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Fortaleza, Brazil: thus far

So, brazil’s been kind of an adventure thus far. When SIT said that you didn’t really need to know portuguese, they really lied. Not being able to communicate is probably the number one difficulty of being here, especially living with a family that knows NO english (some families do, btw). The plane ride here was the longest ever, especially since Delta sucks at scheduling. They moved my 1st flight back an hour to not have as much layover time, but I literally had to run to catch the second one. I ended up sitting next to someone from SIT on my long flight, which was great. We got over Cuba when the pilot told us we were turning around back to ATL because of plane malfunctions and we got back at 1 AM. We left for São Paulo at 3 AM, and got there at 1 pm, and missed our connection. We had to go through Salvador to get to Fortaleza at 10:30 pm, about 9 hours later than originally intended.

We spent the first week at a nice area of fortaleza on the coast—Beach Park is what it’s called. It’s a rather touristy area. We stayed in this beautiful house and ate wonderful food and discovered one of the best parts of being here—SUCO (juice)!! Orientation was long, a little stressful, but everyone seems pretty cool. I mean, naturally you butt heads with some people, but it’s nothing that deep overall. We went to the most beautiful sand dunes I have ever seen, that once on top, you can see over the city. We watched the sunset there.

So we moved into our homestays last sunday (not yesterday) and it has been the most different experiene. I can’t really communicate with them, so it’s a lot of gesturing and them slowing down sentences word-for-word. SIT’s brilliant selves decided to only have one portuguese class last week and cancel the rest for more “important” matters and lectures (which were in portuguese). We spent the first day with our families because it was independence day. My family loves to just watch tv, sleep, and eat. So that’s what I did—watched Pirates of the Carib 3 in portuguese (english subtitles) and slept in the hammock for a couple of hours. [PS—hammocks are so lovely, I am bringing one home so that I can sleep in them all the time]

My host parents are really young: my host mom is 29, and she’s gorgeous. She works in a hair salon but she does mani/pedis and waxes. My dad is an electrician. And my host brother is 8 and host sister is 2. The terrible twos are definitely universal, she is mad devilish! The house has an open roof top and you can look over the entire city. It’ll be great if I can ever get myself up for a sunrise (note: there is only about 12 hours of sunlight since we’re so close to the equator—so there are no long days and short days)

The first week definitely would’ve been much easier if I spoke Portuguese. Navigating the buses, getting directions, living at home, and listening to lectures—not great for non-portuguese speakers. Also-even though they translate lectures, so much of the power and depth gets lost, so that the people who understand get so much more out of it than I do.

Other than that, the beaches are beautiful, the caipirinhas tasty, the people I’ve encountered love to party, and if you can string words together to make complete sentences, folks tend to be pretty helpful and friendly. I’m excited to learn more portuguese and do more research for my ISP, which will hopefully be in Salvador.

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