Sunday, August 9, 2009

Travel, Brasilisn Women, and Local Television (or how I learnt to stop worrying and hate Joe Jackson)

No one wants to read a travel diary about actual travel, so a few details on our travels to Brasil (yes, I know the "s" is obnixous, but so is the big canadian leaf I sewed on my shirt to trick everyone into thinking I'm international and not an ugly American...let's go ahead and sully the reputation of our neighbors to the north, shall we?):

To you're right you'll see Spider ("S" from now on, yes I do most of my writing for a bank) at 7:30am in LAX, I think he's already tiring of my insistance that we hang ten in every picture. Also, I was 5 minutes late for my ride to the airport and I got three texts and a email from him expressing his displeasure at my lax itinery keeping skills. It's true, waking up (and bed time) are the worst.

S and I made it to NY without incident, except for the rapid emergency descent to avoid the "mild" turbulence that shook us up like pop rocks and coke in Mikey's stomach.

NY to Sao Paulo was great...I fell asleep right after the pilot informed us that there was (more) turbulence up and down the coast and that there were no saf...uh, comfortable altitudes. I woke up 2 or 3 times and noticed that S was watching every romantic comedy AA had to offer, I may have been in a sleep haze but I think he was weeping softly into his pillow during 27 Dresses. Who can blame him? Jennifer Garner's movie persona deserves love and happiness.

We got into Rio with time to spare, expecting to see Duke ("D" know the drill) 15 minutes after we landed on seperate flights. He eventually landed 5 hours later at a different airport. Ultimo! However, Gerson (the head of our BJJ school), his wife and brother were there to meet us and we got to the apartment without too much whiplash and minimal bribes. Here's an exterior view of our place, we are in the large apartment bulilding.

Once we got to the complex, things took a potential turn for the worse. The idea was that we are staying in the same complex as Gerson's parents...another apartment on the 19th (of 20 floors), our understanding was that we were staying in a three bedroom apt, with Gerson, his wife, and daughter. Ostensably a little tight, but no problem. So we get there and the woman who owns the place is still there and unscrewing all the light bulbs from the ceiling fixtures (yes, you read that correctly), the apartment had two bedrooms and we were shown a luxurious tripple bunk bed that we were told we'd be sleeping in. In case you don't know what a bunk bed is, I've helpfully included a picture. And the "Third" bedroom had had a wall knocked out and been converted into extra living room space. I'll spare you the hours of stress we had thinking about this and just say that our hosts (I don't have the adjective to express how huge and generous this is) elected to stay in G's parents apartment with them (more on the malevelance of our hosts at the bottom of the post). Long story (somewhat short) the three of us ended up in a two bedroom apartment with plenty of room, a great view, and the best tv this side of St. Petersburgh. Photo tour follows:

This is the view to the dining room and kitchen....good stuff, I know.

This is the kitchen. I had been asking S to pose in various "apartment living", lounging, cleaning the bathrooms, etc for our photoshoot. In this picture, S has had enough of my directorial antics and is expressing his displeasure through an interpretive dance that involved a spoon passing directly over my head. I still think he's damn photogenic.

Here's a picture of the King (you know what, I'm not going to feed his ego and call him the king anymore...let's go with "K") exploring our third bedroom, to his right is the hallway to the bunkbed room.

One thing we've noticed here, is that for men shirts are optional when at home. K and I are taking full advantage of this. S thinks we are a little light in the loafers.

I'd post more pictures, but I'm not a realator and there are more interesting thing to be discussed. The apartment complex is in Barra De Juca (I'm spelling this wrong, but that shouldn't be a surpirse) which is an (I believe) upperclass suburb just south of Ipenema. I'm not so sure about the north/south/east/west thing here, because I asked our hosts directional questions on our ride from the airport (like...are we going west?) and they said that people don't orient themselve that way in Rio. Natuarlly, I asked how I should orient myself and their answer was "grow up here"...hilarious. I both love and respect this answer.

(sidebar: I just walked into the living room where K is sleeping to confrm that "malevlant" has a positive connotation, and K, regaled in his boxers and reading a book, informed me that I should knock before coming into his room in the future...I will never ever unsee this.)

After we got in, Gersons parents fed us a fantistic lunch involving various meats, beans, and rice (so good!) and we turned our minds towards the evenings activities. The community we live in has 3 outdoor malls and 1 big "american" style indoor mall. The malls are full of restaurants and appear to be social hubs.

The three of us headed to the indoor mall and found a restaurant/bar on the top floor. K is the only one who speaks a modicum of Portugese...but honestly the language barrier has provided us with more laughs and stories than anything else. We sit down and order some caiprihinas to cross that off the list, and K notices that we're at table 69. In this situation, the correct move is to point out the number and giggle like a schoolgirl. We followed protocol to the tee. The hostess noticed this and had a good laugh at (I'd like to think with) us. We were friends with the staff ever since, and have dubbed the placed Bar 69, and declaired it our local pub. Again, ultimo!

After about an hour at 69, K and I dropped S off to go to bed and headed out to Rio with our address on a piece of paper, no local currency, a portugese to engilsh dictionary, and about 8 hours of sleep (out of the past 24) between the two of us. Best. Decision. Ever.

We ended up in La Guoa near Ipanema and started exploring. The first lesson we learned: do NOT order hard alchol in BraSil, two drinks cost as much as 8 beers. Lesson #2: bars play live BJJ on the TVs...we discovered this and pushed our way into a bar on the lake and ordered a bucket of beers. When someone turned the jiujitsu off of the tv, I attempted (in broken english and portugese) to get the waiter to turn it back on. He couldn't (it was over) but asked us why were in Rio...K told him it was to train BJJ and our waiter lit up, it was great. He brought over 3 other guys who worked there and they started busting our chops, telling us that there was no jiujitsu in Rio because it was too dangerous and asking if we wanted to meet 2 women, we asked for 4 and they laughed at us even more.

After the bar we tried to find something else to do....this involved us approaching various cab drivers and asking if they spoke any english. They didn't. Eventually we met one cab driver named Marcello who offered to take us to a club near Barra, we told him we were wearing flip flops so probably couldn't get in anywhere, and he said - no proplem. His facts may have been incorrect.

Marcello eventually let us out at a club...I have no idea where it was, and we got to the door to be denied by the woman there because of our inappropriate footwear. Marcello had stuck around, and when we explained out prediciment he charged out of the cab to defend ourhonour (it was both rad and ineffective). At some point some local girls noticed the comotion and asked us what was wrong. K explained and our new friends started yelling at the poor door woman as well. At one point one of the girls took off her shoes and offered K and I one each to get in. I started hopping up and down to demonstrate the safety features of my new kicks, but the doorwoman was unimpressed. Our 4 new friends asked us if we wanted to have fun somewhere else and we replied in the affirmative. Marcello bid us good night and smiled his way home.

Details on our new crew:

The Leader: Flavia, journalist who spent a year studying abroad in N Minnesota, naturally K and her had a lot to talk about having both lived in the middle of nowhere for a while.
The Boss: Claudia is Flavias boss, also a journalist
The Others: a neurologist and lawyer.

We got lucky meeting these ladies, they took us to a place in Barra near where we are staying; we sat down at kind of an outdoor food/bar court and had a few beers and icecreame cones made out of pizza (???, but good) We laughed at each other for about an hour...I tried several new phrases including "I am seasick" and my "travel companion is blind". For the most part we chatted, tried to learn more about each other through the language barrier, failed, and eneded up superficailly chatting and joking around. Eventually, they left and we discovered we had misplaced the paper with our address on it. Fortunatley, we are staying near the only Outback Steakhouse in the area bungled our way home at midnight LA time.

Today was Gerson's wife's (Carina) birhtday and his daughter's (Sophia) first birthday party. Our hosts graciously invited us to the party, here are some pictures. The first, I got K to pose in one of the houses, bout couldn't convince S to act like the Big Bad Wolf and pretend to blow it down, here is the result:

We also met an old friend of Gerson's who had lived in Torrence and Redondo in the 90's. He is an actor, very gregarious, and happy to practice his english with us. Really nice guy, and here is a picture of the 4 of us enjoying the party.

Before we left, I accidently got my head shaved.
Here's a pic of Gerson and Sophia:

Coming home tonight we experienced the wonders of Brazilian tv. At one point they had a segment on Joe Jackson - this involved a little person, blackface (yes, blackface), and this image of Joe looking like he's in hell. I don't think it was a positive piece.

I can't do this justice, but at one point they had blackface JJ kicking a soccer ball at a little person in blackface. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be reflective of the Jackson family, or a demonstration of the negative effects of protectionist international trade practices. In any case, I've tried to capture the improtant pictures...the ball getting kicked, and a dog licking the poor little person after he had been knocked down. Obviously this is offensive on so many levels, but...but...oh you be the judge.

Before I sign off, I want to say how wonderful Gerson, Carina, and their families have been to us. We are most definitely in the honeymoon period of this trip, but they have offered us the perfect balance of welcomiing us and letting us explore. Other than Gerson and Carina, none of the family speaks English (and we don't speak Portugese), but we're getting past the language barrier and (I think) enjoying each others company.
We've got our first practice tomorrow; I'm not nervous since I get choked and bent on a regular basis. But I'm hoping to not offend anyone and really really excited to see if I can hang.
Family: thinking of you all.
Seacrest Out


  1. Grover - While you were fetching your camera, you missed out on the whole point of the Joe Jackson sketch on "Panico TV." Basically, every scene involved Michael Jackson as a child (the little dude in black face) getting his ass kicked by Joe Jackson (big dude in black face). The dog sketch was Joe Jackson unleashing an attack dog who runs down Michael, and mauls him. There was no playful licking involved. I thought this needed clarification. Also, Blogger has a spell checker that you should use.

    -King of Crazy (aka K)

    PS Please don't put my hand in a bowel of warm water while I'm sleeping tonight.

  2. These updates are cool bro. I wish I was out there with you guys. Maybe next year.

  3. We wish you were here too Fern!

    Novell, Duke (glad Erwin isn't here), Grover