I'm not traveling and I haven't gone to any World Cup games or any other exciting activities this week. I've just settled into a routine, but not a rut. Goiânia is an interesting city to live in.
Typically, I wake up about 9:30 in the morning (because I stay up until about 1:30 every night), and do about a half hour of yoga. Sometimes I shower first and other times I eat breakfast first, depending on how persuasive Aikey (our English spaniel) is being with me. He always wants me to eat breakfast first. I'm afraid I have trained him well to follow me to the table! Breakfast is usually french bread, requejão, and cafezinho. There are two maids here - Ana works about 10 hours every day and does all the cooking and cleaning, including cleaning my room every day. I've told Angela that my room is cleaned here more in a week than my house in Duluth is cleaned in a year! I make my own bed and pick up my own clothes because I can't bring myself to make someone do that for me. Maybe it's a cultural difference or maybe it's an age or gender difference, because the kids have no problem letting Ana do every bit of cleaning. Dona Hooch comes two days a week to do the laundry.
I study Portuguese for at least an hour every morning. I have only 1 1/2 tapes left of my 12 volume set, and I've already started on another program I bought written in Brazil to teach foreigners how to speak Portuguese. It's their equivalent of ESL English. In addition, Dante's Aunt Deixe just gave me a phonics program for children with pictures. I'm getting pretty good with understanding and speaking, but I still have a horrible accent. Learning Portuguese fluently has been a lot more difficult than I expected. The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.
Everyone comes home for lunch every day, except that Edmo has hospital duty every Wednesday, and Angela is in another city all day on Thursdays. Ana serves lunch every day about 1 PM, with some combination of salad, beans, rice, meat, and a vegetable. Lunch is the main meal of the day. In other families, they eat only a snack for dinner, but my family here eats a dinner almost like ours in the US.
I try to do something different every afternoon. I'm trying to go to all the major centers of activity in Goiânia, which is a challenge because it's a city of 1 and 1/2 million people. I've been to most of the malls, some of the parks, some of the museums, and have visited a number of different families in different neighborhoods. I know how to take taxis and buses, sometimes both in the same trip. I'm still afraid to drive - I'm not nearly agressive enough to drive here! At the same time, no one seems to smash their car very often or hit many pedestrians. They all seem to know what the informal rules are. Actually, the warmth, kindness, and gracefulness of the people is my favorite part of this city.
We live on the 3rd floor of a 14 story apartment building in Setor Oeste, a nice neighborhood with a combination of high rise apartment buildings, some single family houses, and a lot of stores and commercial businesses. I can walk to everything I could possibly need. All private homes and apartment buildings have gates and locks. Our building has a guard at the door 24 hours a day, and he doesn't unlock it unless he knows you or you have identified yourself to the satisfaction of one of the residents. I walk almost everywhere, and I feel safe doing so, but I have learned not to carry a purse or more than the equivalent of about 20 US dollars. I have a small cheap shoulder camera bag that I use for my notebook, one credit card, a little money, and my cell phone. When I'm walking, the camera stays at home.
I go to a salon at least once a week to have my nails done, hair fixed. body waxed, or other cosmetic luxuries that are part of Brasilian daily life. It's a bit of pampering that I love, but it's also a way of finding my own community in a large city. Su, the owner of one salon, is just starting to learn English, and he always greets me with something new that he has just learned. I also go to a small snack shop several times a week for fresh orange juice and small pastries filled with cheese. I know all of the people who work there, and they always greet me by name and remember what I want to eat and drink. My favorite is Neginho, whose nickname means "little black guy." I met him 6 years ago, and he has remembered me every time I come back to Goiânia.
Goiânia is a relatively new city with high rise buildings that use a lot of color. Because of the tropical climate, there is a wealth of flowers, tropical trees, and green plants. Almost every sidewalk is constructed of different styles of paving stones or decorated concrete. It's always hot - at least in the mid 80's every day.
I try to walk for exercise at the end of every day. The zoo is just a few blocks from here, and it has a walking trail that circles the outside of the zoo grounds. There are lots of people who walk there at the end of their work day, and I join them quite often. There's an environmental park about a half mile away that has walking trails inside the park and around the perimeter, where I walk on other days.
I try to make dinner at least twice a week. We don't eat dinner until after 9 PM because Angela goes to the gym for exercise classes after work. I walk to the grocery store to buy the things I need for each meal that I cook. I have learned to make a lot of American food with less butter, sugar, and chocolate than I use at home! I do most of my shopping at Extra, a huge store that sells everything from groceries to computers and car parts. It takes up a full city block, with parking at street level and a moving pedestrian ramp to the store level. Even though I go there a couple times a week, it's always a cultural experience every time I walk in the door. This week, there was a special on dog food, and they made a huge dog house from the packages of dog food. Another time, there were arches formed from Easter candy.
In the evenings, we watch TV together or I use the computer. I try to read a lot, and I'm starting to read some history and planning related books about Brasil and Goiânia. I use my computer for playing around on the internet, for writing, and for travel planning. This week, I'm designing a new web site for the AFS Head of the Lakes area. That brings me to 2 AM!
For my friends in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, it's that time again - we have lots of interesting exchange students from other countries who are looking for homes in interesting families starting in August - could this be your year?