My junior year, a girl from Sao Paolo studied abroad in my high school. She went back to visit in July and saw my mom, who was our Spanish teacher that year. She invited me to come visit her in Brazil, and my mom called me up later and told me she’d buy the plane ticket if I went to visit. So that’s how I found myself off to Santiago’s international airport at 7am yesterday after a mere 43 hours in Valparaíso following my return from Bolivia. I’ll be here a month, staying with Leticia and her mother Marlene. It’s summer vacation and both Leticia and her mom work, so they’re also passing me off to various relatives who speak varying amounts of languages that aren’t Portuguese.
Last night I got in at about 6 and Leticia, her mom and boyfriend picked me up and drove me home, stopping on the way for a snack. They made me try this delicious teardrop-shaped fried thing with chicken on the inside and thick mashed potato on the outside, and I realized that I would be eating my way through Brazil in the same fashion I did in Bolivia: in large quantities and very fried. Good thing Leticia has a gym membership and we’re going to go to a couple of hours of exercise classes every day!
Other than pilates and spinning (I kind of almost died after not really getting regular exercise since November), Marlene woke me up at 12pm (yes, I did sleep 12 hours) to go eat lunch at her mother’s. There, it was rice, beans, meat and some salad and after papaya for lunch, which was like a cross between Costa Rica, Bolivia and Chile. Fruit and meat a la Bolivia, rice like in Costa Rica (although the beans were brown and separate) and rice like we always have in Chile. Her mother doesn’t speak anything besides Portuguese, so we communicated a bit laboriously, me in Spanish, her in Portuguese, having to speak really slowly and repeat ourselves a lot. It was so much brain effort that after our rather sparse conversation and a half hour learning fruit and vegetable vocabulary (there were lots of grocery store promotions with the picture and the name, so it was perfect), I was ready for an hour-long nap.
The rest of the afternoon was errands, exercise and just now dinner and soap opera time. The nice thing is that here, TV counts as linguistic acquisition, so I can get as addicted as I want to Brazilian soaps and not feel the tonnage of the guilt and/or shame I learned to feel for trashy TV time in my house growing up. I think it’s going to be a really nice month with a good mix of family life, bouncing around with relatives of Leticia, learning Portuguese, and then the party and recovery that will be the week of Carnaval and the weekend we’ll spend in Rio de Janeiro. I’m hoping by the end I’ll have some solid Brazilian friends, a good handle on the new language, and some measure of confidence in a bikini. 1, 2, 3, go!