Oct 20, 2010

Welcome to Miami

Barra Beach as seen from Prainha Park
Our weekend in Vitoria was full of fun. Vitoria is a beautiful small city on the coast about 6 hours away from both Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. We spent Friday visiting the port and its operations. Friday night we met the local AIESECers. And on Saturday we headed to the beach and then straight to an outdoor restaurant with live Samba music. Our new Brazilian friends tried to teach us how to dance Samba no Pé (Samba solo) with great difficulty. It seems like something you had to grow up doing. Never in my life have I felt like I had two left feet before. Afterwards we saw two cover bands: Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam. And the next day we flew back to Rio de Janeiro.

Since then we´ve had three weeks more of training together on subjects related to Management and Leadership. And after that I started working in the Barra da Tijuca office. I have been here for a month now. It has been a slow start at work. Everyone else is very busy and I have so much to learn. Most of the documents I have read in the last two weeks have been in Portuguese. And most of the people in my area only speak Portuguese. Google translator is my new best friend. So are my Portuguese classes. We have 2 hours and 15 minute of classes 4 night a week. I´m learning very quickly but not fast enough, I feel at times.

One month ago I also moved out of our hotel in Copacabana to an apartment in Barra da Tijuca. Barra da Tijuca (or Barra for short) is a suburb just south of Rio. It has a 20 km long beach, some very large shopping malls, and apparently some the best restaurants and nightlife in Rio. The city is modeled after Miami. Our apartment is across the street from the beach and we can see it from our balcony. I am so spoiled. I can walk to work and Portuguese classes. And our office is in a shopping mall.

I have been waking up before work each day and running along the beach. There´s lots of people out at this time—running, walking, cycling, surfing and kitesurfing. Brazilians seem to be very active people. And it´s very easy to find healthy food.

As for what I´ve managed to do in Rio on what little free time I have:

-seen a football (a.k.a. soccer) game at the famous Maracana stadium before it closes for renovation for the World Cup (the crowd is amazing—people stood the whole time yelling tons of different cheers in unison)

-soaked in some sun at Copacabana and Ipanema

-visited the Forte de Copacabana

-visited a favela (Rocinha)

-volunteered to spend a day at the park with some kids from Rocinha through the Two Brothers Institute http://www.2bros.org/

-taken a surf lesson

-went to a Samba club in Lapa (Rio´s entertainment district). Its name is Democraticos and has been around as long as Canada has been a country.

-had an introduction to Brazilian Funk

-climbed the tiled steps up to the Santa Teresa neighborhood

-seen the beautiful beaches of Prainha and Grumari

-visited the nearby city of Niteroi, including the museum of modern art designed by Oscar Neimeyer


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