Sunday, December 01, 2013

Just keep swimming!

Now that the holiday's are drawing near, it is a bit strange to be in another culture and environment where I'm not surrounded by the American way of Christmas.  I would love to be able to put into words exactly how things are different here...but I can't seem to figure out how to describe it.  It's just different.  Not bad...just different.  That seems to be my phrase while I'm still learning how to live here.  Well that phrase as well as "it's Brazil".

Since the last time I wrote, I've gone through a time where I really struggled with life here.  I was drowning in the language and the lack of independence.  This has been a very difficult lesson to learn, and one I feel that will continue throughout my time here.  I still have my moments and sometimes days, where I simply struggle but I am learning to adjust to the constant change that occurs.  Flexible is a word I'm learning to embrace....ever so slowly.  But I'm getting there and God is working on my stubbornness and my heart in all of this.

I did venture out to a coffee shop the other day ALL BY MYSELF and was able to order a sandwich and coffee...but is it cheating if the waiter spoke broken English to tell me they didn't have any French Press Coffee?  But still....I did it!  I'm learning to step out little by little.  And all the guys around our block are getting used to the "crazy American girls".  The water guy who delivers our water for us, the Yellow Shack guys who cook delicious Brazilian hamburgers and hot dogs, the people at the market, our guards, and even today...the guy selling whole barbecued grilled chickens on the side of the road (and he spoke English...having learned it while living in New York for 15 years).  And the grilled chicken....totally going to have to go back there each week!  DELICIOUS! 

So life is beginning to have rhythm and I'm learning to ebb and flow with it all.  I'm not always graceful with it, and I make blunders all the time, but I'm trying the best I can. 

As for all the other crazy things that occur and give cause for adjustments...well...here's a list that I've compiled so far:
  • no left turns when driving - I'm not kidding? It's a constant round-about sort of driving world.  If you had wanted to turn left once you get off of the "highway", you go down one round about, get on another and then I think you are pointed in the direction you had wanted to go. 
  • toilet paper goes in a garbage can...not the toilet - gross but true
  • hot water:  for the showers, the water is heated by some sort of mechanism on the shower hose, which is good for a house with three girls...we don't share a water heater so we always have hot water for our showers.  But there isn't any hot water for dishes.....unless you want to heat some up on the stove and who's got time for that?!
  • Portaeao:  guard downstairs who lets us into our building
  • We don't have squirrels, but we do have monkeys!
  • When at a restaurant you have to ask for the check when you are done, otherwise they don't bring it to you.
  • Part of the highway is closed on the weekends so that pedestrians can walk/run/bike on it
  • People wear sweaters when it's 80 outside
  • There aren't any drive thru coffee places....good and a bad thing
  • Drive thru at McDonald's is not automated.  You pull up to a window and order from a person, then pull to the next window to pick up food.
  • You go to the same stores and places to build relationships, not because of cost
  • People are all about relationships here...building friendships and connections with people are top priority....
  • so is hugging and kissing on the cheek
So when I come back to the states I might have some trouble with the whole left-turn thing, and my precious "bubble" may exist no more.  Let's just hope I don't go up and try to kiss some American on the cheek...that could get awkward!

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