day 36: a Sampa adventure

This past weekend, some new friends of ours (yay!) invited us to explore another side of Sampa we have not experienced yet: Bela Vista (northeast from us in Morumbi, across the Pinheiros River).

There, we discovered the most delightful farmers market: Jardim Secreto Fair. It was unlike anything we’ve experienced yet. Gritty, raw, noncommercialized (though ironically the majority of the vendors we talked to spoke English…more so than anywhere else yet). Within the first few minutes of our arrival, the local booth’s bartender offered us the opportunity to participate in..how shall I say…some herb which may or may not be popular in Colorado. Only a few minutes after that invitation, we were drinking delicious whiskey and tea concoctions. After introductions to some mutual friends and a bit of live music enjoyment, we were off to explore the booths: soaps and candies and clothes and home decor and trinkets oh my! Little beer shops–think paleteros–punctuated every few stalls. One of our favorite places was this delicious little peanut butter shop that had peanut butter brownies called Pe.Nutt.

After the market, we walked a few (some might add the adjective here of shady) graffiti-lined-blocks down to a highly-rated-but-off-the-grid restaurant called Cla Destino Gastrobar. There we sat outside and shared delicious bottled local beers, burgers (vegetariano e carne), and batatas rusticos. At some point, the waiter came around with housemade flavored cachaças. This probably coincides with when we decided to hit up a local speakeasy/art gallery/bar nearby somehow associated with our current restaurant’s owners.

And that, my friends, is where our night ended. Below an art gallery of red-threaded–penises (peni?) and superimposed-grooms-into-brides (!), we drank handcrafted cocktails. That is, until midnight, at which point we were kindly reminded of close time: so the local restaurant owners could come in and drink together.

How do I get invited to that party?!

 

catch up journal: days 10-31

Today marks our 31st day living in another country. We have frequent moments where we look at each other and say: “Holy cow, we LIVE here. In another country. On a different continent.” As of late, I often find myself in the stage of admiring our hefty-ball size for doing something so bold. #teampossum for the win, indeed.

It’s been awhile since I shared about the happenings down here in Sampa, so here goes.

  • Students. My students have consulates and CEO’s as parents. My students are Olympic-bound athletes. My students are well-educated and articulate and reflective. My students say thank you at the end of the lesson with sincerity in their voices. I worried I wasn’t going to be good enough for them. But alas, all my fears about not being able to meet their needs have been assuaged. As a trusted friend said: “Students are students and Mary is Mary.” I have anchored my new classroom experience in this. And it is true. The Mary who makes connections reaches the students who thrive through relationships. Or vice versa.
  • School. It has been a chaotic start to school. I’m still navigating, at times unsuccessfully, new professional relationships. The schedule has been surprisingly and frustratingly unsettled. There are so many different platforms to maneuver. I’m a bit astonished at how far behind international schools are from current US educational practices–some elements to my relief, some to my angst. And always, I am drawn to think about urban education. Despite these snafus, my current students steadily achieve at the highest levels of international competition. How I wish that were true for students for whom a defective system is just one more overarching oppression in their lives.
  • Home. We are nesting more and more. We put up one of our collage walls. Bought some rugs. Supplemented our kitchen. Figured out laundry (#godave). Got internet (hallefreakinglujah). Cooked dinner at home several times. Ordered some chairs for the guest room. Slept in and lazed around. Hooked up the tv. Bit the bullet to buy more expensive–but better–wine. The routine is starting to become more and more normal. Slowly. However, it still is a struggle with Dave not working full time and him assuming some weird imposed identity of #housebitch. What does that mean? And how do we do that? How do we adapt our roles? Well, lots more nesting to do there I guess. On the upside, it has been really good for him to take on role as JV coach for boys basketball, and to join in on staff league once a week.
  • Sampa living. It is starting to feel a bit more normal to not speak the language. We know the common greetings to give our porteiro and say them regularly. We use the beautifully industrious Google translate for images when ordering off a menu. We can consistently say “we’d like” (gostaria) and “2 more beers” (mais duas cervejas) and “no onion” (sem cebalo) and “thank you” (brigada). We are feeling more confident to order in stores by starting with whether or not someone speaks English. If not, Google translate to the rescue. We know the common questions asked at the grocery store. (No we don’t want to give our CPF. No we don’t need bags. No we don’t need parking validated. Yes credito.) [All of which clips quickly together in social Portuguese]). We regularly get around with Uber (aqui por favor) and order in with Ubereats (comida está aqui? vaminos [that’s Spanish, but it works]).
  • Climate. This one’s funny. I’m pretty sure the Brazilian-God-of-Weather is punishing me for how I made fun of people needing “winter coats down there.” Today I straight up taught in my Neff hat. I have had days where I am so cold, I have a sweater wrapped around my sweatshirt. Dave and I nightly sleep with Mom’s warm fuzzy blanket (that I told him we were bringing not for the weather, but for sentimental reasons) under another ADDITIONAL blanket. I haven’t seen the sun for the past week (as my new colleague said, “oh yeah, RAINforest”). Dave and I are currently working the miraculous two inches of warmth coming from our space heater. And it’s not the temperature that gets ya. It’s the bone-decaying-cold that comes from the humidity. I mean, come on, I’m coming from Colorado! Several nights, Dave and I have gone to bed on wet sheets. (And though I’m prone to wonder what he’s been doing all day, nope, it’s just the heavy wetness hanging in the air, perpetually. Perpetually.) When I put on clothes, they feel damp. (So NOW I know what the heck that DEhumidifier is I saw in the store a month ago. People would laugh that off the shelves in Colorado!)
  • What’s next? Well, we’re going to buy a car. Uber is convenient, but when it comes to driving out to Embu to buy furniture or shop without limit of trunk space or escaping for a hike or weekending on the beach or…  And, we need to buy some tickets. I’m really holding to the advice we’ve been given: always have a ticket in your pocket. I think first on the docket is wine country in Argentina for Thanksgiving. You know, just a few hours away by flight (insert whaaaaaaa face emoji here).

As I type this, I recognize I am in the honeymoon phase of culture shock. I feel good, for the first time in a while. (I feel like I went through every single stage every single day when I first arrived.)

But I’m here. Now.

And life is good.

 

parabéns: burgers and tutors

If you know us, you know we LOVE to eat out. (Like many other people, we plan our vacations around our meals.) This is one of the exhilarating and exhausting parts of being in a new country where the language is unknown: what do those Portuguese menus say?!

Unlike at home, it is not easy to go out here in Sampa. Enjoyable… Yes. Accessible… Yes. Varied… Yes. Adventurous… Yes. Exciting… Yes. Cheap… Depends. But easy? No.

This is what I’m realizing about living in a foreign country: nothing is easy. From reading different cultural cues to translating different menus, everything takes so. much. energy. I am a different kind of tired than usual: an aching and deep kinda tired. I’m tired in two languages.

But, Monday night, after a ten-hour day being productive at school, a nice meal at a restaurant was in order. I was both feeling fulfilled from finally working with my students as well as feeling prepared for the next day. So, a little bit of adventure called for the night. We considered walking to the Mexican restaurant (more Tex-Mex… Mexicancito?) because we LOVE Mexican food, and the menu there is more accessible with so many cognates and all.

But, alas, it doesn’t open until 6…and us gringos like to eat early and get home early and go to bed early. So we decided on a local burger place that had some delicious looking fries on the menu (I like salt, what can I say). A short Uber ride away, and we arrived at The Burger Experience.

Naturally, as it was earlier than Brazilian dinner time, we were the only ones there. But it was perfect because our waiter took us under his wings and made us his private little tutees. We stumbled through the language, relying on pictures, pointing, gestures and Google translate. And he would stop, look at us, and slowly say the syllables of words we butchered.

Car a mel iz ad a

Pic les

When we got it right, he made sure to give us the biggest high five and the loudest parabéns and the warmest smile. When we faltered, he’d pause on the part we got wrong and repeat it until we got it right, making us do the same. And then, parabéns!

So though not easy, Brazil is beautiful. A place where people bend over backwards to help you if only you try. (And not for a tip…this is not a tipping culture.) Their generosity and care flows from the pure tropical warmth of their hearts.

So now, Dave and I will start a new eating out tradition: burgers and tutors.

Parabéns!

 

 

 

 

 

dear you: a letter to my first set of international students

I’ve come here for you. All five thousand seven hundred and sixty nine miles for you. Yes, the adventure and travel and culture and lifestyle called, but more than anything, it was you that captivated me.

The last two weeks have been in preparation for you. And I am ready. Though there is so much value in adult collaboration and collegiality, it is for you, the students, I show up everyday. You are my heart and soul. You are my light.

Like any first time mother, I am nervous also; you are my first international children. I wonder if my experience has adequately prepared me for you? I wonder how much I can teach you, challenge you? I wonder if I will be able to create with you the depth of loving connections I had with students in the past? I wonder if I will be able to live up to the level of teachers you’ve had before?

I don’t know.

What do I know?

I know that I will laugh with you–and you at me! I know that I will worry as much about your heart as I do your head. I know that our class will be a safe place. I know that I will ask you questions that will change your lens–hopefully your life. I know I will encourage you to write your life and live your story. I know I will foster your leadership in our class. I know that I will see you, truly.

I know that I will love you. I already do. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: though I have not yet met you, I love you.

And on this first day of nervous and excited jitters, that is what I hold tightly with my teacher hands.

 

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