Long E-mail about Brasil (1/23/08):
well.... here is installment number one of my first journey to the southern hemisphere, and so far so good. since i left the US, ive been staying in a town called florianopolis in brazil. i came here to visit carolina... for those of you who dont know, she was an exchange student at my high school my senior year and we've remained in touch over the past 6 and a half years. So, she's been taking me around the city and island a lot... and ive gotten to know her friends and family well. well, as well as one can in 2 weeks. well.
her brother was out of town for the first 9 days i was here, so i got his room. hes back now, but i still get his room!! such hospitality. since ive been here, i have felt like i was abroad in spain all over again... everybody talks to me like a baby. slow and no big words. sometimes i just stare back at them not knowing that its my turn to respond. carolinas mom and grandma has made countless wonderful meals for me, made my bed a lot, doesnt let me do the dishes, washes my clothes, drives me around if i need to do something, etc. the only thing is that her parents and i are never able to say exactly what we want to each other. her parents know portugese, some spanish, and a very little english from what they watch in movies. i know english, some spanish, and 0 portugese. at this point i know about 0.0003 portugese. so, they speak in portugese first, then spanish, and if i STILL dont get it, theyll try english... and between all 3 of these and lots of body language, we've actually been able to communicate pretty well. we've had discussions about osama bin laden's son, the state of nuclear waste disposal in the US, brazilian oil reserves, the differences between barack and hillary, how the electoral college works, the bear attack on the JMT, and such as. i also taught them a little about ultimate frisbee.
some notable things ive done here: i had a homemade brazilian bbq, went to a concert with the brazilian version of gloria estefan, got some brazilians to jowl a little bit, went sandboarding down huge sand dunes, bodysurfed, got sunburned, played poker with the neighbors (and lost 20 bucks), took a boatride to "dolphin cove" where, yes, i saw dolphins, listened to carolina, her brother, mother, and father sing a concert in their living room at 1am, went out to dinner with her uncle who is an EXACT replica of dustin hoffman (but doesnt speak a ton of english), and acted stupid when people assume im brazilian and try to talk to me.
carolina introduced me to many of her friends here (many of whom were also on vacation from work or school, cause its summer here)... and its been really great getting to know them. not only have i met many of her friends, but her family too. the family bond is a lot stronger here in brazil, and so parents know the children and their friends really well. all of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins live here in florianopolis too. when her friends come over here, they can spend more time talking to her parents than to carolina. sometimes the parents are around when were hanging out at the beach or something too. they took me over to her grandparents for lunch a few times... and her grandma makes a mean meatloafy thing. carolina had to go to work for a few days (she works in a different city) so ive been hanging out at her house with her parents and brother. a few days ago, he took me to his girlfriends grandparents beach house where i taught one of them how to do flips over waves, we played uno, spoons, and a volley-soccer-tennis game.
the island that ive been on is beautiful... wonderful beaches, green almost jungly hills everywhere, cows roaming around, crazy drivers, and good food. its like santa cruz in the sense that its one of the BEST places on the coast to visit. the people ive met have been great too... many of the ones that dont know english still do their best to talk to me. ive had some down time here at the house during my stay, but to me its not really down time, i have fun talking to the rents. all in all, a fantastic 2 weeks... its too bad that im so freakin old now that i cant be an exchange student again and stay longer (i bet theyd let me), but everybody would ask why that old gringo is living in brazil, and why he doesnt have a job.
im now off to uruguay on an 18 hour bus ride to meet up with ed, shaunak, and noel to begin our 7 weeks of uruguayan, argentinean, and chilean adventures. guys, if you read this and havent left the US yet, can you bring me some airborne?
hope all is well back home or wherever you are, for those of you who live vicariously through my trips... ill send some more and hopefully some pictures in a few weeks probably.