Home!!!

I’m in North Carolina!!! Ahh, I can’t even tell you all how good it feels to be back in the USA. It was really hard to say goodbye to everyone yesterday. I got all choked up and everything. But boy it’s good to be back home. The flight was GREAT. Seriously, I’ve never had such a great flight before. It was only about 30% full, so there was no one in front of me or behind me or bedside or in the row beside me. I stretched out and slept like a baby. I went to sleep around 10pm est and got up 5:30 est and feel fresh as a daisy. That NEVER happens. Customs was a breeze — the officer was so nice and responded quite nicely to my early morning friendliness. I forgot that chocolate counted as a food item and had to tell him that I did indeed have food. He was super nice about it and just said, “oh no worries, if that’s the worst thing you’ve done today, I’d say you’re in really good shape! Enjoy the snow in Boone and have  a great day!” Yeah that made my day. Then I made a new friend in the security line. So pretty much this day has gotten off to a fantastic start. I’m looking forward to seeing all of those familiar, loving faces in Raleigh, then Burlington and then finally BOONE TOWN!!!!!!

 

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Tchau!

Oh my gosh. I’m leaving tonight. I’ve been looking forward to this day and seeing my family for weeks, but now that it’s finally here, I feel so sad. I mean, I’m still super excited about going home and seeing family and friends, but I can’t believe I”m leaving my family here and my new friends! Last night I had to say goodbye to Ana. It was way harder than I thought it would be. I have no idea when I’ll see her again…so sad! I’ve had a wonderful time here and it’s really because of the people. I will miss my Brazilian family so much and my new friends.

These past couple of months have been wonderful and challenging. I’m so thankful for the time that I’ve had here. It’s been such a treat to come and learn the language. I wish everyone could have an experience like this. I have enjoyed tasting all of the new foods, seeing the new sights, meeting new people and making new friends. I hope to come back soon to visit!

Tchau,

JJ

Beijos and Babies

me and ana b

Meet minha filha, Ana Beatriz. Everyone thinks she looks like me and the new joke is that I came to Brazil to have my kid. Edir seriously doesn’t want the joke to die. So when I bit my tongue eating an apple and consequently got the biggest sore ever (it prevents me from talking and eating…yeah I’m starving. I’ve eaten a pear and a piece of ham today) Edir asked me who I had been kissing. He keeps joking that I’m some wild thing and that he needs to call my parents and tell them that not only do I have a daughter, but I’ve also been going around kissing men that he doesn’t know. He cracks me up! But really, isn’t she adorable? She is such a happy little baby and I really did fall in love her! And as for the sore in my mouth I’m praying that this medicine works and that I wake up and am able to eat a good breakfast, because I’m starving!

birthday

Today is my birthday. It’s the first time I’ve ever won shorts, a tank top and sandals to my birthday party. I’ve definitely never been so smokin hot before either…haha. The day began at 6:45am when I woke up and realized that I had stupidly set my alarm for 6:15 EST and that it wouldn’t go off until 9:15 my time. So I sprang out of bed and hurriedly got ready and crammed some coffee and toast down my throat in order to be ready for our 7:15am departure time. Josefina had a nice shiny package waiting for me at the breakfast table — an adorable deep purple dress! No, really, it’s so cute! I love it. After I almost choked myself on the toast and burned my tongue on the hot coffee we ran out the door and caught the bus just in time. Not going to lie, it was really hot and uncomfortable. So many people crammed on one bus without air conditioning is definitely not an ideal situation. We arrived in Niterói and caught the boat to Rio where Cintia met us and took us the bus that would take us straight to Corcovado. The train up the mountain was pretty cool. There was a Samba band on the train serenading us. We go to the top and thankfully it was much cooler.

We got to the top of the mountain and then had to take an elevator up to the base of the Christ. We got on an elevator with a group of British tourists. Gosh, they were so funny. So today there were a ton of Brits and a ton of Germans. Well the nice old British ladies on the elevator commented on their European neighbors saying, “I’m so glad we beat the Germans up. You know it’s always good to arrive anywhere before the Germans. They’re just so pushy.” Once we got off of the elevator we still had a few escalators to go before we reached the top. It was really a spectacular view of the city. The Christ statue was pretty impressive, but I thought it would be bigger. The weather was beautiful and I could see all of the important points in the city. Josefina and I had a wonderful time.

Afterwards we headed over to Plaza Shopping and ate lunch and I grabbed a few last minute gifts. It was also super nice to be in a climate controlled building. Seriously, the heat has been absolutely brutal. Wander told me today that December is much hotter than normal — it even made the news. Gosh and after a much cooler than normal November, this heat is just awful. I don’t think I could survive January and February here. The heat makes me feel so tired and sluggish. Plus, I just feel terribly stinky and gross. I don’t even try to make myself look nice anymore. It’s not worth it; my clothes immediately become moist with sweat, my face gets all red and is constantly beading up with sweat, I stink, and my hair is in an eternal ponytail to keep it off my neck. As for makeup, yeah that would literally just melt off of my face. So I have to be content looking…umm, natural…

Oh yeah and while we were at the mall, Josefina bought me the most beautiful earrings. We went to a really nice jewelry shop and she told me to pick a pair. Like I’ve said before, everyone here is so generous and kind to me. It’s really quite overwhelming.

Then we got home and Giselly was waiting with a gift in hand for me. Ahh, another adorable present! She bought me the cutest purse. Then we hurriedly left to go to Davi and Lucas’ school for their Christmas plays. They were both so adorable. Davi’s was much longer and there was a reception after. Davi was Papai Noel! So cute, he had a Santa outfit and everything. Their class sort of sponsors an orphanage and the orphans came to watch the show and at the end each child brought a present for one of the orphans. It was really sweet. Lucas only sang a couple of songs and then they went to their classrooms to take pictures and give the parents some gifts that they had made.

I got back home and ate some dinner and watched “Ti ti ti,” with Gi, Josefina and Avó and just kind of relaxed. Giselly and Wander had another present waiting for me. Another absolutely adorable dress! It’s black and white and oh so cute, I already know Annie is going to want to borrow it…:) Cintia also gave me a gift then. She and Eduardo bought me a really cute pillow with all of the tourist points around the country! A great way to remember my time here and it’s sooo soft and cozy! I saw it in the mall one day and really liked it…:) A little while later the doorbell rang. It was Ana!!!!! She came for my surprise party! Her brother dropped her off, but he came back later after picking up Bill. Some other friends from church came, too. I had a fantastic birthday and will always remember it. I’m exhausted now…it’s midnight here. So, I’m going to sign off for now, but I’ll post the pictures soon…hopefully tomorrow!

xoxo,

Jamie

PS thanks for all of the birthday tweets, e-mails and e-cards! they helped to make this day extra special! love to all!

It’s a small world after-all…

Monday night I went with Ana to meet another one of her English students, Ana Paula. We arrived at her house and visited with Ana Paula, her husband Marco and their adorable little boy, Caio. We had a nice time chatting and visiting. Ana Paula prepared a delicious meal for us as well. We were eating dinner when Ana told me that Ana Paula is a drug rep and works with a lot of doctors. She said that she might know Giselly’s husband. Ana Paula asked me his name and I told said, “Wander…” and she finished by saying “Cordeiro???” Haha, it was so great. So then she called him on his cellphone and asked him if he was familiar with North Carolina and he told her that his wife had lived there for a little while and then she said “There’s a girl at my house from North Carolina right now named Jamie!” We all got a good laugh about that.

 

 

Iglesia…Igreja…okay, got it, CHURCH!!

Last night I went to church with Cintia and Eduardo. We went to a big church close to Edir and Josefina’s house. The service was THREE hours long — 7pm to 10pm. I didn’t realize it was going to be so long or I would have eaten beforehand. I was so hot and hungry I thought I might pass out in the sanctuary. They had a visiting pastor preaching last night. I’m not completely sure where he’s from, but he spoke Spanish. They had a translator up there with him. It was cool, because I got two chances to try and understand what was being said. If I didn’t get it in Spanish I would just wait for the portuguese translation. I understood most of what was said, but it took so much brain power! I was surprised to see that it was easier for me to understand the Portuguese than the Spanish. I could understand a lot of the Spanish, but I am so used to hearing Portuguese now that it was weird to Dios instead of Deus and to actually hear “r’s” and then “muy bien,” instead of “muito bom,” little things like that…I actually started getting a little confused later when I was speaking! The man sitting next to me in church was so annoying. He spoke Spanish and Portuguese and was highly critical of the woman translating the sermon. He kept leaning over to me telling me that she should have used a different word and blah blah blah, it got on my nerves. Then he later he kept on elbowing me and rolling his eyes. It was cool to hear Spanish again. It made think of all of those Spanish poems Señora Mosher made us memorize…”Escribame una carta Señor Cura…” Haha, that was one of my favorites!

JJ

Fortaleza Santa Cruz da Barra

Yesterday was seriously one of the first full days of sunshine that we’ve had all month. It was a little warm, but the breeze kept me cool. We had originally planned on going to a different fort, but it was closed because of the situation in Rio. The fort was founded in 1555 by the French and later taken over by the Portuguese. It was last used as an active military fort in 1955. It’s still used by the military, but not as a defensive fort. It was really cool and I enjoyed the tour.

Lots of things to say…

NOTE: I wrote this post yesterday, but was unable to post it because I lost my internet connection…story of my life in Brazil 🙂

Happy day after Thanksgiving! I can’t even begin to describe how much I hated missing this very special, American holiday. I hope you all enjoyed your delectable feasts of turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, bread, pumpkin pies and whatever else I missed.

My Birthday Cake!

Yesterday I went with my tutor and now dear friend, Ana, to talk to her English class about Thanksgiving. I showed them pictures of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and other family pictures. I finally used my history degree in a classroom and taught them about the history of the holiday and then told them a little bit about my life in the states. It was a lot of fun and the students were inquisitive and bright. I enjoyed it a lot. After I finished talking to the class they brought out a delicious chocolate cake (homemade!) in honor of my upcoming 22nd birthday! I couldn’t have been more surprised or happier! It was so sweet of them to help me celebrate my birthday. They really were a delightful bunch. They asked me lots of questions. It’s always a relief when students actually have good questions to ask, it makes my job a whole lot easier. Last semester when I was a TA for Judaism in America, well, let’s just say I felt like I was talking to a wall. It was awful. Anyway, Ana told them at the beginning that certain questions were off limits — like asking me to teach them bad words (they think that it’s hysterical to learn the really bad words), or inquiring about my relationship status (haha), and other things that they were all just dying to ask (why, I don’t know) but would seem inappropriate or intrusive. It cracked me up because Ana knew exactly what they would all ask if she didn’t give the little speech. But they were all so sweet! Afterwards they all wanted me email address so that they could practice writing in English to me. They were great!

the whole class

Everyone here is so kind and generous. It’s been a great few months. I’ve enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells (for the most part…), foods, colors, it’s all been a great experience. I love watching “Araguaia” with Josefina. The other night, Edir, Josefina, Lucas, Davi and I had our own version of American Idol. Davi won with his popcorn song.

Life here is different from home, but I am trying to appreciate and learn from the differences. Of course, there are some things that I most definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, prefer the American way. But there are things that I love here that we Americans do not have.

Oh, so this week I’ve ben a little wary of using the public transportation, but Cintia (the only person I ever use it with) doesn’t seem to be worried, so I just don’t say anything. Right now there is a sort of war going on between gangs and the police. Buses are being set on fire and thieves are roaming the streets…haha, okay, that might be a little dramatic, but from what I saw on TV and the little that I could understand it’s not far off base. The students yesterday said they’ve just gotten used to the violence and aren’t too afraid. Cintia assured me that all this is going on in a different part of the city from where we are today. It all makes me a little uncomfortable…

Okay, so this is kind of gross, but I’m going to share it anyway. So, last night I was at church and I was greeting everyone (with a kiss) and this woman leaned in to greet me and exhaled and I thought I was going to pass out. Yeah, all I could think of was “Is that your breath, or did you just fart.” Uggh, it was disgusting. This morning there was another incident. I was sitting on the bus on the way to work with Cintia when a woman got on the bus and stood next to me. Fine, no problem. Then she raised her arm to grab the handle to steady herself as there were no seats left. Problem. Her disgustingly hairy armpit was in my face. It was slathered in powdery white deodorant that was quickly sliding down her side with sweat. It was enough to make my instantly start gagging.

On a different note, last night at church a nice woman led us in a Thanksgiving prayer and then immediately after we started singing a hymn. She decided to take the microphone back to her seat and sing at the top of her lungs. She reached notes that no human ear should ever have to endure. I thought the windows might bust out. It took all of the strength in my body to hold it together and not start hysterically laughing. It got so bad at one point that I considered escaping to the ladies room.

This is going to end up being a really long post, I think. I am sitting here at Cintia’s work with almost nothing to do. I was using her friend’s laptop to access the internet and was reading the news and my very favorite blogs. But, everyone here is in the process of moving into a new building and the wireless service was cut off a few minutes ago.

I’m just sitting here rotating my iTunes library back and forth from Adventures in Odyssey, Father Gilbert and my Christmas playlist, yeah I’m kind of a loser. Oh yeah and I’ve won about ten games of solitaire in a row. I am seriously addicted to solitaire. Who knew it could be so fun and entertaining? Oh and my friend Pedro gave me some candy, that was nice of him. But seriously, my favorite friend is the one who always loans me his laptop when I’m here. He’s pretty awesome. It gives me something to do while I sit here in the office for nine hours while Cintia is working.

12 days until I board a plane to go home. I am seriously looking forward to it. Do you know why? Because I can’t wait to see all of your beautiful faces again! I’ve missed you dear family and friends! I am thankful for each and every one of you.

I keep forgetting that it’s now Christmastime. I mean, I know it’s on its way, it’s November after all, but the weather tells me that it’s summer. Okay, so I’m probably not making any sense at all. What I mean is that I associate Christmastime so strongly with cold weather, coats, fireplaces, snow, gingerbread lattes, the colors red and green, and other wintery things that I almost can’t believe the calendar. It’s hot, humid, and bright colors surround me. No hot cocoa or gingerbread lattes here, instead I’m drinking lots of tropical fruit juices. Last night when Cintia said she needed to buy some gifts for the boys, I asked for what? When she said Christmas, I thought, “oh yeah, duh.” I felt dumb.

Oh November

Hello, Friends. I am sitting here at Cintia’s workplace very thankful for her friend, Jo..? who loaned me his laptop. We left home around 9am and won’t leave here until 8pm. I finished the one book that I brought and was dangerously close to filling up my last moleskine journal! I’m especially thankful because Eduardo needed his mini modem back this week, which means that I won’t have any internet connection until Friday at the earliest. I was sad. I am sad. But thankfully, my new friend saved the day and I am able to catch up on the news, the blog some emails, etc before I go into solitude for the week. 🙂

Saturday was a lot of fun. Josefina, Yuri and I went to Plaza and did some serious shopping. No, really, we beat that mall into submission. I have never done so much shopping in so little time. We had so many bags and poor Yuri had the task of carrying all of them (he didn’t want my help) and making sure I didn’t get lost in the crowd. Haha, he did a good job though. I got a lot of practice using my portuguese! Neither one of them speaks any English, so I had to use a lot of brain power to communicate, but it was rewarding and very good practice.

Later that night I went out to dinner with Cintial, Eduardo and a couple of their friends. We went back to the Creperia in Sao Francisco. Love that place! It was really nice and then Sunday we went grocery shopping…believe me it was quite the event. Hours and hours of shopping for food. Then we went out to dinner with Eduardo’s mom.

Yesterday was cloudy and rainy. We went out to the Japanese restaurant where Cintia and Eduardo started dating and then went to an old military fort. However, it was a holiday, so it was closed. Yeah, another one. Saturday was also a holiday–Black Consciousness Day. Yesterday was only in Niteroi, it was like the anniversary of the founding of the city or something. I’m not really sure though.

Thursday is Thanksgiving. It’s pretty much my favorite holiday. I am quite sad to be missing the time with family and the huge feast that they are going to be enjoying. I am going to go with my tutor, Ana, to talk to her English students about our special holiday! I’m going to show them some pictures and use my history degree to tell them about the pilgrims  and then tell them how we celebrate today. It should be a fun time.

What else…I am going to be 22 years old soon. It’s really weird, I totally feel like I just had 21st birthday. I remember that day — I sat in class from 8am in the morning to 8pm at night. It wasn’t exactly the best birthday I have ever had. My sweet family tried their best to make it special and I did enjoy the delicious breakfast my mother made for me at 6am!

Okay, well, it won’t be long until I see all of your beautiful faces again! Two more weeks…:)

I guess I’ll be back this weekend…until then, tchau!

J