Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Just Kidding

And my plans have changed once again.

Turns out I am not moving back to Brazil, though I am here right now!

When I was home in the states I got a call that plans had changed and the office here no longer needed me. So we made some quick plans and I came back here for a few days to get all of my stuff and move back home.

I really would have been happy to work here for more time, but I am also pretty excited at moving home and starting my life up again there!

Part of the fun was seeing my friends and family at home - it was SO nice to be back with them.

Besides being in Chile (which I fully intend to post on as soon as I upload pics) Here is a little of what I did:

Me and my friend Lisa in Chile. At some point I got all jaunty and started wearing this hat everywhere. I'm sorry.

Kelly had her wedding shower. She got lots of nice gifts and I had a great time meeting new people and drinking champagne (In the interest of full disclosure, I did spell it champaign first, then erased it and wrote it correctly) in the morning.

I cooked dinner with Natalee. And by cooked dinner I mean Natalee bossed me around, I got stressed out, and we ended up eating basically raw meat stuffed inside peppers and squash. No idea how we didn't get ill.

Went bowling with my friends :)


Played tourist in Chicago and went to take a self-pic in the Bean!

Bumped into Obama as his motorcade passed me on LSD. nbw.

But even counting semi-seeing Obama and eating tons of pretzel MnMs, the best part of being home was definitely this:

My good friends Mark and Gina got married :)

Gina was the most beautiful bride I have seen (and Mark looked OK, too) and the wedding was absolutely perfect. It was beautiful and classy and very "Gina." There was also a lot of dancing :)

Congratualtions, friends! And thanks for an amazing evening!
These are my best girlfriends from college -- Kelly, Jenny, Gina, Heather, Maggie, and me (I'm not really a giant, I am just wearing killer heels).

So back home I go tomorrow (just 48 hours here in Brazil). I am headed to Chicago first to find myself an apartment and then to Champaign to spend some QT with my family there.

My life continues to change daily, but I just try to see each change as a new opportunity; everything happens for a reason and I am certainly enjoying the ride!




Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Traveling and a Change in Plans

Change in Plans

When I decided to come to Brazil, my trip was originally scheduled for September 2009 - October 2010. After the whole visa debacle I ended up landing in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil at the beginning of February of 2010.

I originally intended to stay in Rio for one month and then head to São Paulo for the rest of my time. I had originally wanted to be in São Paulo because of the quasi-family I have here, but I fell hard and fast for Rio. After a couple of months, though, the shiny wore off and I realized that while Rio is indeed the Marvelous City, my living situation was not ideal and I wanted to try something new. So I changed plans and headed to São Paulo to give life there a try,

I really like São Paulo. The people here and the pace of life is a little more like what I am used to back home. Still, the work I came here to do left a lot to be desired, and I figured I would rather spend my time back in the states with family and friends before I started work in October. And so my plans changed yet again. I booked a ticket home (via a week in Santiago, Chile) for the end of July, just in time for one friend’s wedding shower and another’s wedding.

But I should really learn to stop planning things. Because every time I think I have it all scheduled and figured out, something else comes along (I think that I am solely responsible for keeping airlines afloat this year in changed/canceled tickets alone).

Last week I talked to a partner at Mayer Brown who put me in touch with our office here, and I was offered the opportunity to work in our office here in São Paulo. Once again, my plans change - but now they are pretty much back to my original intended stay.

I am still heading to Chile (I am writing this in the São Paulo airport at 6 a.m.) and will stay a week there with my friend Lisa from college. From Chile I head home and do a 2 week tour of the states (really just 2 states, Illinois and Ohio…3 if you count driving through Indiana) which will include the aforementioned shower and wedding along with seeing friends and family and maybe shopping for an apartment.

But then I will head back to São Paulo and stay until at least October working in our office here. I am really excited about this opportunity - the office here seems to have a lot of the type of work I want to do and I think I will learn a lot and get some good experience. I think it would be nice to be home, I am definitely at the point where I could come home and be really happy about the time I had spent here (plus by staying I am missing what should prove to be the best bachelorette party on that side of the equator). But at the same time, I am happy to be staying. I am just starting to make friends and a life here in São Paulo, and my grasp of the language grows stronger every day. It will be nice to see those things through a little more. And of course I couldn’t be more excited about the work opportunity!

But of course, I know you are all happy I am staying because it means more blogging from me, right?


Edit: I arrived in Chile and am here at my friend Lisa's house. We did some walking around the city today and had an amazing lunch at a fish market. We have a full week planned and I am really excited!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All The Things That I've Done

The past couple of weeks have been fairly busy here. I have been spending a lot of time trying to be a tourist and to spend time with the friends that I have made here in São Paulo. So here is a slice of what I have been up to (warning: there is a lot of food and world cup involved, clearly).
As previously mentioned, I ate fondue. This is the spread (not including the chocolate fondue with fruit we had afterwards).

Tabatha, our gracious host and fondue chef!

Went to Embu with Monica and Javier. Here I am outside of a cafe where we had some coffee and one of the best brownies I have ever tasted! One day I promise to try to take a picture where I am not wearing one of the same 4 cardigans and where I have actually attempted to fix my hair. Maybe.

Facing down just one of the many streets in Embu (Mom, do you remember when we came here?). It is like a 24/7 art fair - but instead of booths there are little shops with things ranging from handcrafted furniture to touristy trinkets. Really a pretty and fun town...that now has a ton of my money.

Javier and Monica also took my to a town nearby to see a Buddhist temple called Temple Zulai. It was really beautiful, and I have a ton of pictures, and we learned a lot talking to one of the guides.


Here, I am breaking the rules by climbing up on this grassy/stone thing to take a picture. I felt very uncomfortable with this, as I am by nature a rule follower, but Monica encouraged me to go ahead and live a little.

And then, even though I was cheering for the Dutch (because I like the Hollish, in general), I watched the World Cup final with a family cheering for Spain. My friend Paulo (Fabiana's boyfriend) invited us over for the game and his mom (who is Spanish) made Paella.

BTW, I fully intend on replacing that BoSox cap with a Cubs one...he just doesn't know it yet.

Oh my goodness. It was amazing.

There were also 4 pies/cakes (the 3 pictured plus a cheesecake), including one with a Spanish flag and colors. It was crazy. Crazy ridiculous.

Me and Fabi.

Paulo's niece, Sabrina. She blows kisses at everyone and it is pretty much adorable.

I also went out to dinner with some other friends and met more new people here in the city which has been nice. It is great to have so many friends of friends that can put me in touch with people down here to get to know.

Also last week, I went with my friend Rafael to a legal clinic. He is finishing up law school here, and he works in their legal clinic. I got to sit in on a couple of client consultations with him, and it was cool to see how things work down here.

More to come later...I promise!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Dish: Miscellaneous

With Brazil out, the world cup can officially stop dominating both my blog and my life. So, I have a post here about the other dominating force in my life as of late: Food! Really good food, in fact.

To start things off, I went out last week for dinner with Fabiana and some of her friends. I got pretty giddy when we arrived at the restaurant because I realized that it was a sushi rodizio :) A sushi rodizio is the same as a meat rodizio (or churrascaria as you might know it). The point is - never ending sushi. Did you hear that? The sushi doesnt stop!

Among other things, you get a giant plate of sushi like this. Then, when you want more they just bring you more sushi. One of the most genius things I have ever experienced.

And then I went out for sushi again 2 days later with Mariana and her boyfriend where I had the best hand rolls of my life.

I also went to a party with Fabiana last week - the party was for a couple celebrating their 50 years of marriage. And the food was amazing...namely the desserts.

The first dessert I have no picture of as I seriously inhaled it and couldn't stop long enough to put the fork down and pick up a camera. It was homemade gelato. Wow. I tried the berry and the green apple flavor. With some chocolate cake. I also had one of these:

Bem Casado (means something along the lines of happily married). So they say, you make a wish before the first bite and then you will be blessed with it and happiness. I think it is important to make the wish before the first bite because you won't be able to stop after that these are SO good. They are a staple at all weddings here!

Speech giving and cake cutting

Fabiana and Paulo

There were other amazing eats and events that went undocumented or that are on my camera and won't come off (urgh) such as a fondue (which is pronounced fin-dgee here and always throws me for a loop) dinner party, Arabic food (mmm kibi) and an amazing feast at a German restaurant (though, it had nothing on a Bahama Mama from Schmidt's!) with Fabiana, Paulo and Marta. Also, in my quest to collect friends that went to Vanderbilt Law, I had dinner with a friend of friends that is living and working here in SP also. We went to a nice and seemingly popular restaurant with good bruschetta and even better wine!

They say that São Paulo is known for the food/restaurant scene and thankfully I am getting to experience it - so far, I would say it is true...the food and restaurants here are fantastic.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Brasil Couldn't Get No Satisfaction

It was a sad day here in Brazil as the Brazilian team was eliminated from play in the World Cup. The Seleção Brasileira lost today to Holland, and as expected everyone is talking about it.

In general, the consensus is that this is a really horrible thing to have happened, but that Brazil WILL win the next Cup, as it takes place in Brazil.

The other general consensus (salute) is that this was the fault of 3 people. I present them to you, in order of increasing culpability.

(1) Dunga - The Brazilian Coach

Basically, nobody likes Dunga. He was never a coach before this team and thus, the people say, he is completely incompetent. Plus, he waged a huge war against the media and wouldn't let his players talk to the press. This made the people very, very angry. Brazilians don't like when you deny them access to their players.

Fun story...you know how even though the rest of the world puts surnames on the back of the jersey Brazil puts first names or nicknames? Well Dunga's name is actually Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri and Dunga is just the nickname he was given. Dunga is Portuguese for Dopey - as in the 7th dwarf from Snow White.

(2) Felipe Melo - Brazilian Midfielder

I'll be honest: before this game, I loved this guy. Granted, I knew nothing about him, but I really, really liked pronouncing his name.

After this game, I abhor this guy. He got in the way of Julio Cesar (the goalkeeper and, more importantly, one of my favorite players (second only to Kaka, swoon) who I think can do no wrong), he scored an own goal in the process of getting in the way of my beloved Julio Cesar, and then he committed a completely egregious fault against Holland's Robben. I get faults and I get faking injuries and I get trying to get away with as much as you can. Fine. But what he did was just really dirty futebol and I can't respect that kind of player. Plus his attitude after the game was pretty annoying.

On the other hand, Julio Cesar lost gracefully, gave a really heartfelt interview after the game asking for forgiveness from the people of Brazil, and cried (which might have made me cry a little too). I love you, Julio Cesar (you, too, Kaka).

(3) Mick Jagger - British Rock Legend

Serious. Every game Mick goes to and every team Mick has cheered for has been eliminated from the Cup. Apparently Mick has a Brazilian kid and so he took him to the game today. All of the journalists have pretty much decided it easiest to blame this one on him (I guess this is legit a thing (well, at least it is according to DeadSpin) - The Mick Jagger Curse, haha).

But, the real downside to all of this is that, due to a poorly placed bet, I now owe one Dutchman an incredibly nice dinner and evening of free drinks the next time we are in the same country.

I am pretty bummed that Brazil is out of the Cup - I wanted to experience the country as they won. I imagine Brazilians are pretty upset, too, as this means no more days off of work to watch futebol :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Festa or Disney?

Last weekend my little sister Monique went to a Festa de Quinze Anos.

I really want to go to a Festa de Quinze Anos if it means I get to wear a pretty dress like this! Even if it would be creepy that I was 10 years older than everyone else there...

A Festa de Quinze Anos would be the equivalent of a Sweet 16 party. I don't know much about them, though, since I didn't have one...and I have never been to one since my friends didn't have them either. Maybe Ohio is weird? I would love to hear what they're like from anyone who has been or had one.

OK, but to the point. Here, when a kid turns 15 they typically have a big party to commemorate the date. The party is bigger than most we would have - think prom/wedding/some other really formal event. Maybe if you're a reality TV junkie like me you can think My Super Sweet 16.

But here is what I learned today: they can also just go to Disney.

My Portuguese tutor told me today that in general 15 year olds here are given a choice - you can have a huge party or go to Disney World (she chose Disney).

I don't have a picture of my tutor but I do have a picture of this poster in the classroom where people learn English. Hilarious.

She said that all of the travel agencies here have standard packages for 15 year olds to all go to Disney together.

I have NO idea how this choice ever started, but I think it sounds pretty fantastic - hey Mom, why don't ya take me to Disney to make up for the lack of a sweet 16 party!

And now, for a little comparison - Monique at 15 and me at 15 (photo credit to Jenny Lewis).

Yeah, life is not fair. Please excuse the fact that I am wearing a sweater vest.



Monday, June 28, 2010

Minha Familia Brasileira

I really am incredibly lucky that I am getting to spend time with such an amazing family! They are all people that I like to be with and are all really interesting to talk to. The bonus that theyre fun and very patient with me is the icing on the cake.

I look just awful here, but oh well - this is Graça, the maid who is here in the evenings. I sit with her in the kitchen most afternoon/evenings and have coffee and talk with her. I am lucky I have someone who enjoys listening to me babble on in broken Portuguese :)

My Brazilian family :) Javier, Monica, Alejandro, Monica and Felipe (holding Bobby, the dog). Alejandro left for a 1.5 month tour of Europe so I snapped a pic of the entire fam as he was leaving...

I am going to be back home in the USA in just under a month. As excited as I am to get home and see everyone and start my "real life" up again - I am really going to miss my friends and family here. And it might be a long time before I see them again...I need to make the most of these last few weeks :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The World Cup Has Taken Over My Blog

I have to admit, my life is pretty much ALL about soccer these days. I learned soccer when I lived in England and followed the Liverpool team. I learned the rules and enjoyment of the game in pubs (in fact, it is because I had learned about off sides using pint glasses that JGB had to clarify the rule a bit for me when I was in BsAs...), and I have continued to like watching soccer. Every four years, that is.

I don't know why Americans, in general, don't watch soccer. I think every child played it between the ages of 4 and 11. So why do we abandon it then and only watch every 4 years when the world cup rolls around?

I'd love to say that this time it will be different; this time I will watch soccer regularly during the year. But come on...I fell short of that promise I made myself to follow curling just days after the closing ceremonies this winter. Besides, I need to think about what is the most important: do they even have tailgates before soccer games?

I suppose I will just make the most of my next few weeks of daily soccer watching and good soccer related news and websites.

Speaking of good soccer related news and websites:



For the record: Although I am very excited to be in Brazil for the world cup, and I am certainly cheering for Brazil in their games, I am American and fully supporting the USA team first and foremost. As such -- Come on you Yanks and, in the alternative, Vamos Brasil!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Soccer and Portuguese

So as it turns out, I only have about 1 month left here in Brazil. Wow, time really does fly! In that one month, though, I am going to try to experience as much as possible and pack in as much more Portuguese as possible!

And of course, I will be watching soccer (futebol). It is pretty different watching games here. In the US we love going out to bars and watching games - but here everyone watches the Brasil games in their own houses with their families. And nothing is open. Today, nobody went to school or work and stores didn't open until 2, after the game was over. I have a language lesson set for next week that we decided would be either Monday or Tuesday, depending on when Brasil was going to end up playing.

I will have a couple more of weeks of some language lessons before I go. I found a school that I think is pretty good and I managed to barter the price down a little (which is something I have a huge problem with, usually). I want to get in as much practice as I can before I head home and don't have the opportunity to speak it daily.

Not much going on this weekend - I have no set plans but might try to see a few friends. And, of course, I do plan on watching The USA and England games this weekend :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Buenos Aires, Argentina

It took all of 2 seconds for me to fall in love with Buenos Aires.

Last weekend, I went to visit my friend Josh in BsAs. Josh is also a deferred associate working, travelling and learning during his deferral year. We became friends when we interned together and he might be one of my favorite people to talk to in the world! Plus, he is really fun.

This is Josh, or JGB (his initials). He looks like (in the minimum): Mr. Schuester from Glee, Timothy Geithner, somebody on RHONY, and Tio Miguel (Javier's brother). No joke, everyone who has seen a picture of him has said, "Oh wow, he looks lilke____." Feel free to comment with your own thoughts on the matter.

When I arrived, Josh collected me from the airport, we cracked open a bottle of red wine, and we started catching up. Before I knew it we were out the door for some Mexican food!

Josh is a great friend and all, but we should be honest about something: I came to Argentina for the wine!

We ate at a closed door Mexican restaurant. Just 6 of us at a guy's house. It was OK. I wanted it to be better (as did Gina), but some of the food was pretty tasty and the company was fantastic. I met several of Josh's friends in BsAs including a couple from Australia (Ed and Gina) and Jessica from Chicago!

The whole gang posing with our food and Quilmes, which is possibly one of the worst beers ever and will give you a raging hangover if you so much as look at it.

The next day we grabbed some lunch at a cafe and walked around Recoleta. We visited the Recoleta Cemetery -- Given my fear of anything remotely creepy, I was surprised at how cool I found it. It was like a little city of tombs. Among other famous and incredibly rich people, Eva Peron (Go read about her. I will wait. Even if you end up in a wiki wormhole. She has a pretty amazing story.) is entombed there. Josh also told me a cool story about a grounds keeper there that worked his whole life to get a spot there and when they finally let him get a plot, he offed himself cause his life's work was complete. Creepy, but interesting!

Evita's grave is really easy to find because pretty much everyone in the cemetery is going to see her. We just saw a guard giving someone directions somewhere and followed them.

That evening and the next we met up with friends and went to steakhouses. Now when I say steakhouse, I am not talking Outback. I am talking massive steaks, amazing wine, out of this world chorizo. It was really fantastic!

Beautiful.

We ended up spending a lot of time walking around the neighborhoods, hanging out talking, and watching the world cup. Josh's friend even made us a Russian dinner one night(no photos, oops)! But amidst all of the relaxing, we did find a little time to get some sightseeing done as well.

Josh and me in front of the Puente de la Mujer (I just learned it got the name because many of the streets in the area are named for women).

La Casa Rosada - I guess there are quite a few stories of why it is pink in color...If anyone knows, please share!
Every week mothers of those who disappeared or were abducted under the military dictatorship gather here in the Plaza de Mayo to protest for information. I suggest you go learn about it (here is always a good place to start. then maybe try here or here).

On my last night in BsAs, Josh took me to see a band/drum corps/I don't know how to explain it? It wasn't La Bomba, but it was by the same producers I think, and I am pretty sure the idea was the same. Either way, it was really cool! My camera was out of batteries at this point, though, so no photos of that night :(

I really had an absolutely fantastic time. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, I felt safe, it was easy and nice to walk around, and I would really love to return (mostly for the alfajores, wine, and coffee!) sometime very soon!

That is a thumbs up for BsAs!

Festa Junina

If you were to have asked me when I moved here, "Sandy, what is the thing you think you are least likely to see in Brazil," I might have answered square dancing.

Yet today, I saw square dancing in Brazil.

Well, it is called quadrilha, but it pretty much looks like square dancing.

Today we went to a festival where the kids go to school to celebrate Festa Junina, which is an end-of-summer festival based on three saints. The festival was enormous with lots of big carnival type games for kids and SO many food tents.

I didn't get a chance to check out many of the food tents and choose the best because as soon as I saw the Arabic food tent I knew my fate was sealed. I grabbed this amazing falafel kebab.

There was also some pretty good meat on sticks. And everyone knows that all food tastes better on a stick! We also had really good coffee and some amazing cake, but those were eaten before I could get a photo!

We had lots to eat and passed the time with good company and conversation :) I still don't understand everything being said around me but it is getting better. I talked with Marlay, basically my Brazilian Grandma, today, and I can understand SO much more of what she says than I did just 2 weeks ago (which is great because she is a riot!) so that makes me pretty happy.

This is like maybe 1/5 of the total space and people that were present.

Mariana and her boyfriend Silvio showed up and we went over to check out Silvio's brother in the quadrilha. Which, as I mentioned above, is square dancing. Down to the checkered skirts and straw hats - square dancing!

I know, I know. You didn't believe me that it actually was square dancing in Brazil. Here is the photographic evidence. I'll throw a video of it on at the end here, too!

One of the saints celebrated is São João (St. John) and his day celebrates marriage. So, the quadrilha cetners around a bride and a groom. At the end, the boys and girls separate, and the bride throws her bouquet. The girl who catches it then has to go get a boy from the boy's side. And this is all done by 16/17 year olds who must be mortified about it! Luckily, it seemed the girl who caught the bouquet had a boyfriend who she picked. I know this because (a) when she caught it all the other boys roared laughing and jumped on him and (b) they kissed.

Throwing of the bouquet. I just really couldn't stop giggling.

Today was one of those days that makes me so happy that I moved to Brazil. I am learning a new language. I am having new and very different experiences. I am learning so much about my self and about other places and cultures. And I am getting to spend time with really amazing people. Most of my family was together today, and I when that happens I miss them even more. Today, though, while I missed them it was fine...because I got to be with family here.

Monica and Monique

Monique and Javier

Monique and Marley

Me with Mariana, her boyfriend Silvio, and their friend

video
Here is some brazil square dancing for your enjoyment. I don't know why, but I was just so tickled by this, haha!