Wednesday, February 13, 2013


It is my New Year's resolution to update my blog.  By now most people have abandoned their resolutions so I guess it's time to get started.  One of the obstacles has been where to jump in.  I was thinking to start when my sister Vicki was here, but it's hard to write when you are trying to get stuff done.  But anyway, I definitely know where to start now.  Carnaval.
First it is important to mention that I am not a partying type, and though I actually do know the person who wrote Rio for Partiers (and he does want to change the name), I am not a partier.  And had no plans to party during the largest party in the world.
So I sat down to lunch at school last Friday, the Friday before we'd have a week off for Carnaval.  I had actually walked past that table but then decided I could squeeze in so went back.  They were talking about Carnaval, of course, and soon I learned that many of them were going to be IN the parade, and shortly after that I learned they had an extra ticket.  My eyes got very wide.  It really only took about 5 seconds to fully process, and most of that time wasn't about the $R800 ticket/costume expense but about staying up all night (that's hard for me people!).  So Steve told my husband and Brian couldn't hear in the cafeteria (I'm sure it was more disbelief) and then when I told him, he was a bit cranky about it.  But it's Brazil and he is different in Brazil so instead of being predictably cranky about the expense it was that he wanted to be in it too!!!!!  I couldn't get another ticket though, and once he saw the costume he decided he was ok with it.
The next day Brian went to Monique's to get the costume.  He had the money with him but totally forgot to hand it over because he was so excited about Antonio's motorcyle (another story).  When he brought the costume we couldn't believe it.  Pink dolphin on one shoulder, baby blue on the other, held up by a big metal vest thing, and I can't even begin to describe the rest.  But it was a LOT more clothes than I ever remember seeing anyone where for Carnaval!
So Monday night, after a long day in the pool, it was time to go.  Addison had fallen asleep by the time we were going to get in the car, so we ended up leaving Mack with him (the neighbors were partying in the pool area just outside his bedroom and would keep an eye on things).  Waiting at Monique's peope tried to squeeze into painted and decorated straw hats that were too small (I just ripped out me plastic insert and used the glue to fasten the hat directly to my forehead).  People complained of the white shoes being too small or too big and rose their eyebrows at the costumes when seeing them the first time.  Getting 8 people and 8 gigantic costumes into the cabs was tough.  The dolphins were a bit fragile.  3 cabs.  We were dropped off on the wrong side of the Sambadromo (the costume guy gave Antonio the wrong direction) so we began a long trek all the way around  At least a mile.  During which I saw lots of different costumes, children of all ages (it was after 11:00 p.m. by now) and the impressive spectacle of thousands of people with a sense of purpose.  At one point on the trek a young man ran toward me with great speed.  Uh oh.  People aren't moving that fast here so I suspected trouble.  Within moments we came upon a man who had another boy down on the ground (likely a robbery interrupted) and some others started to scream and gather.  All I could think about was my dolphins getting crushed so I tiptoed in the opposite direction.
Between hot flashes, the general heat and my resolve not to drink (the costume did not allow for bathroom use) it started to feel surreal and I longed to see some others with pink dolphins on their shoulders...  Alas we did see a couple others and had arrived at the general area we needed to be, but outside of the fenced holding area where we would cue up.   We futzed with each other's costumes, took pictures, some had a beer or a coke (not me).  Brian (not my Brian) found a program on the ground with the Imperatriz song so we practiced that a bit.  At about 12:30 we headed into the holding area.  It was one of those things were suddenly people just start moving with no apparent signals.  The thirst was getting intense so when a guy yelled in my ear that he had coca GELADO I broke down and got a coke.  Dripping with icy water.  The feel of the can alone could have been enough.  It felt like a commercial and it tasted like the commercial makes you want to think it tastes.  Best coke I ever had.  I just wanted a few sips but there was no stopping.  As I finished we were entering the gates and I was wondering where I would put it when this man shot toward me and took it, saying no cans allowed.
We walked past amazing floats, staring up, taking photos (not me, mine wasn't working).  We found our spot and there were more dolphins gathering, yeah.  We looked funny but we were home!
Our slot to go on was 1:20.  Fireworks went off but it was not for us, it was for the school before us, so we had another 2 hour wait.  After an hour some of the organizers came and started giving directions, lining us up, telling us to hold hands, telling us to look really happy and jump a little bit and always follow directions.  Then they would leave and we would relax and they would come back and get us all back in shape again, telling us not to relax.  In all the jostling I ended up holding hands with a wonderful Brazilian girl who kept helping me adjust my costume (the collar kept falling forward).
At about 3:15 a.m. we were all in place and started to move in a procession toward the Sambadromo runway.  I started to feel hot behind my eyes and I thought I was going to cry.
The section in front of us was wearing large crosses and colorful streamers.  We stopped moving for a minute and one of the guys from that section darted toward the porta-potty.  He could't fit in.  Everyone laughed and he looked over his shoulder and decided it would be okay, so he did the best he could, peeing in public with a cross on his back.  Then we were on the move again, port-potty man back in his section.  The fence was lined with spectators and there was one guy commenting on everyone.  He was yelling how beautiful the costumes are, mentioning details and encouragement, then he saw us and he said we gave him "um grande rir"---a big laugh.  He looked straight at me and we laughed together and I will always remember that moment.  I got hotter behind my eyes and I was thrilled straight through with anticipation as we started to come into the lights.  As we rounded the corner people with headphones and mikes were moving with us, telling us to hurry up, slow down, smile.  One guy descended on us singing the song and whipping us up with large arm movements.  Then we were around the corner and there was the Sambadromo.  People, lights.  As I sensed the enormity I also got in touch with my small space and my small responsibility and I moved my arms so the streamers would sway and I smiled and sang with my mouth wide open like the good singers do and I danced the best I could.  My back hurt but I completely ignored it.  I looked ahead, looked up, I wanted to touch the crowd and some people were reaching out but it seemed we probably couldn't do that.  I could feel sweat dripping down, flying off in arcs.  Keep going.  Smile.  Sing with your mouth open wide.  Dance.  Move your arms so the streamers stream.  There were cameras, big ones.  Lots of drums keeping the beat of the flying sweat.
The pink and blue leg things actually go on the arms...
Then Monique took my hand as we were at the end, pressing toward an exit gate where everyone had to go.  I looked down to keep my footing.  The crowd felt tight and a little scary, like if something set off a panic.  But nothing did.  We exited into piles of costumes, trucks loading costumes, and mountains of garbage.  We moved with the crowd into the tunnel where we realized we were separated from half of our group.  I tried to hail a cab.  There was one but then it was gone.  There were 5 of us and we resigned to discard our dolphins, hats and costume pieces.  I wish I hadn't.  After about 15 minutes we got a bus.  Antonio fell asleep.  It was 5:00 a.m.  When it let us off in Leblon the town was very quiet.  I got a cab and we kissed good-byes, slippery sweaty happy cheek kisses.  And the cab driver asked me what school I was in.  Though everyone dresses up for all kinds of reasons during Carnaval, something about the costume or time of day or me told him I came from the Sambadromo.  So I said Imperatriz and he sort of whistled it as he repeated it:  Imperatriz.

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 12, 2012, which is Dia de Criancas in Brazil--Children's Day (no school!).  Presents, games and a special meal will be involved. 
Mack has been asking for days to have a website called "" and I suggested he start with a post to our blog (which I will be updating hopefully this weekend and regularly after that).  
From Mack:  
A good tip is to behave when your parents tell you to.  
If you behave then you might get a special treat or even if you don't you feel good because you know you did the right thing.  
Each week I will tell you a new way to love your parents.  This week the tip is snuggle up in your bed at night with your parents or have fun while making snickerdoodles with your parents.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The news: breaking it

February and March, 2012
At first it didn't seem too real, and no one believed it anyway so that helped.  But after skypeing a few times with the headmaster it did seem real and Brian and I made a pros and cons list for moving to Rio.  The boys' education--pro column.  Learning language--pro column.  Selling everything...Bri didn't hesitate for a second--pro column.  My career--pro column.  The only thing that landed in the con column was that Brian's work will be quite different from what he is used to, but I pointed out that it could pretty easily land in the pro column.
During a late night Sunday skype late in March we didn't realize someone was wide awake in bed, listening to every word.  Monday Mack went to school and drew a large apartment building, announcing to his class (which would be my place of employment as well) that we are moving to "Bercil."  So begins the long process of it all sinking in.
Running around to collect original documents, getting them certified by the Secretary of State, getting them consularized by the Brazilian Consulate, having lunch at the Purple Pig with my sister and nieces.  FedEx them all off, tracking them every few hours because it feels like a big thing.  
As we shared the news people fell into two camps:  immediately amazed and enthusiastic (we have definitely advanced in standing!), or initially protesting but eventually seeing that it could be super cool.
Waiting.  Starting to correspond frequently with people at the school, getting ready by buying a car (Peugot), having a rummage sale (there will be more), drawing down our possessions in many ways, going to Portuguese lessons (that is me getting it back so we can get around).
When Addison is told "no" he now asks "Will I be able to in Brazil?"