im glad the poor lighting hides the fact that i have completely sweat through my clothes in this picture.
im glad the poor lighting hides the fact that i have completely sweat through my clothes in this picture.

My first visitor! I think a place truly starts to feel like “home” when you have someone visit and you get to play tour guide. I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine to be one of those “Jungle Cruise” guides from Disneyland. The terrain is remarkably similar -lots of leaves, the air is humming with bugs you never see and don’t want to, random wildlife, and terrible puns (I would call them good puns).

I took a loooong and somewhat complicated busride (complicated because I got on two wrong busses first. womp womp) to get Ry from the airport. But the busride cost me $1.13USD. I just love converting currency on stuff like that. I picked a sweaty and overdressed Ry up at the airport with a sign, which is everyone’s dream (or at least mine).
My bucket list for Ry for this week.
My bucket list for Ry for this week.
I immediately ordered her some cheese penis. The words for “penis” and “bread” are spelled the same with a slight nasally difference in how you pronounce them, and I can never remember which is which until I order it at a counter and the staff start snickering. Oh well. (The words for “poop” and “coconut” are almost the same, too, so I also order a lot of poop juice.)

We headed back to my house and immediately changed her into a sundress and drank some local beer – part of acclimating – and then I got to open Christmas! My family had sent her some gifts for me, and it kind of finally made it feel like Christmas happened. For Christmas Eve, I had gone to a candlelight service, sang the strangest version of

Christmas Day!
Christmas Day!

“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and then had a fondue party before taking a dangerous walk home.

YAAAAAAAYYYY
YAAAAAAAYYYY

Christmas Day found us at a beach drinking caipirihnas and then slamming chips and salsa, falling asleep on the couch at 7pm. Leana had managed to hide See’s candy from me in the fridge for almost a month (quite an accomplishment) and a student gave me some soap, but other than that, no presents. Which I didn’t realize I missed until I opened the traditional family calendar from my aunt and yearly ornament from my grandparents. I also got a kindle from my mom that I can’t wait to take everywhere I go!

I had also sent Ry on a Target/Trader Joe’s treasure hunt for me. Items included tampons, Qtips, spicy mustard, cookie butter, travel-sized shampoos, sunscreen and tealights and more things that I just miss or are really expensive here. I am not going to tell you how long I clutched the Target bags to my chest, whispering into their red bullseye plastic folds – “I missed you. I missed you.” But it was a long time.
took her to our beach, our kiosk, she napped in the hammock, we went to a hip beer place and then a local food spot where we ordered so much food they had to bring us an extra side table to hold it all. We text everyday, but it’s still different to talk face-to-face with someone and it’s awesome to live in a place that’s easy to love. Let Ry defrost from New York and make her put her phone down and walk at a normal pace. :)

Today is New Year’s Eve, and a bunch of us are going to Copacabana. It’s legitimately the biggest NYE party in the world – 3 million something people bus in, they shut down all transport and the streets, and you party until you can’t anymore. There is a kind of voodoo-esque polytheistic religion here called

the little voodoo good luck kits i got for us!
the little voodoo good luck kits i got for us!

Macumba. Iemanjá, the Afro-Brazilian goddess of fertility and motherhood, is honored by placing offerings like flowers and candles into the ocean, and you wear all white. This symbolizes peace in the new year, and then you choose an accent color – Green means good health, Yellow for money, Red is to attract passion and romance, and purple for inspiration. I need all those so I will wear lots of jewelry.

what my grandma had to say about Ry here, and that it was a good thing our other best friend wasn't here, too, because then she'd have to warn governments.
what my grandma had to say about Ry here, and that it was a good thing our other best friend wasn’t here, too, because then she’d have to warn governments.
There will be bands and DJs all night, a huge fireworks show, and at midnight you rush the ocean and jump over seven waves to make a wish come true!
The city feels alive already. Brazil loves to party. We get along really well. I’m so happy to have a friend here and excited for the adventure I’m already on to ring in the New Year! Good wishes and love to all I love!
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
– Neil Gaiman
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