Sunday, December 27, 2015

Stitch Fix #4: The One That Arrived Just In Time for Christmas

If you haven't heard about Stitch Fix, then you're really missing out. In 100 words or less-- it's like a subscription box, but you can choose when to have it delivered. You fill out a style profile and your stylist sends you 5 items. You have five days to try on everything and you send back what you don't want. Easy, peasy. 

Stitch Fix's only downfall is that it doesn't ship internationally, so I can only schedule fixes when I am in the United States. As soon as my arrival date was available for scheduling fixes, I signed right up and counted down the days until I could receive my 4th fix. 

This time around I told my stylist, Tamara, to surprise me. I spend most of my year in Rio de Janeiro, so I'm always looking around for new summer clothes, but at the same time, I'm spending the next month in cooler temperatures, so I'm also on the hunt for some winter wear.

She seriously delivered-- Merry Christmas to me! 

Renee C Jordie Abstract Print Maxi Skirt ($58)
Verdict: Kept

Guys, it's HOT in Brazil. One of the days before I left, there was a heat index of 118°. Skirts and tank tops are not out of the question; they're actually a necessity. So this skirt is great. It was soft, soft, soft. It's actually navy, not blue, and I have a TON of blue shirts in my wardrobe already which means that I have plenty of shirts that will match, I do need to hem it a little bit, but that's not a deal breaker.

Kut from the Kloth Jonathon Skinny Corduroy ($48)
Verdict: Kept  
I received pants like these for Christmas when I was 13ish and distinctly remember my mother leaning over and saying "Just smile, say thank you, and we can return them later." 12 years later and I'm willing keeping these pants. They're a light pink corduroy and actually a little too long for me. But cuffing your pants is all the rage these days, so it works out for me. (But maybe I'm shorter than I think and really need to change my style profile?!)

Collette Baraboo Swing Knit Tank ($48)
Verdict: Kept

Was there any question that I was going to keep this shirt? As soon as I peeked, I knew that this would be hanging in my closet very shortly. I really enjoy the length, but it did seem a little bit wide. Like if I was to pull out the sides, it was a little cape-y. Not enough to make me send the shirt back, but I did make a note in my style profile that I would like to size down in shirts like this in the future.

Fate Windsor Lace Detail Blouse ($54)
Verdict: Kept

Isn't this color beautiful?! Wear it was jeans (and my amazing TOMS booties) or wear it with a pencil skirt for teaching. Boom. Done. Get in my closet.

Octavia Raymond Plaid & Polka Dot Scarf ($38)
Verdict: Kept

Winter wear. After 118° temperatures, even the 50's that we've been having in Ohio make me feel cold. So a nice soft, not itchy scarf is just what I need. It's also really colorful, so it'll match a lot of different outfits that I already have. I can't say that it'll be making the trek back to Rio with me, but it'll certainly get a ton of use while I am in the States. 

Okay, okay. So I kept it all. All five things are finding a new home with me. Part of is that I can't say no to things that I like. Part of it is that my stylist, Tamara, is awesome. I love that she writes in Portuguese. It always makes it feel really personalized. 

Stitch Fix #3: The One I Had Mailed To Ohio and Brought to Vegas 
Stitch Fix #2: The One Where Details Matter
Stitch Fix #1: The One Where I Understood the Obsession

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

Due to a serious of unfortunate events that ended up really working out in my favor, Kelly and I decided to spend a couple of days traveling in Brazil after school ended for the Christmas holiday. Next thing we knew, we had booked our plane tickets to jet on over to Foz do Iguaçu for a couple of days. 

Foz do Iguaçu is awesome. It's one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World (depending on which list you read). It's where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay all meet. It's home to waterfalls that put Niagara Falls to shame.

We left late, late, late on Friday night and arrived early, early, early on Saturday morning. We also stayed at the coolest hostel in the entire world-- Tetris Container Hostel. It's as interesting as it sounds, I promise. The whole hostel is constructed from old shipping containers-- the hostel itself, the pool, the bar. Really. We didn't appreciate it when we rolled on up in the wee hours of Saturday morning, but we did appreciate it later. We especially appreciated it during "Caipi O'Clock" AKA free caipirinhas each night. 

Before coming to the falls, we didn't really research much about what to do in Foz do Iguaçu because we wanted to just go with the flow. Hang out. Relax. It is vacation, afterall. The one thing we had heard is that the Argentinian side of the falls is more impressive so it's better to check out the Brazilian side first as to not be disappointed. Check. Done. And we definitely weren't disappointed.

Kelly and I spent about 3-4 hours at the park walking along a very easy trail that provided us with so many GORGEOUS views of the falls. It was also pouring rain the entire time we were there. My water-resistant raincoat didn't even stand a chance. The sub-par weather didn't make the experience any less incredible and beautiful, though.

First view of the falls. Obviously channeling my inner Lebron.

The trail dumps you out at the Garganta do Diabo/ Garganta del Diablo/ Devil's Throat which is basically where a bunch of waterfalls come together and there's a ton of water. (That's a horribly simplified explanation.) We were already soaked, so we passed on the rain ponchos. Poor choice, should have definitely bought the ponchos. It was so rainy/ windy/ misty; we left DRENCHED. But smiling.

At the Devil's Throat.
So excited that I couldn't even keep my eyes open. 

We closed out our first day in Foz do Iguaçu with an hour long wait for the bus, a bus ride to no where, and a 20 minute uphill walk to see the Marco do Tres Fronteiras, or the point where all three countries come together. Which ended up being a big fail because it was actually closed for construction until the day after we left. But using our pathetic looks and heavy breathing from walking sweet charm, one of the workers offered to give us a ride back into the town. Which, of course, I assumed was safe because he and I were speaking in Spanish. We had to wait about 10 minutes before the end of his shift was over, so we all hung around speaking Spanish and I asked what was actually happening down at the monument. And since we're so charming, he took us past the point where everyone else had to turn about and let us see what was happening. It was definitely still a letdown, but we technically saw the monument.

After conquering the Brazilian side, we obviously had to see the Argentinian side of the falls. As if there was even a question as to whether or not that was going to happen. I mean, the $160 that we each paid for a visa to Argentina pretty much confirmed that we were going. So we hopped on an all-day Argentinian tour and I was beside myself with happiness from hearing Spanish all day.

Our first stop on the tour was to see the Marco de las Tres Fronteras in Argentina. So we weren't able to get up close and personal with the one in Brazil, but we did get to see the one in Argentina. Worth the hype. We could also see the Brazilian one that they were working on and Kelly and I were both a little bitter when we saw it. Too soon, I suppose. 

After stopping at the Marco de las Tres Fronteras, we made our way to the falls. Where two parts of our tour were closed because the river was too high and the water was too strong and the bridges had broke in different places or were underwater. I was bummed, but listen, I'm not messing around with water that powerful. We walked A LOT and saw the falls from almost every place possible. I'm currently creating a flip book of all the photos where my hands are in the air, don't worry.

Salto Dos Hermanos.
Blue skies and sunshine came out to play.
Lesson learned from the day before.

Since I'm a wild party animal and I love the cold weather (HA!) , I basically HAD to visit the Ice Bar in Puerto Iguazu while we were in Argentina. Unfortunately, I was ill-prepared and only had shorts and flip flops, but being from the snowbelt must have prepared me for the cold temperatures because I didn't die. We suited up in our parkas and gloves and spent 30 minutes in the ice bar (which was a balmy 14-20F) drinking unlimited drinks. Money well spent.

As a Christmas present to myself, I didn't set a budget for the trip. If I wanted something, I was going to buy it. If I wanted to do something, I was going to pay for it. It's likely that I won't make it back to Foz do Iguaçu and I didn't want to leave with regrets. Because of this philosophy, I forked over some cash and took a helicopter ride over the falls. I was SO excited that one of the workers had to tell me to calm down. I am not ashamed. It was worth every single penny that I spent on it-- one of the coolest things I have ever done.

After seeing the falls via bus, trails on the Brazilian side, trails on the Argentinian side, and helicopter, Kelly and I figured that we might as well go big or go home and see the falls by boat. We donned our beloved ponchos (which was the best R$5/ $1.25USD that I have ever spent) and hopped into a speed boat into the falls. I may or may not have squealed like a little girl. I will neither confirm nor deny. 

Each thing we did in Iguaçu was better than the last and Kelly and I were frequently proclaiming that "THIS is the coolest thing I have ever done!" We packed A LOT into two and a half days (Brazilian falls, two trips to Argentina, accepting a ride from a Spanish speaking stranger, a helicopter ride, the Ice Bar, and a boat ride-- just as a recap) and everything about the trip really was some of the coolest stuff I have ever done. Living so far away from home and my family and my friends and American food can really stink sometimes. But then I do something like this and realize that this is my LIFE. And while it's difficult at times, it's also really, really awesome.

Since no adventure is complete without a little travel SNAFU. While we were preparing to land back in Rio, the pilot told us that the runway was crowded so we had to circle a bit before landing. No problem until it was an hour later, we were still circling, and we were running low on fuel. So instead we flew to  Belo Horizonte, which is a city in another state, to re-fuel and then fly back to Rio. But we got a second helping of snacks, so it's all okay.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Harry, I've Reached The Top!

Honestly, if you don't get the reference, are we really even friends? (It's from the greatest movie ever created, Home Alone 2, for any of you who had deprived childhoods.)

Each big city has their famous icon. NYC has the Empire State building, San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge, Paris has the Eiffel Tour, Rome has the Coliseum. And then there's Rio. Rio has so many famous icons. The most popular, of course, is the Christ Statue, but then there's the Sugarloaf and Copacabana. There's also Dois Irmãos which, I'll admit, wouldn't have recognized before moving. (I may or may not have identified it as the Sugarloaf when I was here during student teaching.)

Dois Irmãos is between the beaches of Leblon and São Conrado and frequently stars in many/ all of my sunset pictures. I had to conquer it. In the end, I think it conquered me. 

We'd been saying that we were going to hike each weekend for about six weekends and just never did. Since the student teachers are quickly nearing the end of their time here in Rio, we've really been packing the weekends full. 

We made the mistake of starting our hike around 10:30-11am on a 90° day during almost summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I also totally psyched myself out because I didn't want to lag behind or hold up the group or die or anything else highly embarrassing. So I took a moto-taxi ride through Vidigal up to the beginning of the actual trail. And it was awesome; I so missed riding on the back of a motorcycle. 

That's not to say that I didn't complain A LOT the last 30 minutes of actual trail hiking because that totally happened. But the views were beautiful. Rocked my typical Caitlin pose, as per usual. And yes, definitely exclaimed "Harry, I've reached the top". 

While hiking back down the mountain, we found a family of little monkeys and then I held one. Clearly, I cannot control my facial expressions. 

Dois Irmãos-- you were lovely, but I can't say that we'll ever meet again.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Be Joyful. Pray Always. Give Thanks.

Thanksgiving was, is, and forever will be my favorite holiday. Christmas is my favorite holiday season, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It started selfishly-- you eat, you nap, you don't have to spend your money one presents. It's every college kid's dream. But over the years, I've actually come to love Thanksgiving for the act of giving thanks. You know, the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

Thanskgiving in Honduras 2012. Thanksgiving in Rio 2014.

As with most people, my family and friends top my list for what I am most thankful for. Sadly, it's been four years since I have celebrated Thanksgiving sitting around a table with blood relatives. It's hard, there's no need to sugarcoat it. Each year, Thanksgiving is one of my guaranteed homesick days. It's hard knowing that my brother is flying in and my cousins are driving home and everyone will all be spending time together while I'm thousands of miles away (and usually teaching, nonetheless). 

And yes, I've been so blessed in both Honduras and in Brazil. In each country, my friends and I created our own traditions and eaten delicious meals with the hodge-podge family that we have become. We've played American football with our students. I introduced my students to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We've hosted dinner and made everyone go around and say what they are thankful for. But we also all know that, despite how much fun we are having together, we still miss our friends and family back home. 

Closely following my family and friends on the list of things I'm thankful for is technology. I'm so connected to the people who are important to me and, honestly, I don't think I could live abroad if it wasn't for that. Throughout the course of the day I was able to Skype many of the people who are so special to me. The people who watched me grow through high school and move to college and then make the difficult decisions to move abroad, but who love and support me every single step of the way. 

So to you guys, I'm thankful for all of you. For your love. For your laughter. For your support, even from another country. For your understanding when I text you at 4am because there's a three hour time difference. For being the people who I miss every single day. 

And to these goons. What a perfect day to Skype the 45 babies who filled my life with more joy and laughter and tears and stress than I ever knew what to do with.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Getting Boozy in Búzios

Another three day weekend means another South American adventure. Such is life when you live in Rio de Janeiro.

This time we headed slightly north to Búzios-- another beautiful beach town. I'd never been before, but the beach just calls to me, so off we went!

Transportation can sometimes be a struggle in this country. Partly because we're all so used to having our own cars to take us where we want to go while we're in the States, and partly because we don't speak Portuguese thus making public transportation a real treat. As far as we could tell, there wasn't any sort of Easy Transfer-esque service to Búzios, so we used the 1001 bus company. We left from Rodoviaria in downtown-ish Rio on Saturday morning and arrived at the Búzios bus station a few hours later. Despite not being Easy Transfer, it was quite easy.

Praia João Fernandes-- our home beach
Búzios is a beautiful city. Beautiful. It's not as small as Ilha Grande, especially because cars are permitted, but it definitely doesn't have the hustle and bustle of Rio. We had beach views basically everywhere we went and I loved it. We also really lucked out with the weather and had three gorgeous days even though we were forecasted to have three yucky, rainy days. Thank you Google Weather app for consistently being wrong. 

When we arrived on Saturday we headed straight to the beach. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. A nice little perk of life in Búzios is that the vendors on the beach will let you use their chairs for free, you just have to buy drinks from them. Since our theme of the weekend was "Getting Boozy in Búzios", this was a pretty sweet deal. I had more lime caipirinhas this weekend than I have had in my entire existence in Rio. Really. 

Caipirinha Count for the weekend? 6ish.
Unfortunately, in our haste to soak up some rays, we didn't make it into downtown until later Saturday evening. This meant that most of the tour companies were closed and we had a pretty tough time finding a tour for the following day. We did stumble across one open agency and their tour didn't look bad, so we booked with them. 

We boarded the boat the following day, all ready for some more maritime adventures. We were promised 12 beaches and 3 islands. Which is kind of misleading because then they tell you that you're only stopping at three of the places and just passing the others. We started off on our three hour tour and, unfortunately, almost had as much luck as Gilligan and friends. Stop number one went off without a hitch. Stop number 2 was great until we realized that we'd been bobbing around for quite some time. In our really great Portuguese, we found out that the boat had broken down. Cora, Erin, and I didn't really mind because if we hadn't been laying on the boat getting tan, we would have been laying on the beach getting tan. We also weren't barfing our brains out like many of our traveling companions. Once the boat finally started working, the captain just took us all back to shore and that was the end of our tour. Whomp, whomp. Moral of that story? Book tours early in the day THEN lay in the sun. And always take motion sickness medicine when you're going to be on a boat.

#shamelessselfies #gringadiaries
Group photos are never our strong point. 
We thought Monday was going to be too overcast for a good beach day, so we turned it into a shopping day. Again, Google Weather was wrong and we all fried, so thanks for that. I was able to throw away my money on things that I had to have. And did spot this big guy, so all was not lost.

Fin. Noggin. Duuuude.
We came, we saw, we got boozy in Búzios. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I Just Wanna Free Fall For Awhile

Is it free falling if you're attached to a parachute?

Jewel: You're sure you're up for this?
Blu: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, well it's not like we're just hurling ourselves off a mountain or something. Right?
Rafael: Actually, that was pretty much my entire plan.

Thursday was Teacher's Day here in Brazil which has the potential to be my favorite holiday ever. To celebrate, we decided to jump off the side of a mountain. No big deal. There may have even been a couple conversations that went much like the one above, from the movie Rio.

Earlier this year, Maggie and I went hang gliding with Just Fly Rio which is a company that I highly recommend. Since I had already done hang gliding (and paid a pretty penny for it), I didn't want to go hang gliding again, but FOMO kept me from wanting to stay home while everyone else went. Thus paragliding.

Just Fly Rio only offers hang gliding, so after a little bit of research, I decided to paraglide with Rio Tandem. Another company that I highly recommend. Seriously, its good to do your research before jumping off a cliff. Regardless of whether or not you're attached to a parachute.

It was awesome. A phrase you can hear me say countless time if you were to watch the video. Rio Tandem was an awesome company to fly with-- my guide was awesome and chatted with me in three different languages throughout the course of our flight (after asking if it was okay, of course), and I walked away with a video and hundreds of GoPro videos of out entire flight. Moral of that story? If you're into paragliding in Rio, there's really no other choice than Rio Tandem.

Were I to hang glide or paraglide again (which I totally would), I would like to do it somewhere new as I have now jumped off of Pedra Bonita twice. Not a bad thing, but I'd like to see some new views. #firstworldproblems

Perks of being a teacher in Rio de Janiero.

Friday, October 16, 2015

It's Bad Manners to Keep A Vacation Waiting

I'm going to go ahead and blame my love of the beach on living so close to Mentor Headlands and going there every summer (and fall and winter and spring) for as long as I can remember. In happy times and in sad times, I have always escaped to Mentor Headlands. I've slowly moved farther and farther away from my beloved beach, but have definitely projected my love for Headlands onto other beaches. 
1992, 1993, 1994, and 2014. Some things never change.

Being at a beach, any beach, instantly lifts my mood. So when talk of heading back to Ilha Grande was going around, I wasn't about to say no. I would have gone hungry for a week if that's what it took to save money to go there for a weekend. It didn't, but I would have.

The many faces of me at the beach. #shamelessselfies
I love the feel of Ilha Grande. There are no cars, so time seems to move so much slower. There are restaurants lining the beach with their tables placed right in the sand. Boats are constantly pulling up to shore to drop people off or take them to another beach. Everyone is always slightly sunburnt, barefoot, and wearing a bathing suit. Everything and everyone seems so much more relaxed. And its awesome. 

We joined the sunburnt, barefoot, bathing suit clad community for entire weekend of boat riding and beach hopping. I honestly don't think there is a better way to spend a weekend. Heaven will be like Ilha Grande, I have no doubt.

As Matt, Maggie, and I on our Spring Break Adventure, we used Easy Transfer to get to the island. I could live without the 7am pick-up, but it does get us to the island around 1:30pm. Which is plenty of time for apple cinnamon crepes, sunbathing on the beach, and caipirinhas in the sand. It's also enough time to book a full island tour for the following day, but then be told that the tour is off (and then back on) at least three times.

Our entire night of praying/ begging for weather perfect for a full island tour must have paid off because on Sunday morning, we boarded a speed boat to take us around the island. Over the course of the day we stopped at Lopes Mendes and Dois Rios (just to look at from afar) and Caxadaço, Parnaioca, Aventureiro, Meros, and Manguariquessaba (for swimming and other shenanigans.) It was an awesome day. 

In Caxadaço, we jumped off baby cliffs. Which, in retrospect, weren't that high at all. In Parnaioca, we walked to a fake waterfall which was really just a river with some small rocks in it-- let down. In Aventureiro, we saw the horizontal growing palm tree and scaled a giant boulder for awesome 360 views of the beach. Terrifying, but awesome. In Meros, we stayed in the boat because the sun went behind the clouds and we were cold. Plus we had caipirinhas to drink. And, finally, in Manguariquessaba, we saw a real live sea turtle in the wild. My life is now complete.

L to R: Caxadaço, Parnaioca, Aventureiro, Mero, and Manguariquessaba
I know, right. I live in a real life screen saver. 

And since we can sleep when we are dead, we were up nice and early on Monday for another boat tour. This time to Lagoa Azul for a little snorkeling action. We made a couple of stops before arriving in Lagoa Azul, but again, the sun was nowhere to be seen and we were cold so we stayed on the boat. #gringalife 

Snorkeling was a huge hit-- fish by the hundreds. As well as countless jumps off the boat because we could and more selfies that I'm comfortable with admitting. We also got cake because someone else on our boat was celebrating their birthday (thanks, stranger) and then saw dolphins swimming through the waves created by our boat. Seriously, how is this my life? How is this a casual weekend of life in Rio? HOW?!

And to round out our weekend, our two and a half hour trip home became a seven hour trip home because everyone else in Rio was heading back after a long week and the traffic was atrocious. It was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect weekend.

See the little red dots before the green pin? It took us almost three hours to drive that far. 
Ilha Grande (or "Grand Island" as my phone so appropriately calls it) may not be Mentor Headlands, but it rejuvenates my soul in the same way. And I didn't even have to go hungry the week prior to get there.

Monday, October 5, 2015

How Do You Measure A Year?

It's been exactly one year since I started calling Rio de Janeiro home.

At the risk of sounding a lot like a popular musical melody, how do you measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets? In midnights, in cups of coffee? In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife? In five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes? How do you measure, a year in the life?

(Don't worry, I'll be here all night. )

But really. In school days, in late nights? In roommates, in caipirinhas? In meetings, in field trips, in laughter, in tears? In thirty three thousand, nine hundred and three frequent flier miles? How do I measure a year in my life?

One year ago I woke up on an airplane, cried my way through customs, got carsick on the way to my new home, and made an awesome first impression with my roommates when I walked out of my bedroom and said "Hi, I'm Caitlin. Do you have bowl or something that I could throw up into?"

(Seriously. I used to cry every. single. day. before school and usually at least once during school. I used to throw up almost every morning and would then usually stand in the bathroom at school thinking about throwing up. Every. Single. Day. To say that I was a real joy to be around is a serious understatement.)

Thankfully, exactly 365 days later, my morning started off very differently. I woke up in my bed with my pillows and my blankets, hit the snooze button way too many times, spent far too long deciding what to wear, and then ate a breakfast that wasn't served off a cart with my friends before being greeted by hugs from my students. (Because, you know, two days is a long time to be away from your teacher.)

Life has become excitingly average. In a good way. I don't wake up with the fear that I would throw up before the 8am bell rings and stepping into my class doesn't cause my eyes to fill with tears. I feel comfortable with my decision to be here and I am confident that it is where I am supposed to be right now.

Has this past year been easy? No. Has it been an adventure? You betcha. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Because despite all of the struggles and all of the tears, I really do love it here. I love my students and their crazy stories. I love my friends and their insane ways of making me laugh every day. I love the food. I love living at one of the most famous beaches in the world. I love that 70 degrees is considered cold. I love all of the hugs that I get every single day. Mostly, I love knowing that I did what was right for me even when it wasn't what I wanted to do and it actually worked out. I love knowing that I pushed myself so far outside of my comfort zone and still ended up on the other side. I love the person I became because of the struggles that I went through.

I wish I could say that I came up with this idea, but I actually got it from a friend.

A lot can happen in a year. A lot of sunsets, a lot of laugher. A lot of mate on the beach, a lot of tears. A lot of growth. Definitely a lot of growth.

Also can we address the irony that is me begging someone to buy me a plane ticket to Rio exactly 365 days before I landed here again?

Monday, September 28, 2015

To Have Another Language Is To Possess A Second Soul.

Listen. Learning languages is tough. Like, sometimes I kind of want to roll over and die because my brain is a constant jumble of words in English and Portuguese and Spanish and because 99% of my time speaking Portuguese is spent focusing way too freaking hard on making sounds that I cannot physically make.

Grammar and sentence structure is similar in Portuguese and Spanish which is a huge help, and a large handful of vocabulary is similar. But that's where the similarities stop. Don't let anyone fool you into believing that if you know Spanish, you'll be able to fully understand Portuguese. It's a flat out lie. Especially here in Rio where the accent is INCREDIBLY different from Spanish.

Between English and Spanish and Portuguese, I feel like brain is constantly "ON". And, honestly, not making a ton of sense of anything. I'm exhausted ALL the time. And while I can blame part of that on late night reading in bed, a lot of it is due to always trying to listen and understand and translate and think of a response and translate and repeat. Conversations take a LONG time. 

All day, every day.
Not only am I constantly having to really work at having conversations, but the world around me is in Portuguese. Leaving my house means coming in contact with Portuguese. Going shopping (especially trying on clothes)? Better believe I have to talk to someone in Portuguese. Dinner and drinks after a week at school? Good luck ordering that food if you don't speak Portuguese. Want to get your haircut? Want to get your nails done? Think if its actually worth the time and effort. I am fully capable of doing those things (and doing them well!) in English and Spanish, but literally every single this is more difficult here because I don't speak the language. 

My brain is constantly on. Constantly. And it's tired.

In order to give my tired brain a break, I decided to start taking Portuguese lessons. Which, honestly, is something that I should have done a long time ago. But I didn't and here we are now. I've officially had three classes and am really good at saying things like "calma, relaxe, sem estresse" (calm down, relax, without stress). It's obviously a process, I'm not going to be fluent in just three lessons. Eventually it'll get easier and my brain can relaxe.

I must say, that even after only two lessons, it was awesome to go out to dinner and have a "conversation" with the waiter. The waiter who unknowingly followed the exact script that we learned during my first lesson. Thank you, friendly waiter.

By conversation, I mean the following:
"Boa noite. Meu nome é Antonio. É o seu?"
"Meu nome é Caitlin. Muito prazer."

And then I reverted to pointing at then menu to ask for what I wanted to eat. In my defense, it was really freaking loud in the restaurant and I was seated far away from where he was standing to take my order. Baby steps, ladies and gentlemen.

Also, this is how I feel 100% of the time when talking to people who say that I should be fluent in Portuguese because I speak Spanish. Preach it, Batman.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Honduras is Great.

This past Tuesday, September 15, was Independence Day in Honduras. As I wasn't able to be in Honduras celebrating with parades and fireworks and trips to Copan or Tela, I celebrated in Brazil with a trip to Ipanema. And by wearing my Honduran soccer jersey to school.

Kelly and I went to the beach despite the rainy weather and overcast skies (cabin fever, remember?) and since the beach was empty, it was the perfect opportunity to take pictures with my beloved bandera de Honduras. When I returned home, I Facebook messaged it to a Facebook page, Honduras is Great. Next thing I knew, they had posted it to their Facebook wall. And now I'm an internet sensation. Just kidding.

I did start Facebook chatting with a Honduran who is living here in Rio which is  AWESOME. We chatted about all things Honduras and commiserated together about how there are no baleadas in this country. My catracha heart was so, so full.

It's a beautiful life I'm living where I can combine my love of three very different countries each day. To say that I am blessed is an understatement.

For those of you who are wondering, the Spanish says, "Stories that we love... "I'm not a catracha (a Honduran person) by blood, but I'm a catracha at heart. Now I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and I always have Honduras in my heart", these are the words of Caitlin Casavecchia, a young North American who fell in love with Honduras while living with us for two years. A Honduran sister, like many others who were born in other places, shows that the only thing you need to be Honduras is to love this country."