Sunday, December 06, 2009

Onde é o banheiro? Blog de Brasileiro, dia 2 (decembro 6)

Onde é o banheiro? Blog de Brasileiro, dia 2 (decembro 6)

Morning followed my first overnight sleep here, made possible with the use of custom-fit earplugs (thank you, Vivian). My roommate, the Other Vince, has “been told” that he snores and I have confirmed it for him, which I describe as being akin to moving furniture (at which point the earplugs went in). Someone, like a girlfriend or family member, may wish to procure an anti-snoring pillow or a year’s supply of Breathe-Right strips as a Christmas gift for him. Just saying, that’s all.

My time here has given me a better appreciation of life in general back home. Either that, or life as a Canadian has left me utterly pacified. The prospect of the locals being unable to speak the same language is somewhat unnerving, but at least I’ve gotten over my fear of toilets that fail to accept toilet paper. Not that it matters, as chronic dehydration may have minimized the possibility of Montezuma’s revenge. This comes in extremely handy as one of the places we visited today had bathroom sanitary conditions approaching biohazard levels. Somehow, the “Worst Toilet in Scotland” scene in Trainspotting comes to mind.

Breakfast consists of food that I can’t get back at home and the fresh fruit is especially welcome. I’m used to the idea of carving out a pineapple and the centre is usually discarded as it’s so fibrous that it can only be chewed on until the juice is removed, and then spat out. I’m still waiting to sample agua de coco (coconut milk), which has been recommended for staving off dehydration. I don’t think I’ll need an excuse for drinking agua de coco.

The main focus of the day was one of the Batizado ceremonies that we are attending. This involved a looooong drive out to Xexeu (near Palmares). Some of these Capoeira students are good and the academies are much larger here. I’m guessing that the training regimens are a little bit different here, or at least the mentalities are different, given the large number of higher-ranked students than the ones back at home. Even though Mestre is largely operating in Canada these days, his base is still back home in Brazil.

While I’m aware of the level of violence that can escalate in some public rodas, we’ve been shielded from that. This is something I’m somewhat grateful for, as I really don’t know what public healthcare is like here in Brazil. If I was in Cuba, I might not be as worried (thank you, Michael Moore), and regardless of travel insurance, getting injured when you’re a long way from the comforts of home is a very frightening thought.

Despite my apprehension, I am able to hold my own against some very high ranked students and instructors, managing to do movements in Capoeira and actually fool them into believing that I’ve been training really hard for the past 7-odd years. I’m still working on the language barrier and the cultural differences, so they may actually be saying that I completely suck, though.

The cultural differences are a challenge and it’s further cementing the fact that I’m definitely not from there when I can’t say anything beyond Eu nao falar Portuguese. But at least they don’t do the American thing about saying things louder and slower even when they don’t understand the local language. However, this has somewhat increased my drive to learn a foreign language prior to visiting another country. I should probably get Cantonese down (being Chinese and all), although if I’m apprehensive about using non-toilet paper accepting toilets, I don’t know how I’ll be able to deal with the infamous squat toilets.

Generally, the people here are quite friendly (the extent of which is to be determined, as I have no idea what they are saying). Coming from Canada is interesting as we’re almost treated like mini-celebrities (either that, or not a lot of Asian people pass through Pernambuco), which is fun for a while. One of our group, Camara (also a student instructor at the academy) has visited Brazil several times before and indicated that it gets old after a while. With some of the street kids visiting the roda, I can see how. They also threw fruit at the van as we left.

The long-ass drive home was somewhat worse than the turbulent flight over Miami, as we were encountering a lot of road work, poorly lit roads, and unpaved roads. There are a lot of speed bumps that I can’t explain, and for some odd reason, we couldn’t take the same route home that we used on the way there. I could’ve sworn that there was a road that was there when we left, and NOT there when we came back. But I’m here, typing away, contemplating jumping in the pool, and missing my 24/7 wireless connection. But at least I don’t miss TV.

Yes, still no consistent fast internet, although Mestre has managed to obtain a wireless internet card, which I will need to procure at some point so I may e-mail my girlfriend, wish my mom a happy birthday, upload these entries to my blog, and get some photos up on Facebook. I may need to find an internet café. Probably tomorrow.

I’m slowly getting used to the time difference here…although it’s 12:41AM local time, my body still thinks it’s Vancouver time (5 hours behind, 7:41PM), so I’m actually awake, although I’m more than willing to sleep after a shower at this point. We’re scheduled to have a Capoeira class tomorrow morning, which will give me my first actual exposure to outdoor sun.

I’ve been able to stave off sunburn by virtue of the fact that I haven’t actually gotten out under the sun yet. And yes, sunblock is very expensive here. I’m hoping SPF30 is sufficient, although I am very capable of burning under the right conditions. Those right conditions could be met while I’m here, at which point I’ll have to bite the bullet and spend some 50 R$ (about $30 CDN) for SPF 60. With an SPF rating like that, I’d better be able to survive at ground zero when World War III occurs.

Why did I not put the sunscreen in my checked in luggage?

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