Wednesday, March 26, 2014


 Meu Deus! Everyone here wakes up so early! I guess the sun comes up at 5am or something, so everyone gets up at that time. One day I went to sleep at like 1am and didn’t wake up until 7:30/8am. Apparently, this is super late, so I must have been drinking the night before and recovering (this was not true, by the way)…

So, my inability to wake up early means that seeing the piscina natural was impossible. The first morning I wasn’t up early enough, and the second, we didn’t arrive until 9am. (The traffic here is so bad that we left at 7:30 and arrived over an hour later, but returning it took like 30 minutes.) By this time it was already high tide, and we would have had to wait until 5 or 6 at night. Instead, we hung out pass all the algae and went to lunch by some island somewhere.

However, while at the beach we saw a police helicopter flying in circles overhead. After traveling thousands of miles to visit my friend and the two ETAs placed here in Maceió, I found out Maceió is the fifth most dangerous city in the world. Hence, the helicopter.

Police Helicopter that kept circling the beach
Additionally, we headed to UFAL to attend the English conversation course taught by the ETA’s here. We ended up discussing the US, majors and minors, and how different Rio Grande is from Maceió. Everybody was shocked that it was so cold in the south already. Whereas here you have to wait for the showers to cool down, in Rio Grande, you have to wait for them to warm up.

Lastly, when we arrived back from our excursions yesterday, Wesley’s mom had painted me a shirt. She paints towels, etc. in her free time and wanted to make me one. She is so sweet!

Wesley's Mom painted this for me!

So, to thank her and everyone else, I made dinner and dessert: chicken pasta and chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches with toffee ice cream.

Ice Cream Sandwiches...which were VERY difficult to make in Maceió.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Language Barrier

How do you communicate when facing a language barrier?

After a five hour bus ride and half of a day flying, I finally arrived in Maceió to visit my friend, Wesley. One of the first things he told me was that his mom wasn’t sure how we were going to communicate.

When we walked in the door, a lot of laughing ensued. Every sentence was followed by gestures of some sort. And, every time I was confused I looked at Wesley and everyone started laughing. Later, I met some other family members. Let’s just say meeting his family included a lot of head nodding, laughing, translating, gestures, and repetition.

Nevertheless, his brother and I found a way to communicate. Starting with shushing him, because he was being very loud (as in not speaking a word), we began a game trying to make the other person laugh or say something. We made faces at each other and then started having conversations in gestures. There were so many times we both wanted to burst out laughing. The ending score was 4-3. I won. I now know he loves everything on his hot dog. Additionally, his parent’s think we are crazy.

The first two days here were eventful. We were in the car a lot, and, apparently, I fall asleep every time. Now there is a running joke about me sleeping in the car. In addition, we ate tapioca (by the way, tapioca is not a pudding here. It is like a sandwich), watched the clear crabs run across the downtown area beach, and continued to meet more and more of his family (his grandma is hilarious). And, the next day everyone, including some of his extended family, headed to a house with a pool near some beach somewhere. We went to the beach, Wesley, his brother and I had freestyle swimming contests, and hung out in the ocean and pool all day.

Barra de São Miguel

As we were packing up for the day, Wesley’s mom asked if I thought the whole family was crazy. Honestly, everyone here is funny and super sweet. They might be a little crazy, but who isn’t? Haha.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


“Hi! What is your name?” A boy, about 9 years old, asked as Luan and I waited at the bus stop. Luan and I were on our way to Cassino to look at some potential houses, and we were discussing the prospects in English. After telling the boy our name, and finding out his was Wesley (I tried really hard not to laugh at this because I was thinking of our friend Wesley), the boy asked me for an autograph (which I though Luan was joking about), and if Luan would take him to the US.

“But, you are her husband,” the boy responded, as he gave Luan a strange look.

“No, we are just friends,” Luan laughed.

“But, you are in love with her. I can see it in your eyes,” was the response we received. Luan was laughing so hard that he couldn’t translate the comment. At the same moment the mother turned and yelled something about respecting others at her son. Of course, the next question we got involved me knowing origami. What a strange question and funny kid!

After getting on the bus and being told to follow him, Luan and I took our time paying the fare and sitting down. Still laughing, Luan explained some of the comments the boy had made, saying, “See, you are kind of like a famous person here.” And, apparently, I needed to give the boy an autograph. I ended up writing always follow your dreams on a piece of paper and handed it to him as we got off the bus.

Seeing the houses was another story. The first place we saw was amazing, minus the location. It used to be a variety of business before being turned into a house. And, we would have access to everything, including the restaurant kitchen and all the appliances inside (you should have seen my face when I saw it), a fire/stone pizza oven, a churrasqueira, a bar area, and then everything in our respective house. The lady was amazing and told us, even if we didn’t rent the house, we should go over there and have a churrasco. Her husband spoke Chinese, and she is teaching him Portuguese (she doesn’t speak Chinese by the way). It was an amazing experience! The second house was horrible, and I never want to go back. However, today ended with a plethora of stories that I am sure I will never forget!

On a serious note:

Today the ETA's were sent an email about remembering to be safe. In the last month, several crimes involving ETA's in Brasil had occurred. Hearing about this made me realize that anything is possible, and realize how grateful I am to have the friends I have here, and the life that has been given to me in this southern city. My friends always walk Catherine and me home at night, take bus rides with us early morning or late at night, help us find housing, etc., just to make sure we are safe. We are picked up all over town and sometimes I take for granted the kindness and generosity we are shown. Moreover, I hope that all the ETA's that have been victims of crimes in Brasil are doing better!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I have determined that 48 hours without sleep makes for an interesting Rylee…just ask my sisters.

Saturday, I woke up like any other day with nothing to do: at 1pm. Catherine and I had decided to visit the ETA’s in Pelotas the next day, so we headed downtown to buy tickets. Along the way, we discovered o mercado público was completely closed at this time, there is nowhere to eat lunch downtown, bauru is a dinner food, and the saying here translates to, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a cow”. (Because, who eats horses?)

Although Catherine and I are living comfortably on campus now, we are looking at moving into a house/apartment off campus. (Sharing a kitchen with everyone in the building is hard.) So, next we headed towards Cassino to visit a potential home. Google Maps failed us. We walked at least a mile past the house, before turning around, because that is where it was located on Google Maps. Catherine and I had been hoping that this house would work out and we wouldn’t need to do anything else. Let’s just say, the house did not live up to anyone’s expectations. The structure was small, with a giant yard, and a single room with nothing else out back. But watching Catherine and the lady speak French to communicate was fun. It really is interesting how much Catherine and I use our Romance languages to communicate when our Portuguese is lacking here.

Basking in our disappointment we headed back to campus because a group of friends were making dinner and hanging out. Catherine and I actually made it through a game of charades, Imagem e Açao, in Portuguese. The games lasted until well past 4am. By the time we got home and ready for bed, it was 6:30am.

Catherine passed out in Pelotas.
At 8am the next morning, my door flies open and Catherine yells, “we are not going to make the bus!” The craziness that ensued was well worth the lack of sleep. Within 15 minutes I was ready to go. I go into Catherine’s room as she is stepping out of the shower. Her only response, “I still have to pack.” So, we decided to part ways and I headed to the bus stop. For whatever reason, I thought the busses would take a while and I ended up walking all the way to the bus stop, which is over a 4km walk. I somehow made it with 10 minutes to spare. By the time I made it to Pelotas, I had slept for a total of 2.5 hours since the day before.

I hopped in a taxi and the taxi drivers discussed the address for a few minutes, before the driver followed. But, I got to the ETA’s house safe and sound. Shane’s greeting was great: “I saw you sent a message at 4am. How much did you sleep?” Then I was offered breakfast. Shane and Lisa were both so great about everything! Finally, at 11 something, Catherine arrived. Life ensued, and we decided to get our hands on some of the famous Doces de Pelotas.

The ETAs and their doces.

Later, we met the third ETA and everyone headed to the mall for some much needed food. While at the mall, I found something I just had to have before heading home.

My new dessert book. 100% in Portuguese!

In the taxi on the way to the rodoviária, the taxi driver and I had a great conversation, completely in Portuguese. The fact that a month ago, when I arrived in Brasil, I knew less than five phrases, means I am actually learning the language! The strangest part was when I was asked if I was from São Paulo. As I was trying to say no, I completely butchered the sentence. I guess proving I wasn’t Brasilian. 

By the time I made it home, I was wide awake. Somehow, I didn’t go to bed till after 2am. I might have been pushing delirious by that point…

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Catherine might be a lean, mean, skeeter-killin’ machine, but I am a skeeter magnet. In the last week, I have received over 18 bug bites from the knee down on BOTH legs. That is more than 36 bites on just my calves and feet! The itching, with cortisone cream, became unbearable in the last 24 hours. So, today I went to the pharmacy and the pharmacist handed me magic in a bottle! The cream I have now stops the itching for quite some time and makes life bearable!

In other news, Catherine and I are almost brasilieras. Today we accomplished a list of necessary requirements for life to function normally here. First, after our excitement of eating beans and rice wore off (we hadn’t had beans in a while, and we honestly missed them), we headed into town to register with the federal police. Although waiting for our turn took a while, the process was relatively quick. We were fingerprinted with the newest technology yet: ink was rolled onto a metal plate, which was used to ink our fingertips for the documents. Now, in about 4 months, we can go get our Brazilian IDs (we are only here for 9 months, and 1 has already passed). Next we headed to a different yellow federal building to get CPFs. A CPF is like the Brazilian social security number, driver’s license number, and tax ID all rolled into one number. Pretty much, if you want to buy anything in Brasil, you need a CPF. So, once this was taken care of, Catherine and I headed to the main shopping street to buy an individual internet modem that plugs into our laptops. For the first time in Brasil, Catherine and I have unlimited access to all the internet we want, wherever we want, including Facebook. However, this means we actually have to work now that we can access whatever we need. 

Friday, March 7, 2014


My week in Floripa is coming to a close. This means I must leave the beach, say goodbye to my husband, Jake, and go back to work. Life here has been interesting, though.

Carnaval was not what I was expecting. The big parades of samba schools and floats existed, but the stands weren’t full. Instead, everyone seemed to be a few streets over at the concert, drag show, or whatever else might be happening on the stage. Yet, one night, on the way downtown from the beach, there were so many people on the bus we were like a can of sardines. At some point, our group decided to sing random songs. By the end, we were singing “Barbie Girl” and a large group of Brasilians were singing with us. It is crazy how international music can be.
Tuesday night of Carnaval waiting for the parades!
Although our hotel was close to the center, I began to feel isolated and, instead, we headed towards the beach for the last few days. We ended up staying in Barra do Lagoa, which was a 5 minute walk from the beach. We traveled to Praia Joaquina and Praia Mole over the last few days, as well.

Jake in Floripa
One of the best experiences out of this trip was learning to surf. Jake and I had a great instructor who was very patient and helpful! We learned close to shore so that we could catch a handful of waves to practice repetition. A few times I did so well I had to fall off of my board so I didn’t hit the shore.

After our Surfing lesson with Floripa Surf Club at Praia Mole.
We had an amazing instructor and great waves! 
Paddle boarding in Lagoa, Floripa.
People kept falling, but Jake and I stayed on our boards the whole time!
However, one of the strangest experiences was ordering white rice at a Japanese restaurant. For some reason, I was craving sticky white rice. It took at least 10 minutes for the staff to understand that I only wanted white rice. The first guy might have laughed at me when I ordered it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

This is one for the Books!

I don´t know what life would be like here if we didn´t have the friends that we have. Imagine going to bed at 2:30 in the morning and having to be up at 5:15 that same day. It isn’t a pretty sight. Well, that is exactly what happened. My husband is arriving in Brazil today, so we had to take the 5 hour long bus to meet him at the airport. Since he arrives at 2:45pm, the only available bus this morning was at 7am.

Last night at our friends’ house, we realized there really weren’t a lot of options in terms of getting to the bus terminal downtown. Luan had his computer up and was looking up the schedule as 10 other people were “discussing” what busses went in the morning and what schedule it was on because it is a holiday weekend, etc. Finally, it was determined that we had to catch the bus that left Cassino at 6am and went downtown. (We live on campus in the back. You have to walk to the front of campus to get student housing, which is in front of campus. Then you have to walk to the end of the road to get to the bus stop that takes you to nearby areas/cities. To walk this length takes about 25-30 minutes.) And, Wesley volunteered to take us to the bus terminal downtown. Why? I have no clue.

So at 5:45am, Catherine and I headed out to the bus stop. Once we were near the front of campus, Wesley and Luan met us to take us downtown. We were informed that they had gone to bed at 4am. How they were up two hours later is beyond me! But, they were so great about everything, even carrying our bags! I don’t think paying their bus fare downtown shows enough gratitude. 

Wesley, Me, Catherine and Luan
We are waiting for the 7am bus downtown