A lot has happened in the past two weeks, and I am already done with the intensive Portuguese course. More international students arrive this week and they have their orientation, so I have next week off. It is going to be a lot of fun to have a whole week in Rio without any classes. I will be spending a lot of time at the beach and exploring different sites that I have not seen yet.
This past week was challenging, so this break could not have come at a better time. On Wednesday, before going out to buy more sunblock, I went in my drawer to get some cash, and I found that some of my rent money was stolen, and then when talking with my host family dealing with the situation, I get a text from my brother that seemed urgent and that he needed to talk, and that he could not tell me over text. He told me that one of our best friends from high school, Macklin, who had been sick for several months, had passed away. I was very, very upset. One thing that was especially difficult was realizing the fact that when I return from Brazil, Macklin will not be there. Thankfully with FaceTime and Skype I was able to talk with friends and family, so I didn’t feel as far away as I actually am. Furthermore, my teachers were very understanding about how I was feeling, and told me to go home and relax and take my final exam the next day. I was feeling very thankful for their flexibility. This day has also taught me never to take my health for granted, and that it is essential to keep things in perspective. Other than this one day, my experiences in Brazil have been wonderful; I just wanted to include my actual experiences because not everything is always perfect, even when living in a place as beautiful as Rio de Janeiro.
Throughout the past two weeks, I have had a lot of great moments also. A couple of weeks ago when I went out with my roommate and another friend from UW, we met some Brazilians who have been so friendly and welcoming to us. One couple that we met took us to a Samba Show at the Manguera Samba School, and another guy we met made a Ceviche dinner last Sunday. A lot of people here have been so friendly and open to meeting people from the US and other parts of the world. It has been really interesting to experience life in Brazil with people who have lived here for their entire lives.
I have been on two day trips since the last post, one to Teresópolis, and the other to Petropolis. Both of the cities are less than two hours away by bus. When arriving in Teresópolis, my roommate and I planned on hiking a very long trail at Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos, but quickly realized we were unprepared after the guide asked us if we have flashlights and enough food. We decided to do a few of the shorter trails, and still had amazing views of Dedo de Deus (God’s Finger). I really liked the city and it had a very calm vibe compared to Rio de Janeiro. For the trip to Petropolis, PUC organized everything, which was nice so I did not have to worry about transportation. Petropolis was the summer home of Brazilian aristocrats, so while there we visited the Imperial Museum. Petropolis is also home to the Bohemia beer factory. This was a lot of fun learning about the process of producing Bohemia beer and we even got to have some samples! Something in Petropolis happened that was so funny and different that I will not forget for a long time. Our group was walking into lunch and this man took “candid” pictures of everyone walking, and we all thought that it was strange, but didn’t really think about it. An hour later when we leave the restaurant, he is back, with our faces on keychains selling them to us. personally, I did not want a keychain with my face on it, but I thought that it was too funny not to get for a price of $R3, which is about $1.25 USD.
I have also been exploring different neighborhoods in Rio. I went to a club right next to PUC and when I was there, there were cast members from the French version of Jersey Shore. This was very entertaining to watch because they were being filmed doing ridiculous dances, but they were dancing by themselves. Also, I have found my new favorite beach in Rio, Leblon. It is similar to the other beaches, but calmer and less crowded. It’s also very close to school, so if I have long breaks in between classes I will definitely go there to do readings and homework.
This next week is sure to bring some new experiences and adventures, so look out for my next post and pictures.
Até a próxima vez…
(Until next time)