Português of the Week

comemoração - celebration

Friday, February 25, 2011

360 Botafogo Beach

OK, so the view's really only 180°.

The address is 360.

360 Praia de Botafogo #1204.
(don't send me anything)

I found a place for the next month. And because Carnaval has basically already started, I had to settle for sharing a room with a lady name Monica.

She is a self-help author and a Dynamic Holotherapist (I still have yet to figure out what that is). I think it has something to do with stalking people online, because she spends most her day on Facebook--or as Brazilians pronounce it, "Facey-Bookey". She's probably reading my blog right now. Too bad she can't read English. Sucker.

The room's good enough for now. It consists of a big mattress, a fragile shelving thingy, and all my shit in the corner. Perfect for stumbling home after a day full of beer, parades and beaches.

At the end of the month, the apartment search is back on. All the tourist's should be gone by then, so it shouldn't be a problem.

But now it's time to party. And my friend, Briana's comin on Wednesday. YEEEEE!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Frio de Janeiro

It's cold waking up on a rock 2,755 feet above sea level.

I'll start from the beginning.

It's Saturday afternoon. Macela and I are leaving a bloco in Ipanema.

Macela: "Do you want to go on a midnight hike with me and some friends?"

Bob: "Do we have time to meet up with Luiz after?" It's Luiz's birthday and he's going to Lapa.

Macela: "Well...not really. it's gonna have to be one or the other."

Bob: "Alright, well let me call Luiz to say happy birthday."

That was the only information I was given about this hike. Granted, my Portuguese is still pretty bad and Macela could very well have given me a lot more details...but still. I still blame my ill-preparedness on her.

We meet up with Ellen, Priscilla, and about 5 other people around midnight and head over to the other meeting spot. (I should explain that in Rio, a lot of time is spent on meeting up.)

While we wait, it is only natural for one of the dudes to go buy a bottle of vodka and a bottle of coke for us to kill by the time the rest of the group shows up.

Just as the last drop of Smirnoff is gulped down, the others show up. I call them the others because they are just that. A seriously athletic group equipped with ropes, hiking boots, sleeping bags (that's when I found out we were sleeping up there), headlamps and other camping gadgets. Wow, I thought, these Brazilians really go all out.

Little did I know (and again, I blame Macela) the others would be the only prepared ones.

Here's the crew:

The trek begins. The path gets narrower and narrower, steeper and steeper. At first, little branches in the trail are the only obstacles. Then come the unseeable boulders, bridges, ridges, holes in the ground...and it just keeps going.

About an hour in, I'm dripping with sweat. Ellen's shouting and singing devolves into sporadic comments and eventually silence. The others are kind enough to spread themselves out so the almost-sober half have some light. The moon is now barely visible through the forest trees. We're nearing the top...so it seems.

2 hours go by as we finally reach a scenic view. I catch my breath, have some water and look out over Barra de Tijuca. It's a stunning coastline, though not as beautiful as the other side of the hill. I scope out the area, almost certain that our sleeping spot is somewhere near. That's when someone points up. That's right, up. Not at a 45 degree angle...but straight up. It's a huge rock face. The peak of Rio. I wasn't ready for this.

A few moments later we reach the Carrasqueira--a 50 foot rock wall. In the moonlight, it looks like the side of an apartment building. The guy with the rope goes up first with his headlight and throws down the line. The rest of the others space themselves as the first person goes up. Ellen is convinced that the fun level has bottomed out, and is content with not going up. "C'mon Elle, just do it," I say. It's funny how you can convince someone else and yourself at the same time.

One by one everyone goes up. Some slower than others. We're told not to use the rope. Apparently, it's only a safety tool. It's my turn. In high school, my friend Matt and I used to go climbing all the time in Malibu canyon. Sure we had climbing shoes and a crash pad, but I felt confident. It only took one glance down to scare me shitless. Without the others and their flashlights on their heads I would've fallen to my death. No doubt about it. But I survive. And the trail becomes a trail again.

At about 3:30 we reach the top. The temperature drops about 10 degrees. 20 to 30 other people are already on the giant flat rock. Sleeping bags sprawled out. Music blaring from an ipod or something. I walk to the other side of the rock to see the real view. It's amazing. It might be 4 in the morning, but Rio is not asleep. The mountains, beaches, clouds, streets, cars, lakes. It's like God made this place so that people could see the world from his eyes for a day.
After an hour of admiring the peak, everyone gets a few hours of sleep before the morning descent. Macela redeems herself by packing an extra blanket and some sandwiches.

I wake up to this.
And this.
And this.

Absolutely a beauty. If I had known I would be waking up in the most beautiful spot on earth I would've brought something to leave there...you know so if I ever had a bad day I would know that something of mine was at that place. I brought nothing, but I'll always have the memory.

Going back down is a pleasure cruise:

The daytime version of the Carrasqueira is a fun adrenaline rush. Not a death climb of blackness.
Can you imagine climbing that shit at night?

We get to the bottom around 10AM. My legs, scraped and sore, will forever be jealous of my eyes. But that's just the life of a leg, isn't it? Doing all the work and getting none of the spoils. Let's take this moment to thank legs, all legs, for taking it all in strides.

The Rock...
...and the crew that conquered it.

I'd say the adventure was a team effort. After all, there's no I in Bras l.

Back to work on Monday. Life it good.

Uma Aula de Vocabulário

Vocabulary Lesson 1: The Butt Crack

O Cofrinho

That's what they say. You know, like when the girl in front of you bends over and your friend nudges you, points and says "Olha, esse cofrinho."

While this is indeed a hilarious word, the translation is even better.

A cofro is a safe, like in a bank. -inho is the Portuguese diminutive. Therefore, a cofrinho is a little safe. This is also what Brazilians call piggy banks, cofrinhos. So there's your translation.

Cofrinho - Piggy Bank/Butt Crack

Make cents?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Terra de Marlboro

Had my first class today. A lawyer named Marcus. He doesn't like the beach and is one day gonna travel Route 66 on a motorcycle.

I forgot how much I loved "teaching". (Quotation marks? Yes, quotation marks) It's not really teaching. It's more like spending a few minutes on a curriculum that somebody spent a lot of time making, and 45 minutes of chatting. Oh, don't look at me like I'm lazy. I asked the guy what he wants to focus on and he said conversation. Is it a crime to pick the topics based on what I'm interested in? Well, if it is then I've got a lawyer now who can defend me in two languages. So there.

My classes are one-on-one. They're all scheduled around the working hours of the students, so it's rare that I have even two consecutive classes. Today's was at 8:30, before work. I met at his office downtown. A really nice, modern building with the most glorious AC ever. We sat in a conference room. The company's maid brought us coffee and water. It was the first coffee I've had since I got here--which explains the headaches. I'm trying to quit anyway. I was becoming a Caffiend. (Damn, someone already beat me to it)

We talked about Wikileaks for a while and I asked him about Brazilian law. His exact words: "Brasil é a terra de Marlboro." Translation: Brazil is the land of Marlboro. What the hell does that mean? He asked if I remembered the old Marlboro cigarette commercials, the ones with the cowboys in the desert. I soon realized that the Brazilian equivolent for the Wild West is Marlboro Land.

A Terra de Marlboro

I personally love this phrase. First of all, because it shows how much Rio is influenced by American television. Second, because it's true. Brazil is the Land of Marlboro. It's a modern day Wild West over here. Sure Rio and São Paulo have established themselves as successful metropolises (metropoli?), but nothing here surprises me anymore. "In Brasil, you see thing that you never believe before," Marcus tells me. We need to work on his verb conjugations.

We have our next class tomorrow and then another on Thursday. I think that will be our schedule: Tuesday through Thursday. I'll have more students as things start to settle down after Carnaval. Until then, I'm gonna take advantage of the 100 degree beach days.

Oh yea, and one of the best strikers in the history of soccer retired yesterday: Ronaldo

Obrigado, Fenômeno

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Airline Fracture

The check-in clerk lady cracked.

So I show up to my flight the same way I show up to all my flights--without any information regarding my flight.

I handed her my passport and said, "I have a flight to Rio de Janeiro around one." She was stunned that someone didn't have a printed itinerary and 10 backup copies. (I guess I could have at least jotted down the 3 digit flight number).

"Well do you have your Visa?"

I'm not an idiot.

After punching her keys as if they were a mini whack-a-mole game, she walks away in a fluster only to return a few moments later with boarding passes for both flights.

"Young man, you should always have you itinerary. Especially in a multiple-stop international flight. It just makes things easier." I nodded.

In her lapse of confusion and hysteria, she forgot to charge me $30 for my checked bag. I'm no psychologist, but aren't we as human beings conditioned by a system of rewards and punishments? Telling someone they did something wrong, and then immediately rewarding them is a bit contradictory to me. You can't scold a dog for shitting on the couch, and then give him a treat. It would keep shitting on the couch. I still don't believe in itineraries.

Oh and by the way, Rio is really hot. Like chicken-pot-pie hot.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


What starts with a B-O-B and will be in Brazil next month?

If you guessed me, then...um...then, I guess you're right.

But besides me, there's another correct answer.

B. Obama.

I saved a Brazilian newspaper from November 6th, 2008.
*Carnaval would have been canceled if McCain got elected.*

Earlier this week, it was announced that our chief of state will begin his first South American trip. Starting in Chile. Then Brazil. And eventually finishing things up in El Salvador. Seems like the 2 most populated countries in the western hemisphere are trying to strengthen their ties. Yay! Why is this important? Well, a buncha reasons. Mostly because I'm interested in it. Also, because Brazilian ex-president Lula (known as the most popular politician on earth) pissed off the Obama administration when he dabbled in peace negotiations with the Middle East. He ultimately favored diplomacy over sanctions in regards to Iran's nuclear security. We don't like diplomacy, Lula. It's an ugly word. Why talk things out when you can just slap a law on it? That explains all the j-walking in Rio. Lawless hooligans.

Dilma Rousseff is Lula's successor (one-upping our first black president as the first female president). She and Obama will discuss the future of our countries. No doubt followed by a quick bodysurfing session and a few caipirinhas.

On a notsosimilar note, I bumped into Stephen Perkins, the drummer of Jane's Addition, this weekend. After ordering his usual, 2 lattes and a blueberry muffin, he informed me that Lollapalooza will also be making debut stops in Chile and Brazil this summer. It seems that the Windy City is blowing south this year.

(For you slower folks, Barack Obama and Lollapalooza are both from Chicago. Chicago is known as the Windy City...and wind blows).

me at Lollapalooza in 2006

Stephen gave me his number and said to get a hold of him when he's down there. He'd get me passes and "set me up". I don't know why, but for a brief second I felt known by a huge rock star. I quickly realized that wasn't true. In part because sometimes people just say nice things. Mostly, though, because the number he jotted down was 310-555-YOUREANIDIOT.

So I have 6 days and 7 nights left in the United States. That means I have 6 days and 7 nights left of different kinds of food. After that it's rice, beans, meat and the occasional sheesh (loyal keepinitrio followers know what a sheesh is). So if anyone in LA wants to grab some Curry, Pho, Burritos, or pretty much just any meal, let me know.

Big things are happening in Rio, man. Big things. It's the OBAMAPALOOZA. It's blowing up like a Russian airport. Too soon?

Well, I'm sure there will be one or two more posts before my grand departure. Until then, keep that shit Rio.