- Wild Animals – I had my first viewing of a wild animal during one of my runs here. I had just returned from a day trip, and it was dusk… I was staying with friends on a remote peninsula on the east coast of Brazil, south of Salvador (Barre Grande). I went for a quick run, and was on a dirt road with foliage on both sides, and heard a rustling to my left. Now, I would love to make up something about it being a big jungle cat or something, but its possible it was just a dog. It was getting dark, and I didn´t have my glasses on. It was about the size of a medium size dog, and it looked at me for a second, then dove back into the thick brush. From my viewpoint, it didn´t move like a dog, and I hadn´t seen any other stray dogs that ran away from humans. Anyhow, it didn´t have to be anything scary… I was in the middle of Brazil, running alone on a dirt “road” without much light. Anything larger than a rat would have scared the daylights out of me. For a second, the macho side of me came out , and I tried to not be notice my flight or fight response, but then I thought “What the hell am I trying to prove?” and I turned around and ran home faster than I came. God bless legspeed.
- The View of America – I was comparing cuisines with my brazilian friends yesterday, and they were convinced that Americans were fat because of all the bacon and eggs that we eat every morning. I can´t remember the last time I ate bacon and eggs for breakfast, but they don´t take my word because I´m a “fake” American… in their words: I look Brazilian, have “dos Santos” for a last name, am nice (Americans seem standoff-ish in this physical culture), and am skinny. Anyhow, the point is that they think everyone eats bacon, everyday. Why? Because that what is shown in all the movies. As warped as this might be, its scary to think of what the world´s view of the US consists of. After all, who doesn´t think of lions, zebras and giraffes when I say Africa? If the rest of the world is getting their view of the US from pop culture,… no wonder Americans aren´t looked fondly upon. Imagine what other misconceptions they must have? Our pop culture (sometimes in its worst form) is so pervasive.
- Luiz – My friends and I were staying at a simple “pousada” which is basically a room, and breakfast in the morning. I had a single bed underneath a window. I kept the window open (it wasn´t so much a window, as a part of the wall on hinges) because I wanted the breeze during the night (no air conditioning, but we were on the beach, so the breeze was plentiful). The room was standalone, so at ground level, and I knew anyone could easily hop in through the window if they wanted, but we were in a remote area, so I had gone to sleep without worries. Anyhow, at first, I woke up because my friend Priscilla was up. I sat up to attention when I saw a silhouette in the window near the sink, and was about to leap out of bed when I noticed it was her. I calmed my thumping heart, and went back to bed. When I woke again, a large hand had reached in the window and was about a foot from my head. I looked up and saw a large black man looking back at me. Again I leapt to attention, this time fully up in my bed. I scared him a bit, because he backed of and said “It´s going to rain, it´s going to rain.” It was Luiz, the general manager of sorts, who was trying to close my window before I got wet. After deciphering his portuguese, I raised my hand in understanding, closed the window, and tried to get a few more winks in. Sigh.
- The Showers – So anyhow, besides Luiz, views of America or wild animals, the thing that scares me the most in Brazil is the showers. Depending on where you are, sometimes there is hot water and sometimes there is not. Even in the nicest places, I have not found central hot water, but instead there is an electric apparatus that is part of your showerhead that heats the water. There are three settings for heat and a switch to choose. The first time I tried to change the temperature, I didn´t understand the words, so I was trying all the settings. Every time I switched it, I could see a flash of charge behind the plastic of the showerhead. A bit alarming, but hey, no harm, no foul. Recently, in one of the pousadas, I tried the same endeavor, as I like cold showers in this hot climate. This time I got a slight buzzing sensation, which turned into a stronger sensation, then pain. I got quite a shock before I realized what was happening. I looked at the shower head, and there were all kinds of wires hanging out (no plastic sheath on some of them). Holy smokes! I talked with my friends today, who laughed heartily at my stupid gringo ways. Apparently every brazilian knows not to touch the shower head after you are wet. I didn´t see any such directions, and at the normal 240V that they have here, wet or not, I´ll be letting the person in front of me decide my water temperature from now on.
I love this country. Pictures to come.