Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Afternoon Dance Request


Today this song came up on my iPod playlist - I had almost forgotten all about it!  I first heard it in Canada and was disgustingly drawn to the tune.  I guess there's no stopping a repetitive dance-instruction song and a white girl.

Ahhh hahaha... I'm going to stop laughing and just let you watch it.  It's like Brazilian funk music meets the Macarena.  Oh the hilarity.

It's even more hilarious now that I actually understand about 60% of it.  I DEFINITELY played this song at my wedding.  Not even joking.

All I ask is that if you watch this video,  PLEASE try to do the dance.  And if possible, film it and post to your blog for my laughing pleasure.

Without further ado.... My favourite characters are all of them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Feel like an ass in Brazil? Read this post.

I felt inspired by Rachel's post today about life in paradise not always being easy.  Many of the commenters were relatively new foreigners living in Brazil and their stories of their struggles brought me right back to my first months (ok, year and a half) here as well (even though I still feel like I'm new and I've been here almost 2 years, crazy).

Some of my old posts were a liiiiiiiiitle depressed and frankly, depressing.

Looking back on all my whining, bitching and cries for help whining, bitching and cries for help (not a typo), I'm impressed at how much things have changed for me.  Rachel said that she was being a big baby in the beginning - I was a giant baby too, but at the same time I don't know if I would have been able to do it any differently...

Anyone out there who is new to Brazil or thinking about coming - the biggest challenge in moving to another country (and it could be any country) is that usually you are dealing with a million new things at the same time.  Language, culture, social norms (like how to eat/not eat in public), lack of friends, lack of knowing the city, and in many cases a completely new marriage or baby as well.

Word to the wise, your inevitable psychological breakdown in your new country is not the country's fault (although, it definitely feels like it is).  It's not even necessarily the fault of your specific situation in Brazil.  It all comes down to you and how you deal with these firey demon-balls you are faced with.  
How many times can you face defeat, frustration, or conflict and still get back up and do it again?  Don't be fooled into thinking that crap is constantly falling on your head just because you live in a foreign country.  Even at home in your own country you feel the stress of your job, your friends, your housing situation, your new marriage/relationship/baby or whatever.  The common denomonator in all of this is you and your attitude will ultimately determine your success or lack thereof.

The other peice of advice I have is RELAX.  Seriously, sometimes you need to just go with it and accept that you're going to feel like a 3 year old in an adult's body learning how to speak for the first time.  News flash.  You are a 3 year old in an adult's body learning how to speak for the first time!

If you're totally frustrated because your umbrella poked an old lady in the eye and you couldn't apologize because your Portuguese wasn't at that level yet, that's ok.  Feel shitty about it, and then learn from that situation.  Practice saying "ahh desculpa!  Peço mil desculpas!" 1000 times until you've got it down.  Feeling like an ass is the best way to learn how NOT to speak Portuguese.

And finally, speaking Portuguese is the best way to learn how NOT to feel like an ass! is a great free site to get you started.  

You can dooooo it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm Not a Gringa!!!

Ok, yes, I am.  But I'm not! 

A little something that seriously annoyed me I noticed while Laura was here was how everytime her blond hair and blue eyes were standing beside me, I got the "Gringa Treatment".  Let me just clarify that when I'm alone on the street (which is usually) people don't even bat an eye.  They don't usually ask me if I'm a Gringa, or if I'm from another place, or even comment really.  But standing next to Laura, it was like their Gringo-Spidey Sense was on full blast. 

I've never been asked, "Você é Gringa?" "Voce fala Português?" "Você e da onde?" SO MANY TIMES.  Argh. 

So you may be thinking, 'but, uhhh, you ARE Gringa....'.  I see your point.  And you are correct.  Technically.  But when you've put as much effort into learning a language, trying to understand a foreign culture that goes against many of your instincts, and just trying to be normal, you'd be pissed too when people are calling you out like snowflakes in July.  Or just snowflakes in Brazil in general.  Which is what we were.  Snowflakes.  Big ass, white, shiny snowflakes. 

I have reached a level of Portuguese that makes people look at me and think "Oh, she must be handicapped.  I know she's speaking Portuguese, but it's kind of funny.  Good for her!  Doing things in the world all by herself!  Way to represent the handicap, Weird Portuguese-Speaking Girl!"

And I take that as the utmost compliment. 

But I don't stand a chance to even be a handicapped Brazilian with other Gringas around me!

So Gringo Friends, if in the future I suddenly run away from you on the street in an attempt to stand out less, please dont be offended.  I just don't want my hard-earned efforts to go to waste!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Friendship in Brazil

Or rather, friendship COMES to Brazil!

I've been M.I.A. for the past two weeks because my good friend Laura was visiting me here in Rio.  We spent two great weeks together doing all things Brazilian: Travelling to São Paulo (seeing Danielle for a millisecond); Riding bikes around Zona Sul; Going to Leme Beach; Visiting Pão de Açucar; Getting manicures, getting waxed, getting tipsy; Eating a great restaurants, eating at home, eating HEALTHY; But most of all enjoying each others' company because we hadn't seen each other in a year.

It's sometimes a hard reminder when you spend time with your really old friends from your former home.  A reminder that even across time zones and languages your friendships can still remain strong, if not stronger, despite the distance.  The fact is, these kind of friendships take time to cultivate.  Time and quite probably embarrassing moments - my friends from Canada can attest to the fact that we've all had some awesomely embarrassing moments together.  For God's sake, I watched Laura get a Brazilian wax last year when she couldn't communicate with the waxing lady and the waxing lady insisted I stay to help.  Nothing builds a friendship like watching your friend get her thang waxed.  (Sorry Laur, I needed that story to emphasize my point) ;-)

And while my new friendships in Brazil are also fantastic, they just don't have that 'time' factor yet.  As Leslie says on the show Parks and Recreation "So what did you guys talk about? Old times? Oh, I love talking about old times. New times are great too, but there's just something about old times. You know what I mean?"  Well said, Leslie.

So I guess the point of this sappy, sad post (gimme a break!  Laura went home yesterday and I'm all depressed) is that I am really grateful for both of my worlds.  My Aldous Huxley world and my Old World.  But it sure is hard living in a parallel universe.  I wish they could exist together as one life but at the same time, one wouldn't really even exist without the reality of the other.  I did manage to bring them together, just a little bit ;)

On a positive note, I got to learn about my friend in a different way than either of us had experienced with the other.  I suppose you could say that we uncovered each others' neuroses after sharing a house for 2 weeks.  It was great waking up with her here in the morning, making breakfast together and sitting in front of the 'sitting' window (it's a great window we have for sitting and looking outside).  Working together to keep the house in order then deciding what to do for the day.  It was really nice to have her company.  And the time went by so quickly.  Le sigh.

It does keep me excited for the next guests we have coming - my mom and sister will be here for New Years this year!  Lucky me! 

For now, it's sad movie watching and laying on the couch.  Tomorrow I'll be good as new ;-)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Impromptu Hallowe'en Party

If the mountain won't go to Mohammad....

We'll bring the Hallowe'en Party to us!  So I've met a few new people here over the last couple of weeks who are really filling out my lovely group of 'friends' here.  No, no, friends deserves no quotations.  For the first time in my Brazilian life though, I really feel like I have people I can call up to hang out with for all kinds of different reasons.  People who fulfill different parts of my life and who are all amazing, wonderful people.

Some of those people live in Rio.  Some don't.  A few of the Rio-dwellers were feeling sad about not having Hallowe'en, so at the last minute we decided to shut up and plan a 'party'.   Party gets quotations because the whole purpose was really to dress up, eat candy and watch a scary movie.  Not an epic Hallowe'en party or anything... but decent all the same.

I, for one, LOVE Hallowe'en!  It's right up there with Christmas, for me.  But Brazil doesn't really love Hallowe'en so much so it's kinda difficult to find a costume and other Halloweeny things.

We coped.

I carved little jack-o-lanterns into some clementines.  I found R$15 jack-o-lantern votive holders.  My friend Emily found an awesome trick-or-treat pumpkin and filled it with Brazilian chocolate.  Julie and I even found gummy candy in the shape of teeth and worms!  Score!

Plus everyone found/made awesome costumes! I was so impressed!

Then I worked my magic with the help of a little friend I like to call 'Martha'.

Made some 'devilish' eggs. 

 Some Bloody Sangria.  Some Slime Rickeys punch.  And topped it off with bleeding eyeballs made from lychee and blueberry.

Everyone else brought wine and snacks.  We ate and talked and then cuddled up to watch The Exorcist.  Classic.

I love celebrating my traditions here with people who appreciate them.  While I also love celebrating and learning about the Brazilians traditions, there's nothing like bringing 'home' to you to make living here just a little bit more familiar and fun.

Hope everyone had a nice Hallowe'en!
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