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Friday, November 26, 2010

A Day at One of Rio's University

Today I attended one of the top Universities in Rio. Luis Carlos was teaching sign language which is a required course for all teachers in Brazil. He was excellent, combining acting with clowning, making each facial expression so obvious I could actually follow most of the conversation. It was my first sign language lesson and I loved it. What really surprised me was the "school" cafeteria. You wouldn't believe what i am about to tell you. It was a buffet. Nothing spectacular about that aspect of it. What was different was the food was all organic, gourmet with everything you might find in one of the best resturants in your area. I am not exaggerating one iota. Each dish was mouth watering and there were waiters to take your plates, utensils, and glasses away after you were done eating. One of the dishes was shrimp in a creamy pumpkin sauce. Delicious!!!! The beef was filet mignon. The dessert section had Caramel flan, coconut flan, banana cream pie, decadent chocolate cake, to name just a few. All home made. Can you imagine going to school and eating like this everyday? There was an entire section with nothing but vegitable dishes. Another section with sushi. Salmon, crab, and cooks preparing fresh meat on a grill. And I don't remember seeing one obese person. Perhaps a few pounds over weight on a few people. This food is brain food, if you leave out the dessert!! It made me sad to think about the food industry in our country, what we feed our children in school, and what we consider normal eating. Organic food is expensive, relatively speaking, and organic restaurants are practically unheard of. Imagine what it would be like if you could eat organic gourmet dishes daily and cheaply??? What a concept. In addition, this is a Catholic University!! Luis Carlos is openly gay, works there as an adjunct, and is well respected. I sat down to observe people while Luis Carlos took care of some things. I was amazed at the relaxed atmosphere. People seemed happy, content, and relaxed. There was an exhibit the students had put together showing innovative approaches to recycling and improving the environment. It was very creative and practical. One was a beach umbrella with it's own trash container attached that goes into the sand and helps keep the umbrella sturdy and straight. There are no garbage cans on the beaches in Rio so most people leave their trash which is picked up by laborers in the wee hours of the morning. The students seem to be much more aware of the need for environmental change. Well, that was only one example.
The food and the relaxed, friendly ambiance was enough to make me wish i had studied here when i was younger.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My first 24 hours in Rio
Nov.24, 2010I finally arrived and got through customs easily. I didn't have to go through the hastle of having my bags opened, turning eveything upside down to see what i was bringing into Brazil. I had three pieces of luggage and a guitar. It would have been long ordeal and a mess to straighten out. The only question they asked was if my guitar was mine or (was i planning to sell it) not. No way, i said. It's mine and i am VERY attached to her. My entire trip went so smoothly until i walked out of customs and Luis Carlos was no where to be found. I was completely dependent on him to pick me up with all that luggage. Mind you, he is an extremely reliable person and ordinarily very punctual, unlike most Brazilians who live with a different sense of time than Americans. As i walked outside the first awareness i had was the air, so pungent and thick with humidity. My nostrils and skin immediately perked up to the smell and tangible physical sensation that is both familiar and yet .....it had been so long. I breathed a sigh of relief just breathing in the tropical scent that i love and missed so much. But I didn't have my cell phone, or any "real" (brazilian money) with me. I felt stuck and unsure about what to do....so i decided to do nothing but relax and wait. After a half hour a complete stranger came up to me and offered to loan me her cell phone. Apparently the "lost" facial expression mixed with anxiety was beginning to surface. I was so grateful. People are so willing to be helpful here. I remember that is one of the cultural gifts of living here. I called him and he was on his way, profusely apolegizing for his mistake. "I thought you were arriving at noon", he said."No. 11am and we arrived early." "OMG, I am so sorry. I don't know how i could have gotten the time mixed up. I'm on my way now! "I breathed a sigh of relief and truely relaxed while i watched for his red Volkswagon Fox.Since than we have walked to the beach, it has drizzled at least three times as if it can't make up it's mind......but that's not it. It's a tropical country. That's what the weather is like. I just forgot.After getting my luggage situated in his condo, we went to eat at an organic buffet where i proceeded to eat all the food i had missed for four years until i could eat no more. I had Thanksgiving early. I more than made up for missing Thanksgiving in the States which is day after tomorrow.Last night we met up with Luis Carlos's mother and later on with his brother. His brother is a psychologist and teaches at the University. Our discussions were centered on the political situations in the USA and the field of psychology. They both expressed support for the new FEMALE President of Brazil, Dilma Roussef. They also told me that there was a law passed 10 years ago that prohibits anyone from making racist statements or slurs. It is punishable by law and they do enforce this one. Not all Brazilian laws are enforced. What i like about this one is you can't pay your way out of it like a ticket. You have to do time. Imagine how quickly people learned to hold their tongues before speaking. WOW! Glen Beck, Russ Limbaugh, and most of Fox news would be in jail. I had a complete sense of satisfaction imagining this ban in our country. Obama would have a break for "a change". I am somewhat surprised by the progressive changes that have occurred here. It makes me even more aware of how my own country is back sliding into archaic and small minded cultural mores. I try to imagine what my own country would be like without rampid racism verbally spewing wrecklessly out at others and polluting others sense of safety and dignity. I think it would be a nicer place to live. It might not stop racism at first, but we wouldn't have to be exposed to it and it sets a good example for the younger generations.It is impossible to get work here without a CPF number. It means i'll be getting married to Luis Carlos's brother, Toni ASAP. Toni, the psychologist. It turns out that Luis Carlos can't marry me because he and his partner have been together for almost 10 years and have conjugal rights. If he married me it would nullify that. So he kindly offered his brother. So Gay couples have more civil rights than we do at this point. Marriage is the only way i'll be able to get my life going here, if I am to have a chance at staying here and finding decent work. He's gay too. How convenient. It will make for a great marriage on paper. No interviews here. So much simpler. Everyone wants to help. How refreshing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And i need it too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Second attempt to Blog

I'm beginning to think that blogging is as it sounds......blahhhhhhh......ging. It's taken me all day and the help from my cousin to get this up and running. I am exhausted by the process of not knowing into the realm of knowing........................
Here is the latest in Rio de Janeiro.
So i'm in beautiful, wonderful Rio deJaneiro that has been taken over by drug lord terrorists. No one will leave their homes and the military tanks are out and about trying to catch these guys. Some of whom are children working for the drug lords.
The Governor has been agressively proactive in putting the drug lords in solitary confinement since they were using cell phones brought in by womens vaginas to continue their work behind prison walls.
As a result, children and adult drug traffikers were blowing up vehicles throughout Rio and black smoke was seen all over Rio. I actually was with a friend of mine in his car when we were diverted by the military blockade due to a car on fire....a result of one of their attacks. It's cars, vans and buses......There is black smoke throughout the city...I'll be leaving soon. On Monday. Strange to be in such a beautiful city under siege. I'm American. What do i know about Terrorism, Violence, and War. I was in California when 911 happened and most of the people there acted as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Hard to believe, i know. It felt surreal as if i was watching the news coverage in the States on Mexico.....or a movie.....