Sunday, July 18, 2010

The last days of Rio

So as I said, I arrived at the hostel in Rio de Janeiro, for my 3rd trip there, about an hour before the Chicago amigos. The day before, I had received my ‘official’ acceptance letter from Ghent University to the master fire protection program. Oddly enough, the letter said ‘September 2010’. At that time, I was not too worried. I figured she made a mistake, since our previous 10 emails had mentioned September 2011. So I just sent her an email to clarify this.

Well, I had a big surprise waiting in Rio. After I checked into the hostel, I checked my email, and found a pleasant little email from the coordinator saying that it was in fact September 2010! I was quite frustrated as to how such a big detail could be overlooked. Plus, after I read that, my head just started spinning for at least the next 24 to 48 hours at the quantity of things and changes that needed to be done immediately and in the next few months before I arrive in Scotland to become a student with less than 60 days notice. I didn’t really know where to start.

After reading that, I think I needed to cool off a bit and think slower. The sun was just starting to set, so I walked a few blocks to the Copacabana beach, bought a Brahma, and sat in the sand while watching the sun set. I think I’ll remember that for awhile. I was just trying to think of the things I needed to do….flights…visas….admission stuff…insurance…, lots of stuff. Plus, I was thinking about all the plans I had that were now officially cancelled. But of course, all for a good reason.

Watching the sunset from Copacabana beach:

After processing all this in my noggin on the beach for an hour, I started walking back to hostel, and bumped into Chicago amigos on the beach. I think they could tell I was flustered right away! Anyways, that night we all went out to Lapa, had a few drinks, and I just tried to think of nothing at all to clear my head. It was a fun night, filled with stuffing too many people in back seats of cabs and some bad dancing.

The next day was the latest Brazil game. Being in Copacabana, we went to the beach to watch it at the massive FifaFanFest tent that was set up. There were thousands of people there watching on the jumbotrons, decked out in their Brasil gear. The sun was poundingly hot. It was quite the scene. I actually ran into Brian and his girlfriend in the second half of the game, and I asked to stay at his place so I could have real internet and make some phone calls instead of dealing with the crap hostel facilities I was working with.

Their eyes are set on the jumbotron:

One side of FifaFanFest:

Just part of the scene:

Everyone decked out in green, yellow, & blue:

Unfortunately, Brazil lost the game. There was not much hooplah, just a bunch of dejected & stunned people now hoping that Argentina would lose their next game as well. They blamed it on the coach, Dunga, who was fired shortly thereafter. Chicagoan’s proceeded to do touristy things that I have already done, and I spent some time with a little TCB (takin care of business) that afternoon. Then, we went to the most expensive restaurant of my entire trip. Thankfully, it was fejoida, which you can’t go wrong with, and at that point I had realized I had so little time left in Rio, so the price was of no importance. Admittedly, Dulce’s (Brian’s mom) fejoida was much better.

Chicagoan’s did more touristy things the next day. I took in some sun in Copacabana and Flamengo beaches, and made it my mission to enjoy the beach and beautiful scenery as much as possible the next 3 or 4 days. I had purchased a ticket to Brasilia when I arrived in Rio, but had to make a hard decision and decided it was just too much to do in too little time, and I needed to be available to get work done on the program. I headed to Brian’s in the afternoon, and stayed there until I left for the next 4 days.

My last two dinners in South America were hilarious. Second to last night: Restaurant that was extremely American like in which I ordered a ‘Chicago burguer’. Thing TGI Friday’s like. Still trying to figure out what made it Chicago. It was huge, though. Last night: Domino’s pizza for the buy one get one free deal. At least the pizza had Brazilian cheese and toppings. And we drank Guarana soda instead of Pepsi or Coke or Mountain Dew. Either way, both meals were still good. I went to the beach between 2 and 4 hours each day Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before I left Wednesday, and got a real decent tan (for a gringo). Enjoyed swimming in the ocean in the middle of winter, and had some fresh young green coconuts. Also, I think I had grilled chicken hearts each day the last 3 days…a new favorite food from Brazil.

Next I am going to write a little bit about the barbecue in favela Rocinha that I went to. A place warranting it’s own blog entry & photos.

The fejoida restaurant didn't give us spoons for dessert, so Rocio went with the next best thing:

Theresa tries out fresh coconut juice:

At a kilo buffet with Jorge, eating chicken hearts in addition to other scrumptious items:

How lovely:

Strolling the beach:

In Brazil their forms of persuading you from smoking take a slightly different approach. Back of a cigarette pack:

The funniest sign I have ever seen:

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