my apartment - right above the palm tree!
my apartment – right above the palm tree!

It wasn’t easy to get here, but it was exciting. The emotional family (and canine) farewells, the last minute packing into the wee hours of the morning, the early drive, the LAX layover (that is the third gate into hell), the mechanical failure delay, the “please, sweet Jesus, don’t let the plane take off without me” as I sprinted through the Miami airport, then the “please, sweet Jesus, get my luggage there!” prayers, especially once I realized that I had managed to pack all underwear, makeup, and shoes into my checked bags. Had Christmas lights in my carry-on, though, so. Sometimes I’m just so me.

Waking up as the plane touched down in Rio Monday morning was nuts. Navigating two carts full of the beautiful, blessed but HEAVY luggage and crates that by the grace of God alone made the plane, sweating through customs, and mostly trying to smile my way through every one’s attempt at conversation with me was a blur. It is incredibly disconcerting to hear a language that you feel you should be able to understand – knowing Spanish, about 75% of what I’m hearing sounds familiar. The rest just sounds distractingly sexy. But on the whole . . . I just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.

my brazilian boo
my brazilian boo

I was picked up by a contact from my new school and we went to my apartment. I have the converted office, with tons of nominally useful built-in shelving, making for some creative organization. We have a screened-in balcony with a hammock facing a delicious sunset every night, and a nervous and silly chihuahua named Bruce who has already made it to second base with me (paws quite down my dress before I could stop laughing long enough to extract them).

My school is small but beautiful, on a lagoon next to the ocean. I’ve seen “chickens of the lake,” egrets and monkeys. We’re across the street from the biggest mall in South America, overflowing with gorgeous, gorgeous Brazilians. And a lot of spandex clothing. We’ve tried acai gelato, juices, brigadeiros, pão de queijo, mate puro. I’ve reintroduced myself to the world of instant coffee, throwing toilet paper into trash cans, and friendly geckos lining my bathroom walls.

Barra da Tijuaca beach
Barra da Tijuaca beach

I’m learning new money, new words, being hugged by strangers, and loving all the staff I’ve met from my new school. The weather is lovely – and adorable Brazilians find it adorably chilly. I am in dresses and my Tevas (unrepentant, unashamed) and Brazil is in turtlenecks, scarves, boots. The clouds broke for just a moment long enough for me to feel how different the sun is here, and to snap a few pictures on our brief beach excursion.

From the boat ride back to home.
From the boat ride back to home.

Everything feels like a romantic adventure, but I know it is the newness of it. Once work officially starts and I’m teaching everyday, the cafeteria food will grow old, the children will make me cranky, the work will overwhelm. It’s in Rio, but it’s still a teaching job, still a 9-5 (or 7:30 to 4!) After a while this will become my new normal. Soon the charming will become mundane, and I might look back at my current excitement and think I was naive.

But I hope not. I love being excited about everything. And it feels so good to finally be here, to see what I was looking forward to, and look back on the journey (the long journey, the painful journey, the learning journey) and think that maybe was worth it, maybe God had a plan after all, to get me to where I am now.

And it’s only the beginning.

Deus seja louvado!

wish you all were here.

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