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Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Me gosta de dancar!"

Waking up this morning was the most relaxing thing I could ever imagine! Our hotel room looks out into the pool area, and the windows are simply white wooden blinds that let the sun shine through and light up the entire room. There is also a fountain right outside my window, and the sound of running water puts me to sleep better than anything in the world. Mary Alice probably thinks I am narcoleptic because every time I walk into the room and hear the fountain I swear I almost fall asleep standing up.

But we had no time to sleep in this morning! Breakfast ends at ten am, and there was no way we were going to miss it. The breakfast in Brazil consists of tables and tables of bacon, eggs, sweet bread, and fresh fruit. The fruit is by far my favorite, which literally gets picked and washed off hours before we eat it. They also use the fruit to make juices called sucos. They taste a little different than American juices... they are a little more thick in texture and much, much fresher tasting! They have so many fruits here some don't even exist in the United States! Acai is a big one here. That's the fruit that Oprah is big on for it's health benefits. I think it tastes really bitter and kind of gross, and it stains your teeth purple... but if you add five cups of sugar it gets easier to get down!

The only thing that can overpower the taste of acai here would have to be the Brazilian coffee. They drink it in what looks like little shot glasses, because it is so extremely strong. I had some for breakfast and was shaking for the next couple of hours before the caffeine finally wore off. People here love the taste though because it is not quite as stale tasting as the coffee in the States.

The coffee helped with how much walking we had to do today! We walked to the mall, about a twenty minute walk in the INTENSE heat. At one point, I could have sworn my flip flops were melting on the boiling sidewalk. I will never again complain about how hot it is during recruitment week at Tennessee.

The mall itself was a very different experience. We went to the food court when we first got there and ordering was such a task! I knew how to say "Number 3" in Portuguese, so that is what I ordered! I then gave the worker a blank stare when she asked me another question that went way over my head. My dad had to come over and tell me that she was just saying to sit down, and they would bring the food to me. I have much more sympathy for anyone back home who can't speak English and tries to order food! It gets very frustrating just trying to understand simple phrases and communicate back!

The workers brought out the food to us like I had said... but the weirdest thing was that we had ordered from a fast food restaurant that looked similar to a McDonald's, where waited on service is not expected! In Brazil, apparently, fast food places are seen as a nicer place to eat. In fact, only the wealthy people of Brazil can eat there. This made more sense when we realized that there were security guards outside the mall, not for safety reasons necessarily, but to keep the poor people out. Since there are many beggars and poor people on the streets, the security guard's job is to make sure they don't enter the mall.

Even though McDonald's is seen as an "upscale" restaurant, I would rather eat at a regular Brazilian restaurant any day! For dinner we ate at a restaurant right on the coast of the beach. From our tables we could see the tide roll in and out, and since it was evening the weather was perfect.. warm with a little breeze. The food was amazing as well... everything in Brazil seems to be less greasy and healthier for you. I ate a steak, bacon, and cheese sandwich, and somehow, it seemed healthy because the bread was so fresh and the meat not greased! I tried a new suco called suco de caju or cashew nut juice. It turned out to not have been a very good idea. The initial taste was very sweet, but the after taste was as if I had just drank liquid peanuts. I don't know if anyone has ever tried liquid peanuts, but I was not very happy with the taste at all.

Later that night we experienced our first Brazilian club. We went to a Samba Club, where it was packed from the front of the bar all the way back to the entrance doors. Since the personal space in Brazil is half an arm's length as compared to our American full arm length distance from you to another person... it was very different dancing in a club where random people get very close to you and not think anything of it! The dancing was extremely fun! I still have yet to figure out if I ever danced a real version of Samba, but what I got down from the Brazilians there is it is a dance of shuffling your feet while taking quick steps and exaggerating swinging your hips!

Not only did I learn how to Samba, but I also learned my first Brazilian hand signal. The hand signal looks as if you are making a hand puppet talk with attitude, and it basically means "I am ignoring you, and if you talk to me this hand might just slap you across the face." I had to get taught this hand signal when a very creepy man came up and started to get very close to talk to me. Lucky for me, Lucy, a girl in our study abroad group, yanked me behind her and gave this signal to the guy! This worked very well because just as soon as he had crept his way up, he disappeared back into the crowd! I intend to bring this hand signal back to Knoxville and teach it to all the freshman for any creepy boys the meet at places along the strip!

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