Saturday, July 25, 2009

Growing up

Last Saturday, while enjoying an afternoon coffee with Victoria, Alfredo overheard our English and initiated a conversation. A Puerto Rican-born Miami resident, he had been in Porto Alegre about a week and was mid-way through his two-month Brazilian exploration. As we chatted, his adventurousness, good humor, and exuberant personality made us fast friends. In fact, Victoria, Fredo and I ended up walking around Centro and Cidade Baixa for a few hours before joining some other friends for happy hour. I snapped his photo when we first met, thinking it would just make an interesting story: the stranger we encountered at that strange little place, Café do Bingo. (Well, that, and I thought he looked remarkably like a Latino John Travolta!) Over the next 48 hours, though, Fredo became one of us.

Sunday morning, I had invited a few friends to wake up extraordinarily early and meet me for a special birthday breakfast (too early to call it “brunch”!) at the chic Sheraton hotel. I had never been there for breakfast, on account of it’s hour and price, but I heard they had scrambled eggs and bacon, tipo americano, and I thought it would be a refreshing way to celebrate. I made a reservation the day before, explaining that I had saudades for USAmerican style breakfast.

The Sheraton offers a buffet with the typical café da manha stuff (bread, fruit, cold cuts, cheeses), as well as scrambled eggs and sausage (ok, actually the sausage in this case was cut-up hot dogs, but they try). I was positively delighted, though, when the staff had taken it upon themselves to treat this foreigner-birthday-girl to a stack of pancakes and homestyle potatoes!

They also served a delicious chocolate mousse cake with raspberry sauce, with “Happy Birthday” in English on the plate. It was accompanied by the staff and my friends singing two rounds, in Portuguese and English! (I think Marianna and Roberto were behind some of the Royal Treatment, having called to pre-arrange a gift certificate... Thank you!)

Fully aware that I’d be outnumbered, I also asked my friends to wear their team colors because Sunday was also the 100th Anniversary GreNal game—this time it literally was "the grudge match of the century!" I knew I could take some funny pictures for you, and clearly the other diners at the Sheraton enjoyed our little spectacle too. (The mimosas didn’t hurt, we sure were feeling clever for ten in the morning!)

Oh yeah, and we had a shoe coincidence.

After breakfast we met some others, including Fredo, for a walk in the park. Then we headed to a bar for the big GreNal game.

My team lost.

But really, in this case, I didn’t care that much. My day was too perfect to internalize any feeling of defeat!

This is the bar tab. All those blue X's are beers. So, naturally, we decided to go out dancing at eleven on a Sunday night.

Me an Fredo, my newest amigo, dancing into the madrugada at Zelig

I rolled in around three in the morning, feeling so satisfied with my day of celebration—but also, feeling more comfortable in my age and my life than I’ve ever been. So much has happened in the past three weeks, it's almost intimidating. Last week I opened a bank account and filed the papers to obtain my work permit. Yesterday I met my new accountant (never had one of those before!) to educate myself on the Brazilian tax laws and the benefits/drawbacks to starting a company; on Monday I'll have a meeting with a potential client...

Woah, am I growing up? A little, maybe. No complaints. The mid-30s age bracket is wonderful so far!

A sentimental Thank You, in general, to everybody -


Coisinha charmosa #11

I received this great birthday care package from Stacee a couple weeks ago. I was forced to immediately eliminate the temptation of the chocolate by consuming it.

Coisinha charmosa #12

The big France exhibit opened at MARGS (the art museum) with a fireworks show I watched from my window.

Coisinha charmosa #13

One night about a month ago, Ivan and I talked about relationships over some chocolate fondue and wine. “I have to be more evil,” he stated plainly, to my amusement. We determined, quite mathematically, that the odds of finding someone you have a real spark with are about .33%, and then you have to factor in the issue of “timing.” Game over - Wah wah wah wah! From that conversation, Ivan created a computer game (and Facebook application) called “Ditch’em All”. A virtual card game of chance, the objective is to reach 30 and still be single. Funny.

Coisinha charmosa #14

In South America, even the pineapples are left-leaning. I call this one “AbacaTche!”, which, trust me, is very funny if you’re from Rio Grande do Sul.

Coisinha charmosa #15

I had lunch with Debra, from the US Consulate Junior, last week. She took me to a Chinese lunch buffet. I enjoyed getting to know her, of course, but I was also thrilled to find some decent Chinese food!

Coisinha charmosa #16

Seen on TV: A Public Service Announcement from “The People of the United States of America,” featuring Harrison Ford pleading with viewers to stop buying items resulting from the poaching of animals on the endangered list. I just never saw that before--here, in the US, or anywhere. Frankly, I thought the message delivery was slightly condescending, but it gets a mention for being so… unexpected.