On my third day in Sao Paulo, I moved from a hostel into my homestay. My host family welcomed me with open arms. Even their cat has cozied up with me while I work on my laptop just to show his affection. I honestly love the unique experience that a homestay offers. Throughout the next several months, I’ll compile a pros and cons list of living with a local family while abroad.
My first nightlife experience was at ò do borogodo. At first glance, you’re potentially in an unsafe area in which you should flee. Beyond this surface, once the garage doors covered in artistic graffiti open up to a small space that eventually turns into a full blown Samba club with live music fueling the rhythm of the expert Samba dancers amongst the less rhythmically talented bar goers (that was me). In other words, it’s an awesome way to get a first-hand look at a small portion of Brazil’s artistic culture along with familiarizing yourself with popular alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages and delicious bites! So far, meat and cheese pastel and a caipirinha is the way to go.
Within the first week, my two most favorite experiences were visiting Pico do Jaraguáand participating in a beginner Samba class. Pico do Jaraguá is simply amazing. It’s a great hiking area, if you’re up for a rigorous hike, and the view from the top of the mountain is amazing because you can see the entire city of Sao Paulo. However, the city is so large that even this high level view doesn’t completely capture its essence, but it comes pretty close. For the Samba lesson, I learned Samba no Pé. The class was laid back and very fun. At the end, the studio owners performed Samba de Gafieira. The fact that they’re married was adorable, but it was truly mesmerizing to see the two of them dance together with such joy. Yet another experience that served as a cultural artistic treat!
The day I moved into my homestay, my host mother showed me where shopping centers, metros, bus stops, and other stores are located. She even provided me with a handwritten list of buses that I could take to get to various destinations. Unfortunately, I was under the impression that I would have to take all the buses listed to a particular location. This misunderstanding, as my Portuguese still needs work, landed me in the outskirts of Sao Paulo. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to put money on my cheap pay-as-you-go phone, but thankfully, the team leader of my program called me. I couldn’t make outgoing calls, but I could receive them. She told me to speak with the person on the bus that handles entry payments. I asked him if the bus was going to return to the street I needed, and he mumbled angrily toward me. Once the bus stopped at the end of the route, he wobbled off the bus complaining about my confusion and found someone that could help me. My team leader ended up speaking with the bus manager via phone. Although initially confused, he was very happy to help me return to my intended destination.
Getting lost in any new place can be discomforting and sometimes scary. Every morning before I leave home, my host mother tells me, “Vai com Deus,” or “Go with God”. The morning I got lost was no different. As I saw the bus getting further and further from the familiar area, I tried to remain calm in knowing that God would send help and He did. Despite all the changes and differences I experience as a traveler, I find peace in knowing that my God remains the same.
Most importantly, when a local shows you how to do certain things in a new place, make sure you pay close attention. I simply didn’t know how to alert the bus driver to stop or even which stop to get off at because while my team leader has been showing us useful tips, I’ve been socializing with the other students in my program. Then again, getting it wrong can teach you a lot more about yourself than getting it right ever can.
My next few posts will cover more serious topics as I begin to better understand the social and political climate in Brazil. Até logo, as pessoas linda! -xo