29 May 2010

A Brief Episode

Sometimes I really lament that I'm not completely fluent in Portuguese.  Like today, for example.

I'm planning a party where my friends from all over the world are making food from their countries and bringing it to my place.  It should be fun.  I'm going to *try* to make apple pie and pancakes. 

So I'm at the grocery store, and I get in the shortest checkout lane, which is what I would have done in the States and have been doing here since February.  After a few minutes, a woman comes up, glances at me, and cuts me.  Puzzled, I casually step back to my place in line-- Maybe she just wanted to get out of traffic?  We do this dance a few times, when suddenly she starts yelling at me in Portuguese and pointing at a sign above the register.  She's speaking entirely too fast for me to understand, so I calmly say, "I'm sorry, I don't speak Portuguese very well, I can't understand you."  This just inflames her more and makes her point even more earnestly at the sign, the sign that is composed entirely of words I don't know.  At this point, all I know is she's angry and she feels the sign in some way justifies that she be in front of me.  Still clueless as to why, I just gave up and said, "Ok, I don't understand anything you're saying.  Just tell me where to go." 

What I really wish I could have said is, "I don't understand you or the sign.  I just want to buy my apples, go home, and make a pie.  I'm tired.  I'm tired of people like you assuming I'm trying get one over you, especially in petty situations like the grocery store line.  I'm tired of trying to be a 'good American' by constantly trying to use your language and accepting your norms.  My fourth language is Portuguese, so forgive me if I don't speak it perfectly yet after just three months of not even studying it, just trying to pick it up in my classes and in the streets.  How many languages do you speak?  Have you ever made a mistake in a foreign country and been publicly yelled at?  Do you know how it feels?  Would it have killed you to show some compassion on a lonely, lost American girl?  No, no it wouldn't.  Shame on you and how you're treating me.  It's not acceptable.  Even here."

Instead I silently moved to a different line.  



15 May 2010

Iguaçu Falls

First, I want to set the scene for where I'm writing from, because it's perfect.

I'm on my building's roof, the sun is just setting, and the sky is all kinds of purples, peaches, and most recently magentas.   I can hear the soft sounds of traffic coming up from stories below, and my iTunes is softly playing the Dave Matthews Live in Central Park CD. My laundry sways gently in the breeze where I've hung it, and the soft aroma of my laundry detergent floats in the air.  I'm sitting at a picnic table, and I've been enjoying this space since early afternoon.  I'm up hear with only the plants and the other rooftops for company.  Actually, here're a few pictures to give you an even better idea.

The little nook with plants.

Looking down the street I live on.


Same view, several minutes later.


Ok, now that that's taken care of, I'll begin my post.  Last weekend I met a friend at Iguaçu Falls.  We stayed on the Argentine side of the falls, and it was heavenly.  The town we stayed in was sleepy and relaxing.  We spent every night strolling the streets, looking in shops, and chilling in cafes.  We spent the first day getting to know the town and just detoxing from
city life (she's been living in Buenos Aires). 

Things you would never see on an American flight:  The cabin door is wide open.  And was the entire flight.

My first official view of the falls.  The lines are from my plane's propellers.  Yeah:  It had propellers.  

Unpacking in the hostel.  


Coffee and cheesecake!  


The following day was spent in the national park.  We saw wildlife, the waterfalls, and the rain forest.  We even took a boat ride "under" the waterfalls to get to know them more intimately.  And yes, we were soaked


No fear of people.  None.



And big.


And watery.

With rainbows.

And colors.


Did I mention it was pretty?


Like, really pretty.


That's the boat we went on.

Us after the boat.  :-)

Giant spider we saw while hiking.


Toucan we saw while hiking.  Actually, we heard it first.  Then saw it.


The following day we decided to try to find some Jesuit ruins a taxi driver had told my friend about, but the bus ticket lady misunderstood and sent us to the Mines of Wanda instead.  While we were quite confused when we got off the bus, the mix-up turned out to be fantastic-- we couldn't have planned a better day.  Besides, when we got back to the hostel, we were informed the ruins would have been a five-hour bus ride away.  Definitely the best mistake ever.


What we saw when we got off the bus.


Confused-- Where are the ruins?


Oh!  A creek!


Ooooh. . . MINES!  And here's the entrance.  Fancy.


And getting fancier.


Amethysts as big as your head?  What?


Our guide told us to put our hands on the stone for three minutes for three wishes.  


That's right, they have so many precious stones laying around, they literally walk on them.


Our last day took us to the "Casa de los Aves," which is a rehabilitation center for injured wildlife, especially birds.  Once again Mother Nature wowed us with wild monkeys, parrots, toucans, anteaters, and many more creatures. 

Parrots are bigger than I thought. . .



Not sure, but he looked angry.

I love how they look like people.  Or maybe people look like them?  Hmmmm.

Dunno what these are called, but I want one.

Red turtles.  So cool.

They put birds they're about to release outside like this so they can get used to not being in a cage.  It's also nice for them since they don't have to be in a cage.

So neat.

Looks angry, but I bet he's a softy inside.

Not sure if these are rehab fish, decoration or food for. . .

this guy.

Strange *cough* I mean, Argentine small deer-like creature.

See?  I WAS there.  With my backpack and all.


The spider bite I had at the end of the day.


After our tour, I high-tailed it back to Brazil just in time for my flight home.  On a plane that looked like this.


See?  I told you it had propellers!

14 May 2010

Everyone Graduated. And here am I.

Everyone Graduated.  And here am I.

That basically sums up how I've been feeling.  Nearly all of my friends are on to the next thing, whatever it happens to be.  For some of them, it's marriage and a job.  For some it's graduate school.  But most don't have a clue what's next.  I'm not there yet since I have another year, but watching my friends now is giving me a terrifying glimpse into what's ahead.  I don't want to get married or have a job.  I could be ok with graduate school, but I was hoping to get some "life experience" first, whatever that means.  I'm finally entering that part of my life that's completely unknown.  Until now, everything has more or less been planned for me.  School, more school, and university-- these are all things my parents chose for me to do.  I had little choice in the matter. 

And now here I am, on the brink of having a choice.  And I don't have a clue what's next.  Watching my friends graduate and move on both encourages me and saddens me.  I'm encouraged because I get an extra year to get my ducks in a row.  But I'm saddened because I know I won't see these people anymore.  They'll have families and responsibilities soon.  Not to mention it's not likely I'll magically figure my stuff out with my extra year.  I feel like I'll always be wandering at least a little.   So I guess overall I'm sad now that my friends have graduated.  I'm growing up; but being a kid is so much easier.  Can you blame me for wanting to resist?