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."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Every Storm Runs Out Of Rain.

And thank goodness they do.

It's been raining for 15 days. We haven't had a day without rain in the entire month of September. I've worn all of my warm clothes at least twice within the past two weeks. This is what Noah must have felt like on the ark.

Since Kelly and I have been plagued with some serious cabin fever, we decided that on Monday (today) we were going to the beach. Rain, shine, snow, hail, whatever. We didn't care. We were going to the beach.

We did. And it was awesome. We saw maaaaaybe 10 other people there the entire time? (Including a man sitting wrapped up in his straight up winter jacket-- hood up and all.) Perfect GoPro opportunities.

Re-doing this gem on a sunny day. It's going to be the money shot.

Also the perfect time for me to practice my handstand. And fail MISERABLY. Haters gonna hate.

After 15 days of gray skies, you'd stop giving a crap with the weatherman says, too...

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny. And the day after that. And the day after that. I'm almost more excited for a 10 day forecast filled with sunshine than I am Christmas. Judge me, it's been awful.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I See You, DuoLingo.

 So there's this app called DuoLingo that was created to help people learn languages. Great concept, but it hasn't been overly helpful, in my experience. I've acquired/ reinforced a lot of vocabulary, but nothing that I have really found to be helpful.

For example, I'm really good at saying "The ant drinks milk", but, even if my life depended on it, I couldn't say "I feel sick and need to go to the doctor".

Anyways, DuoLingo started getting a little fresh last weekend when having me practice all my pick-up lines.

Now I feel adequately prepared for life in Rio.

As long as I don't get sick.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle

... in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.

Kelly, my roommate, and I were feeling a little cabin fever-ish over the weekend, so we decided to get out and explore Rio in a different way-- by bike. 

So on Saturday we packed up our bike baskets with typical bike riding goodies such as water and a GoPro and headed to the nearest gas station because I needed air in both of my tires. We arrived at the gas station and were quite unsuccessful in inflating the tires. After (what felt like an eternity) of struggling, a gas station attendant came over to help us. He was also unsuccessful and sent us to the next closest gas station. 

Do you realize how hard it is to ride a bike with two flat tires? Rather difficult. Do you know how hard it is to ask the gas station attendant for help inflating your bike tires in Portuguese? Rather difficult and involving a lot of charades. 

So, phew. We're finally all set to go and continue to ride around the Lagoa. All 10.8 kilometers. It was awesome.

On Sundays, one lane of the road is closed along the beach in Leblon/ Ipanema/ Copacabana for people to walk and bike ride and long board and roller skate. For whatever reason, bike riding along Avenida Atlantica has been on my bucket list for forever.

Since we had bicycles, we decided to carpe diem and go on a long bike ride on Sunday. All 13.3 kilometers. It was also awesome, but slightly more painful than Saturday's bike ride.

We also had to ride in the street as opposed to the bike lane a couple of times because Kelly and I can't follow directions. Traffic in Rio is a little... wild and my bike control isn't the best. I may or may not have given myself blisters on my hands from gripping the handlebars so tightly in fear of riding right into a bus. A fear that never came to fruition, thank goodness, but the fear was real.

So Rio, so Carioca. So sore, so fun.