Where to start? I suppose the beginning would be a good idea. I suppose you are all interested as to how the trip went, and all I have to say is I'm here in Tangará da Serra writing this.
First I left my house a little after 11:00 a.m. on Friday August 13th after a half hour of working with my dad to reorganize all of my bags so that none of them were over the 70lb limit we get for Brasil. We drove up to the airport, nothing out of the ordinary except that just as I leave they open Hwy 19, just my luck. We shared some laughs in the car and I realized that that is one of the things I will miss most, the way we all understand each other's sense of humor and make each other laugh.
While checking in the lady was going to make me pay for excess weight on both of my bags because they were between 50-70 and the normal limit is 50, however I had printed off the sheet that stated the 2 70lb bags rule and she checked them after apologizing. Lesson #1 print off anything that could be controversial.
We then said our goodbyes before I went through security, we all balled our eyes out but we made it. I was awkwardly carrying my two super heavy carry-ons all around the airport when i realized that one had wheels and the other could sit on top of it. Lesson #2 always have one carry-on with wheels...or a backpack. I think everyone thought I was crazy because I would all of a sudden start tearing up while huffing and puffing my way through the airport.
I got to my gate where I sat around and was met by Marie, an exchange student going to my district, about 1/2 an hour later. I got a mighty kids meal at mcdonalds and we boarded our plane.
On the flight down Marie and I sat next to each other as well as a lady named Amy Murphy who had just been to the Mayo Clinic and was told her tumor was benign and all would be okay. She talked to us about accounting and told us that when we get back we must go into secure job fields, ones that are being recruited for. She is the graduate counselor for accounting at Aubu
rn University in Alabama. She also told us that she has a lake house, and when asked how many lakes there are in Alabama she replied "probably four or five". Lesson #3 Don't move to Alabama if you love boating. She also told us some interesting stories about her childhood, it was a pleasant flight.
Next Marie and I made our way to our gate in Atlanta, we had to switch areas from domestic to international. We arrived in Atlanta around 6 and we were set to leave about 9:30. We got through everything with no problems, got dinner (mine was chicken strips...surprise there) I gave away the toy I had from McDonalds and it made some girl's day, and called home. Then we sat around our plane to board. At this I noticed we were flying with about a thousand little children, some couldn't even walk. On a 9 hour flight this was superb. But actually. Everyone was so relaxed and the little boy sitting behind us (1 1/2 ish) would just crawl whereever he
wanted and everyone would be friendly with him and play games. Behind me was a 3 year old girl named Isabella, she was officially my first Brasilian friend because her mom introduced us as friends so she wouldn't kick my seat, she did...but her mom was training her so she didn't do it often. There was also this lady who got an entire row of three seats because the flight was so empty it was spacious (Marie and I had three seats for the two of us, as did most people), and we befriended her as well as avoided a creeper who stared at us whenever he was awake. I slept about an hour because I was so excited and nervous, yet I didn't do anything productive either.
When we got out in Brasilia we had to switch to a domestic flight and first we went to the wrong airplane check-in, then we went to the right one but the line was incredibly long and slow moving, luckily the lady in front of us on the plane with three seats to herself, got as through a shorter line. Lesson #4 Be Friendly to everyone, you never know when it will help you out. Now we may have got through quicker but when my bags were rechecked, one weighed over 20 Kilos, it was about 30 and for domestic flights (not with Delta) the previous rule didn't apply. So I had to go through the drama of coming up with about $125 in Reais. I used my debit card but that was denied 3 times (we never told the bank, oops) then they ran a credit through and it got passed. Now Marie had a bag the same weight as I did, but she happened to go to a male attendant who was too excited with the fact that she spoke English, was American, and was too busy giving her his contact information that she snuck through without a fee. Lesson #5 Go to male attendants if you are an American girl in Brasil. We got through and waited at our gate (Gate 12) as it is boarding, later than expected we get to the front of the line and we were at the wrong airplane so we had to race to our gate because they had started boarding when they were scheduled too, thank goodness the airport wasn't that huge.
On the plane Marie sat in front of me and it was empty
enough that no one sat directly next to either of us, I slept the hour and a half flight, thank you Dramamine and exhaustion.
Marie and I arrived in Cuiaba around 11:00 a.m. and waited for our bags, mine had kind of spilt open due to the over stuffage, but nothing was lost. We then met our families for the first time they were waiting and clapping as well as taking pictures of us coming towards them. Then we went out to eat together, that was a nice transition to have someone in my shoes with me for a couple extra hours. We had a buffet, I had chicken, mashed potatoes, arroz e feijão (rice and beans..my mother pointed out that it was soo brasilian.) I also had guarana a typical drink here, and this type of pork where the pig is on the table whole (the whole apple in its mouth thing) and the back is peeled apart to create a bowl for this pork and stuffing, it was delicious.
Then I left Marie and drove for 3 1/2 hours to Tangará da Serra, where I live. My family finds it funny that I speak spanishportugueseenglish, I throw in some words from each without knowing it sometimes. They also like to tease me by saying things like "Welcome to Tangará da Serra" then I go, "wow, is this really it? It's beautiful here." and then they reply "hahaha não it's a little farther." This happened twice, then I stayed awake to wait for signs and eventually came to one that said "Bem-vindo a Tangará da Serra" (Welcome to Tangará da Serra). They also joked about how our house had 2 bedrooms total, and about that fact that their white daughter with freckles has tan parents. Lesson #6 Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself because it's far less embarrassing that way. I'm getting the hang of their jokes though, they happen often and I buy them way too quickly, but they are fun wonderful caring people. My house is huge and I have a beautiful bedroom.
After we were home for about 10 minutes, my mom fed me abacaxi (BERET) e lemão geletin aka pineapple and lemon jello. Now I've never liked jello nor either pineapples or lemons, but I tried it and it was delicious! As well as some strawberry yogurt (I'm not a huge fan of yogurt in the States either), however it was quite good as well! Lesson #7 Try a little bit of everything, things taste different in different places.
Then my mom helped me unpack and organize everything, it was so sweet of her! My brother and my dad fixed the lock on my door as well. So I was all moved in by 6:00. I also took a journey to the supermarket that was quite interesting, but I'm too tired as of it is 11:00 and i've gotten maybe three 1/2 hours of sleep in the last 36 hours.
I remember landing and freaking out wondering why I even decided to do this, I was terrified and I was so unsure of myself and it finally hit me that it was a year of being gone, but once I met my family and spent time with them and moved in, I became comfortable and at home here and everything is wonderful one day in. Lesson #8 Don't quit and run, everything takes time (including my portuguese skills, which are enough to survive but will hopefully be amazing in a month or two).
Well I'm off to bed. Boa Noite e Beijos.
(pai[dad], mae[mom], eu[me], Clovis[chairman of our district--he lives in my town], Clovis's wife, Marie's mae, Marie's pai)