Saturday, September 18, 2010

Não quero, não

Another note on language usage:
I haven’t been making too many comments on the language anymore I guess I just pick up on things discretely without even noticing it, which I imagine happens to most people.
But não is used very interestingly. Sometimes people put não at the end of things like “Quero não, quero não” instead of “não quero” so it would be like “I don’t want it” and “I want it not”. Although it’s not as awkward in Portuguese. It adds more emphasis to the não. Or people use it twice like “you know we take the classiest pictures, não brinque com isso, não” like “there’s no joking about that” [literally: don’t play with that, no].


"mais um" is much more common than "um mais" or "dois mais" for 1 more, or 2 more. you reverse it, which is something else I had caught onto but didn't even notice it until later. It just seems natural to say it like that.

Language, viu?

So remembering back to my first days with my house family, my mae would always say "viu" after almost everything she said, and I just understood that, as it literally means "you see?"
it's kind of like "understand?" or "okay?"
so you can use it like this, viu:

We have food in the fridge and you're welcome to it whenever, viu?
You can ask me for anything you need, you're going to be staying with us for 3 months so you better let us know how it's going, viu?

along with "entendeu" which literally means "did you understand"
and that's used pretty much like interchangeably but "entendeu" can be used in more cases I think. Like when my friend's host mom talks about her past or some form of gossip it's like "entendeu"
So I was waiting in line all day, entendeu?
or some other kind of empathetic inquiry.
I have to work all day, entendeu?

And they weren't just saying this because we were foreigners and they were asking if we literally understood what they said. They said it amongst native speakers the same, entendeu?

Latin American's happier than Europeans?

21 oct 09
Today when I was eating lunch at home they were saying on the Brazilian news that there is a genetic predisoposition for Latin Americans to be happier than people in, say, England.
That there is a gene that makes you produce more serotonin. I don’t know how true it is because it was on the tv news, and I don’t like to jump to genetic explanations to things too much.
However, I have to say that the people I have met in Bahia and comparing my family in mexico to others in California too, seem to be so happy just sitting out on the side walk playing dominoes and just chilling with their friends. So I guess my experience definitely confers! my family is a bunch of jokesters. And just looking at other people, in say, England ...jk. but really that was very interesting and I am happy to be of Latin American heritage!

Shoot, these are our normal faces.

Friday, September 17, 2010


11 Nov. 2009
I've mentioned this previously in the Spanish-Portuguese entry but pastel is not cake!
It's this:

these are pictures taken by my friend Katherine at a fair in Goiana, Brazil, in the super interior pretty much smack in the middle of the country. Most of the time they are fried like this on the street. It's like an empanada. Kind of like a thin bread outside and fillings like this:but my Fernanda* made them like this at our house: she baked them and they had like marinated chicken filling. sooooo good! I ate like 7 of them that day! mmmm....

Street food V: picolé & street café

20 nov. 2009
became one of my favorite words since the first time I heard it. I first saw it on a box like this one:
being held by one of the beach vendors who also sell kangas and jewlery made of brazilian wood, seeds, plants etc. And I was intrigued by just the sound of it: picolé /pee-ko-leh/.
anyway I soon found out that it was a Popsicle like this one.

Exhibit B: the street cafés or carrinhos de cafe

I also was a little confused by them at first because there was just a cart with all these red jugs in it and it didn't say coffee (or at least from the angle I was looking at it). And also because I guess I've just never been used to this idea of selling hot coffee in the summer, in the evening! But I guess, people need it? The cool this is that they don't only sell coffee..ohh nooooo! Every cart besides having some colored thermoses, has it's own personality, different colors, art work. Some are simple

[photo credit Dimitri Ganzelevitch because i was always paranoid about taking pictures out in the street when I wasn't surrounded by like 10 people]
and some go all out with music, umbrellas, couches!
Apparently there is an annual competition/show of these carts to see who has the most accomodating atmosphere and my host mom said that there was one with a couch and a big TV with loud speakers and all this stuff. And like Clara the coordinator or the Big Mama of the group would always say "This could only happen in Bahia, people!" and I believe it.
apparently these little carts started appearing in the 70s and now they're just a part of the busy urban setting. Too bad I don't drink coffee.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Brazilian Thanks Giving: Our last excursion ☹

Our last excursion ☹:
Nov. 26 2009

Although Brazilians don’t celebrate our thanks giving, (I don’t know if they have anything similar though either) Clara wanted to do it for us because she "knows how important it is to us". So she invited us to her parent’s house near Praia do Forte so we got to see the castle/fort of Praia do Forte on the way there.

And took the opportunity to have a photo shoot.

It was very cool being there in its ruins but I have no idea what it was about. This is one of the things that I would suggest that they do better because I feel like we just get a little information about where we’re going but it’s not really put into context. Like when we went to the caves when we went to Lencois, I don’t even know if that was in Lencois or what it was called and in Cachoeira too, what were the costumes about?

Anyway then we went over to Clara's mom and dad’s house which was amazing.

It was near a river where we were swimming and just chilled out on the front ...yard? garden more like. And they made some pita pizza for us: vegetarian and meat options.


And we had music and, while the feast was being cooked by several ladies in the kitchen we were swimming and playing music. Some of my friends played the guitar, one played the harmonica and it was great. We had a drummer too.

For the feast we had, fried beringela (eggplant) several salads, one was like a sea food salad, another the lettuce and tomatoes etc., two turkeys, and a sauce that was supposed to be kind of like a cranberry sauce, but since there aren’t cranberries in Brazil, it was made of something else, clara wouldn’t tell us but I think it might have been jabuticaba.
Either way it was delicious I didn’t even miss the cranberry sauce it was very good and very similar. And well there was a lot of food—in the beginning, but man this time I didn’t stand next to the table so I was toward the end of the line and people totally took almost all the turkey, there were little scraps left ☹. It made me really really really sad. But I overcame that quickly.

Oh yeah and they were making fresh juice all the while :abacaxi (pineapple), limão (lemonade), and maracujá (passionfruit juice). And then we went back into the river.

Later on that day we did a toast and Clara kind of made us all go up to the Mic, but man there was soo much crying. We are a really big group, but what was a recurrent idea is that, even though we were such a big and diverse group people really connected and we all got to interact with one another at some point and everyone had made really strong connections and friendships with people.

It was the case for me anyway, I got a long with everyone I think, but there were a good like 10 people that I really want to visit after the program ends, and like 5 that I think are going to be life-long friends. I have actually not had the best of luck when it comes to that, but I was really lucky to meet some amazing, intelligent, and genuine people that have been sooo good to me, with whom I share so many good memories and I really will miss them.

From what people said for the toast, there were a lot of things, but the whole friendship thing and also that people noticed how this experience abroad has made them grow, how they’ve changed etc. I feel like coming from a little town of 700 people, going to school with the same people pretty much from when I was 2 and a half to when I graduated high school. And even my campus town is not a big city. But it think it was a nice jump. By no means was I literally by myself in Brazil, but when I was traveling around a foreign country, like going to Sao Paulo with one other girlfriend—we were by ourselves, and one day I was actually around like the San Francisco of Brazil by myself because my friend got sick ☹. But it was just amazing! I love doing this to myself though, I like creating challenges for myself and another thing I like to do is making myself do something I don’t want to do because I don’t feel like I like it.

In high school I found drawing portraits of people soo hard so I didn't like to do it and I hated watercolor and pastel, so I decided to do my Advanced placement concentration portraits all in water color and pastel, sometimes I don’t like a food but keep eating it until I like it (if it’s good for me). And I like to go and give speeches in front of lots of people when I’m unprepared just to see what happens.

But this trip kind of showed me that if I can do this, it opens up so many other options as to what I feel I can do and also for more likes, more ideas of what I would like to do.

Other people also mentioned stuff about Salvador. I think like I had said somewhere in November, a lot of people were really ready to go home, they were just mentally done with Salvador. Many people were specifically done with Salvador because they didn’t like the city, were complaining about how dirty it was, the smog, the dog poo and the occasional harassment on the street, "why couldn’t we have studied in Morro de Sao Paulo blablabla".
I never felt that way necessarily but the smog and harassment and fear being out in the streets was not pleasant. But someone mentioned that he really enjoyed it overall, regardless of all those things Salvador is a really important place historically and culturally. It was a real experience that we didn’t just see the European Bahia and history that we’re always learning in class while others like African contributions and histories are footnotes or incomplete (twisted ehem*) at best. But that was the focus of our studies and it would only be appropriate to be in the city richest in afro-brazilian culture.

Anyway it was a ridiculously nice time that Thanks Giving-- I think for everyone, despite the fact that I did not get to eat as much as I had wanted. And the general sentiment was that we really really were/are thankful to have the opportunity to be here and were really going to miss it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Back from Sao Paulo

23 Nov.

After Sampa: And then got back and to study hard! i have my last culture essay to write, then the final which i'm kind of scared about. In Portuguese: an oral presentation on a topic of choice that will last about 20 min. (like a mini lecture in Portuguese) I also have a Portuguese in-class essay and final.

I hardly do anything that is not study related except for going to the dance class Tu and Thurs and going to play with those kids at the school. There is just so much reading and I’m not fast reader. I like to annotate and understand things as close to fully as possível

mas estou mais o menos triste que jã vem o final. :(

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sao Paulo IV (ultimo dia)

23 Nov 2009

LAST day

It's kinda sad that we're leaving and we still didn't get to do a lot of the things we wanted to do, but --just a reason to come back right?

Since it's our last day we just decided to go back to the places we really liked, like Liberdade again, and may be I was thinking we could go back and find that head band from the Mercado Chic, because I decided I really want it and I want to support that creative woman who made it. And I don't know what else, but we have to be back somewhat early because our flight leaves at 7 in the evening and we have to still figure out how we're getting to the airport and an hour early to check in our bags etc.

On our way back to Oscar Freire I remembered this place that caught my attention: it's called "The Best Chocolate Cake in the Whole World" and for some reason... we didn't go in, and now I really wonder why. Well another thing to go on my "future to do in Sampa"

But anyway I found no Mercado Chic, but we went by all these other super expensive shops that were closed last time and so we decided to go in, and yes I tried on stuff I liked.

I tried on a 2,000 DOLLAR dress!!!

Oh my gosh the dress was beautiful--we'd hope so, right. And it was a really fabric de calidade that doesn't wrinkle. I went to try it on and the dressing/fitting room, it was bigger than any room I’ve had, and had mirrors all around and a huge empty clothes rack on wheels (supposed to be for everything I want to try on I guess).

There was also a pot with beautiful plants and a couch. The dressing room was pretty much a master bedroom with exaggerated amounts of mirror. And then the guy came in (after I was done putting it on—but either way he didn’t seem to be very interested in people of my sex) and asked me how it was, blablabla and he helped me fix it up a little. He was totally obviously a Fashion-Nazi by the way he was dressed and his hair and yeah, he just generally had a great sense of style.

And I'd just like to comment on how this experience made me feel so weird. Because, first of all, I don’t usually go and try on expensive clothes or anything and then secondly because—yeah he was trying to sell me something—but I DO NOT get that treatment in expensive stores back in the states. A worker at a boutique in Paris actually once straight up told me that the clothes there was too expensive and that I should leave!!! Okay? And even in the states when I go to Nordstrom with my family (granted we’re usually just go in because we like to park in the structure next to it, but we browse etc. ) people just ignore us or give us looks that virtually say what the French lady said to me. And so many other situations, at other stores, restaurants, I have experienced a lot of racism and this is in California, which has had such diversity for a long time, but yeah diverse in the sense that we’re all there just geographically economically segregated. Oh man sometimes I just get really hopeless to think of how “backwards” things are.

Anyway so I was again reminded of those power relations I was talking about before. So all that discomfort in being in places like this and all the bad treatment I have received through racial profiling in the U.S. disappeared in one of the most expensive shopping places in the WORLD!!! Really, would I be treated the way I was in Oscar Freire in Fifth Avenue, New York? I really doubt it.

And again I have to ask why. As soon as I spoke without a Paulista accent the guy was like “oh where are you from?” and I said California. And I honestly feel like that came with the assumption that I have money to go out and buy 2,000 dollar dresses like that OR that I should be treated with more respect I don’t know. And is it because it’s the U.S. or is it because it’s California?

Would it have been different if I had said I was from Mexico? Hmm… But at the same time, again, only a few people from Mexico can do what I’m doing, so is it because I’m traveling? It is obviously a luxury, and a privileged experience in this society, and like I said before: it is not a random thing that it is I who am traveling somewhere instead of this clerk or my house keeper back in Bahia; she isn’t traveling to visit me in the U.S. How likely is it that it would be reversed, and the reasons too? If she went to the states she said it would be for working, meanwhile I’m…well…trying on expensive dresses and having fun, and studying. It definitely presupposes some power and privilege dynamics.

Anyway this is a instance of intersectionality because I’m sure all these factors interact. But these instances are the ones that really make me be more aware of what I’m doing and who/how I’m affecting, how I’m perpetuating the tourist dilemmas, and I really don’t want to take advantage of this position. I didn’t come here to be relatively superior since back in “my country” I’m constantly reminded “I’m inferior”.


Lena started feeling really sick and I kept looking through the stores because about one hundred years ago I was interested in fashion design and I still must say that Sao Paulo, as the fashion capital of the Americas, is very creative and I love their use of colors in fashion. So anyway Lena just kept getting worse so she decided to just sit at a park and then go to back to the hostel.

And I kept on going, I wanted to eat something at Liberdade, so I went. This time I looked around more slowly walked into Japanese bookstores and chilled in the main plaza:

and tried to find one of the restaurants that was on that other blog that I had looked up—but I didn’t find it. But it was okay because I ended up eating somewhere that was dericious and super well priced although it wasn’t fancy or anything, the food was authentic, good, and filling.

I had some raw salmon, tempura, tofu, miso soup, a bowl of rice, and pickled cucumber.

It was so good. And the place was lined with bookshelves stocked with manga! Oh if only I were interested. Jk. It’s okay. I liked Ranma 1/2 and that’s about it. Oh yeah and then before leaving Liberdade I got this:

a mix of snacks from Kanazawa.

I talked to a few of the people working there--mainly in Portuguese because I don’t speak Japanese, but one guy was a pretty fresh immigrant he was in Brazil for 3 years and he was speaking to me without much of an accent either (I mean compared to how I have trouble understanding some people from Japan who are new to English) so I guess it's Portuguese may be pretty easy for japanses people to pronounce, and that makes sense there are pretty much the same phonmese like the /zh/ and the nasal sounds, and /z/ etc. for any liguists who know what i'm talking about much better than I do.

it was really cool and I slipped in a few of the Japanese words that I knew while I was speaking. It was a really cool experience, but yeah then I ran back to the hostel. Since we had already checked out, Lena was just laying on a couch in the living room watching some movie and apparently she felt better now but still she had been feeling really sick.

She was thinking may be it was food poisoning or may be because she had been walking so much the day before, but I was glad she was feeling a little better.

Then quickly we found these 2 other guys who were also going to the airport and we split a cab! Yay!

And we rushed off..only to be slowed down by immobile traffic for a while, and we got to the airport like 15 minutes before our flight was supposed to leave, but we made it! And I was just sitting in the room eating my leftovers. I forgot a fork so I just used my hands after washing them well.

oh man this was quite a trip,

I'll see you later Sampa!


São Paulo III (dia Tres)

22 nov 2009
It's lookin clowdy today, not much of park weather but we're going anyway. After breakfast at the hostel.
This is the Parque Ibirapuera, one of the biggest and famous in the country I think.

They have a lake and here's Lena wanting a picture with that big fake christmas tree in the background
If you look carefully there I am with an umbrella. I felt like i was in the secret garden
This is also pretty iconic of sampa this building with this big red tongue sticking out.
I thought the grass looked really cool. it's flatt and wide it reminded me of ribbons
Hairy trees.
Then we saw this special Le Petit Prince/ the little prince show in part of this park. Yeah they have several museums in this park, bike rental, fields, play grounds, a little forest, a science dome, multicultural center etc etc.
There is a lot of French in Brazilian history and for a while Brasilians were quite the Francophone because they looked to them for intellectual and art matters, and I guess there are just a few remnants of that. But Brasil and the America's in general are all cannibalistic pastichers. Okay unless you were in my culture class, you might not understand what I mean. But i mean metaphorically what Amercicans (of all America yes the 2 continents) did was eat up all this stuff native, imperialist etc, and digested and came up with something different-ish.
There was also some architectural thingy but they charged money so we just walked in the free part. And walked onto the free museum of modern art.

There were a lot of cook things there. very interesting, I can't really describe what things were like but I could definitely see a pattern to this modern art. It was kind of like ironic, or exaggerated, etc.

Sombreros anyone? They also had some tortilla thing.
Man I was so hungry! We were really far away too, we walked for like 40 minutes from the hostel down hill to the park, i'm so surprised we found it, but then we were willing to take a bus back up to Avenida Paulista, our (0,0). Really that's how I mapped out Sampa, it was my X axis.

And I had heard good stuff about this vegetarian Indian restaurant and I really wanted to go, but guess what? It was closed! :( so I just cried a little--inside, and we looked for another place.
We found this little lanchonete-type place super cheap and provided the essentials and we were good.
We ate out on the street, and I got some frango (chicken) and brocolis, palmito, cenoura salad. You need to guess what that is it's pretty easy. Paulmito is the part that's probably unfamiliar to you.
Lena got a side of rice and fries though. We both got fresh orange juice and a side of beans. I don't think I was able to finish everything really it was filling and only like US$5.oo. Good Deal
then I really wanted to go to the Os Gêmeos exhibition. Again the twins, here are some videos of them explaining. And it's good so you get to hear the Sampa accent , see if you notice any differences.

they are world renown and have their street art all over the place in the big cities like Berlin, Manhattan, SF, Sampa, Rio, Los Angeles, I don't know where else but they go all over.

But we like ran over there we realized we were running late because I thought they closed at 5PM and it was like 4:45 and we weren't there yet. We got there and there was a huge line outside this building, and we asked the couple in front of us if it was for the Gemeos exposition and they're like I think so, I assume so I haven't asked, and then we just started talking (in Portuguese) I have to say it feels really good when people are like "NO way you've just been studying it for 4 months" or whatever. But then i just kind of think it sucks that they don't have as good of language programs in other countries. Like my cousin in Mexico at a PRIVATE school said that in her English class they spend a whole YEAR on the verb "TO BE" and it's just ridiculous. I feel like either the teachers aren't well-trained or their just being lazy. But I'm really glad I've had the opportunity to have really good language programs available, and also really good professors but I mean I also try really hard and practice when I can and really DESIRE to learn languages. Oh and I speak Spanish so all of that helps.
Anyway they were asking us about Bahia and what we're studying there, about the university in California etc. They were really nice people. Again I've had a really good experience with Paulistas (it's what you call people who live in Sao Paulo, like "Baiana/o" for people from Bahia like a "New Yorker" "Californian" "Texan" etc.) But really I have had ZERO sexual harassment in all these days which is quite a record because back in it's like if you go down the street for 20 minutes without hearing something that's a record. And we have been walking EVERYWHERE here in Sampa and alone as women.
Finally we were in! They let in whoever is in line and then they close it.

This is inside the building but they didn't let us take pictures. So here are some places that they have pictures. It was really cool, because usually they have the limits (or the resources) of the street but here they were able to have installations and use film and music, and tangible experiences. the only thing missing was taste.

IT was amazing. There was this one place where depending on how you clap or how many times you clap the color of lights changed, then there were these two boxes stacked up and you could go and stick your head into the hole at the bottom of the top head and you were surrounded by mirrors and a purple light at the top with some awesome music like bossa nova playing and it really felt like another world. Then there was a dark shack with old furniture falling apart, a leaky faucet, smoke coming in, and some green light waves it was weird. But in front of the couch, an old TV set that was playing images of several homeless people. One woman trying to put a red bottle cap on her nose. Another one was a hidden camera capturing the police unnecessarily harassing a homeless person. All he was doing was waving his shirt around on a somewhat deserted road and no one else was around so he wasn't really bothering anyone but the police still got all worked up and took advantage that this person was probably mentally ill, and I don't know it seems like people think homeless people don't have rights.
But there was an instrument there that they invented it was really really cool. Then this ostrich looking animal with two different videos of eyes looking off in different directions at different paces so looking straight at it felt weird.
There were just lots of cool things there, and on all the walls spilling with their artwork that really made me feel like I was in a different world. It was like Alice in Wonderland meets Dr. Seuss with a political slant and with more adult content.

This has by far been my favorite part of São Paulo! We stayed there till they kicked us out :)

Then we decided to go to Spain for a little bit.
We saw this pastry/ dessert shop as we were coming out and it just hit the spot. Well we hit the spot but ...

And I was just amazed as I walked in, because things looked gorgeously delicious but they weren't that expensive. I asked this guy working there if I could take pictures and he said "you should ask the owner and he pointed over to the butcher section across the place and there he was wrapping up some meat for someone. I fell in love--with the store. It was local and there was the owner working, I went over and asked him if I could take pictures in his store just for my own pleasure and he gave me permission. I was so happy. So you should thank him for it because now you are able to see the wonders of these freshly made cakes and candies etc.

I got one of these:and it was like 1.50! But it was good, quality stuff right there. I had been craving chocolate so it was fantastic timing.

Chocolates and little homemade peeps, and traditional desserts

I wonder if this Marzipan stuff on the right is anything like the Mexican Mazapan

But really this place was just.. top drawer.
Then we sat at the top of this side walk on a step to eat our goods.
I also got this strawberry, at the bottom it had a little shorty cut pastry.
Another funky architecture shot.
While we were Avenida Paulista again, we saw this window lined with feathered apparel. And we realized it was a display of the different kind of artwork from different indigenous peoples of the Amazon! Oh my gosh I swear this is a miracle day how things work out like this, i've pretty much forgot all about the Indian restaurant. And all this stuff was not even planned.
And I've actually learned a bit about Amazonian peoples in my "Indigenous struggles in the Americas" class and I learned about the Kayapó, Candoshi, Yagua, Yaminagua, Tu , Tupinamba, Guaraní etc.

It was amazing too! did not dissapoint obviously. it is just amazingly beautiful but also

the fact that they used all of the animal, like this bird hanging off of this head band.
They have boxes for feathers

Afterwards we went into the shopping mall because I really wanted to buy some books. Mainly on Brazilian folklore but also children's book. I learned something today!
while I was at the book storeI was trying to ask for like books on "Legends", and I was asking about legendas, and legendas, and the woman looked it up on the computer but looked a little confused and said "I'm not really sure where you can find that" And then I'm like or something on folklore like mythology (folklórico, de mitos) and then she's like "oohhhh, lendas!" and then I remembered oh yeah lendas. So Lendas is legends, and Legendas is subtitles!!!!
remember that. if you ever happen to ask for subtitles or legends I guess.

Then we walked home, we waited for the rain to calm down a little as we went back to the couches in that indegenous thing (I don't know what that was called, an exhibition? But I call everything an exhibition oh well. we'll just go with that)
But we rested there a bit used their bathroom.
Then we went down and I was hungry again but I didn't feel like paying a lot for anything and so I got a little salgado at a deli. Like a little empanadita with meat in it.
And then we went back to the hostel.
NOTE: there are all these pizza places open at night, pizza seems to be a big Paulista thing too, and mostly young people are sitting at these places with tables flowing out into the street, drinking beer and haning out with friends.
Then I went to enjoy my little muffin-type bed. One of the guys here at the hostel asked me if I wanted to watch a movie with him in his room but I politely declined. you never know. he seems like a nice guy but...either way it's like midnight! so i just want to go to sleep so I can fully enjoy our last day here in Sampa, the plane leaves at 7:35.

Gostoso né?
oh Sampa...
We have pretty much explored almost every street by foot I swear! There's nothing like seeing everything street level, slowly. And everything today (minus the food), the park, the museums, the os gêmeos the indigenous art thing was freeeee freee beeannn free 99!