My Brazilian Girlfriend


Meet Carolina

I apologize for going completely radio-silent the latter half of yesterday–you know how faithful an updater I am–but I couldn’t for the life of me get WiFi so I was pretty lost.  Which is a shame because so much happened yesterday.
Yesterday was my official tour of Maringá, courtesy of Daniel, (Victor) Kambara, Sayuri, and Mariana, who led me and another intern around Maringá Park (Parque de Ingá) and brought us to see the cathedrale, which is the tallest church in South America.  I got to see part of their version of a senakulo there–they were rehearsing at the time.  Daniel says that he’ll see if they’re already running the show, later today, so Matthias, Klára, Ciarán and I can watch it.
Parque de Ingá was insanely huge, and sort-of a cross between a teambuilding campsite (like Philip’s Sanctuary, where I went for my MScM Teambuilding), a public park (which it is), and a zoo/nature reserve.  I saw a capybara (and probably stepped in its poo), a few monkeys, two turtles, and a bunch of peacocks, including two males (the most gorgeous things you’ve ever seen).  Halfway through the trek Victor had to carry me on his back because I was so worn out.  I guess I’m going to have to learn to walk here.
Fighting monkeys.  This little guy threw his opponent off the roof!

I bet you want to see the peacock. 😉
The walking was made a bit easier by my new Havaianas, and if you’ve heard rumors that they are cheap(er) here in Brazil–THE RUMORS ARE TRUE.  Thinking in USD here, the simple printed Havais (tsinelas type) I own retail for approximately 30 USD.  Here, I bought a pair of embellished Havaianas with jewels on the straps and a back-strap for easier walking (and UA&P dress-code approval) for approximately 20 USD.  They are so comfortable, I’m planning to save up and buy another pair in a slightly larger size for Manila use.
The cathedral is so huge, I can’t get it all in one photo.

Look at those stained-glass windows!

Some of the church artwork.  They’re sketched directly onto the cement walls.
Aside from the park and the church, I also got to see a food market here in Maringá, where the highlights have to be the pastel (this sort of flat empanada kind of thing) and the freshly-squeezed orange juice.  Fernanda and Daniel keep joking about how Brazilian I am now, since I favor the juice over coffee or anything else in the morning.  I’m taking to the food here pretty quickly, except for the lack of vegetables (I may have to go vegan when I get back to Manila.).
Their pastries too are amazing.  Yesterday I tried this thing called sonho, which is Portuguese for “dream” and tastes like it too.  I am going to get so fat here.
…Well, maybe not.  See, with all this good food, I was surprised that most (if not all) of my Brazilian friends are super-skinny.  Early this morning, however (think 12AM–don’t freak out, Ms. Jodie), I discovered their secret.

Samba Clubs!  They’re like night clubs, except they play traditional Brazilian samba music–what Kambara calls “Brazilian Country Music”–and the beats are so infectious you just have to keep moving.  Sayuri took me to one called “Car Wash,” because it was her last night in Maringá, and we kept moving until about 2:30 or 3AM.  I have never been out so late, or had quite so much fun.  Also, Sayuri is an excellent dance teacher, so by the third or fourth song I was managing not to make a complete fool of myself.  I got home (the apartment of AIESEC Maringá’s LC President, Cintia, who will be my temporary host until Camilla Sayuri returns on Monday) at around 3-ish, and promptly flopped into bed.
Which leads me to my last point: who is my Brazilian girlfriend?
While heading back to UEM from the cathedral, the bunch of us stopped by a guitar shop since I’d mentioned that I’d left my girl back at home and I missed her.  I got to try out a couple of guitars, many of them with this lovely, unlacquered wood finish (I drool), and while the prices are pretty reasonable for many of them (think 50-odd USD to my Ellie’s $575), they were still way over my budget.  Luckily, Kambara is also a guitar-head, like myself, and he happened to have a spare classical guitar he wasn’t using.  Voila!  My arm is complete again!
Carolina is the name of the guitar I’ll be toting around for the next six weeks.  Christened for Sayuri’s first name (since Sayuri is my “sister” here), ‘Lina is a Michael VM 21 classical guitar (yes, nylon strings), which means she’s got a more muted sound than Ellie, but still has that bright, “feminine” quality that leads to her name.  Despite the fact that she’s plywood (a finger-test around the sound hole confirms it), her sound is pretty respectable, if a bit twangy due to the nylon strings (I’m a die-hard steel advocate) and the fact that her metal ones are a bit rusty.  Since, unlike Elinor, Carolina does not have a built-in tuner, I’ve been using this online widget, and playing it by ear.
I’ve found several fellow guitar enthusiasts while I’m here (apparently acoustic music, not English, is the true lingua franca of the world), including my workmate Matthias.  We sort of ended up ganging up on Ciarán, who doesn’t play but is now learning under my inexpert instruction and Matthias’ more scientific input.  I’ll tell you more about how this goes as more things happen, and maybe I’ll managed to convince my partner to come on camera and give you all a demonstration, blogosphere.
Anyway, that’s it for now.  I’m going to update the chord book and maybe get some rest.
~ NC
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