First, I apologize if people's computers are having difficulty translating some of the weird keys I'm having to use on these Brazilian keyboards. They don't really believe in using the apostrophe here, so I have to make do with accent marks, which may be interpreted kind of strangely by some computers.
I thought I would take a moment to reply to some generic questions I've received from some individuals (and I apologize to those of you who have taken the time to email me personally and to whom I have not yet responded… I tend to have limited online time, but really appreciate all the emails I've been getting — they make me smile!) And so… on to the questions:
1. Have you been able to find any Dr. Pepper there in Brazil? Much to my great distress, I am living a dr. pepper free life here in the land of beautiful bronzed bodies. Luckily for me, however, I am able to consume the occasional coke. It's just not the same, of course, but in times of extreme paucity, one must make do with what one has.
2. Have you been able to consume your regular gallon of salsa and 5 bags of chips per week there? Much to my even greater distress, the Brazilians do not believe in either chips or salsa. Instead, they believe in the almighty Cat Chup (that would be ketchup for the less discerning eye), which they pour on everything from pasta to popcorn. I have yet to see a single human being eat cat chup on their french fries.
3. How easy is it to remain vegetarian? Now that I have made it past my original misconception that the word “carne” (literally, meat) has the same connotation here as it does back home, I have a lot less difficulty maintaining my vegetarian status. Originally, I would ask for dishes without carne and would be invariably directed to a variety of dishes that upon closer reflection included pork or chicken. People here just don't understand what it means to be vegetarian. I am constantly asked so you don't eat carne, right (which I originally replied yes to, but later discovered ONLY covers beef). I have since learned to specify that I don't eat beef, pork, chicken OR fish, which usually garners me some very strange looks and invariably results in me eating a variety of salads and side items. But hey, at least it's not some pork pie masquerading as a vegetarian dish.
4. What's the weather like in Brazil (I think this person was having trouble coming up with something exciting to ask, but hey…) Well, it's winter here, which for Brazilians means that they walk around in jeans and short-sleeved shirts and come nightfall, shiver and complain that it's too cold. Oh, and they limit their ocean swimming to the hottest hours of the day (mid-afternoon). For me, it means that I walk around in shorts and tank tops all the time and stare in open-mouthed amazement when my 10-year old host brother (who lives in the Northeast, where it's “really hot”) comes downstairs every morning dressed in shorts and a giant winter coat (I didn't even know they HAD winter coats here!) Imagine… an entire country colder than ME!!
5. Is that your program at http://www.ku.edu/~brasilis/summer.html? Yes, this is the website where you can read my itinerary and class schedule for the summer (no, there are no pictures posted, although I have it on good authority that the director of the program is planning to upload some photos to the website one of these days). And yes, we are actually taking capoeira classes three times a week. What is capoeira, you might ask? Well, basically, it's the Brazilian form of martial arts that often looks like dancing, it's so seamless (when you do it right of course, which for me, is never). In my case, it's more like 4 hours of torture every week, where I'm forced to make my body do things that it was never meant to do (under no circumstances should my legs EVER go over my head in that fashion!)
6. Are you ever coming home? Despite persistent rumours that I am having so much fun here fighting off the mosquitoes, rocketing down the rapids of Brazil, fishing giant bumblebees out of my yogurt, paying for slow internet connections, running for my life every time I cross the street due to crazy Brazilian drivers who do not believe in stopping (or even slowing down) for any reason whatsoever, watching all my favorite movies dubbed in Portuguese which means I don't get shivers down my back every time Sean Connery speaks, and spending endless hours three days a week in extremely BORING Portuguese classes where I am supposed to speak like Brazilians (not in that crazy Portuguese accent)… YES, I am coming home. August 10th.