Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back to the Future

I have now been back in Belo Horizonte, Brazil for full week.

I left the Thursday after Beth and Cesar's wedding weekend, that was also coincidentally Labor Day weekend, which was also not coincidentally on Labor Day weekend. From a personal perspective, I really enjoyed the opportunity to see so many friends and family in such a short time before I left, besides the fact that oh, yeah, I guess it was fun to see Beth and Cesar get hitched on a blue-sky sunny day in an otherwise lazy summer in St. Joseph, Michigan.

And the wedding was killer.

In BH, things have started to roll for me. I'm living with good friends right in the center of the downtown in a great location with tons of bakeries, lunch spots, butchers, and a shopping mall within 2 blocks, and the giant city park and nightlife in Savassi just a few more blocks away. I got a job like 8 seconds after I got here for a place called Travel and Studies(yeah great name, right?) where I teach English, and will also arrange for short immersion programs for students to do intensive English programs in the States. I'll also be setting up airfare and transfers, contracts with schools in the US and visas for the students. Even the teaching part, which I was a bit hesitant about, has actually turned out to be very interesting. Most of my students are my age or older, and for some of them I give lessons at their work, which has put me giving lessons to managers at the headquarters of Bradesco bank in Belo Horizonte, and at a Peugeot-Volvo dealership.

As for my own grasp on the language, it's going well so far. My two week trip in the end of July was a great warm up, and my feeble attempts at slang and cursing are much more fluid now. I speak Portuguese the wide majority of the day, even in my classes as many of my students speak and understand at a very basic level. I am co-habitating with 3 Americans, however, which gives me a release to speak jive-ass English a couple times a day, an opportunity I would have disliked in my first 6 months here but that I am quite pleased with now.

I really do love this place, though it's hard to pin an explanation to just a couple reasons. Last night I had a conversation with a friend of a friend about what people from the outside think of when they think of Brazil. We both acknowledged that people usually conjure some mixture of the women of Carnaval, the wilderness of the Amazon, beautiful beaches and samba, and the violence of Rio de Janeiro. Where I live, there are no beaches. In fact, Belo Horizonte refers to the "Beautiful Horizon" landscape that the very mountainous landscape provides. True, the women are beautiful, in fact, incredibly beautiful, but they do not wear head dresses that they stole from peacocks. I live on the 8th floor of an 18 story building where I have broadband internet, and most Brazilians, the wide majority, have never even seen the rainforest. Brazilians do love to dance, though samba really only lives in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, as the local dance clubs here are either discotheques or for a Tango-like pair dance called Forró. For a country with about 90% of the landmass of the US, trying to describe Brazil with so few images is like trying to summarize the US with rodeos and rap music and Hollywood and religious freaks. I enjoy the parts of my day here where my expectations are made laughable.

Anyways, I hope to make some time to record whatever it is I am doing here as the time rolls on so that you may laugh with me. Even though frankly, this post was about as funny as a box of kittens trapped in an apartment fire.

Until next time!


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