Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Day in the Life Of Team Floripa as told by Ashley

I vaguely remember telling Aviva to wake me up by 8:30am the night before, but when I heard her familiar smooth voice say, “Honey, sorry to wake you but we’re running late it’s already 9:15.” I only grumbled a weak, “okay” in response, waited to hear the door to the master bedroom lock, and rolled back over in my bed. Two minutes later I was up and walking towards the bathroom to get ready for the day.

We had planned to go down to Centro to shop at the open market. However, it closed early on Saturdays and we had hoped to be there by 11am. However, Veronica and Cari still weren’t up yet it so we would be lucky if we arrived at the market before 2pm. I was still half asleep and the only things on my mind were: coffee and food. But I had just run out of my new favorite cereal (the Kellogg’s flakes, with granola, honey, coconut and fruit) the day before and there was no Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks in sight, this I was sure off.   

 I made the executive decision that the only way I could continue this day was if I had a good bowl of cereal in my system-whole milk to accompany it of course. So I started to dress for my journey to Hyper Bom, our local grocery store only 10 minute down the street, I figured a nice walk would surely help me transition into my day. So with all energy I could muster up I hooked my gear up. My outfit of the day included: a solid black tee, high waisted comfort pants emphasis on the comfort, two mismatched black socks ( one long one short I kid you not), and my solid pair of chanclas + Aviva who hopped on this trip last minute. I was ready for my adventure.

I opened the front door and it looked like the sky was greying, which was a sure sign of rain, but I had already stepped onto the mat outside the door so it was clearly too late for me to turn back for my poncho or an umbrella. We descended down the uneven hill, took a right onto the main road and crossed the street. A task that takes more skill that you might think because Floripa drivers are crazy and the streets are lined with dog crap. Ten minutes later we entered HyperBom. They didn’t have my new favorite cereal but I settled with another off brand Kellogg’s mix (which later I found out was one of the best decision of the day #secondfavoritenewcereal) and payed at the register. I also helped myself to two cups of what I consider the best complimentary expresso in Floripa. It’s like the little old lady that works in the register just know the perfect caffeine to sugar ratio. If I was to guess I would say 1:3.Anywhoo, after the first jilt of caffeine hit my blood stream I knew I was ready for the day.

Fast forward two hours and we all hop off the omnibus that left us at Centro. We follow the crowd and soon emerge at the site of the Old Market. There are stages to this market. The introductory stage includes the private vendors that sell children’s clothes, winter ear, string jewelry, and minor electronics like iPhone car chargers. These are the topnotch salespeople, if you even look at gaze at an item for too long they will start chatting you up about prices and todays deals. This place easiest to negotiate prices. As you move past makeshift rug stand you will become enchanted by a wall covered with bookbags and purses of all colors and sizes. It is so enchanting that although you are carrying a book bag as you walk towards the building you will wonder if you need a new bookbag. This is the entrance of what would be your typical indoor flea market in the states. Vendors there have permanent stand so they can open and close them every day without having to pack up all their goods. Here you will find major electronics like Cannon cameras, metal jewelry, the latest accessories, and of course knockoff purses( Michelle Khors, Luis Vuitton, and all their cousins). But I wasn’t there for any of that-actually I really wanted a black scarf but the going market rate was $25 reis, vendors indoors are less willing to negotiate and I knew I could do better than that. So we trudged on.

Behind the indoor flea market the cobblestone streets are lined with stores and vendors selling popcorn and balloons and street-meat. Aviva had went to the market hoping to find a bookstore a stranger on the bus had told her about and I was more than glad to accompany her. We had been discussing how our urge for a good book was growing and I was hoping to find a good read written in English soon. After asking three different people of the street we finally found the bookstore next to the cathedral (it was actually a whole block away from the Cathedral but within eyesight so I appreciate their reference). As Aviva (who I ‘ve come to refer to as my personal translator) spoke to the sales person about a flower book. I asked her to inquire about my English written section. Indeed they did have one and the saleswoman walked me over. I had no intention of actually buying a book because I am very peculiar with the books I choose to read. However as I was about to give up I saw a familiar title: The Secret and adjacent to it was the sequel, The Magic. I had always wanted to read the book but never got around to it. As I was flipping through the pages and reading the flaps of the book, my inner voice told me to buy it. However my brain and wallet told me no. I continued browsing its pages meanwhile my feet somehow walked me to the register and I purchased my new read.

I left the bookstore after that and waited for the girls on a bench. We all left together about fifteen minutes later.
That’s when I saw it: The Golden Arches. I had told myself I wouldn’t do it. That I would not be that American tourist. But all I had been craving for the past week was a regular beef burger processed to perfection. So we went inside and I ordered. I remember the moment they called my order. I opened signature McDonald’s carryout bag and stuck my hand in to grab a grease soaked fry and when I put in my mouth, I ALMOST CAUGHT the holy -ghost because it was that good. Fin.

So in lewd of today’s adventures and because The Magic suggest we make a daily gratitude list. Here is what I am grateful for today:
µMy parents for calling me just to check up on me.
µMy sister for keeping me entertained and updating me on the social lives of our friends & family at home.
µMcDonalds Corporation for unifying proud fatties everywhere-they have literally learned the secret to breaking cultural and language barriers.
µMcDonalds workers everywhere for continuing to not care if my burger looks anything remotely similar to the ads on TV- consistency is an good for homesickness
µMy roommates for taking me places (figuratively & literally).
µTapioca stands
µThe view of the ocean from the 330 bus on the way to Centro
µThe incense guy down at Conceicao, without you our house would smell damp.
µBeth for sharing the confidence that I would be able to run full experiments on my own-and I am.
µThe friendly people all over Floripa who are always willing to help us find our way even while we speak broken Portuguese. Full English. Spanish y Spanglish. But mainly use hand motions.

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