Day one has been a whirlwind, but estou aqui! This morning, we landed in Sao Paolo and were met by some of our new Rotarian friends. They took us by van to Riberao Preto. Along the way, we stopped and ate lunch at what I understand is sort of a gas station that also serves food. They had an impressive selection, and as you can tell, I pigged out on a large selection of vegetarian food. It’s a buffet, but you pay by weight. One of my teammates, Alyssa, compared it to a Golden Corral Brazilian-style.
I also tried a soda that is only sold in Brazil.
And I found some cat cookies. Photo opp… duh. (Please forgive the fact that I look gray and haggard in this photo.)
After lunch, we continued on our journey (about 4 hours in the car, but I slept a good portion of the way), and got to Riberao Preto around 4:00 p.m. We checked into our hotel and then headed across the street to the mall to buy SIM cards. It took a while, but we got it figured out thanks to help from one of our amazing hosts, Thiago. Thiago was on the team that came from Brazil to Texas for the same Rotary exchange program. Now, he’s showing our Group Study Exchange team the ropes.
Everyone has been incredibly helpful, and we’re already making new friends. I’m completely overwhelmed by the language; although I have been practicing Portuguese for about six months now, I still feel like a child when I speak. My sentences are very slow and simple, and I get the subject verb agreement wrong every time. But people are patient with me, and I’m getting good at nodding and smiling if I don’t fully understand someone!
Another one of our hosts is Raj, who is also a vegetarian. This has been immensely helpful to me as he knows what dish might be a secret harborer of meat. Plus, I don’t know all the words for meats yet, so he has prevented me from accidentally eating something I shouldn’t.
For dinner, we had pizza. Brazilian pizza is a little different than American pizza. The four cheese was super thick because of all the cheese, and my stomach might need to develop a little fortitude during this trip if I’m going to keep eating so much gluten (before leaving the States, I was on a predominantly gluten-free diet, but I knew this would be impossible in Brazil and also not very convenient for my host families). One of the pizzas had ham and peas on it, which looked very interesting, and my teammates seemed to enjoy it.
Tomorrow, the adventure continues. We head to Sao Carlos and stay with host families.
So for now, I will sleep and hope to provide more updates soon. Ate logo!