Sunday, October 31, 2010

Corrida Pela Cura

Last Sunday Ro and I woke up eeeearly to do the Race for the Cure 6KM run in Leblon.  It was our first race in a year and a half and my first race here in Brazil.  Is it just me or is the air different here?  I have a hard time running here because I get out of breath quickly.

Forget all of the advice that "the first 15 minutes are the hardest! - After that your legs just go!"  For me the first 15 are the easiest.  After that it's like slow torturous death.

At least I'm dying healthy!

But seriously, after I passed the 3K mark I was thanking whatever god is out there that I wasn't running a 10K.  Nope.  That would have been a giant mistake and definitely would have resulted in me passing out in a ditch while other runners jump over me and/or throw their water cups on me.

What's with the way people HURL their water cups during the run?  I mean, first there are garbage cans.  Second, there is the side of the road.  Is it really necessary to guzzle your water like a horse, leave it dripping down your chin and shirt and then whip it behind you right into my face??  There are like 10 000 people running behind you, didn't you realize??

Ohh I'm just as guilty.  There's something about gnawing open a little plastic cup of water with your teeth, pouring the whole cup on your head (shaking your head and hair side to side in slow motion for effect), whipping that crappy little cup to the side and continuing on your run unphased, that makes you feel SO COOL.

So, unfortunately I had to stop 3 times during this run to walk.  I only have to walk for 30 seconds or so before the feeling of vomiting passes and then I'm back in the game.  Then, oops I'm gonna puke.  Walk.  Then back in the game.

I went into this run with a goal of completion of under 40 minutes.  I finished in 38.  Not my best run but I reached my goal.  Ro finished in an amazing 33 minutes.

Until next time - I'd better start practicing if I ever want to be like those African runners, with their gazelle legs and beautiful stride!  Damn their beautiful stride!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Livin' it up in Centro

I have a love/hate relationship with Centro.

Ok, so let's get the negative out of the way first.

First, it's busy as SHIT.  And not in a 'wow, this city is lively! There's so much action going on!" way.  It's more of a 'move your ass and walk faster or get out of the way!!!' kind of way.  Add to the mix of sloooooooow-walking Cariocas the millions of vendedores selling crap that you would have never thought of buying in your life.  Rabbit ear TV antenna circa 1950?  A bootleg copy of Windows 95?  A squishy strawberry toy thing you can splat on the ground and watch it magically return to it's original shape?  A book light headband?  Ok, the book light headband I'll take but you can leave the other crap thankyouverymuch.

Then you have your 'flyer' guys.  These guys (and girls) are the worst.  They stand in the middle of the sidewalk giving out tiny pieces of what I can only describe as scrap paper.  I use the term 'giving out' lightly.  It's not really your option to take a scrap of paper - they are literally shoved down your throat and into your hands.  Sometimes 3, 4, 5 people right in a row.

Now combine the millions of slow-walkers, the seller guys (and don't forget the ones selling popcorn, cashews, candied peanuts and coconut, chocolate, gum, agua/coka/skol um real um real etc) the paper pushers, wrap it all up on really small sidewalks with maniac traffic by your side (let's be fair - also throw in that I'm late, as always, and lost) and you have yourself a goddamn mess!

P.S. This is a very special illustration of the area I love to hate aka. Uruguiana.

Now.  What I love.

Cinelandia and Carioca (the areas as defined by their metro stations).  Here you have the magnificence of old Rio.  Cobblestoned streets line the busy roads from a safe far distance and you have fantastic views of Teatro Municipal (which every day looks more and more spectacular to me).

Beside the theatre is some ridiculously awesome looking government building (I'm sorry I really don't know what the building is - Camera dos vereadores is what is being whispered in my ear). Across the street sits the Biblioteca Nacional, and you can find my feelings of this building here.

Today, while walking from Carioca station, I just happened upon this little outdoor theatre show that seemed to be centred around some Brazilian religious archetypes.  Later I learned it was the story of some important characters of Brazilian history.   I saw the story of Anastacia, a slave who suffered so many rapings and beatings they referred to her as A Santa (the saint).

The show was hardcore.  There were bare breasts and all.  The real deal.  It was very interesting and had a pretty huge crowd of people along with a helpful drunk guy homeless man who continuously blew a whistle (I guessed to add to the musicality of the show). 

After the show I found this little feira in the same park so y'know, I had to buy some R$2 earrings.

Then, walking back to Cinelandia I hear the Brazilian National Anthem blasting in the street.  It's a pretty majestic anthem and I must say, I do like it.

Anyway, I could see this homelesss guy up ahead (side note: the down and out are what add to the charm of Centro).  So this guy is really homeless and it seems like it's been a while since he ate or took a shower.  And he's, like, belting out the national anthem, pumping his hands to his chest in pride and all.  I thought, 'man, this guy is so clearly in a tough spot and could easily blame his country for his problems or for not helping him more but instead, here he is, proud as hell to be Brazilian and letting everybody know it.'

I smiled at him and gave him two thumbs up.

Today was sunny and warm and a very entertaining day in o centro da cidade. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner - part two

Well, we accomplished the biggest cooking task of our lives thus far.

Two days of cooking + two appetizers + five main courses + two desserts + one giant bottle of vodka + 40 cans of beer + 6 bottles of wine + one new dress = a freakin' awesome party!

I had a GREAT Thanksgiving.  It was just like home.  My Brazilian family all together, eating, drinking and being merry.
What was really touching was how 'into it' they all were.  It can be difficult for some people to be genuinely interested in trying something new, especially when it's someone else's cultural tradition. 

But my fam was so awesome - They were really into the tradition of saying something that you're thankful for.  We had the usual "I'm grateful that everyone could be here together, I'm grateful for all of the food we have, I'm grateful for the cook (hehe) etc." but Ro's cousin really made me all mushy inside when she said "I'm grateful for new cultural experiences" (or something to that extent). 
They complimented us endlessly on the food (I'm now allowed to get married as goes the favourite Brazilian saying "agora vocĂȘ pode casar!").  Then Ro's uncle gave me the biggest compliment, following tradition perfectly.  He fell asleep.  Love it!  Here are the pics....

All tuckered out....
 Great night with great people!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner - part one

Thanksgiving Dinner - Phase One Complete!  Thank God for no fires. 

Ro and I began the first phase of our "made-from-scratch" Thanksgiving Dinner this morning.  As you know (if you read my blog), Canadian Thanksgiving was last weekend.  Ro, unfortunately, was involved with the opening of the new Outback Steakhouse so we couldn't have dinner the day of.  But that's ok because his family doesn't know the difference anyway.

So!  This is my VERY FIRST TIME making Thanksgiving Dinner.  Actually, it's probably my first time making everything on my menu (which I realize is usually a big no-no but, as I mentioned earlier, they won't even know the difference hehehe) 

On the menu is:

Raw veggies and dip
Devilled Eggs
Cheese Ball (I hope)

Main Course
Chester (who found turkey at this time of year?? I can't...)
Garlicky Green Beans and Mushrooms
Mashed Potatoes
(I feel like I need coleslaw...)

'North American' Apple Pie


Today we got the desserts done and the veggies prepped and that all took like 6 hours.
Tomorrow it's up early to make stuffing, squash, potatoes, steam the beans, make the cheese ball, finish the devilled eggs, cook the CHESTER. 

Jesus.  I'm having anxiety.  I think I need to get back out there and keep cooking.

So tired... but must... keep... cooking....

More to come!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Wishing I was with family this weekend but I hope everyone at home had a great Thanksgiving!!!

Next weekend I'mma try and make a Thanksgiving dinner for my crew here.  Will update with more info soon.....

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dating Yourself

Happy post!  Well, lately, you are well aware, I have been feeling a little down.  It happens.  So I took myself on a date last night.

 Now, many of my Brazilian crew think this is a little strange.  But I honestly like the idea of dating myself.  The only person you can depend on is yourself, right?  (ps I don't fully agree with that cliche but it's not entirely untrue either).  Can't sit around waiting for the mountain to come to Mohamed... What's up with me and these crazy idioms today?

So, with Ro and my SIL working and my other friend wanting a night in, I got myself dressed up and went out for dinner and a movie.  I really went for it.  I even put on a skirt, people and I don't do skirts.

So I get to Downtown Shopping and as I'm getting out of the van, my skirt gets caught on the seat as I am still making my way out of the van.  This results in my skirt being opened up and my underwear being exposed to everyone!  At least I didn't have to feel embarrassed in front of a date.  (just the other strangers who all saw but, yeah... no date)

I decided to eat at Barril 8000 because they have live music.  Enjoyed some beer with aipim and queijo coalho.  Not the most romantic dinner but who am I trying to impress, right? :)

Then I went to see the most girliest, emotional, "finding herself" movie available - Eat, Pray, Love.  Yeah! On date night with myself, I get to choose the movie!  I also have a lot of seat options when I'm alone.  I can pretty much sit wherever I want, even in a full theatre.  I can also cry openly and laugh openly if I want to (I don't like to look like a baby who cries in movies in front of Ro - What!?)

After my lovely evening of dinner and a movie, I got myself an ice cream cone to finish off the night.  It was a pretty happy night!  The biggest challenge, for me and anyone, is being able to sit with yourself and not DO anything.  That or try to pretend that you are not really alone.  I'm talking: pretending you are texting someone playing with your phone, acting like you are waiting for someone to come and meet you, taking an imaginary phone call... etc etc.

So, for any of you ladies or gentlemen out there who feel like you have a bit too much social alone time on your hands, here is a list of helpful suggestions as to how you can date yourself!

  • Take yourself out for dinner and a movie (and make sure you get drunk)
  • Gently caress you hand or your thigh at the movies
  • Surprise yourself with unexpected gifts like a bottle of great champagne/wine
  • Buy yourself a sexy new outfit
  • When you catch your reflection in a store window, flirt with yo' bad self
  • Buy yourself your favourite flowers
  • Take yourself to a spa (well, that's a little tricky in Brazil because spas aren't all the rage)
  • Turn the music up and the lights down and put on some candles
  • Sleep in your slinkiest nightgown or nothing at all
Whether you're single or in a relationship, any of these activities done alone results in good stuff later.  Finally, don't be embarrassed to date yourself!  People definitely give you Looks but they're probably thinking "Is she here all by herself?  That's so brave!"
It's really not that big of a deal once you've done it a few times.  Anyone out there have dating myself stories?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How does ANY expat do it?

How do you guys do it?  How do you expats deal with living here?  I am going crazy.  I am missing home so badly right now I was looking at the cost of flights.  Sadly, they are just as I suspected.  Hundreds of dollars (and thousands of reais) that I just don't have.

I was wondering on my recent walk to the grocery store to pick up the second bottle of wine of the weekend if my threshold is just lower than everyone elses.  Is my ability to accept and deal with difficult situations (ie. communication difficulties, loneliness) just weaker than the average person?  Some of you have settled down here permanently and I couldn't imagine in my wildest dreams living her forever.  I just couldn't.  I love Canada SO much.  I think it is the best county on the planet.  Yes, I am biased and Yes, I am drinking right now.

I am just so goddamn proud to be Canadian and of everything my country stands for.  Nobody hates Canada! That's pretty impressive. 

I'm not battling a superiority complex here but you know how living in a country where things seem to be completely LAWLESS makes you appreciate the orderliness of your own country.  Ok, enough of my high horse.  That wasn't meant to be offensive.  I'm just missing home so much.

Let me just examine some positives for a second though.  This journey has been a giant test and learning lesson in 3 specific areas for me.

1.  Adaptability
2.  Patience
3.  Being alone

I have adapted and adjusted non-stop since I arrived here.  We are still living with my in-laws.  It has been 9 months and 17 days.  9 months and 17 days without my own kitchen.  9 months and 17 days of tiptoeing around the house (my family is very quiet).  9 months and 17 days of love-making like teenagers who will get in trouble if their parents find out what they're doing in the bedroom.  9 months and 17 days of being trapped in my room to watch what I want on TV, to have alone time, to get dressed AND put on makeup AND dry my hair etc etc etc. 

Because of this adapting, has come a test of my patience.  A realization and understanding that I am not a patient person but I think I have been pretty goddamn patient for a long time.  I'm pretty patient with my living sitatuation.  I'm pretty patient that Ro works ALL. THE. TIME.  I know I complain about it still.  Patience doesn't exist only in silence.  But I have accepted and try to make the best of a situation that truly makes me unhappy.  I have tried to regain my composure and focus over and over because I know it takes time to learn to speak, to make friends, to have a job, to feel settled down.  The proof is in the pudding.  The first 3 eventually started to come.  The last, I am still trying to be patient.

And then we have being on my own.  This has been the biggest challenge for me lately.  Ro has been working so much (like yesterday he worked from 8:30 am- 10 pm and he generally has only one day off per week which is always a Monday or a Tuesday, which of course are busy for me with classes).  I have always been a person who likes to spend time alone.  But I also like to have friends.  And even though yes, I've made a few friendships with people (like, you can count them on one hand but it's the hand of a guy who has lost 2 fingers), none of them really developed into something close and deep like I have with my best friends from home. 
With the exception of maybe one girl (Bia), I remain friendless.  I have had to try my best to fill my free time with activities for one.  Exercising.  Sitting on the beach drinking a coconut water.  Going to the movies.  Drinking wine.  Eating in a restaurant.  Going to a bar.  All fun activities!  Much better with a friend.  

So, I'm at a loss.  I feel unhappy and unsettled here, like I'm still a guest.  And I don't even know if JUST moving out on our own would even solve the problem.  I told Ro last night that I miss our old life.  Things were so good when we left.  We had a great apartment in a great location and we had great friends who were all in close proximity.  The one REALLY positive thing in my Brazilian life is teaching English.  I love it so much and I don't miss working at GoodLife Fitness at all.  

Maybe Rio is just not the city for me.  I'm not a beach girl. I'm an arts and entertainment girl.  I don't want to lose myself here but I feel like I'm slipping away...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rio International Film Festival

That's right - the RIFF is making headway in Rio between Sept 23 and Oct 7 with films playing all over the city, including Barra da Tijuca, much to my delight!  This year's focus country is Argentina because they are celebrating their bicentennial.  

You can access the site here and there is also an English link on there.

The Film Festival doesn't seem to be a huge city-wide event here, like it is in Toronto.  In Toronto, celebrities are in town, there are huge gala openings, and many people in the city attend at least one film or buy blocks of tickets.  Fun!!!

Here, I'm seeing a lot of signage but I'm not sure if people are really into it or not.  When I asked my MIL and SIL about it they didn't even know what it was, so....

I, for one, WILL be attending but first I have to wade through all of the films.  There are about 300 to choose from!  I would recommend picking by theatre ONLY because you'll probably drown in the sea and end up getting turned off.

Support the arts!  Go to the Film Festival!
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