Saturday, October 30, 2010

Minha Identidade Brasileira e Hidrogimnastica!

A few days ago, I was at my friend Ramon’s apartment waiting for some friends we were going to go running with. We were chatting with the doorman, and he asked Ramon if I was German or Brazilian. I got really excited about this, because whenever everyone sees me or hears me talk, they always assume I’m American. It must be something about the way I dress, and I guess my accent is pretty obviously American, but for some reason this doorman didn’t see the American in me. I don’t’ really know where he saw the German…but anyways, as soon as he asked where I was from, I responded, ‘Eu sou Ana Beatriz, de Rio Grande do Sul!’ which means, ‘I’m Ana Beatriz, from Rio Grande do Sul’. I had been joking with my friends about how the next time I was asked where I was from, I would say I was Brazilian, just from a different state, so I took this opportunity to do so! I chose the name Ana Beatriz for myself. Rio Grande do Sul is the southern-most state of Brasil, where there are lots of Europeans and blonde people, so I chose that as my state. The doorman looked a little bemused at my enthusiasm when I told him where I was from (I was really excited about being addressed as a possible Brazilan!), and I really don’t know if he believed me…I might have taken the act a little too far by telling him I had cousins in Akra, another Brazilian state in the Amazon, especially because the name of the state isn’t Akra, its Akre. Oops. So maybe the joke was up. As I was waiting with Ramon in the lobby of the apartment, I was doing my best to speak perfect Portuguese with as little of an accent as possible, in case the doorman was still listening. It actually wasn’t that difficult! Maybe by the end of my stay here, I’ll have a handful of people convinced that my name is actually Ana Beatriz, and that I come from Rio Grande do Sul!

This past weekend was really fun! I got to play volleyball and soccer with two different groups of Brazilian friends, I went to the beach and swam/body surfed, and I got to go to two of my very favorite restaurants in João Pessoa! One is called Mangai, and it is a restaurant that just serves food that is typical of Northeastern Brasil. I embraced the part of me that is still sort of a tourist here, and loaded up my plate with arroz (rice), feijão (beans), macaxeira (a delicious root prepared in many different fashions), cartola (banana, cinnamon, sweetened condensed milk, and cheese), queijo coalho (fried cheese), carne do sol (sort of like steak), calabresa (a type of sausage), camarão (shrimp), pão de queijo (bread that tastes like cheese), e bolo (cake, the way only Brazilians can make it!). It was sooooo good! Apparently all the tourists go there to experience the real Northeastern food, and let me tell you, it is the place to eat for sure! The other restaurant I went to is called Sal e Brasa, and it is the churrascaria I went to earlier on and already devoted almost an entire blog to, so I’ll spare you. It was delicious though, of course. There’s really nothing like Brazilian churrasco! I also got to play monopoly twice this weekend, which was also great, as I love games and no one has board games in Brasil! I played with some friends from school and it was a good time, although I lost both games.

I had needed a good weekend, because the week before was one of the more stressful ones I’ve had here. I lost my cell phone, which was just a pain to deal with, especially in a foreign country, and it took sort of a long time to buy a new one. Also, as I’m sure many of you know, my Dad had been in tons of pain because of a problem with a herniated disc in his shoulder, and had to have surgery. I was sad for him and sad that I couldn’t be there to give him a hug and see him before and after the surgery. Although I knew it wasn’t dangerous, it was still worrying me. Now, however, he is doing SO much better! His pain is completely gone! Thank God for modern medicine. I tend to worry more about things here in Brasil than I did back in the U.S., probably because I don’t have all that much to distract me. So, it’s nice that the stressful week is over!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but my host mom here runs a ‘hidrogimnastica’, as it’s called here. It’s basically like a water aerobics class in which thirty to forty women ranging from middle aged to downright elderly participate. There are 5 different classes I think, each with about 8-10 women. The classes start extremely early. People start to arrive at my house at like 5:30 am! The first class I think starts at 6, and that’s when the Brazilian samba and forro music they work out to starts blaring. My favorite thing is when I wake up to the forro version of Lady Gaga’s ‘Alejandro’, in which instead of names like Alejandro, Fernando, and Roberto being the subjects of the song, its Alexxandre (pronounced Aleshandree) and Gustavo, which are more appropriately Brazilian names. Anyways, I had never actually participated in a hidrogimnastica class before, and this morning I didn’t have school, so I decided, what the heck, I might as well join in! I didn’t do the first class though, I did the third one, which started at 9 instead. It was actually quite an enjoyable time! I was definitely the youngest one there by a good 40 years, but that was ok. We did lots of arm exercises with water weights, lots of running in place in the water, and even a water yoga type of thing. The teacher of the class stood in front of the pool the whole time doing difference types of exercises that we were supposed to imitate. And literally the entire time she was shouting ‘Bora meninas! Bora! Bora!’ Which is pretty much just ‘Lets go!’ or ‘Come on!’ I have never heard a single word used so much in such a short amount of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the hidrogimnastica, however, and I’m sure I’ll join in again some time!

I hope everyone is staying warm wherever you are! Its soooo hot here now that I could do with a bit of cold sometimes! I like the heat though. Brasil is treating me well! Beijos e abraços!


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