museum...

* The following weekend I went on a two-day excursion with the Brown program to Ilha Grande, a big island (hence the name) around three hours south of Rio. It had rained in Rio all week, but we arrived to bright sun and white sand. I played way more soccer than I should have (without sunscreen), and got burned to a crisp. It was totally worth it though. Since every meal was paid for, I ate well and slept like a baby. The pousada had ping-pong and snooker, plus a beach ten steps from the dining table. It was a nice escape from rainy Rio, but I realized I could never live on an island like that. With the exception of scattered bed-&-breakfasts, it is completely prehistoric. I passed lots of monkeys on the trail to the main beach, and I'm pretty sure I would have found dinosaurs had I ventured a little bit more into the flora.

* The following Tuesday was a holiday, so on Monday night I went with a group of friends to see "Paranormal Activity," the cult horror flick which was supposed to be scarier than The Exorcist. I didn't find it particularly frightening, although I'm not at all a fan of scary movies and maybe had my eyes closed and fingers in my ears during key scenes, haha jk. I did find it especially entertaining however, to sit in the theater with tons of Brazilians. They have a cinema culture of yelling out during the film, and in a scary movie that instinct becomes even more pronounced. The man sitting next to me broke the tension at a pivotal point in the film by warning the main character she would most likely be killed if she opened her bedroom door. "What are you doing? Are you crazy? Watch out for the knife!! The door moved! THE DOOR MOVED!!! Aaahh lady you're gonna die." Piercing screams turned into nervous giggles, which was a nice break for everyone's eardrums.

* All of my tests and papers were scheduled for that week, but they were all easy. In my literature class, the professor showed up 29 minutes late and then the class persuaded her to let us take the final in groups and with notes. That's PUC for ya.

* On Friday I went out to lunch with my friend Julian from the Brown program and five girlfriends from our Cultura Brasileira class. It was a blast to hang out with them one last time. Afterwards, Julian and I tried to make a visit to see the Christ statue, but fog rolled in to the point that we couldn't see anything from the nearby Dona Marta hill except for whiteness. Instead, we were surprised to see the filming of a funk music video on top of the hill (read: one dude pimped out in black and white gear plus three near-naked women gyrating seductively). That night I went out to a restaurant on the lake with another group of friends from that class. I'm gonna miss all of them sooo much!!

* On Sunday Daniela invited a group of Cultura Brasileira kids back to the Museum for a goodbye BBQ, swimming, snooker and movies. Julian and I slept over, unexpectedly again, and had tons of fun with our Brazilian counterparts. I brought my guitar and serenaded the lovely ladies, and one of Daniela's friends sang along as well (she had to leave early because she was guest-starring in a concert Sunday night!). On Monday Julian and I got back into Copa at noon and headed straight to the city center to make our final souvenir purchases. I bought three DVDs for 10 reais. Don't worry, they're totally legit. Yep, totally. That evening I went back to Santa Teresa for a little bit to check out Julian's sweet apartment, which I had been meaning to see for the entire semester, and then I caught the bus back to Copa to participate in my last pizza rodizio of the year with a lot of friends. After 21 slices, I made my way with the group to the beach, where we sat at a kiosk and joked around until 1am. At that point we had to say our goodbyes, not only for the night but also for the year or longer, since everyone is flying out of Rio this week back to their respective universities/countries.

It's hard to always leave people wherever I go, but I think it's cool to have friends all over the world. I made a list of international friends living abroad so that I can travel cheaply next semester, and I discovered that I know people in thirteen different countries in Western Europe alone. Oh baby. Let the games begin.

I could probably be all sentimental right now, saying how much I've grown here and naming everything for which I'm thankful. But I'm not going to, because it's sunny and this is my last opportunity to go to the beach in Rio. My last chance to play soccer on the beach and swim in the ocean, aaughh!!!

I love you all, and if you're reading this from California I'll see you soon! Tchau gente! Valeu!!