Monday, May 22, 2006

Brazil- Here I am

I sit here and write to you from Rio De Janeiro in an internet cafe which really is a gaming zone. I climbed up a winding flight of stairs to computers lined up, neon blue and green lights flashing and techno in the background as 12 year olds surround me intensely playing Counterstrike, Doom, name a computer game they are here playing it. It´s not a bad idea for the states to do this too, get kids who love to game out of the house and socialize and compete with one another.

How to describe Rio De Janeiro. Should I begin with its sandy white beaches and the clear blue ocean as it crashes against the shores? Should I begin with my room which is located in the richest neighborhood in all of South America? Should I begin with the racial and class tension that undercuts the atmosphere of the entire city? Or the favelas that one must see with ones eyes to fully appreciate the magnitude of? ´

Impanema beach is one block from the apartment and today was the first day that I walked past the boardwalk and down to the actual sandy beach of Impanema. I thought hard on how to describe what it feels like to walk through the fine grainy sand up to the edge of the ocean as Sugarloaf Mountain watches. I doubt I can do it justice. I saw the ocean from the boardwalk yesterday as well but it did not move me. However today when I walked up to the water and felt the breeze and saw the waves as they crashed upon the shore I cannot even begin to describe the feeling that came over me. The water is so beautiful and peaceful and relaxing yet I couldnt help think that this very ocean can turn around create Tsunamis destroying everyone including me as I stood inches from it upon the beach. It´s an awe inspiring experience to be before such a gentle quiet yet fiercly powerful force.

Brazil is the first country I have visited where no one in Rio De Janeiro, the most popular tourist destination in Brazil, heart of the economy, where NO ONE really speaks English. Since I am not a tourist really, I go to school here now, I buy groceries and cook dinner, I send out for laundry, I feel as though I slightly understand what it must be like to be an immigrant like my students who arrived with absolutely no language skills. Walking down a street and a lady walking her dog smiling at me and trying to chat and I have no idea what she is saying. At the vendors to buy a calling card I slowly find myself playing a game of charades to be understood. Americans are probably the only ones who assume those in other countries will know their language. What foreigner immigrates here speaking to others in their native tongue and upset that they don´t know it. And what makes this all the more bewildering is that they presume I am Brazilian. I walk down the streets and not a vendor approaches me, not a hat or eyeglass seller looks my way. I am one of them, and its presumed that these trinkets hold no interest.

I feel that this time is an eye opening experience for me. I am on my own in a foreign country. I live by myself with no roomate, I have no television, no radio. It´s me myself and I when I am in the room which admittedly I am not in very much because there is so much to do and see and study and I~ve met wonderful people on the program to have lunch dinner and see the sights. (Even found a running partner. Can you imagine waking up at sunrise to run by Impanema beach??? Me neither, hvent done it yet :) but I´m starting tomorrow.) Most people here are much more into the night life experience and it is an overwhelmingly huge atmosphere of partying and drinking and dancing. Naturally a lot of people probably came just for that. Ofcourse I dont do that but I´m grateful to have found people like myself here because it would be a very isolating experience if it was only me whod rather sit at a cafe and people watch while reading my assignments for class. But still...when I come back at night there are no distractions. No television to drown out thoughts, no other person to distract, you face you. In some ways I feel I´ve found a new friend, its hard to explain.

I have so much more to say, like about the mangoes I discovered today that are truly splendid down to the last bite. But I will write more later and hopefully not as scattered as these thoughts are. Forgive the disorganization.

23 comments:

Enyur said...

Wow! Sounds exciting! And wait...maybe I missed something...I thought you were there to visit? Reading your post it seems like you're going to be in Brazil for a while?? But then again it's Monday here, I might have interpreted your post wrong? lol!

Mia said...

Enjoy, enjoy and write! I want to see it through your eyes since it will be awhile before I ever go there it's # 10 on my places to visit list. As I read your post I was humming that old Sergio Mendez song " Girl From Impanema"...lol
I guess for this summer you are the girl from Impanema!

Jane said...

Me too, Mia! "Tall and thin and young and lovely...". Actually I hear the Stan Getz version in my head. Aisha so glad to hear you arrived safely. I can't wait to read all about your adventures.

Huda said...

So glad to hear you're settling in well! I hope you have a great time. Please keep us posted while you're gone! :)

Shabina said...

It sounds maaahvalous there. Make sure to take lots of pictures so we can see this gorgeous sunset and peaceful water you speak of :)

mystic-soul said...

enjoy !..good luck...

Aur apna khayal rukhna...

Muslim Mama said...

hey sounds so nice to be out there!!But you be careful, and take care of urself, and last but not the least...bring back great memories..have fun!!

Dil-E-Nadaan said...

Alhumdullilah you reached safely. I am so happy you found people like yourself there, it takes some of the loneliness away, no? Here too it seems I need to experience every minute to the utmost, its like a different world. Looking forward to reading about Brazil through your eyes. Stay safe!

Just me said...

aah, my dear you write astoundingly well,, I feel like i am there with (that and visuals from msnbc travel helps!)...

Please I beg thee, go for that jog and tell me. Tell me the sound, smell, taste etc! I eagerly anticipate.

wayfarer said...

Sounds awesome! I think i'm turning green with envy. :-) Enjoy!

Tee said...

Gosh, Aisha. I feel like I just inhaled the biggest sweetest breath of a day in Brazil. When I exhaled and opened my eyes I'm back here in my living room with children's cartoons as background noise and laundry to fold. Write more soon. I may just re-read this post and hold my breath ;)

Tee said...

PS - I found it so exciting that you're being mistaken for a native. Aisha! You have the unique chance to live in another culture and be nearly invisible! (Until you open your mouth to talk. Hee hee...) See the positive in this. You'll get to see a side to Brazil that most tourists do not.

Aisha said...

Getting your comments feels like I just got a big hug that just made me smile. thank you guys soooo much for your warm thoughts and well ishes and for reading this long disorganized entry :)

Enyur I am here on a summer law program for four weeks. just a month but still, its a while for me :0)

I will hopefully get a chance to post tonight, we'll see, its very rainy today so getting here is a feat.

Aisha said...

Tee, it is very strange to be presumed a native! In turkey paris etc its very hard to hide that you're not from there its cool but from a practical standpoint its safer to be presumed a native.

rehtwo said...

Yay! Glad that you made it safe and sound...and that you're blogging (yes, selfish me).

pixie said...

I'm glad that your stay is going well. I think it's awesome that they think you are a native. What a unique experience!

momyblogR said...

Writing from Rio....who cares about disorganization, I want more, lol!

The BEACH...OMGosh sounds like an amazing place. I believe I would be spending most of my waking hours right there.

Alone. Hm, there is something that I really must try. Being by myself never made itself available to me. Being single, I always had roommates, boyfriends etc. and shared all of my space. Now, married with kids, I have NO space, lol.

I wonder if I too would find a friend?

Great to hear from you and so glad you made it safely.

Take good care and DO and SEE everything!!

Ciao! :)

Sohnii said...

Awww.... im so jealous :D in a good way... haye i wish i had been there... i love mangoes and beaches.... write more.....

Anonymous said...

Good to see you're having fun in Rio. I've also been confused for Brazilian once at a Blockbuster. I think it might have had something to do with the fact I was renting City of God. The guy behind the counter asked me if I was Brazilian. Some people also think I'm Puerto Rican. {shrugs} I'm pretty sure I'm the most prototypical desi dude. Vatever.

Keep on posting!

-Ali

ASH said...

Aisha: Glad you made it safe and sound. There are some great restaurants in Rio as well as cafes. One of my coworkers is from Rio and he is always talking about it.

The fact that you "blend" is great, and I would take full advantage of it. You will see Brazilians at their most personal and their most ugly too probably.

Be careful.

Aisha said...

Hey all! Thanks again for the comments it keeps my spirits going :)

Rehtwo- aw i'm glad you read it :)

pixie- it really is cool to be considered a native :) Except that people here are shapes and sizes and colors so its not surprising that I look brazilian but i like that they cant tell from my gait that I am brazilian. that is until i open my mouth:)

Mommyblogr- yeah its weird to be on your own when you'v never done it, slowly i'm getting used to it but i've learned i have a social nature.

Sohnii- thanks :)

Ali- yes there are ppl of all shapes and sizes, and btw- city of god is not how the whole city is :0)


Ash could you get the names of some from Impanema area? I so far found one good place but am on the hunt for more.

Gil Dantas said...

Hi .. I was just passing by .. when i saw your blog ... interesting writings.

Especially because I am brazilian living as an immigrant in Canada while you are an immigrant in Brazil. What it is really suprises me is the fact that you are living in Brazil (when everyone more wants to go away) ;)

best regards ..

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