Seja Bem Vinda!

By 17:57 , , , , , ,

i've made it safely to brazil and am enjoying some quality time with my familia, most of whom i haven't even met and/or haven't seen in almost 20 years!

first of all, it was a long and tortuous trip... here are the cliffnotes: my plane was delayed in new york, i sat next to a very nice lady with a very adorable one year old on her lap who needless to say didn't allow me to sleep much, i missed my connecting flight in sao paulo, had to spend the night there at a hotel, pretend i was this old lady's grandaughter and these other ladies' niece so we could cut lines [because that's how we roll here], waited another hour on the plane in sao paulo to fly to belo horizonte, and finally after lugging my massive luggage out of baggage checks, etc., was in the arms of my lovely godmother/aunt and her husband... and then drove another 5 hours to Governador Valadares, where 99.9% of my immediate family lives [and on the way, experienced the most beautiful landscape i've ever seen in my life - all rolling hills, trees, springs... and cows.] - everyone was waiting for me at one of my aunt's houses and while overwhelming, it was wonderful to finally be "home", plus, the food was great. total travel time: 35 hours. time it was supposed to take: 23 hours. welcome to brazil :-)
to be honest, from what everyone tells me, i was expecting uber-poverty, hideous homes, emaciated people [even though some of the girls here make me look fat - but it has nothing to do with hunger], HEAT, lots of hustling, and violence off the bat. but i'm glad i was expecting the worst because so far, i'm pleasantly surprised. the town we live in has lots of dollars coming in from family abroad, so it's pretty developed - but it's still pretty clear i'm in a developing country - but although poor, everyone seems pretty happy - which makes me feel a little happier too. everything here is super expensive too!!! i rode the bus with my cousin - and a one way trip is R$1,70; i went grocery shopping with my grandmother who paid R$180,00; and everyyyything here is financed - even clothes... oh yeah, and minimum wage is R$380,00 a MONTH! it's all very unfortunate and has kind of made me realize one of the reasons i've come here... to really try to shell out and understand the "porque" of this situation in developing countries like Brazil which have all the resources to be more developed. what i can't figure out is the frickin' heat... apparently Valadares is hotter than anywhere around here, and we have to take at least 2 showers a day [but quick showers, b/c water's expensive], and change clothes at least 4 times... or walk around in shorts and a bra when you're home - it's no wonder everyone thought i was half black when i was a baby!!! i'll be sure to send pictures once i get my color back :-)
anyway, i've just been trying to get around and see fam - i'm at my aunt's house right now, who's one of the only one's in the family who has internet at her house [wireless too! she's my "rich" aunt] - so i won't be online much, but i will send you all my cell phone number once i get one! i'm supposed to go to a couple of community service sites and rock climbing with my cousin who's getting a doctorate in social work here, and party it up Valadares style this weekend, i have an interview in Belo Horizonte next Monday, and then will probably be coming back here for a few days and then probably Sao Paulo - so i should have quite a bit to tell in my next e-mail. I'll try to be in touch as often as possible, but right now i'm a bit nomadic, so please forgive me for being neglectful in my first few weeks in the motherland. As you know, I have tons to catch up on.

i'll try to add a video/song to every post - this one is for the song piriguete, which is blowing up here - it sounds like reggaeton mixed with brazilian funk - and it talks about what a pirguete is... it's basically making fun of girls who are attention 'whores.' i put this up because i thought it was cute that my 11 and 12 year old cousins taught me what a piriguete was this week! : Piriguete - MC PAPO

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