It was with excitement that I discovered exactly two months ago (how
quickly time passes!) that I had got that grant to come to Rio de
Janeiro for a year! When I left London, 10 days ago, I didn't know
exactly what to expect, even though I had already visited Rio twice,
staying 2 months each time... I supposed this time it would be
different...I wanted it to be different. It was very strange to pack
up, knowing that I won't be going back to my flat in London for a
year... It wa not a knew feeling, it was similar to leaving my
parents home in Mexico all those years ago...
The Brazilian program granting me the post-doctoral fellowship was
to pay as well for my flight from London, so one day I received an
email telling me I had a booking to go to Rio from Heathrow in 5
days time! It was a return ticket however, with the return leg
merely 20 days after my arrival. Hang on...I thought I was supposed
to be there for a whole year... After lots of emails on my part
(which were all ignored) and no official confirmation-- just a
friend's experience on this kind of grant, I decided it was ok and I
went to Heathrow. Good bye London.
Now imagine for a minute, you just arrived in Rio, took a taxi to the flat
they arrange for you to live in, and are received by him
Dear me! and an alligator...in the bedroom...
Hmm...I thought --maybe I don't want to live in this
place for the whole time... Actually I don't even want to stay here
much time, so let's go to the University where I will be based...
It's not bad, just a 5 minute walk...in a nice zone of Rio. Despite my title, I am not really based in Ipanema, but rather in Gavea.
So at least there is something good about the flat to be said!
The Campus if the Pontifica Universidade Catolica is beautiful, like a mini botanical garden, with plates
baring the names of the plants and everything...It is a private University, mostly full of middle class people.
One of the places serving food and drinks on Campus is run by nuns, in full nun-dress!
Last Friday, I attended my first seminar there, I was a bit shocked to see just how Catholic they were.
Check the crucifix on top of the blackboard...apparently there's one in every classroom.
Anyway the place is really good, my office has great views (not to the sea, but to the green, as they called it here).
I have't spent much time there really the people I came here to
work with have been so busy that I have nothing to do as of
yet...and anyway I have lots of things to do in order to establish
myself here...like searching for a new place to live and getting my
tax contribution number, bank account and worrying about getting
register at the police. Another factor contributing to my absence
from the University is the proximity to the beach.
Although the weather has only been good two days over the past ten, that has proved more than enough for me.
Last Monday I decided to take the day off,
So I went to the beach. As it was a cloudy day, I stayed there for a few hours, until the rain forced me away...
Then I went to a near-by
"por kilo" place (where there is a selection of salads and cooked dishes priced by kilogram,
so that you just pay what you put in your plate).
When I got to the toilet after a few chopps (pronounced choppees,
and which is a very light draught beer) and I saw my face in the
mirror! The horror!!!! And there was me thinking the guys where
looking at me on the street and the restaurant because they thought
me pretty: it was red, red, RED!!!!
And with the white shadows of the sunglasses around my eyes.
The most ridiculous thing I have ever seen! Needless to say it has stayed with me for the past two days...although people
don't seem to be eye-balling me so much anymore.
As for the return flight to London...I'll follow the Carioca advise:
Joga lo fora! (throw it away!).
I certainly have no intentions of going back any time soon.