Monday, December 29, 2008
Copacabana: "I just want to see the ocean!"
I am finally here.
After the saga leading up to the very moment I left for the airport, our group flew from Cedar Rapids to Dallas, Dallas to Sao Paolo, and Sao Paolo to Rio de Janeiro, without any problems. After almost 24 hours of traveling, it is an understatement to say that I am tired, but I am so glad to be here.
So far all that has been accomplished is settling in our hotel on Copacabana beach, dining in a neighborhood restaurant, having a lecture with a Carnavalesco (artistic director of a samba school), and finding the internet cafe. Our group is small: 6 students (3 grads, 3 undergrads), our professor, his fiance, his mother, and friend who helped to organize the trip. Armando, our professor, is so excited to show his American students his home country. His family received us so warmly (his mother made money belts for each of us, his fiance is trying to teach us Portuguese, and his friend Cynthia gave us gift bags with Brazilian goodies).
Cultural differences perpetually amaze me, but nothing about the Brazilians stands out to me just yet. What I am finding fascinating is the reaction of my midwestern classmates who have never seen the ocean. I suppose going to an actual beach is something I have taken for granted living on the east coast all my life, but the 3 undergrads all coincidentally are from Minnesota and all have never seen, stood by, or swam in the (Atlantic) ocean. Moreover, I think there is also a bit of culture shock for them to be in an urban center... the opposite of what I experience in Middleofnowhere, USA.
I am interested to see how these three weeks will unfold for them, and also how it will unfold for myself amongst the group.
Our excursions will be awesome: ballroom and samba dance lessons; visiting Sugar Loaf and the statue of Christ; going to the place where they build floats for the samba parades; seeing the costumes in the making; going to rehearsals for samba schools; etc etc etc.
That's all for now.