Living it Up is Compulsory.

By 21:26 , , , , , ,

So word on the street is last week’s events (okay, 2 weeks ago?!) in Denver with Barack’s official nomination and Democratic Convention was pretty historical for the US, huh? And that John McCain's events were disasterous? I feel very out of the loop with everything in the US, since I’ve been working and distracting myself with less meaningful things the rest of the time, and only recently have I discovered the “Metro” newspaper in São Paulo (yes, it’s like a Portuguese version of the one in DC) which I read on the bus from the Morumbi stadium – where the ladies who distribute them are super sweet and give them to us through the bus windows – to when I get to work. Which without traffic would take a total of 5 minutes, but since this is SP and since it IS rush hour… I have at least half an hour to finish reading the paper and have been a little more caught up, so don’t worry, just because I’ve gone techy, doesn’t mean I’ve neglected the rest of the world and have still maintained my IR dorkiness.

Granted the US presidential elections this year are kind of a big deal, so much that people here constantly ask me who I would vote for (because having lived in the US makes you an expert on US politics). I say Barack, obvi., and people sometimes even ask me why; to which I usually reply, “Because McCain is nuts?” Partly because I’m not motivated enough to go on and on about why Barack would have more heart to fight for change and improving the mess the past government’s created, but also partly because I really haven’t been following much and don’t want to admit it. But you’re tired of hearing about US politics, I’m sure.

On a lighter note, MAYORAL ELECTIONS in Brazil this year! Woohoo! This is also pretty historic for me at least because it’s my first time voting EVER. If you are wondering why I haven’t voted before, ask anyone in Bob Trudeau’s Latin American Politics and/or Model OAS class. I was bitter for about a year…

Anyway, elections are in October and I still don’t know who to vote for. Elections here are not too different from there. The elections are for all city officials pretty much, but the real race is the mayoral race. There are three top candidates, the incumbent, one former mayor, and one former governor. We’ll see how it goes, for now I need to get my research on.

The one thing that is a little upsetting is how apathetic everyone here is to voting… I was having dinner with a few friends last week (splitting a deliciously huge sirloin dish, and drinking a draft in interesting and intelligent company, so quite a nice atmosphere going), and we started talking about the upcoming elections, and how one of the guys who was there was going to have to work at his district’s center. And I asked why, and he said that it was because he didn’t vote for some time and they somehow have a list of who doesn’t vote, and so these people are selected in a sort of lottery and called to be “mesários” in which they have to serve for 5 votings dates. We were all making a big joke out of it, and one of the girls who was with us also started to say how she hasn’t voted in years and won’t vote because of this possibility of being called to be a mesária. There was much more to the conversation and we were overall making a big joke out of a lot of it, but I stayed out of the conversation for the most part (except for asking questions) because, a) I still know nothing about voting here except that I’m registered and I have to go to a certain place to vote come October, and b) I kept contemplating on the whole controversial compulsory voting thing…

One thing that always interested me when I studied Latin America in college was elections and how they differed from country to country and whether or not this affected the progress of the country. There are some countries that allow you to vote if you feel like it or not, and others where it’s compulsory, which means you’re required to vote. That’s the system we have in Brazil. Yet if you don’t vote, which for example I didn’t in the last presidential elections… or any elections for that matter, you have to pay a fine if you want to get any documentation done or anything. Which is relatively very inexpensive. I paid R$7. Is losing R$7 motivation enough to want to vote every election? No, of course not. We vote because we want change, because we want things in our city or neighborhood, or kids’ school to get better, or decrease violence and poverty, right? Right. But one thing my aunt’s been saying since I got here and especially since elections have started to get crazy is that she’s uninspired to vote because she knows things aren’t going to change or get any better. There are these great commercials on TV trying to motivate people to vote this year and they basically say “Four years is a long time, don’t miss out on your chance to vote.” One of them is of a guy who is setting up a telescope to watch a shooting star, and he turns his back for one minute to do something and when he looks back up at the sky, the star’s gone. There’s another which is my favorite, of a woman who walks in circles everywhere she goes, and she’s been doing it for the past for years – and is sick and tired of it. These commercials are funny, but I think a lot of them have very subliminal yet quite clear meanings to them and show the frustration of the people and of how nothing really is getting done significantly.

Brazil is a wonderful country with wonderful people. But if there’s one thing that still reigns it’s the lack of organization in the government and the view towards politicians. From my naïve perspective though, I feel it’s somewhat a two way street. People aren’t holding politicians accountable and politicians aren’t getting their act together because they know they can get away with it. It’s really all a vicious cycle, and I don’t think anyone’s found the solution to it yet. But even if someone were to find a solution – with all of the barriers and the history of corruption, would he or she would face to get his or her message across? Would this person have the motivation to? It's something to think about, I think, and I'd love to hear opinions on this…

Probably my deepest post yet, huh? :-)

On a MUCH lighter note… I’ve made a journalistic debut in the past couple of weeks! My friend from PC, Nick has started an online magazine called “Funny Lovin,’” and asked me to help him with it and so I offered to also possibly write a column for him… and I did! Check it out on: – the article’s called, “Tick f’In Tock: The Race Against Becoming the Friend," [don't ask me to get into details because it's not 100% non-fiction! But if you know me well enough, you'll know which parts are, haha] There are also some other really funny articles on the site that are totally worth checking out.

Also, please keep checking out my recommended links! Nancy's and Beth's adventures all over the world blogs are there and there are a few artistic ones worth looking at too such as Dave's photo & video blog and if you want to brush up on your Portuguese - one of the guys I work with is a musician and has a good blog too - PH's blog. I’ve been adding a couple more. Some of my friends here in Brazil are also starting to read THIS blog (because everyone here speaks English!), which is exciting for all of us, especially when they see they’re in it. I guess I’ll have to stop talking shit about people here from now on… ;-)

To end this post, I went to the beach this past weekend with an AMAZING group of people, so here are some pictures to entertain you with and there’s a mini story to tell what happened throughout the weekend: Adventures in Paúba.

beijjoosss e boa semana à todos.

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