Monday, August 2, 2010

Os Primeiros Días

After my first three busy days in Joao Pessoa, I’ve finally found some time to blog. However, my computer, as of now, does not work with the internet here, so my posts may be far in between. I am using my host sister Cecilia’s computer right now, but she leaves for CA in 10 days, so I’m not sure what I’ll do then. I’ll worry about that later. For now, I’ll tell you a bit about the glorious city of Joao Pessoa.
But first, the plane ride. The flight to Atlanta went smoothly, it was only about 2 hours long, and we arrived in the Atlanta airport with a three hour layover. In Atlanta, we met three Brasilians on their way back home after studying in the United States. We had our first true Portuguese speaking experience with them! I really enjoyed talking with them, and found out I actually can communicate in Portuguese. Our next flight was to Brasilia, and it was much less pleasant. It lasted about 9 hours, and we flew through the night. I was sort of expecting to fly in one of those huge international jets with a ton of leg room and comfy seats to sleep in and the big TV screens on the back of the chairs. But no, the plane was no bigger than the one we took to Atlanta. Needless to say, I got about a half an hour of sleep. When we arrived in Brasilia I found out that my flight to Joao Pessoa was delayed because there was something wrong with the plane, so I spent a few hours in the Brasilia airport waiting for the plane to get fixed. When I finally did get on the plane, I promptly fell asleep.
I arrived in Joao Pessoa at around 4 in the afternoon. The temperature was actually colder than in MN because it is winter here, which basically means slightly cooler weather and rain much of the time. The rain is actually very pleasant; it’s a warm, light rain. Anyway, when I arrived my first host family, (Mom-Elizabeth- I call her Mainha, Dad- Medeiros- I call him Painho, and sister Cecilia) was waiting for me, along with some other friends of theirs. We got in their car and drove a bit around Joao Pessoa so I could see some of the sights. It’s a very beautiful city, all the houses and apartment buildings are very bright and colorful, there are palm trees all over the place, and don’t even get me started on the beach! We then went home and they asked if I was hungry. I was, because we all know what a disaster airline food is. The maid had made brigadeiro (a Brazilian fudge that is SO delicious!) a chocolate bundt cake type thing, and a something that reminded me of a pineapple upside-down cake, but frozen. Later, for dinner, we ordered a pizza, which was quite different from American pizza. It had pepperoni and onions on it, with hardly any sauce or cheese. It was good, though. We also had bread and multiple kinds of cheese, and something called inhame. Its hard to describe inhame without making it sound really gross. It is this large, white, squishy thing that doesn’t really taste like anything by itself, but is really good with some butter and cheese on it. They eat so much cheese here. I can’t even begin to think of all the types. The night I arrived I went to bed really early, at like 8:30, and woke up the next morning after 10, which felt wonderful. I can’t remember the last time I got more than 12 hours of sleep in one night!
I’ll take a moment to describe the living situation here…Mainha is starting a beauty salon in the house we are living in now, so we are moving out in a few weeks to an apartment that apparently needs finishing. The house is mall but comfortable, and is very close to my school. There is a pool outside which I have yet to swim in, and an outdoor shower. The shower only has cold water, which of course would be miserable in any Minnesota winter, but Joao Pessoa is quite warm so its actually very nice. The house is also within an easy walking distance from the beach 
Already one of my favorite times of day is the early morning. Here, the sun comes up at 5:30 am and sets at 5:30 pm, so it doesn’t feel so early when I have to wake up at 6 to go to school. The sky is always so perfectly blue in the morning, and the city is the perfect temperature. Also, I love breakfast! Here, for breakfast we have a large spread that has so far included: mango, papaya, grapes, melted cheese on warm bread, and bundt cake. I also have a cafezinho for breakfast, (actually I do at nearly every meal) which is warm milk mixed with a splash of coffee and a couple teaspoons of suger. I also sometimes put chocolate in it.
After breakfast on the first day my family and I went to the mall close to the beach to look around. I had never seen any of the stores or restaurants that they had there in the U.S. Everything was different. There was a store called “Loja Americana”, which means American Store...However, I didn’t actually see anything American in the store. At the mall I had a feijoada, which is a typical northeastern Brazilian dish. It is a stew with beans, meat and some vegetables. I had been told the sometimes Brazilians use some un-appetizing types of meat in feijoadas, such as the ear or foot of a pig. However, my feijoada was delicious and if the meat was from an ear or foot, I couldn’t tell.
Later in the afternoon, I went to the beach with Cecilia to meet one her friends, Anlise, and her exchange student, Teemu, who is from Finland. The beach is absolutely beautiful! The water is warm all year round, and the sand extends for miles along the coast. There were people doing this thing that I think is called ‘Praia Surf’ or something, where you ride on a surfboard while hanging onto this sail that goes way up in the air, and the sail catches the wind and pulls you. Its kind of like windersurfing, except the sail goes really high in the air, and instead of holding onto the actual sail, you’re holding ropes that are attached to it. I definitely want to try it sometime. Along the beach, there are lots of little markets and restaurants. At one of the markets, I got a wrap put in my hair. Maybe it makes me look like a tourist but I don’t care. We went out to dinner at one of the little markets and I got a type of tapioca with pepperoni, chicken, and cheese in it. It was delicious, but then again basically everything is delicious. Along the calcedinha, which is a little sidewalk by the beach, there are also all of these vendors selling coconuts, which I think just makes everything so picturesque and tropical. And by the way, coconut water is delicious.
So far, Joao Pessoa is amazing and I am enjoying every minute of it. I’m definitely still in the stage where everything is new and exciting! Today was my first day of school and soon I’ll post about that, but this has already gone on too long. Até mais, beijos!


  1. oh my gosh beret, this sounds so exciting! your city and family both sound so nice and friendly and wonderful, and it sounds like you're already adjusting and having a great time there. i hope everything continues to go well for you! hope you have TONS of fun :]

  2. Ah Beret I am jealous of your lovely locale. Keep having fun.

  3. Beret!! This is AWESOME!
    I can't believe you had the feijoada so soon, but i'm glad it was the good meat kind and not the random pig part kind :)
    I'm so excited to hear more about your life there!!
    I hope school is treating you well...and Portugues
    tchau e beião.

  4. beret amundson! your life this year is going to be soooooo muchhh funnnn- you must post pictures soon:) i can't believe you can already communicate in portuguese either- thats amazing!
    keep having fun, i can't wait to hear about all your adventures!