I want to start this blog post by giving myself a pat on the back (or a beijinho no ombro, as they would here). I know my posts are kind of sporadic, BUT looking back at my history, I’ve been updating about every two weeks, which was my goal! This may not seem like a beijinho-worthy celebration, but considering how bad I am at blogging, I’m really proud to have kept up my twice-a-month-posting! With that in mind, can you believe it’s June! Where has the time gone? It’s been over a year since I graduated, more than six months since I started working at NDU, and almost four since I arrived in Brazil! This is madness! (that was for you Nat and XXXTina)
But back to the point. What have I been up to in the past few weeks? Well, as the semester winds down (our last day is June 13th!), we’ve had a whirlwind of planning meetings with our host professor, Manolisa, and the head of IsF in order to discuss our plans for next semester. You remember those plans, right? The ones I was super excited about but didn’t want to say before getting approved? Well, it’s going to happen! This semester I’ve been working Wednesday and Friday, some Thursdays, and one Saturday per month. Not bad, right? Well, I’m actually increasing my hours next semester so I’ll be consistently working Tuesday-Friday plus one Saturday per month. Still not a hard life. Some of the changes in my schedule will include open office hours twice a week for students, weekly cultural/language-related seminars and workshops, and a full day just for IsF (since they only meet twice a week). This semester, my presentations have been limited to times when a professor invited me to their class which a)was rare and b) meant the professors had to rearrange their schedule (hence why I worked so little). By doing these weekly seminars/workshops/whatever you want to call them, more students will have access and I don’t have to interrupt class time! I’ve already started brainstorming topics and putting together some of the presentations. Semester 2, here I come!
But enough with work, let’s get to the exciting part: my first dance performance with Oré Anacã! I mentioned in my last blog post that we were gearing up for our first performance of the year on May 21. At the time, I was only performing two dances: Celebração de Fé from Parintins and Maracatu from Pernambuco. Both dances were pretty simple, but I was just excited to be dancing at all! Other than these two dances, there were only two others that I knew, Afoxé from Bahia and Rainha do Foclore, also from Parintins, but I wasn’t selected to dance either. No worries. Again, I was just happy to be included! 🙂 The Saturday before our performance, I went to rehearsal as usual, but, as we ran through the dances, we realized that a lot of people were missing. When the time to dance Rainha came up, I volunteered as a stand-in so we could mark the placements. Good opportunity to practice, right? Well, it turns out that one of the girls selected to dance Rainha didn’t actually know that dance! So, I volunteered to take her spot! In the moment, I was super excited, but then the nerves kicked in. What had I done? Could I really do this dance with three of the best dancers in the troupe (who am I kidding, they’re all amazing dancers, so I would have been nervous dancing with anyone!). It’s hard to remember the last time I felt so nervous about a dance performance. Maybe my solo with Anwar (because it was finished last minute), maybe when I was little? I put the nerves off to the fact that this is a completely new dance experience for me; I never expected to be learning traditional folkloric dances from Brazil, let alone tribal dances from the Amazon! In the end, I just powered through it!
In true Brazilian fashion, tudo deu certo (everything worked out), and the performance was a huge success! Our amazing host professor, Manolisa, came with her sister and a few of our friends came too! In general, it was a small audience, but that made it a really laid-back and stress free performance! Backstage was crazy hectic, as all backstages are. Add in the super quick costume changes some of the others had to do PLUS the intricate costumes, it was a madhouse! But it’s was so amazing to be our friends and to feel like really members of the group. And now, some photos!
Want to see more? Check our my facebook! Unless you’re some rando who I don’t know reading this blog. If so, there are no photos anywhere else…
After a crazy day of dance, you think I would want to take it easy on Friday. That’s not the case! My next stop was the gigantic convention center to pick up my World Cup tickets! Shoutout to Marcos for driving me there so I didn’t have to take the bus with my passport! Needless to say, I was excited about the World Cup, but now that I have the tickets in my hand, it feels so real! There will obviously be a separate post in the near future about the World Cup and all the accompanying problems, but for now, I just want to revel in my tickets!
That same evening, Manolisa invited us to her nephew’s high school to watch a quadrilha performance! Quadrilha is a traditional dance that’s performed around the Festas Juninas (a holiday celebrating Saint John/São João). It involves crazy elaborate costumes, tons of twirling, and high energy! It’s so much fun! I can’t wait to see more quadrilha as the month of June unfolds!
Now for the next most exciting part of the month of May: a visit from Christine!!!!! And boy was it a jam-packed week of fun! Saturday, I picked her up at the airport, and then we hit the ground running! After almost 23 hours of traveling (including having to fly over Fortaleza for a layover in São Paulo), I expected her to be exhausted but that wasn’t the case! We changed, went right to the beach for a delicious lunch, ice cream from 50 Sabores, and a relaxing afternoon. We sat at the beach, enjoying the beautiful view, until around 5 then walked around Beira Mar up to the Praia de Iracema.
We watched a beautiful sunset, grabbed dinner, and then headed home for a lazy night in. Sunday, we were back at the beach bright and early! We met up with Milton and went to Casa de Praia, one of the barracas at Praia do Futuros. We had some snacks, drank our weight in coconut water, and soaked up the sun (read: Christine soaked up the sun and I got burned. Sorry Mom). One of the best parts about this barraca is that has a party around sunset! We left our lovely table in the sand, put on cute clothes we brought with us, and enjoyed the DJ! It was a ton of fun!
Monday was another beautiful beach day, but this time we left Fortaleza! For months now, I’ve been hearing about the beautiful beaches and small cities just outside Fortaleza but haven’t had a chance to go. Christine’s visit was the perfect impetus! We woke up early and hopped on the bus to Cumbuco, a city about an hour outside of Fortaleza. And it was worth it! This beach was so stunning, and deserted! Probably because it was a Monday, but whatever!
We basically just enjoyed a lazy day at the beach (although some of us stayed in the shade) and caught the last bus back to Fortaleza around 5pm. That evening, we decided to go to Pirata Bar, a local bar known for having “the craziest Monday night in Brazil!” Why is that, you may ask? Because every other bar is closed on Mondays… We got there just in time to see a quadrilha performance, listen (and dance) forró, and dance along with the crazy singers! It was super touristy and a tiny bit tacky, but it was so fun! Not only was it all Brazilian music (something I’ve seriously been missing when out and about here in Fortaleza), but we had a fun time pretending that we didn’t speak Portuguese when creepy guys came to talk to us.
Tuesday was our big tour-day around the city! We had a lazy morning, then hopped on a bus to the Centro. We toured the Museu do Ceará and visited the Cathedral. I have to say that I was a little disappointed in the museum, but it was still nice to finally visit. The Cathedral, on the other hand, was beautiful! I don’t know if you all know this, but I love visiting churches. I love the architecture, the stained glass, and the overall serenity. I wouldn’t say that the Cathedral here in Fortaleza is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, but it’s was absolutely stunning inside. It was fairly simple, with whitewashed walls and very little adornment, but it allowed the colorful stained glass to really stand out.
After our touring, we bought some colorful spandex (meaning I bought even more and Christine bought some too!) then hopped on the bus to Benfica. We got some delicious açaí, I took Christine around the campus where I worked, and introduced here to Manolisa! Then, we caught the inter-campus bus (Which is basically a rollercoaster ride) and went to dance rehearsal! I was so glad that I had the opportunity to introduce one of my best friends from home to some of my closest friends here in Fortaleza. Even though not everyone in the group speaks English, it didn’t stop them (or, mostly Manu) from including Christine in everything we did! Half the group went to finish up a new dance, but I wanted her to be able to actually participate, so we stayed with the group that was learning the dance for Iemenjá. I had already learned this dance, but I was eager to rehearse it, and it was great opportunity for Christine to learn a little about Bahian culture!
Wednesday was pretty boring. I had to work and so did Christine… but, in the evening, we met up with Karine for dinner! I lived with Karine my first month in Fortaleza, but since moving out, I’ve only seen her once. Can you believe that? So after a heartfelt reunion, we went out to dinner, and ate some traditional cearense food! It was so fun! It was great to catch up with Karine,but also a fun girls-night-out.
Thursday was beach-day part 3. We went to my favorite barraca at Praia do Futuro, Vira Verão, to eat fresh seafood and soak up the sun (but without getting burned). Thursday is known as the best day to eat caranguejo, or crab, here in Fortaleza, so that’s exactly what we did!
We also ate some delicious oysters, freshly shucked and lightly seasoned, out of a guys Styrofoam cooler, and enjoyed a beautiful day. [sidenote: eating food from street/beach vendors is one of my favorite ways to eat, so I’m glad Christine enjoyed it too!] We left the beach a little early and headed down to Beira Mar to catch a sunset boat ride up and down the coast. I admit that the boat ride was a little disappointing, but we both had fun!
Friday was the same deal: we both had to work. After the workday was over, we strolled along Beira Mar, enjoyed watching some men play futevolei, and went to dinner! Friday night, we ate moqueca, a traditional fish stew from Bahia, and one of my personal favorite Brazilian foods! It was delicious! After, we showered, changed our clothes, and then headed down to Dragão do Mar to meet up with some friends! We hung around for a little bit, and our eclectic group (of friends from Dance, Karine, and students from CCB) grew. Then we decided it was time to Samba! Unfortuantely, we got to the samba bar, just as the samba music was ending! We got to hear about three songs, and observe some dancing, before it changed to forró. Oh well. At least it was still Brazilian music!
We got home around 3:30 am and went right to bed, trying to get as much sleep as possible before left at 8 the next morning! On Saturday, Christine’s last day, we decided to go to iPark and the Museu da Cahcaça—an “eco-park” with tons of fun adventure activities! We zip-lined, gyroscoped, and kind-of wakeboarded all day! We definitely got our money’s worth! Later in the afternoon, we finally made it to the Museu da Cachaça, the main attraction of iPark. The land where iPark is used to be the original mill where Ypioca cachaca was made, dating back to the late 1800s. We got an amazing tour in English and learned all about the family, how cachaça is made, and some of the unique features for the mill (including the world’s largest wooden aging-barrel, and a metal container that can hold up to 5 million liters of cachaça!)
We made it home in time for one lass delicious seafood dinner on the beach, a leisurely stroll back to the apartment, and then it was time to go! I can’t believe have quickly this week passed! I had so much fun with Christine, and I hope she had a great time too!
Now, the next few weeks are just about wrapping up our conversation clubs and hosting our final movie night of the semester. Again, it’s hard to believe that this semester has flown by so quickly! I’m excited to see what the next semester brings!