domingo, 31 de maio de 2009

São Paulo = blah

I've decided I really don't like São Paulo. It's too big, and I live too much in the middle, and it's really, really dirty. It's also more different from Rio than I thought it'd be... the people, the food, the way things work on a day-to-day basis. But whatever. It's really dirty though. Like a lot. Trash is everywhere. And we live right close to where all the homeless people stay, we walk through them every day, and it's sad but it's also really kinda gross, not because THEY'RE dirty, but because their little campouts that surround them are really dirty. But the streets are just full of trash, all the time. Petrópolis and Rio aren't half as bad.
Nights are pretty boring here. It was frustrating just kind of sitting in our room on Friday and Saturday, listening to everyone out having fun. But our street isnt the best so we aren't supposed to really walk down it at night, and we don't really have anyone to do anything with. We've met tons and tons of people, and they're all absolutely amazing, but they're all busy and/or old. Haha.
So far we have done a lot of really cool cultural things though. Today we went to a matinee concert (only R$2 aka one dollar) and I was expecting it to be an orchestra but it ended up being this amazing Brazilian choir singing these really beauutiful French songs, (2009 is "O Ano da França no Brasil") and it was in this world-class concert hall, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo. So that was definitely cool. We also went to the Municipal Market and it was a big empty because it's Sunday but that was fun too. Yesterday we did various things blah blah but we went to an outside ferinha (fair) and bought some really cool and cheap jewlery. I got some awesome earrings and a necklace made from açaí seeds and bits of coconut, and Olimpia got a bunch of earrings, some of them those kinds made out of feathers. The lady at one of the stands talked to us for a long time about the state of the world and how all these tourists come through and demand lower prices and think she's cheating them when she's not (cuz really, the prices were amazing anyway) and how they at the same time treat her like she's a starving penniless citizen of the third world. It was an interesting perspective for sure.
Oh, so I think I mentioned this, but we wash our clothes by hand at the Casa. And we did that for the first time last night. My wrists hurt, my nails were a mess, I only washed about half my clothes, and I don't think they actually got clean. Hah. But hey, gotta do what you gotta do.
So my Portuguese is getting better but I'm definitely speaking more English than I anticipated, which is a little bit sad but fine nonetheless.
Um, I probably have more to say, but I'm kinda tired, so I'm losing it. It just started raining too and we have a decent walk back so that's frustrating. Plus the power just went out and my computer restarted, luckily this was automatically saved though. Yay google.
Random observation before I go: fireworks are always going off around here. Just the loud ones, they're never the pretty ones. Sometimes they sound like gunshots but usually you can tell they're fireworks. I don't really know why they're so common. Wednesday nights, when there's a big soccer game, they're constant and expected, but otherwise they come at completely random times.
I just looked this over and wow this was a rather negative post. Oops. Tomorrow we'll make our first prison visit, so that'll be new, we'll see how that goes.
Also, something interesting/good (haha): Noraini, who I've talked about before, has been teaching us a lot about Islam, including showing us this little booklet that she made to teach people arabic in order to read the Koran, and wow it's really interesting. But yep. So tchau for now.

sexta-feira, 29 de maio de 2009

Wow, lots to talk about today but I don't have a whole lot of time; right now we're at Heidi and Joanne's apartment and Joanne is packing for her weeklong trip to Vancouver for a conference and dinner is soon back at the casa. BUT:
This morning we had our first English lesson at the casa which was a success, it seems like each day we'll have different people, and today we had just 2, and just went over the alaphabet and days of the week, but it was good. They asked me if I was a teacher and when I said no but I wanted to be, they said I was a good one, which made me smile. =]
Today we visited a project that works with street kids and teenage moms and all sorts of things, and sat in on a meeting of theirs and met all sorts of people, and it really opened up my eyes to a whole new world of job opportunities... in this organization there were all sorts of professions--lawyers, psycologists, social workers, teachers, even cooks, hehe. They do amazing work, I'll write more about it later, (its a somewhat big organization with three sort of sub-projects that do different things in the city, but all with adolescents and kids that aren't in good circumstances) but it was cool to realize I can be a teacher, like I want to be, but under a different sort of heading, with different objectives. Very cool.

quinta-feira, 28 de maio de 2009

in a LANhouse

This one has to be quick, I'm in a LANhouse aka internet café in São Paulo and I have like 9 minutes left before it kicks me off.
Today we decided when english classes with the staff will be (T, TH and F mornings) and such. Our two bags that the airport had lost got here so I have clothes. Oh, and at the Casa there is no washing machine sooooo I'll be washing clothes by hand, which'll definitely be an experience. We'll see how that works out haha.
I talked to my relatives in Petrópolis today and I'm missing them a bit, I sort of wish we could have gone there first and then come here. But oh well, what can you do. São Paulo and city life in general is really different from what I'm used to here in Brasil. But I've been liking it, it's interesting for sure. Olimpia and I were waiting for Heidi today on the steps of the huge cathedral here and were people watching for a long time. You definitely get some characters around here, especially there because it's facing the Praça da Sé which is the so called Ponto Zero of São Paulo, which has a huge homeless population etc.
Ok I'm off.

quarta-feira, 27 de maio de 2009

Estou aqui e está chuvendo

So I'm not sure how much I'll keep up with this blog but I wanted a place to share my thoughts with everyone back home. Computer access here is both limited and sporadic, and that's ignoring the fact that they're ridiculously slow, but hey, it's all good.
So Olimpia and I are here in São Paulo, living almost directly in the center of this 20 million person city. Crazy. We live in a house for refugees and forgien (I have no idea how to spell that word, and Portuguese spellcheck isn't working out for me, hehe, sorry) women who got stuck and got out of Brasilian prisons. I was a bit nervous about it but WOW it's this old beeeeaautiful house, the food people take turns making and has been delicious, our room is upstairs and a bit secluded and we have our own bathroom, and it's all very nice. The neighborhood isn't the best, but it's not awful either. It used to be a convent and so I think that's part of why it's so nice. Seriously it's the nicest house I've really ever been in in Brasil.
I always love the transformation of my language skills as soon as I step foot on Brazilian soil. My Portuguese, claro, isn't perfect, but it gets so much better as soon as I'm surrounded by it. I understand 98% of what people say, and am still a bit shy about talking because I stumble a bit, but really I'm going to be fine. By the end of the summer I should be fluent.
São Paulo, especially the city, is very different from the Brazilian experiences I've had in the past in Rio, but I'm really enjoying being back in my country. =]
The person that is taking charge of us here is Heidi, she's a Maryknoll lay missioner and is fabulous. She works with lots of projects, the biggest being an organization that works with these forgien women in the Brazilian prison systems. Olimpia and I will be going on prison visits each week, and will do stuff liek scanning in letters the women write to their homes and emailing them across the world. We'll also be teaching the staff at the house we're staying some English, and will also be visiting a organic farming project headed by another Maryknoll missioner, Chad, and his wife Angel and their 2 daughters. We'll be doing lots of other things here and there as well, little one-day, two-day vistitations of different projects and so on. It'll make the 8 weeks go fast but also it kinda sucks because because by the nature of this set-up, we will kind of be more of a hassle for people than anything else. It'll be more of a trip for us than for anyone else, more of an experience for us than us helping other people. That's a bit disappointing but still, I'm really excited for this summer. =]
We had a very typical Brazilian experience trying to get a cell phone for me yesterday and today. We went to the TIM (a cell company here) store and bought a SIM card for me and a prepaid plan, because the lady promised if we took my phone, or this old phone that Heidi had, to this little shop across the street, they'd be able to "unlock" it for me and I could use the phone. Well, after 2 hours or so of talking, leaving and shopping and returning etc, we realized that wasn't going to happen, with either of the phones (no to mention it'd be significantly more expensive than the lady had told us it'd be). Everything closed for the night and so this morning we went back because they promised they'd find me a cheap phone I could buy. Well so we got there and they were trying to "fix" the phone and after waiting for quite a while we just left and went to the official store and bought I bought a phone that supposedly should work in France too. I dont mind because it ended up being less than $70 and I needed a new one anyway. But the whole thing involved so many people promising so many things that of course never happened, and we spent a whole evening and half a morning just trying to get a damn phone, it made me laugh.
Ok well this was a long post because I got some time on a computer, but now I'm off. Beijos pora todo mundo.