Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blood Moon and Bus Issues

This morning there was a lunar eclipse, also known as the Blood Moon. Last night, we found out about it and I decided I had to see it. The only problem? It started around 3am, was completely red at 4:45am, and then I had a meeting at 10:30am. I ended up falling asleep and waking up to see the moon at 4am. The photos weren’t that great, and I wanted to see the entire moon red, but it was so cold. So, I fell asleep for 30 min, dreamt that a bright red moon got really close to the earth, and then disappeared before I could take a picture, and woke up fearing I missed the moon being completely red. I ran outside to see a distant red moon in the sky, and started snapping pictures. It really was worth braving the cold and going without very much sleep! However, the rest of the day wasn't as nice... 
The Blood Moon. 
The Blood Moon from Catherine's Camera
What the hell is up with the busses here? At first, the busses seemed great. You could catch a bus on campus to go downtown, or walk 10min to the main road to catch almost any bus for Rio Grande. On top of that, you can catch intercity and interstate busses. In the south, the busses are pretty safe at all times of the day and night. However, sometimes the busses are just WTF moments waiting to happen. They typically do not follow the schedule; either there are extra busses or not enough busses most of the time. They seem to do whatever they want, and are either packed like a can of sardines or there are a total of 5 people on the bus, including the driver and the cashier (yes there is a person that you pay that sits in middle of the bus). The other day was no exception.

I knew I was running late. I had a 10:30am meeting and was running to catch the 9:45am bus, which I think I missed. As I approached the end of the road, I saw a bus with its lights blinking sitting on the side of the road. Then, a nicer bus passed. Since there was no sign saying it was a selectivo, or where it was going, I didn’t realize it was the bus I wanted until it was too late. I continued to walk to the bus stop, figuring that the other bus was broken down. Why else would it be sitting on the side of the road? After 2 min at the bus stop, the bus started up and drove right past me. (I was at the bus stop 30 feet in front of it.) To top it off, the passenger that was on the bus waved to me as it went past me. Finally, around 10am, a selectivo came by.

The difference between a selectivo and another bus is mainly in the type of bus it is. The selectivo is more comfortable, like a charter bus. Therefore, it is also slightly more expensive (R$4.45 vs R$2.75). Since it is more expensive, less people ride it, making it quite a bit faster as well. So, as I got on a selectivo for the first time, I realized I had no idea what was going on. There is only the driver that works on the bus. So, you pay him. Additionally, unlike the other busses, there is not a cord to pull or a button to push. I had no idea how to get off the bus! Luckily someone else was getting off where I was, so I walked to the front of the bus to wait behind her. I guess you just tell the driver when you want to get off and wait at the front of the bus until the stop. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Today, a group of friends and I headed to Chuy, Uruguay. We had been hanging out the night before, watching movies, and talking. But, we were planning on leaving at 7am the next morning. So, by the time I went to sleep and woke up, I had slept for maybe 45min. Let’s just say I slept almost the entire way there. Along the way, we only stopped to grab some food once. I was surprised that we didn’t have to stop anywhere for customs. When we arrived, it began to make a little more sense. Chui/Chuy is actually two towns in one. Half of the town is Chui, Brasil; the other half is Chuy, Uruguay.
Standing on the border of Brasil and Uruguay.
I had been so excited to finally pull my Spanish back out, that I was confused when people started speaking to me in Portuguese. Also, I was thrown off by the fact that most of the stores were “Duty-Free” stores that used USD for the price, but mainly worked with reais and Uruguayan pesos. Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and definitely an experience. 
All of us eating lunch.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Work Hard, Play Hard

After a week of classes, working, and little time for a social life, we finally were going to have time to relax and hang out with friends. Friday was one of our friend’s birthday, so after some chimarrão and work, we headed over to our old living accommodations, the hotel, to say happy birthday and celebrate. It turned into amazing pizza (the second day in a row, because I made homemade pizza the night before), and Happy Birthday being sung in three languages, five different ways. After, we headed to the store to buy ingredients for sobremesas (desserts).

Catherine and I had been craving desserts all week, so I decided that chocolate fondue with fruit was in order. However, this is not exactly what came out. Instead, as some friends met us at our house, I made chocolate and coconut covered bananas to eat with our vihno tinto. Chocolate and wine, the best combination ever. In addition, we played some music and ended up dancing bachata, which I had been missing a lot.

Chocolate and coconut covered bananas.

The next day was spent relaxing before heading out to celebrate our friend’s birthday again. We went to watch several bands play forro, and had a blast! However, as Catherine and I were tired we decided to head home. About an hour later, Catherine received a phone call and life got crazy.

Catherine comes to my room and explains we had 7 guests on their way over. We frantically starting counting beds and figuring out where everyone was going to sleep. By the time everyone arrived, we were all set to go, only to find out half decided to head home and there were only 4 guests.

Sunday was relaxing once again, and I decided I needed to read. We felt bad that we were unable to see our friend that had just returned from break (a week into the semester), but due to timing, we hung out at home, and I stayed up till 7am Monday morning reading. Obviously, that hadn’t been the plan. So, Monday was a little more difficult to work than I had anticipated. But, I started and finished two books. So, maybe it was worth it…

By the time we made it to campus, it was lunch time. We ran into our friend and ended up following him to the mechanical engineering office. (Yes, most of our friends are studying mechanical engineering.) Surprisingly, the office was fun. We hung out and I ended up seeing Wesley’s project, a go-kart that he is building. Also, he made sure that I received one of the best gifts from his mom! After being made fun of for putting hot sauce on everything in Maceió (and apparently more in one sitting than anyone they know), she made me my own bottle of hot sauce! We have to wait to try it, but I cannot wait!

See all the peppers? So excited!

At the end of the day, I was exhausted, and passed out for a while before having the strength to go home. When we arrived home at 10:30ish, we decided it was a good time for bauru. Earlier in the week, we found an amazing bauru place at the beginning of our road. Let’s just say, if we don’t watch it, we are going to get fat quickly. 
Bauru Number Two!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Finally Home!

The day after I returned to Rio Grande, Catherine and I moved into an amazing house in Cassino (a suburb of Rio Grande). Although it is a little far from campus, we could not be happier with our living situation! The house is set up so that there is a small house connected to a large house by a patio. The owners, a Brazilian woman and her Taiwanese husband, live in the small house. Catherine and I have a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, with each bedroom having at least one queen bed and one twin bed. However, we are not planning on filling any of the twin beds. They are being left for guests, of which we have had plenty. The best part, besides the owners, is the restaurant kitchen off of the patio…

Our first guests were our ETA-brethren from Pelotas. The day after we moved in, on Saturday, they came to visit and stayed overnight. We also had a churrasco that was amazing! The owner’s son-in-law cooked the meat, and it was amazing.

The Rio Grande and Pelotas ETA's getting ready to eat stir-fry
that the owner of the house made for us. She is amazing!

Everyone eating at the churrasco. We even had veggies!
We even had an amazing bartender for the event!

I might have even tried chicken heart, with chopsticks, of course.
As Monday rolled around, Catherine and I finally started to realize we were going to have to start working. We began planning our classes, and started to get excited about what we could do with our classes. I might have even turned into a workaholic for a little while; anxious to work, antsy when I wasn’t, and working late into the night once or twice. Being far from our friends didn’t really help.

Since we moved, it has become a 30min at least trek to see our friends that live on campus. Our friends are great. So, sometimes it really sucks being that far away, or having to leave early to make sure we get home safely. The one night we were on campus late, we walked to the bus stop around 10pm and, while waiting for the next bus, decided it was easier and safer to stay the night at our friend’s house. However, when our other friend returns, this won’t work because there won’t be enough places to sleep for everyone. 

Yet, the good far outweighs the bad. The owner of the house is amazing. She is constantly making food and bringing it over, or asking us to join her and her family for meals. Most of the time she makes this salad she makes that is light on lettuce and includes apples and mangos. I have always hated fruit and veggies together in a salad, but this is amazing. Additionally, I finally have a hot shower, and feel at home. And, anything we could need is usually available in the restaurant kitchen for us to use!