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.