Archive | February, 2013

Copacabana

22 Feb

It has been a few years since i lived in Rio.   Really, aside from my month long trip in Januray 2009, i hadn´t lived in Rio in like 8-9 years.  One of the major adjustments is everything is more expensive.  You used to be able to rent an apartment for about 100-200 USD, now it´s more like 300-500 USD.  One of my favorite things about living in Brazil before was being able to buy a plate of food for about 3 bucks, now it´s about 6 including water to drink.  The juice bars that used to be cheap, are now Starbucks like prices.  Another change has been for the good, they shut down Help disco, where literally 100s of hookers would work.  So now i would say prostitution is a lot less present.  However twice in two days i was approached by the most aggressive prostitute i have ever encountered.  Usually the prostitutes will just say something or wink or whistle.  After passing a group ofprostiututes, this super aggressive whore followed me asking me for water (i had a big bottle of water)  then when that didn´t work she tried groping/dancing against me saying let´s party.  I kept walking and she let go.  The very next night, i was walking home and she again was with her friends.  She had turned her top up over her fake boobs, and was trying to get my attention.  Once again she tried to dance up against me, and was grabbing me saying let´s see.  Another two guys were coming up so she turned her attention to them, and the guy was telling her “fica la, meu amor fica la”  -stay there, my love, stay there as in don´t come near him.

Armed robbery is a fact of life in Latin countries.  So far i have avoided getting robbed, but it is something you plan for.  I only take my credit card with me when i know i need to use it, i have a second wallet i use to keep however much money i use that day, and i try to avoid walking alone as much as practical.  One night as i am walking back, there are three black teenage boys walking in the opposite direction.  If you know me personally, you know my default facial expression is a blank look that often gets mistaken for angry, or sad.  Two of the three boys walk around me, one stands in front of me.  I try to step to the right, he steps to the right, i step left he steps left.  Then he starts yelling at me, telling me they aren´t there to rob me they are just going to the beach to have fun.  i tell him im passing through.  His friends who are yelling at him to shut up and stop causing trouble echo the passing through, thinking i meant they were.   i shook one of their hands and told them to stay with God, a common phrase here in Brazil when people are saying goodbye.

Last night i had my third Copa experience.  Coming home from Samba, i am walking from the bus stop to my apartment.  Usually my jumpiness, and over-reaction to anything entering my field of vision quickly is just a big social faux pas,  getting me laughed at and making it hard to be a tough guy.  Last night it finally came in useful, because i heard, or saw someone running up on me.  I turned around lowered my level and got my hand out in front of me.  A teenager bounces off of me, and i push him away.  He point to the pay phone behind me as if he were running to make a phone call.  I still am not sure what he was trying to do, my best guess is hoping to try and pick my pocket on the run.  So i stare him down as i walk away and he goes and pretends to make a phone call, then after i turn the corner, he pretends to be on his cell phone and continues to watch where i am going.  All´s well that ends well though, because i made it home and if he managed to get anything from me, it might be the key that i lost.  He would have to get by the doorman, and know which apartment is mine for it to be any use to him though.  Lesson learned, no more gringo shirts (i was wearing a hawaiian shirt that several times people told me “you look so gringo in that”) if i will be coming home late,  even if i have to wear a dirty shirt.

Pavuna

16 Feb

It´s Carnavale time in Rio.  World famous for the parades, Bloco´s (street party), and wild costumes.  I will add photos soon.  Most actual residents of Rio take off to have a nice week away from the crowds and craziness.  This sucks, because i like the crowds and craziness, but since my friends are all church people, i am left hanging out with other foreiegners, or finding adventure on my own.

I have been enjoying going to forro dancing since Milena  taught me how last saturday.  However, since i was staying out super late, and my body kept waking up early, i wound up getting sick.  Luis Felipe had his birthday party this friday, and i went there and spent the day sleeping and taking different medications and home remedies.  Luis Felipe is Marli´s grandson, or Erica´s nephew.  But, this time the twist was Erica had arrived home earlier this week.  So the family still took great care of me, had fun at Luis Felipe´s party; but had to have the talk several times that me and Erica are not dating and we would not be getting back together.

Saturday I met Milena, and we went to a forro club that was pretty empty because everyone was at Carnavale.  Then i stayed at her family´s house in Pavuna.  The next day, I hung out with the family while Eddy (Milena´s boyfriend) grilled a Brazilian Barbecue called a Churrasco.  While i was hanging out in Pavuna, it reminded me of a time i had been there back on my first extended stay in Rio.  This was one of my best cultural moments in Brazil.

I had met this lady on the beach at Copacabana, and we were going to go on a date that Sunday but she remembered it was Mother´s day, so we went to her house to have dinner with her family.  There was a 2 year old on the lap of a mother (i dont remember if it was her sister or aunt or cousin), the 2 year old spit out something the mother was feeding it onto the plate he was sharing with his mother.  The mother,  smiled stirred the food around, and ate it anyway.  The two year old turned to his mom´s chest, pulled the tank top away and decided to have milk for supper in stead.

Well, i couldn´t help but share that story after i remembered it so vividly this weekend.  The Brazilian churrasco was totally different, no food spit out, no boobs uncovered, and lots of great food.  Then last night we went to a samba concert, stopping on the street to take pictures of the floats as they entered the Sambodromo, but Eddy wasn´t enjoying the atmosphere so we didn´t stay long.  Today I got to rappell down a part of morro do urca, the place where i took pictures from the last time, another couchsurfing event.  Tonight i will head to the street, and try and take as many pictures with people in crazy costumes as possible.  The results from the last time i did that are on my facebook, the album is called Desfila de Campeones.

at one of the blocos, an example ofthe crazy costumes

at one of the blocos, an example ofthe crazy costumes

hat rappel samba scepter street tong fan

The Lucky One

4 Feb

 Cirval pao de acucar room

beersungaLoved by many hated by none,

I´d say you´re lucky cause I know what you´ve done.

Not a care in the world, not a worry in sight, everything is going to be alright, cause you´re the lucky one.

Well you´re blessed, I guess by never knowing which road your choosing,

to you the next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing.  -Alison Krause´s The Lucky One

Around the fifteenth of January, i found out i had saved up enough money for my taxes, and looked into the price of a flight to Brazil.  I wound up having enough money left over to fund me for about a month, and that should be enough time to find out if i can find a job that supports me here.  So i got on a plane before the end of January.  Once i announced my plans, my ex girlfriend´s mom arranged for me to be picked up from the airport and taken to her house.  This is again part of being the lucky oine, because Erica was in the United States.  So, Marli took me in, gave me aplace to stay, cooked for me, washed my clothes while i looked for work, a place to stay, and girls on the beach.

I have found a place to stay, it is basically a cell, but it is in Copacabana, right by the beach, and the subway station.  It is so tiny if anyone wants to spend the night, cuddling is mandatory, not cause i´m creepy but because there is no other way to fit.  So hopefully no guy friends get stranded late at night in Copacabana.

The job search isn´t going as great, but i have been putting my resume out there.  I have applied at a couple of hostals, which offer a place to stay and food for 6 hours of working; and at a few places looking to hire English teachers.  Of all things, the most promising seems to be the lady i asked for directions to the subway has been sharing my info with people.  Got to love Brasil.

Ok, here is my Dave-like story for the post.  As you guys probably know, I love http://www.couchsurfing.org an awesome way to meet people and see the authentic side of a country.  There was an event, hiking the trails of Morro de Urca.  One of the people i met was a single traveler from Sweden named Felicia.  She suggested we hang out since we were both alone.  I said sure, since i´m always willing to help a fellow adventurer.  She doesn´t speak Spanish or Portuguese but she is travelling in South America for 2 months.  I started telling her to be super careful, since a 6 foot blond woman alone is a major target, and she told me she hitchhiked through Africa and India.  Anyhow, the next morning i´m on facebook to arrange something with her for the day, and she tells me she got invited to go on a sailboat.  She asked the guy if she could bring me, and he was like go for it.  She said she was just on couchsurfing.org and a chat message came up from the guy, saying hey i see you are online, my friends  can´t go sailing do you want to come.  So i am picturing a super sleazy guy, waiting for us in a speedo and a gold chain playing Barry White.  Turned out he was actually a really cool guy who has a sailboat, but his friends partied last night and he didn´t want to waste a beautiful day for sailing.  We sailed around Pao de Açucar, and swam in the ocean there.  Renato was a really cool guy, and we had a great time.  Unfortunately, Renato suffers from really bad cramps, but they had never happened to him while sailing before.  So the first time I was on a sailboat, I spent a significant portion of the time driving the sailboat.  As he was laying down trying to recover from cramps I steered most of the way back, when he was feeling better he took over.  Then the cramps came on again, and I let Felicia drive.

My first week was a busy one, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, 2 couch surfing events, got sunburned on a cloudy day, a night of forro dancing with Milena, but this was the most unexpected of my adventures.