I can't believe I have been here in Sao Paulo for almost six months - in a lot of ways, it feels like I just got here like, a week ago. Then again, some days it feels like I have been here for an eternity. The last six months have been, overall, a fantastic experience. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to come back to my beloved Brazil to work, make new friends, improve my Portuguese, and, most importantly, eat an ungodly quantity of mangoes. But there were definitely hard moments along the way, mostly having to with my extremely demanding work schedule (which, incidentally, is also to blame for the severe lack of bloggage - that and my incurable laziness), and also having to do with the extreme distance I felt between myself and loved ones. There were definitely days where Brazil felt like Siberia.
But now, I have less than a week to go here, and I am trying to process what it means that I have spent the last half-year in Sao Paulo. It's weird. But good. And, since I have failed to diligently journal my escapades in this space (or in any other space apart from my brain, which is not super helpful to anyone, including me), I am going to attempt to do an abridged list of Things I Did in Brazil, version 2010:
1. Got into soccer, albeit temporarily, as a total fair-weather fan. Lost all interest once Brazil and the U.S. were eliminated. Subsequently developed a healthy loathing of the vuvuzela.
2. Laughed out loud, against my will, at an episode of The New Adventures of Old Christine. You can only see that show so many times per day before it starts to wear you down. I blame Stockholm Syndrome.
3. Discovered jabuticaba.
4. More importantly, discovered caipirinhas de jabuticaba.
5. Learned WAY more Portuguese swear words than I ever used to know before.
6. Sampled a Brazilian red wine that tasted like sour grape juice, which was proudly presented to me as "the best" in the entire store. Oy. Stick to what you know, Brazil.
7. Tried something called "egg sponge bread," which tasted neither like egg nor sponge. It did taste kind of like cake, though. Probably for the best.
8. Cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner.
9. Helped throw a Christmas party for kids from a favela in Sao Paulo. We provided the trampolines, ball pits, mini basketball hoop, crayons and food. They provided the laughter, crazed energy, and, in one case, vomit. But overall, it was SUPER fun and rewarding. There's also something wonderfully surreal about seeing your boss dressed as Santa in 90 degree weather, handing out baby dolls and trucks to barefoot kids in tee-shirts and shorts.
10. Went clubbing on many occasions, and managed to escape being, pardon the phrase, face raped by the many overly enthusiastic, drunk Brazilian dudes in tight rugby shirts and designer jeans that appear to populate every balada in this city. Score for me!
11. Accidentally went to a lesbian party and met some really nice girls there. They were SO friendly! Less so once they realized we weren't gay. Still, fun party!
12. Discovered "chopp escuro," the dark version of regular chopp. It is so good - it's creamy but light and refreshing, and isn't bitter like Guiness, even though it looks like it would be. It reminds me of frothy chocolate milk. Alcoholic, frothy, chocolate milk.
13. Dressed up as a cat for Halloween (read: black fuzzy ears and bowtie, plus eyeliner whiskers and nose) and went to a party that was a mix of Americans and Brazilians. All of the Brazilians were wearing super literal Halloween costumes. I saw ugly witches, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, mummies, etc. I guess slutty Halloween hasn't fully hit the Southern hemisphere yet. It was refreshing to see women my age rocking big fake witch noses and unflattering black gowns. There was nary a sexy bumblebee in sight!
14. Attended a truly lavish Brazilian wedding. One of my coworkers got married and was generous enough to invite the entire office (plus about 350 other people) to his nuptials, which were held at this fabulous event space in the city. There was a full orchestra and choir playing during the ceremony (and a DJ for the reception), a scrumptious dinner and dessert buffet (make your own sundaes, yo!), champagne, a caipirinha bar, and beautiful flowers and lights everywhere. Pretty rad. I love me a good casamento!
15. Attended a number of fancy, schmoozy work events that involved expensive, and, in some cases, bordering on ludicrous, menu items (such as an egg cooked for three days) and large quantities of nice alcohol. I kinda see why people like being corporate lawyers sometimes.
16. Went to a fundraiser at the Canadian Embassy (yay!) and tipsily made the acquaintance of the Canadian ambassador. He seemed underwhelmed.
17. Witnessed the tail-end of a Brazilian presidential campaign, and the two rounds of elections. Watched in bemusement as an illiterate clown was elected to Congress.
I did more than 17 things in the last six months, obviously, but I am going to stop there, so as not to bore all of you to tears as I catalog every coxinha de frango that I ate, every pineapple caipirinha that I swilled (and you all know I would do this). I'll try to blog again before departing for the wintry steppes of Canada, Maine, and D.C. (where I'll be visiting with Al's family and my family). Ate mais!