Thursday, March 31, 2016

You Can Take The Girls Out Of Ohio...

... but you can't take the Ohio out of the girls.

Let's talk about how much I love Ohio. On a scale of 1 to 10, it's a solid 10. I'm not necessarily going to recommend making a stop there on a journey across the Midwest, but my little heart does start to pitter-patter when my own semi-annual trip to Ohio is on the horizon.

I love Ohio and my hometown, and Cleveland Indians baseball games, and Mentor Headlands,  and Taco Bell. But what I really love about Ohio is all of the people who have adventured through life there with me. 

Melissa and I lived through the awkward high school years together, which included but wasn't limited to, marching band and our spring break trip to Disney as well as theater and winters spent sledding. I have never claimed to have been cool in high school. Since becoming friends, Melissa and I have lived through TEN YEARS of awkwardness together. TEN. YEARS.  It was horrifying to tell this to my students and have them say "Oh my gosh, I wasn't even alive when you guys met!" 

And I was sharing this little tidbit of information with my students BECAUSE MELISSA CAME TO VISIT ME FOR A WEEK!

After a year and a half of life in Rio, I finally had my first visitor. Well, the first visitor who flew to Brazil with the specific intention of visiting me. (Shout out, Grams and Taylor.)

Always representing our home state. 
We packed a lot into a week. Not only did she get to experience Rio de Janeiro, but we also traveled to the state of Bahia in the Northeast of Brazil to play tourists in the little town of Salvador. 

We made three wishes and tied our bracelets onto the fence at the Igreja do Senhor do Bonfim. We ate the best ice cream in all of Salvador at Sorveteria da Ribeira and it was pretty great. We swam at sunset at the Farol da Barra and danced to Olodum on the painted streets of Pelourinho. We almost sweat to death in a town that doesn't have enough air conditioning for being so darn hot. And then at the end of a nice three day weekend, we flew back to Rio where the adventure continued. 

Salvador, Bahia, Brasil
Upon arriving in Rio, we spent Easter morning hanging out with JC at Corcovado. We brunched with the gringo fam. We sipped coconut water on the beaches of Ipanema. We watched the sunset from the top of the Sugarloaf and then wandered the streets of Copacabana in search of good eats and fancy souvenirs. We played Heads Up until way too late and ate authentic American made tacos. We wrangled 38 rambunctious 4th graders on our field trip to the science museum. We stayed up late reminiscing about the old glory days at Chardon High.

Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil
And then after 7 days of Brazilian adventures, we had to say goodbye.

Saying goodbye is always difficult and its something that I have a lot of practice in. I would love to be able to look forward to the future and know that one day I won't have to say goodbyes anymore. Unfortunately, I know that isn't the case because I've chosen to build friendships all over the world and I'll always be missing someone.

And saying goodbye to someone who knew you before the you that you are now always seems to be more difficult. They may not be living the same current experiences as you are now, but they know what you went through to become the person you are now. And it's hard to say goodbye to someone who knows you that well.

For seven short days, I felt like a cooler version of the awkward girl who joined high school marching band because all of her friends were. The tough goodbyes are always worth the feeling of being with people who know you, always worth that moment when you can hug someone from home.

Ms. Melissa, you are always welcome in Rio de Janeiro. Please come back.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Meals at the Metro: The Boua- Kitchen Bar

Restaurant #1: The Boua- Kitchen Bar

Sometimes a person just needs some hearty American food. Like a burger and some beers on tap. (Which sounds like the makings of a country song.) The Boua- Kitchen Bar certainly satisfied every need that I had for some authentic American eats. 

Food photos from me, restaurant photo from Destemperados
Ambience and Environment- 5
The metro station is only a 15-20 minute walk from our house, but it can seem like so much longer when it's hot out. Kenny and I decided to bypass the outdoor seating in favor of the frigid air conditioning temperatures. According to their website, the restaurant is styled after a New York pub and I would say that it definitely fits the bill. It's super industrial with exposed brick and metal pipes and their sound system was blasting all sorts of Top 50 hits.

Service- 3
The service was just average. It wasn't bad, it wasn't great. It just was. In the restaurant's defense, I did have my back to the rest of the restaurant/ waiters and apparently the waiter and Kenny were communicating via eye contact the entire time which is why the waiter didn't come over to check on us.

Menu- 5
Oh, there was all sorts of goodness on the menu at The Boua- Kitchen Bar. Kelly got salmon with vegetables and said she would go back for the vegetables alone. Kenny got some delicious looking bruschetta. And I, of course, got chicken with chimichurri sauce made with malt beer, creamy rice, and french fries. The menu also included many different beverages, both alcohol and non-alcoholic, as well as a variety of beers on tap. The Boua- Kitchen Bar had a pretty extensive menu and a different twist on a lot of the classics.

Wait Time- 3
We waited an average amount of time for our food. Not to the point that we were looking at our watches in anticipation for our food, but it definitely wasn't fast food.

Food Quality- 5
Is it bad if my favorite part of the meal was the drink? Because I ordered the house ice tea with strawberry and cranberry and it was awesome. I would go back just for the ice tea. The portion sizes were more than enough to fill me up and still have some leftovers. Kenny and Kelly both loved their food, so it was thumbs up all around.

Overall Score- 21/25
I've already been thinking about when we can go back to The Boua-- Kitchen Bar, so it's definitely made a lasting impression. While it might not be authentic Brazilian cuisine, it's definitely worth checking out for anyone who is spending any amount of time in Rio.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

February 27.

It was like any other Saturday. Except for the fact that I had Saturday School, but even that isn't out of the norm. I woke up and cut it a tad too close getting to school, I taught, I came home and spent the rest of the day at the beach.

It was like any other Saturday. But it wasn't.

Because my heart was heavy thinking of my snowy hometown. My heart wasn't on the beach in Ipanema, but rather on the hills of Ohio.

Four years ago, my quiet hometown was shaken to it's core. Four years ago, we were known for snow fall and maple syrup and our schools all having excellent rating. Those aren't the only things that come up when you Google "Chardon" anymore.

And it was tough. It was tough to watch the lives of the people you've grown up with change. It was tough to hear people who have never heard of your town talk about it in a negative way. It was tough to be in Brazil instead of being with people who love and know Chardon the same way that I do. But people from Chardon are resilient. We have to be to deal with long, lake effect winters. And as a community, so many good things have come from such a terrible tragedy.

Some students have been working with contractors and adults within the community to build and open the Chardon Living Memorial Park.

Others have created scholarship funds to be given on behalf of the students who were killed.

And my students always, always, always get a lesson on bullying. Because whether or not this shooting was a result of bullying, others are. And it is never a bad time to discuss bullying and it's harmful effects.

So we wore red. We empathized. We spoke of Coach Hall and what makes a hero. We discussed bravery and we talked about choices. We prayed to God for continued healing of a city that many have never been to.