So I went back to my initial predictions about what would happen to me in Brazil and gave them a once-over (http://teffsinbrasil.blogspot.com/2005/07/t-minus-2-days_15.html). My conclusion? Man, do I know myself. Here's how my predictions actually stacked up to my experience here over the last 7+ months....
1. Initial shyness about speaking Portuguese, followed (HOPEFULLY) by competency and finally, fluency, if such a thing exists.
Well, I did okay with this one. I am a heck of a lot better at Portuguese now than I was when I arrived, though perhaps less confident about speaking it with strangers. Part of it could be that my Portuguese professora (whom I love, don't get me wrong) is a bit of a perfectionist, like me, so sometimes I get hesitant to speak lest I make a mistake. But I was like that before I started lessons with her, so, that's b.s., really. But yeah, Portuguese is good. Portugulish is even melhor. I feel bom about it.
2. Hot guys. (Please God don't let Brazilian men be as into mullets/rat-tails/hair gel as Chileans/Argentines are. Please.)
I have yet to see a full-blown Chile mullet (or "chullet" as we in the business call it) here in Brazil, thank goodness. Brazil is also mercifully lacking in rat-tails. I have seen some weird hair, but most of the time it is sort of borderline mullet, like the guy just got a bad hair cut and didn't notice for 2 months, not full-blown, Santiago F***ing City type chullets. Whew!
Oh yes. I eat a Haden mango at 10:30 every day, and it is always better than I ever imagined it could be.
4. Hot guys.
5. Hot shoes and handbags which I will NOT allow myself to buy because I have a budget of like negative $800 a month.
Check. I have been SO good about this. In over seven months, I have bought 4 pairs of shoes -- one for work, one for New Years (actually, my ma bought those so I'm not sure they even count), a pair of pumas, and a pair of sandals (bronze, strappy, adorable) that were 40% off. Given my normal rate of shoe-buying, this is incredible. Also, I have not purchased ONE handbag. Go me.
6. Smog and uncleanliness.
Yeah but you get used to it. I sort of crave the smog now.
Yes, ugh, gross. Not as bad as it could be, I suppose. I mean, we're not in China, people don't smoke in elevators or anything, but everyone freaking smokes! I saw a dude in my gym who had literally just finished a workout, waiting at the elevator with a pack of smokes sticking out of his gym shorts pockets. Whaaaat?!
8. Traffic and horrendous drivers.
Worse than you can imagine. I'd rather not discuss.
9. Hot guys.
10. Good Lebanese food and sushi.
Goodness, gracious, yes! I haven't eaten as much Lebanese as I anticipated but everything I've had has been excellent. They are really into kibi though, sometimes raw, which creeps me out a little. The sushi here is incredible, and so cheap. Plus the California rolls here have mango in them, and you know how I love me some mango.
11. Intimidating webs of public transportation that I will undoubtedly get lost on and end up crying in the bus depot in the middle of a favela.
Shockingly, no. The metro system here is too small and limited to get lost on, plus it's like 50 miles from my house so I have to take a bus just to get to the metro. And everytime I have taken buses (even by myself, when I didn't know where my stop was), I have been fine. Lucky? Maybe. I prefer to think of myself as savvy. Okay, yeah, lucky. Let us not forget the time in Chile that I ended up like 40 miles outside of Santiago with chickens pecking in the grass because I was too shy to ask where my stop for the shopping mall was. Oof.
12. Shocking disparities between the rich and the poor. What else is new in Latin America.
Wish I could say this wasn't true, but it's even worse in person. When you see glossy BMWs stopped at traffic lights with their tinted windows rolled up to keep out the sad looking little street kids half-heartedly juggling for tips, it really reminds you that you're in a country with a wealth disparity problem. Plus the favelas here in SP are awful, depressing, plagued with violence and drug problems, and most of them are spitting distance from lovely, walled communities with tasteful landscaping and armed security towers. Hard to comprehend.
13. Disappointing gum options. Not that I have the money to spend on gum.
Yeah, no shocker there. Gum everywhere except the US sucks, I am convinced. Although Trident light blue here is pretty good. I buy it every day after lunch ("tri-dentchee azul claro") and it is quite satisfying.