After my proclamation to make the most of this life, Sao Paulo stepped up to the challenge, starting with this lovely sunrise Monday morning! The rest of the week was equally lovely.
First, things are really clicking with my students. I have shifted my expectations a bit, in terms of culturally accepted behavior, and kept high expectations for their work, and we are all moving steadily forward. I am so lucky to have a job that I love. It makes the rest of my time in life much more fulfilling.
Second, this was truly a week to celebrate independence. Wednesday, 7 de setembro, was Brazil’s Independence Day (won from Portugal in 1822). However, compared to the over-the-top patriotism shown by Americans on the Fourth of July, the general attitude here was apathetic, like, There are still too many things wrong in our country to be celebrating this (Carnival is another story! 🙂 ) When the national anthem finished playing, an eerie silence fell over the full room. Expecting loud American-style-cheers to erupt at that moment like in the U.S., the silence felt strange and made me sad. Though it also made me grateful for the pride and joy Americans feel about our independence, and it reminded me of my joy for my own personal independence—having just passed the one-year anniversary of my divorce.
Isn’t it strange that freedom often requires fighting, that peace requires fighting? But, oh how sweet it is once we get it. It makes each moment of my life more rewarding, because I fought hard to get where I am today.
Teachers, students, and many others were granted a day of
freedom from work and school on the 7th, so I enjoyed my independence by shopping with friends, eating from a feijoada buffet, drinking spiked coconut juice, napping on my couch, and dancing to live music. I couldn’t ask for a much better respite.
Third, I’m making many new friends; sadly, one of them is moving away. A sweet man warned me that this would be one of the biggest rewards and challenges of living abroad—meeting amazing people, and turning around to have to tell them goodbye. Better to have loved and lost rather than to never love at all, right? This friend and her husband threw quite a lovely clear-out-the-liquor-cabinet-party, which unleashed my inner, unbeknownst-until-now, karaoke queen. I can’t recall all of the songs I sang, solo and with various singing partners, but I do know I was challenged to sing “Sorry Miss Jackson,” “Like a G6,” and “Drop it Like it’s Hot,” so I channeled my inner OG from west-side Weldona, and I killed it. Hahaha! It was so much fun, you guys! I have found a new hobby.
The adventure continued yesterday by trying a traditional “poor-man’s food.” Made from cow’s feet, beans and vegetables, mocoto has a flavorful base. A little sour and a little bitter, but good. However, translucent tendons were enough to turn my stomach away from being able to eat much more than a few spoonsful of the thick soup, and I don’t think I’ll be trying it again. Thankfully, there was plenty of other really good food at this small restaurant named after the soup: my new favorite, escondidinho. Filled with carne and queijo (beef and cheese) and some onions and peppers, it reminded me of shepherd’s pie. Baiao-de-Dois was another star: rice and beans with “curdled cheese, sausage, bacon, and jerked beef.” Their farofa was the best I’ve had since I got here, and that bowl of white stuff next to my beer, that’s a bowl of cheese spread that made me very happy. We also had some pork that rocked. Amazing food here, and each time I try something new I think of, and miss my Dad. He’s going to love all of this great food, maybe even the mocoto, and I hope to share all of it with him. (How’s that passport coming along, Dad?)
The rest of the night continued to feed my soul: watching a lovely performance by the singer Cèu, witnessing a vibrant Samba practice, riding on the back of a motorcycle, shooting
pool… it was the perfect night and the perfect way to “end” the first week of my truly-intentional-living. Let the journey continue….