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As you can probably tell from the details in my last fee posts, my week in Agel really flew by. So I’m on to the next leg of my adventure where I will be studying French for 4 weeks in Aix-en-Provence.

However, before I move on to sharing that adventure, I want to share some photos of the wonderful little house that I have been staying in this week.

When you enter from the street you are greeted with this view.

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And you can proceed into the living area from there.

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Since I had access to the castle next door, and was tagging along on adventures with the group staying there, I didn’t spend much time in these areas. I pretty much made some espresso every morning before getting ready for the day, and then headed next door.

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This very short journey took me

  • out the back door, which I never had to lock since it opened into the private castle grounds

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  • across my private terrace that also didn’t really get used

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  • past some wonderful gardens

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  • up a stone stair way

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  • and through a door that needed a very large key.

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Of course, after my wonderful stay in Zambia, I would be remiss to not include photos of the sleeping loft (yes there were stairs to get there, but not a ladder) and of the bathroom that never ran out of hot water.

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A cool quick of the place was that from the window you see in the bathroom, you could, if you wanted, step out onto the street.

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It was a great stay, and a very much needed break between teaching and studying, in a very charming place. But now it was time to head off for that studying, the first step of which was to navigate back to Montpellier without the GPS – no, I didn’t give up on it, I just had to return it. And the second step was to lug my bags from the rental car drop off to the train station. Both went fairly well, thought not without any hitches. I took the wrong exit from a roundabout and wound up back on the autoroute, but it a good spot to exit again right away and be back at that same round about shortly thereafter. After lugging my bags to the station, I had to navigate both a lunch counter and the bathroom with them before boarding the train, and when I boarded, my seat was at the other end of the car.

But I made it to Aix, and the woman I was renting a studio apartment from was there to beet me as planned. And I had a day to settle in and remember where things were in that city before starting classes Monday morning.

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They say all good things must come to an end, and that is what is happening. As you might know, I headed back to the US earlier than planned as I was needed back there for various reasons. So, not having done everything I would have liked to, but having had a great time doing what I did and having grown immensely through my just over 3 months here, I left with mixed emotions.

Here is what I was feeling in the days before my departure….

Things I know I will miss (I am sure there will be others that I have forgotten):

  • Lot’s of New Friends
  • BBQ
  • Futebol (especially Inter)
  • A Great Office Environment
  • Giant Paper Airplanes (need link)
  • Cheap Mendoza Malbecs
  • Cachaça
  • Chimarrão
  • The women who work at Café 32 who are always helpful with my lunch order (especially the Inter fan)
  • A Very Vibrate Office
  • Great Weekend Destinations
  • Staying in One Place Unless I Choose to Travel
  • Having Enough Free Time to Catch Up on All of Those Little Things
  • The Brique Market
  • Colorful Money
  • Free Laundry
  • The Convenience of Grabbing a Cab to Work Each Day
  • The Cab Driver Who Practices His English as He Drives Us To Work
  • Doing Absolutely Nothing on a Weekend
  • Whole Office Email Threads
  • In Office Projectiles
  • Juggling
  • Paddle Ball (including Trevor almost getting beamed as he entered 417)
  • Approximate Cab Fares
  • Colorful Buildings
  • Not Having to Clean Up After Myself
  • Calebresa
  • Quatro Queijo
  • Music in the Office
  • Beach Opens http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4YDVeHe4v4
  • Elevator Close Buttons that Work
  • Feijão

Things that I won’t miss:

  • Not Being Able to Communicate
  • Take Out Places that Don’t Bring Utensils or Napkins
  • Plastic Napkins
  • Shot Glass Sized Cups for Pop (though this one does make me laugh)
  • The Overuse of Plastic Bags (US is very bad, I think Brazil is worse)
  • Buildings without Insulation
  • Buildings without Ventilation
  • Weather Changes Every Day (Oh Wait, I Live in Chicago)
  • The Maid Leaving My Windows Open and My Drain and Shades Closed
  • Cabs that Barely Make it Up the Hill on Lucas
  • Only Having a Small Portion of My Wardrobe Available
  • Not Being Able to Use My Credit Card On Line, Especially to Book Flights
  • Gaining Weight (likely related to the calebresa and the quatro queijo, and the BBQ)
  • Broken Seat Belts
  • Bela Vista (though it is nice being greeted on the way in & out each day)

In addition there are some things that I am looking forward to doing when I get home

  • Seeing my Friends
  • Seeing my Family
  • Sailing
  • Alumni Band (yes I’ve already signed up)
  • Church and Choir
  • My Gym

Of course there are also the things that I know that I have to do when I get back as well and won’t have an excuse to ignore when I am not in another hemisphere (escapism is great while it lasts)

  • Finishing Putting Shelving in my Closets
  • Redoing my Bathrooms
  • Cleaning and Refurnishing my Den so that it is not Just a Storage Locker

They also say that everything happens for a reason, so hopefully my next adventure will enlighten me with that reason and allow me to grow even more.

…and now that I have been gone for nearly two months I think that my lists were pretty accurate. While I have kept in touch with some folks in POA I really miss them and the office and so many things that I shouldn’t bore you by re-numerating all of them. That said there are some things that I got to do by being back in the States that I would not have been able to do if I were still in Brazil.

  • Seeing my friend’s sister in two full length films Conviction and Polish Bar
  • Going to a reunion of the Greece trip in Las Vegas to get a short dose of warm (well actually hot) weather
  • Restarting my French studies

Please don’t think that this is the end of the blogs, I already have some posts in the queue and am sure I will continue to find things to blog about (that is after I finish all of my posts from Greece), maybe not as regularly, but stay tuned to see what life brings me next.

Tchau,

Wendy

Given that I am leaving Brazil shortly I figured it was time for another language post which will likely be the last for a while.

One of the things that many of the folks in Brazil note as confusing between Portuguese and English are the words for push and pull. Essentially they have the opposite meaning in the two languages. The English “to push” is equivalent to the Portuguese “empurrar”, which kind of sounds like it has “pull” as its root. And the English “to pull” is equivalent to the Portuguese “puxar”, which kind of sounds like it has “push” as its root. I am sure you can see how this can be quite confusing.

We stumbled across another set of opposites in our Portuguese class the other day, the one where we read about the Inter victory. The first sentence in the article was “A torcida colorada esperava uma noite tranquilla de comemoração…” which essentially means that the colorado fans expected a tranquil celebration, of course this was referring not to the celebration after the win but that they expected an easy game, but that is getting off topic. What is interesting is that the Portuguese word used for celebration is closer to to the English word for commemoration, and, you guessed it, vice versa. In Portuguese you would talk about celebrating someone’s achievements post mortem rather than commemorating them.

And I am sure there are plenty of other examples that I just don’t know of yet.

These situations remind me of what in to English speakers learning French are referred to as faux amis or words that you would think you know the meaning of in French because they look like something you know in English and in fact mean something completely different. For example, you would think the French verb attender would mean to attend, however it actually means to wait. And as a matter of fact I can think of a Portuguese word that falls into this category as well. You might think that lanches means lunches, especially when you see it at many places serving food, when in reality it means snacks.

Switching gears a bit I want to relate a story of a shopping adventure I had right after this class. In lieu of a normal lunch I headed to the nearby mall to pick up a few last minute things that I wanted to take back to the states. When I got to the check out I was apparently the main attraction as there were four women gathered around, the cashier and three others who seemed pretty amazed that I would be venturing out to do some shopping when I didn’t speak fluent Portuguese. They all tried to be very helpful, and one of them who is actually studying English was really trying to help, not that I needed it as I kind of know what to expect when checking out, but they didn’t know that. So she was practicing here English and I was practicing my Portuguese and we were having a bilingual conversation. Of course when the cashier wanted something translated she spoke to me, rather than to the woman who knew some English so the whole thing sort of became a “who’s on first” situation.

To finish things I want to fast forward to today, as a matter of fact to within the last hour or so. I was returning from an excellent trip to Gramado, there will be more on that in a future post complete with pictures, and as usual had a hard time getting the cab driver to understand my address. The street name has become pretty easy and there is rarely confusion over that anymore, the address is a different thing. For some reason, the way I pronounce 1081 makes it sound like I am saying 1801 and tonight was no different. After a couple of times of the driver repeating the wrong thing I concentrated on the 80 instead of 800, figuring he had the 1000 part figured out. Well, I was wrong, he tried to drop me at the end of the street, I don’t even know what the address is there, but it was clearly wrong. So finally I got him to understand what I had been trying to say all along and loop around to take me to the right place. When we got there he said the fare was R$ 24 something and I said I wouldn’t pay more than $20 – I couldn’t really come up with the words to say he took me to the wrong place, but just kept saying something. After a bit of shouting (I am not proud of that part) and exchanging “you said” – “I said” I took out a R$ 50, the smallest I had that would cover the fare, and low and behold he gave me R$ 30 in change. I was kind of shocked and felt that I won a little bit of a battle in the war of Portuguese pronunciations and getting native speakers to at least try to understand my accent. Again, I am not happy that I had to get a little mad to make it happen, just kind of satisfied that I kept trying at least partially in Portuguese and apparently made some headway.

Tchau,

Wendy

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