Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cafe da Manha, Centro, e a Copa do Mundo

Boa fim de semana, hope all is well with everyone at home!

A Copa do Mundo
Ahh Sundays… the weekend may be almost over, but I have to admit I'm looking forward to the workweek. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Tuesday will be an abbreviated day at Terrazul, as Brazil plays at 3:30 PM- and when Brazil plays, working is sacrilegious. A Brazilian flag is currently sitting in my closet, waiting to be draped around my back, because even though my loyalties lie with the US, a Brazilian victory would be much more exciting (and probable).

Yesterday we went to a bar close to the apartment for the USA game, even though I shamefully didn't know a single player on the US team prior to the match (Bocanegra is now on my radar, olá!). Luckily many other Americans and Brits were at the bar, providing for a lively atmosphere. Even without our telltale accents, Americans are easy to locate; while the Brits were sitting and watching the game inconspicuously, there's nothing an obnoxious American loves more than a good USA chant, myself included.


Orientation day became orientation week, but I finally know what I’m going to be doing this summer. Terrazul is in the beginning stages of enacting a new project, called Rede Arredores, concerning water quality in the 5 major lakes situated in Barra da Tijuca. The way Rio’s population has geographically distributed itself over time is very pertinent to this subject. Most of the favelas lie on morros (hills), as these are the least desirable areas for home owners. The nicer areas lie in the valleys and beachfronts where the lanscape is flatter and more suitable for construction. This arrangement, however, has taken a toll on all citizens of Rio, whether rich or poor. Favelas often lack adequate sanitation and garbage disposal systems, ergo much of the neighborhoods’ trash ends up in the rivers, which then trickle down the hills into the lakes and waterfronts in the more upscale areas. Terrazul’s main goals concerning Rede Arredores is to monitor the water in Barra’s 5 lakes, improve the conditions, and implement environmental education programs so as to prevent further pollution.

Gaurav and I figure into this project by virtue of our “gringo” status. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Gaurav and I will be translating Terrazul’s website, pamphlets, and movies into English. We’ll also be trying to contact American companies, NGO’s, and universities with an interest in funding the project, since they already have a pretty solid network within Brazil. It’s a pretty cool opportunity for us and funder’s alike; while its common knowledge that the 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio, most people don’t know that Barra da Tijuca, our neighborhood, is where the games will take place. Supporting the environment and getting some major advertising in the area where the Olympics will be held sounds like a win-win situation to me… so I guess this is my call to everyone who reads this blog to put me in contact with a company/organization who is interested in donating a sizeable sum of money. Eh, eh?

On Tuesdays and Thursdays my work is more hands on, which I’m very excited about. One of the after-school programs Terrazul offers the community is the opportunity for 16-18 year olds to run their own film production company. All the films they make have an environmental angle to them, but can pertain to anything from commercials to wedding videos. To this point, the business has been run without really accounting for a budget or a coherent business plan, so I’ll be assisting them in coming up with ideas and becoming more organized. Hopefully I’ll get to see some pretty cool films come out of this project as well.

On Friday Gaurav and I took off work to be tourists for a day with Professora Leslie as our guide. We boarded the metro and got off in Centro, the business and historical district of Rio. The downtown isn’t particularly cohesive; there are these skyscrapers from the 80’s alongside churches built in the 1600’s alongside ultramodern architectural buildings. In all honesty, it doesn't make for a particularly beautiful urban landscape. My favorite part of Centro was the historical district, which consists of a network of alley ways complete with shopping, restaurants, and bazaars that are always packed and full of people yelling and haggling. The coolest place I saw was a Portuguese library straight out of Beauty and The Beast- were it not for the people in there studying I think I would have leapt onto a ladder and begun to belt out "Be Our Guest."

Note to mom: I’ve gotten very accustomed to a bowl of fruit (with mangos, persimmon, apple, and other assorted fruits), along with a pot of coffee, French bread, and cheese being set up at a cute little table before I wake up every morning. To diminish the culture shock when I get home, this arrangement will have to continue. The food here is unreal, which is almost cruel considering that it’s a beach front city. If I keep eating brigadeiros (balls of fudge wrapped in sprkinkles), I may turn into one.

Frase do Dia:
I was going to begin doing a section on a cool Portuguese phrase I learned every time I post, but seeing as how most of the phrases I learned this weekend were some derivative of “filho da puta,” I may wait until next time. My vocabulary has extended largely due to Carolina and her friends, who’ve taken it upon themselves to make sure the two gringos know their street slang. Carolina has been pretty awesome to take us around everywhere and introduce us to all her friends. She hangs with a pretty diverse crowd here in Rio, as friend groups here are much less confined to a specific school like it is in the states. Even though the country lacks the same college scene as us, they undoubtedly know how to party. Carolina is pretty chill to hang out with; she has a sarcastic sense of humor and isn’t afraid to take authority around us, which is quite necessary given our level of clueless-ness. Whenever we arrive somewhere, we're announced as Carolina and her gringos.

Yesterday Carolina and I bonded over our common love of "True Blood"- apparently vamps are as popular in tropical climates as they are in their natural habitat. Coincidentally, it was o Dia de Namorados here in Brazil, meaning that I got to celebrate a single Valentine’s Days not just once, but twice this year. As I'm writing this I also realized that we watched "He's Just not That Into You" yesterday. Dear Lord, I'm such a cliche. I miss you all at home and elsewhere- write to me soon, I love recieving messages (hem, Kristen)!



  1. Note to Liz: I believe I too could become accustomed to a bowl of fresh fruit and a pot of coffee being delivered to my room every morning! Since you are the more familiar with how this works, I would suggest that perhaps you might initiate this ritual for your mother!

  2. hahahaha you and your mom are tooo cute! and for some reason I always thought you were the type to shun anyone for vampire fetishes. (not gona name any names..) but apparently not! trueblood discussion soon

  3. I am sorry I have failed you. Before you left for this soccer obsessed country I should have given you a complete report of the entire American soccer team.