quinta-feira, dezembro 30, 2004

Wow, three entries in one week. Can you tell I'm on vacation?

Today, I learned three things.

One: boys should not wear white. When they wear white, they get stuff on it that takes half a bottle of Shout and lots of scrubbing to get out. There is a reason that generally only gay men wear white pants: they don't go playing with two year olds in the dirt and slide around on wood work in them. Julian will not be wearing any white pants, you can bet that.

Two: when doing laundry, make sure that the drainage hose for the washer is in the sink and not BEHIND the sink, lest one create a 10 gallon or more flood in the kitchen, laundry area, and storage area. At least here no one likes to have things touching the floors and they are all tiled, so it's relatively easy to clean up, just a pain in the ass and a little precarious for slipping. Everything that was on the floor waiting to be washed is now soaked and trying to dry in the last sun rays of the day. This includes two especially old and gross pillows which probably will not dry before tomorow. The cats actually tried to tell me about the whole situation at one point - I sat here typing away to mom and they both came in and meowed at me and sat at my feet for some time, but I was too wrapped up in the conversation to notice what they were telling me. Eventually, they went to lay down in the other room, figuring if I didn't care, they wouldn't either.

Which leads us to number three: Always pay attention to your cats' messages. Especially if more than one of them is trying to get your attention for some reason. They are fuzzy and close to the ground, but not stupid and could save your life one day. Or at least 45 minutes of your valuable time from being used to clean up gallons of soapy water.

terça-feira, dezembro 28, 2004

I am supposed to sleep now, and the baby is super active. Then, when I am resting during the day, he's all quiet and composed. Mom says he's playing soccor. In the last five minutes, he has kicked me in at least 6 different places a dozen or so times. I was going to go to bed, but it may be a waste of time...

domingo, dezembro 26, 2004

See this is the problem with procrastination. With all the extra time on my hands, and not having written anything for so damn long, it's always the issue of what's the problem with waiting a little longer... Part of my excuse is due to my computer crashing right at the end of the semester and I am still not back online with it yet. It's just so depressing every time I turn it on and have to remember how much work I have lost and have to redo in terms of installing programs etc. And things are not working right that used to work. Ug, I have to stop thinking about it.

Xmas has come and gone, like any other day here, still like being eternally stuck in a hot Michigan August. Since it's actually celebrated on the 24th, it was rather uneventful. The 24th consisted of many visits to other people's houses, including one where Meuamor played Papai Noel (=Santa Clause) for about 25 kids who were so incredibley excited about his visit that he wants to do it again next year. Actual Xmas day was spent sleeping in due to said late arrival of Santa then delaying our return home until 3 A.M., and then being proptly woken up by Marina singing Bob Marley on the answering machine in an attempt to encourage our arrival at the beach. This was a necessary trip because of Kerido Kevin's family visiting, but by the time we arrived, they were actually leaving, so we headed to another beach and met up with several parts of the family with whom Santa visited (including some of the kids who were surprisingly convinced that he DOES exist) and spent the rest of the afternoon going in and out of the water to cool off, seeing a lovely sunset over Pituba, and then joining the rat race journey back to our humble, toasty abode. Watching movies with cats is how I spent my Xmas evening - how bout you?

Today we are back to the "virgo" mode of organizing and cleaning the house up for painting and such that is to be done before the end of the year (fat chance), but at least it's getting rid of a lot of crap that is sitting in the storage room. There is just boxes of stuff in there to give to street people or anyone who comes to the gate to ask for something. And none of it will be taking up the valueable space anymore. Its very liberating for everyone but the cats who have been shut up in the bedroom all day because of all the open doors and dust. So now they only get to sleep all day in one room instead of in several rooms. Hasn't seemed to phase them at all.

The baby is a BOY! And I think we may even have settled on a name: Julian. I think. I like it. Meuamor is "digesting" it. He likes to be awake when I am going to bed and kick me in the bladder when I really have to pee. And in the father like son sense, at 4:30 A.M. when Meuamor is flopping around like a fish in bed, the baby is doing a very similar motion in my belly, and I lay there thinking "there are two of them in bed with me" and cannot get back to sleep. The cats have not yet really noticed much of a difference I think. When they do will most likely be when he comes home from the hospital and they never forgive me for bringing this small, hairless other wierd looking cat into their home. Actually, I am sure they will forgive me, but boy are they in for a shocker. They are both deathy afraid of miniature people, especially when they are big enough to move around and try to touch them.

It's 11:45 here, and I should go be a good wife and try to help get all that shit we dragged out back inside in some fashion. This will go on until 2 A.M. if I don't give him a "pila" somehow, I fear.

quinta-feira, novembro 11, 2004

I now have a CPF, which means I am officially recognized and trackable by the Brasilian government. Health insurance card came too. Just in time for all my mountain of blood tests etc that one must get when pregnant. Unfortunately, to prevent fraud and the like, things like ultrasounds are not covered until January, and things like the delivery procedure are not covered until August (I think the baby will not wait that long, so....).

quarta-feira, novembro 03, 2004

What a depressing day. At least I'm all the way down here and don't have to look at him on television all day...

quinta-feira, outubro 28, 2004

This week I thought I was feeling much better, but then on Monday, in the midst of eating my lunch, I suddenly saw all I had eaten again. So now the puking feeling has moved from being just a feeling to a no-feeling-but-then-suddenly-a-reality kinda thing. Only one more month of this, right? Less than that, going into 11 weeks tomorow, so it should be all hunky dory in less than two weeks...

I also have been told I am much bigger than I should be. Some have speculated there is more than one miniture person in there. I suspect I am just getting fat. Why, not sure, because I haven't really been eating anymore than I usually did, but I sure as hell don't bother to try and suck it in anymore.

Most all of my students know now. I told my favorite class as sort of an announcement, "In addition to doing page 56, I also wanted to let you know that I am two months pregnant." They were very excited and quized me on dates, feelings, and names during the next class. I even had one student listening to my stomach for a while, although I told him there was nothing to hear yet. He's sort of a special student - you know the type - very lazy, does the bare minimum, but so intelligent that you let him get away with it and love him anyway. His nick name is Butter, and I cannot keep him in his seat during class. His mother is also a teacher, so I'm sure she knows how he is. I hope the Pimentinha will not be like that...

The cats have decided that the top of a desk is a good place to sleep, which makes lesson planning a bit difficult at times. Currently Lela is asleep right here, next to the lap top (at least she is not on it). This is all fine and dandy except for when I come home to find a good chuck of fur in the keyboard or the number lock turned on (took me 20 minutes to figure out how to turn it off). Tomorow they will go visit their new vet. I'm sure they are very excited and just don't know it yet.

HOPEFULLY, I will be going to the doctor tomorow to see what's going on in there. This is providing there is an appointment open tomorow, since we have not been able to call them. If so, there will be ultrasound pictures posted tomorow on the Belly website (now listed on top at the left). If not, well, be satisfied with the belly pictures until further notice.

sábado, outubro 16, 2004

Being pregnant makes you seriously tired. Everyone says this and says it's normal, but it is SO different to actually experience it. I sleep almost as often as I did when I was in the end of Crew season last fall, but on top of that I feel like I want to throw up much of time, have a hard time tolerating heat in the air, and at times I almost want to pass out. I don't want to do too much social stuff because I get much more tired much more quickly when I have to talk to a lot of people. And teaching... Well for those of you who have never been pregnant, imagine that feeling you get when you have been out drinking all night, then the next morning you wake up, feel tired, have a headache, generally want to puke and don't want to move much. That is about what being pregnant feels like. This is the longest I have been out of bed in about 7 hours. We had lunch with Barbie and a couple of her American students and then I came home to crash. Meuamor got up to attend a party for one of his students, but I just couldn't take the thought of going out and being social with a bunch of people I don't know when I feel like I might keel over at any moment. So here I sit.

I started drinking real milk here. I had not before, was quite satisfied with the soy milk flavored with vanilla, but since recent events have come into play, I find it to be entirely too sweet some times and down right gross at others. Milk here only comes in boxes; there is no refrigerated section like in the U.S., and is manufactured in some other way - milk I am currently drinking was processed and boxed some times in June. So now we have real milk, which tastes distinctly like the powdered milk and water mix that I used to feed to baby cows at my friend Laurie's house when I was 11. I never tasted the mixture myself, mind you, but the powdered milk dust would float all over and get on you and in you, including in your mouth. Drinking milk now brings back memories of the smell of cow manure, cold icy mornings at 5 AM, trudging out to the cafe barn and being pushed around by baby cows that weren't much bigger than me. They were cute, smelly, and slobbery. I kind of miss them.

Speaking of which, I'm gonna go drink some milk now...

terça-feira, outubro 12, 2004

Ramp with a small movement.

This is the sign heading as you walk down the docks to the ferry to Itaparica Island, in the middle of the bay of Salvador. There were numerous discoveries of Engrish made that day when we went to go visit some friends there, but I neglected to write them all down. I'm sure they will still be there the next time. I met some other gringa's on the island, and was told by a store keeper that she would charge a gringo almost twice the price for a pair of sandles than she would charge a Brasilian. How lucky we are.

This has been a nice long weekend due to the holiday (one of many) and I am not looking forward to going back to work tomorow. Ug, work. Ug. All we did was visit people, go to the beach, get sunburned.... What a joy.

Several other amuzing events:

On the ferry boat to the island, Meuamor decided to jump off 2 minutes to shore and swim the rest of the way there. He stood up, stripped to his tangerine Speedo, and jumped in. Others on the ferry seemed to think this was normal.

Pondering why the cats had neglected to use the freshly cleaned litter box, I took a closer look and found it was full of ants who were stealing the litter, for uses unknown. This is a nightly ritual apparently. No wonder it gets everywhere.

Oh, and one other noticia: I'm pregnant.

terça-feira, setembro 28, 2004

Engrish in Brasil thus far (and other nice mixes of language that I find funny):

The cat litter we originally used was called “limpi cat” and now we use “cat bom.” The latter seems more appropriate considering some of the things we have cleaned out of that box.

When looking for a traditional U.S. can opener, I came across a suction cup toilet paper holder that was labeled “Fiction cup.” The suction cup actually existed, however.

There is a chewing gum here called “Happy Dent.” Happy teeth, I know, but saying a dent is happy is so much funnier.

A neighborhood area in Rio Vermelho has a sign labeling it as “snuggly.” The buildings are close together, but I don’t get a snuggly fresh feeling from being there. (if you get this reference, then I know you have watched many television commercials during the 80’s and 90’s and possibly do laundry)

I noticed the other day that the dish towel in our kitchen says “eggs are pop.” I’m not sure what that means to Brasilians, but to someone from Michigan, pop is a carbonated drink – known in some other parts of the country as soda or Coke. Meuamor says “It means eggs are popular, like every likes them and eats them.” Okay, yeah sure…

Gestures have tripped me up more than once here as well. It is difficult to describe them, but I will attempt.

There are two very similar gestures that involve the shaking of the hand in the air, with the pointer finger and the thumb together as if they are holding something. If you wave this gesture across a strait line at the waiter, it means “please bring me the check.” If you wave this gesture in a somewhat diagonal or downward motion, apparently this means something related to smoking a joint.

Waving good bye, with your fingers stretched out strait and then closing the hand so they meet the palm, opening again, closing again, etc, has been tripping me up repeatedly. This is the most common way for me to say “good bye” to students as they leave the room, or people at work as they leave the building. What it often results in, however, is the student or person returning to my side, wanting to know what I want, since here this gesture means exactly the opposite – “come here.” Before someone clued me into this (I believe it was some time in July) I had caused tremendous amounts of confusion to both myself and my students and coworkers several times over. I still forget much of the time and have to explain to people what I mean when they come running back to my side. The problem is that gestures are so NATURAL, it’s difficult to change them. I think I may have to change my good byes to be verbal only.

Today we were discussing American foods that we missed and now I feel inspired to bake things that you cannot find here. However, I’m still afraid of the oven and I am sure that being South of the equator is not going to make a difference in my amazing ability to burn things, so I think that the baking will have to wait till I can get some supervision and assistance – i.e. not tonight. I want my cook book. It’s still in Michigan, with my mother. Who needs a cookbook when you have your mother? Now I’m here and I have neither. The cook book would be cheaper to send here, so I’ll settle for that temporarily

quinta-feira, setembro 09, 2004

I am alive, and married. But also busy. Teaching has taken over my life. How unusual...

sexta-feira, agosto 06, 2004


Here I was planning a nice long work on my independent studies work week, and then at 12:30 on Monday afternoon, I get a phone call from Savio that I am scheduled to teach a class at 2 pm! For a class I knew nothing about. With a book I had not yet seen. With objective for the level that I had never read. It was the quickest and most copied lesson plan ever. Luckily, Meuamor has taught this class, so I was able to basically copy from him what it was I was going to do that day. It was an okay lesson. I think we had a good time. Shortly after this class ended, I was told I was to teach ANOTHER one the next day, and then today I was finally told I am also teaching a pronunciation course on Saturdays. I may also be teaching some private classes at the post office here. Go figure, in a week I have gone from 1 student to 5 classes! Crazy! I guess this is how things work around here. This also means I really gotta get my shit done for MSU. Soon. Focus Ali, focus....

I spent most of today on the computer in search of two things: Portuguese spell check for Word, and some kind of recording device that would should Waveforms to use in my pronunciation class. I have succeeded, sort of, in both. I downloaded Audacity, which had come highly recommended by some people at the ELC some time ago. It's not exactly what I am looking for, and it's really hard to filter out the noise. I think I need to get a better microphone and that will help. I think it will suffice for the time being.

The second break through came after going through all the right steps according to modern society: I checked the Microsoft website, reinstalled Office XP, got all the updates, contacted (or tried to) Microsoft who referred me to IBM since it was an IBM computer, and IBM referred me to the Brasilian division of IBM since I am in Brasil. Never mind that my questions were all in English and my computer was configured in the U.S. and that I am betting IBM.br will refer me back to the Americans. I hate tech help people for this reason. So, having exhausted all the "right" channels, I consulted Brian, my guru of computers, who suggested I try open source programs instead. Sure enough http://www.openoffice.org had a free download version that was similar to everything in Office XP. I even got a Power Point equivalent (a program I was missing for some reason). All I had to do was choose the language and download it. Took half an hour (big file - 166 MB), but it was worth it because it works! Everything is in Portuguese because that was the language I chose. You can choose from about a hundred different languages. I highly recommend it.

All this effort and work today, and I haven't worked on the things I need most to accomplish. Some habits never die.

domingo, agosto 01, 2004

Well after my small amount of annoyance yesterday, we did in fact get a hold of the Velox guy who came a while later to connect us. With the exception that the phone now has a "kkkrsskketttttscchchchchchch" noise while you use it (this even with the filter they put on to prevent it), it's working well. So far I have listened to 4 NPR shows and am currently listening to http://www.impact89fm.org (The Finest in Radio), right from my beloved studios in the Basement of Holden Hall at MSU! What a joy to hear what I left behind!

My dear Kerido Kevyn has quickly come and gone again. While he was here a few weeks ago, we introduced him to Marina, a friend of ours we now call "A sequestradora de gringo" and we lost him to whatever passion ensued after their meeting. He then left us to travel up the coast of Brasil, making a brief stop in each city to wander around and experience life. This included Fortaleza where he was lucky enough to stay with the lovely Adri whom I met online for free and go out on the town. Hopefully I will meet her some day too. She promises to come to Salvador to visit before she moves to Canada with her husband. In any case, now Kevyn was wandering about with the idea that he was to be back in Southern Bahia to teach some time after August 8th, but consequently called his boss on Thursday and found out he was supposed to be back there on the 2nd. So Friday he showed up, went out with Marina, and us briefly much later, and then left on Saturday afternoon. We won't see him again until sometime in December, when he will be included in our travel plans for Chapada. Poor Marina really fell for him and called us yesterday to inform us she was very sad and wanted to cry. I hope he doesn't break her heart.

Meuamor has gone into ultra clean and organize mode because he starts classes and teaching again tomorrow. To protect himself from the dust and sneezing fits, he has put a t-shirt over his head and tied it on with just his eyes showing through the neck hole. It looks rather like a white ninja or one of those guys in Iraq who was beheading people. Hopefully this will evolve into my having my own work space now. I need it to feel like I can organize. It's bad enough we are both trying to use this computer, let alone the same work space.

Okay, enough wasting time, back to my journal article stack!

sábado, julho 31, 2004

After this months phone bill came (over $100 due most likely to my internet use increase because of teaching and having a worried mother), we decided that even though we can't afford it, we are going to get broadband or DSL. DSL is cheaper, it goes by the name Velox, and it was our first choice for that reason. After several phone calls to the phone company we were first told our phone line was unable to transmit DSL. The next story was that we could get it, but that there were a limited number of lines per neighborhood and all of the ones in ours were being used. After this came the news that they were planning to expand one day and we were to be put on a waiting list for when that expansion happened - could be next week, next month, or even next year, no one knows. Next we filled out request forms for service, twice, at the mall where they had a Velox display. The girls who worked at the display were very nice and had no idea as to why we had not heard anything from the workers who were supposed to come connect the service.

This is all in direct connection with the fact that we seldom answer the phone because we have caller ID. Constantly being hassled by telemarketers, I think, is what drives Meuamor to not answer if he doesn't recognize the number. If it is someone who needs to talk to him, we assume that he or she will leave a message on the answering machine - and if it's a telemarketer, logically they hang up before the machine is finished playing. When it is just me home, I seldom answer either because unless it is a call from the USA, it's highly unlikely that the person on the other end of that line is wanting to talk to me, and I end up not quite understanding what is going on on the other end of the phone. Long story short - we screen our calls.

So logically, if you wanted to sell a product to someone and they had requested you call them on more than one occasion, wouldn't you leave a message on their machine? If I was going to make money on the deal, I would... This logic does not persist with those who work for Velox it seems. Apparently these people have been calling and calling and calling, but never bothered to leave a damn message. It's a mystery to me as to why.

Finally, Meuamor answered the phone yesterday afternoon to find we could arrange our appointment to have it connected today. So now today, I ran out of the shower just to answer the phone, in hopes it was the Velox guy. Sure enough, it is. So in my not so great phone conversational Portuguese, I manage to communicate that I do not speak much Portuguese and I am not a good person to talk to about what he needs to do (I am quite good at saying this phrase "Eu não falo muito português, então eu não sou uma pessoa boa para communicar sobre isso...") and finally after several attempts by the worker (even some in very poor English, but hey he tried!) I figure out he is asking for my name. I tell him (I think) that if he needs to come by the house today to connect the service, he can, and we don't want to wait anymore. This conversation goes on for several minutes, mean while I am dripping all over the upstairs. Finally he leaves his number for Meuamor to call, I think, to arrange another day ("marcar outro dia") - which sucks because evidently I could not explain what I thought I had explained, and now we still don't have the service connected. So today, ainda, no Velox. Poop.

Now I am hoping he comes home earlier than he planned to call this guy and figure out wtf we need to do to get this service. I really don't want to be paying these phone bills anymore.

sábado, julho 24, 2004

Would you believe I am cold here!  16 degrees celcius!  And I have dry skin on my elbows.  It feels like fall in Michigan!

domingo, julho 18, 2004

So much to tell and so little time to remember.  This past week was the EFL conference in Salvador.  It was a lovely time, but has made me realize that I have more theory than probably most do here, and I think I can teach others a lot of it, if given the chance.  I hope I get it. 
Darling Kerido Kevyn has come and gone.  He spent a week in Salvador, wandering about with us, eating here in our kitchen, and making out with our friend Marina to whom we introduced him.  Hopefully they will find eachother when he comes back for another week at the end of August before he goes back to the Southern end to work his little buns off again.  Poor thing, I hope teaching doesn't get the better of him.
We acquired a hammock while in Praia do Forte a couple of weeks ago, and now the cats think it is a fun place to hang out.  I sit in it on the porch and read journal articles with Ona snoring between my legs.  If there weren't  kids listening to the same damn techno song by the pool right beside our porch, it would be heaven - " The book is on the table.  Ta ta ta ta ta table, everybody on the table. ta ta ta ta ta table, ta ta ta ta ta table."  A tribute to EFL in Brasil.
Now everyone is asleep on the bed but me.  I have got to get off this damn computer. 

terça-feira, julho 06, 2004

My 24th birthday: Should it have been a major event? Perhaps, but early celebrations and heavy drinking turned it back into a Sunday, regardless of the willingness to contribute more to it. Being on semi-vacation, as in not working at ACBEU (ferias), Meuamor is more apt to parties than during the school year, and indeed this is what we have been doing.

Interesting things I learned and events of the past week:

1) The phone system: Here the regular land line phones work similarly to the typical layout of cell phones in the U.S. Unlike the manner I grew up with where you are allowed X amount of calls for the month (prepaid, but paying $0.65 for each additional call or something like that), here you are allowed X amount of pulses (in our case 100) that you prepay for. Pulses are not the same as calls. In fact, during typical peak time hours (much like cell phone in the U.S.) 6 AM – 12 AM Monday through Friday and 6 AM – 2 PM Saturday, the phone company records 1 pulse every 4 minutes (I think). So this amounts to a 12 minute call (or 12 minutes dialed up to the internet) counting for 3 pulses (sort of like making 3 calls I guess). Last month our phone bill was 118 pulses over the allowed 100. Being an internet junkie like myself, having to dial up (even though the dial up service here is free) and having it cost this much extra on the phone bill, makes broad band or DSL or the like look very appealing. The cost of having it installed, however, is kind of steep, and the company tells us our phone lines are not equipped for this service (read more $$$). Time will tell. Maybe my fairy godmother will magically deposit money into my account for this purpose. Maybe just my mother.

2) A cell phone is not quite necessary right now: Unlike in the U.S. where one pays ~$50 for ~500 minutes and free nights and weekend (with some other additional perks that vary from company to company), here one pays about ~$25 for 20 minutes and there is no free nights and weekends or additional perks. If you go over your 20 minutes, you pay different rates per minute according to who you call, on what kind of phone you call them, what time of the day you call them, and what service of phone they and you use. With all this “sometimes but only if” stuff, I am not surprised that it seems difficult to understand the phone systems here, and I suspect a lot of people could easily get ripped off. At least they make it confusing upfront here, as in one will have a hard time understanding so it is best to not try, rather than in what I am used to where it seems easy to understand, but then you get smacked by hidden charges, small print exceptions, etc. Unlike the U.S. however, someone can call your cell phone and it will not count against your minutes. So, if someone needs you, you are just a phone call away, but if you need someone, get ready pay for it.

3) Lela discovered lizards. They are tremendously fascinating and very high up, but this does not stop her from chattering at them for over an hour and attempting to climb the doorframe to get at them. However cute this sounds, and it is, it does not continue to be quite as cute after about an hour.

4) The stray cat I have been calling Mr. Grey (also known as Cinza) and feeding at the backdoor now comes regularly, about the same time everyday, to be fed and talk with the girls. Last night we gave him some raw chicken, which he really really liked. He is becoming a bit more aggressive of his “territory” outside and actually hissed at Lela because she was sniffing around the door.

So, back to the story of my birthday…

After some random late nights with friends Kari and Beto among others, on July 3rd I spent some amount of the afternoon sleeping due to random exhaustion from staying up till 5am using the internet. I was awoken (is this the right tense to use here?) just in time to drive to the other side of Salvador, see the sunset at this lovely bar that serves boiled clams for about R$5 a dozen (we ate 3 dozen and some carne do sol), and met some other native English speakers. This is the fun thing about being in this context: Anyone you meet who speaks English as a first language is pretty much automatically your friend. Our new friends were from Indianapolis (Randy) and England (I can’t remember his name – I’m really bad with names). Since we were on our way out to a party that had started almost 3 hours before, we didn’t chat long, but after our brief interaction, I had a thought that the man from the Midwest looked a tad familiar. Last year, before I came here and I was perusing the internet in search of information about Salvador, I came upon a website (see the link on the right – Salvador Online) called “The Online Tourist Guide to Salvador da Bahia.” The entire site, although unfinished, is full of all kinds of gringo point of view (a knowledgeable gringo) information about the city, the history, even cultural advisories. I read the entire thing before I came here. So, then consequently a year later, I actually meet the guy. Small world. We made some brief small talk about tattoos. They are useful for something (mom). Lovely interlude.

We left here in search of the party that wasn’t. Or rather, it was very prompt for Bahia: it had started at 6 PM and ended on time, apparently, because it was no longer happening when we got there at 9:30. So we continued on to the next party, this one sure to be continuing since it was at some one’s house in a hippie upper middle class area. This party was marked by such comments by myself as “Cade a bunda?” and some memorable events like MeuAmor doing some kind of Jimi Hendrix on acid like break dance on the floor (I was laughing my ass off, while the rest of the party was sort of standing there, staring in horror at the ridiculous stunt of a not so refined English teacher). I liked this party for the music: almost exclusively what we played on The Impact during the year and a half I was there (see The Finest in Radio link on the right). After much drinking and use of the digital camera, we left there at around 2 AM. Pobrecito, he was so hung over the next day (my birthday) that he slept until around 2 PM.

By the time we got to the beach at 3:30, the sun was going behind some clouds and chuva was coming in off the ocean. We sat on the beach for a brief time, watched some surfers, got rained on, and left shortly after 5 PM. I had planned to go out with some of our friends for a drink and to eat some more clams (YUM!), but by the time we cooked and ate dinner we were both feeling exhausted enough to just go rent a movie and go to bed. Indeed. What an eventful birthday. But at least I get the promise that we will go spend a day at the beach this week because finally, after the exams he has tomorrow, he will be on vacation for a whole 3 days. I hope we can take the time to enjoy it, but I fear it will be full of such errands as buying a sofa and paying bills (read: standing in lines for hours at various banks around the city). Here’s to hoping ~clink clink~

In other news:

This afternoon my dear friend Kerido Kevyn arrived. He has been teaching English in the southern end of the state of Bahia since January. He is on vacation for some time, so he’s passing through for a bit to visit here and then will head up North. He called this afternoon when he got into town and then came to eat dinner here. This is a terribly exciting event for me, since I haven’t see him since sometime in November of last year. We walked to Minha Mae’s so I could introduce him to my friend Larissa and her friend Laura (a mexicana) who is also visiting from the States. On the way home we stopped at an almost closed store so he could buy some bread and butter for breakfast. The poor dear is only making R$325 a month teaching and then he had to pay R$5.32 for bread and butter in Salvador! After his comment that he would have only paid R$0.20 for the same in the small city he has been living in, I suggested he come eat at our place while he is here, since feeding him in addition to the both of us will hardly cost me anything extra and probably save him a shit load of money. And I like having him around the house, and to walk with, and converse with. I can have actual discussions of things without having to give a while historical context to my opinion (which I often do here in my not so good Portuguese). Tomorrow we will go in search of tennis shoes so he can go running. I think I will be getting out a lot more while he is here. Hopefully that will continue to be the trend.

sexta-feira, julho 02, 2004

It's almost 5 AM. I am not sleeping. Why? I am not sure. Because I am typing perhaps. Typing is hard to do when one is sleeping. I sent some emails a while ago as well. Fun stuff to do while the sun is almost rising. One of these days I'm gonna watch it come up. Probably not this one.

I went for a long walk yesterday. It was the first time I have really gone out on my own for a long period of time. As small as that seems, it was a big step for me, going beyond language barriers and all. There are several comparisons I could make to Mexico here, but I will save them for another entry. I walked, I think, about 4 miles? I'm not really sure. I left here at 2 PM, walked almost to a mall called Aeroclube, turned around, and walked back. I was gone for a little over 3 hours. There was nothing particularly eventful about the walk, but it was long, most of it was by the ocean (one of my favorite things), and the only thing anyone said to me that I understood was "Voce e linda..." So life goes on.

Actually, let me rephrase that, I went for a long walk on Wednesday. Today is Friday now. I should probably go to bed. Yes, I think I will do that. Today is a holiday anyway, Independence of Bahia. So local phone calls are normal, like in the US, which means I could find time to enter another post today. Lets see if that might happen.

Okay, the birds are singing now. That is a for sure sign the sun will be up soon. Sleep is a good thing. I'm going to see if I can't fight Meuamor and Ona for some bed space.

sábado, junho 26, 2004

Sao Joao has come and gone. We went to Santo Antonio de Jesus for 3 days, and came back to discover the maid had shut Ona up in the storage room the day that we left. She totally destroyed the room trying to get out, broke some soap bottles, got into the juice cartons, it was a mess. She was extremely dirty and soapy, and I was worried about her consuming soap as she was trying to clean herself, so I took her into the shower for about 10 minutes. She took to it rather well, didn't even claw me up, I think because she realized it was for her own good. Once we were through, she walked around the bathroom dripping, meowing pitifully. It was quite a sight. She has since forgiven me, and now won't leave my side. Lela hissed at her for a few hours, but seems to have figured out that it is in fact Ona, and is now sleeping on my shoes in the "closet" area of the bedroom.

Our festivities over the last three days were common. We drove on the shoulder of BR 325 (I think that is the highway number) for about 25 kilometers, helping turn a 2 lane highway into a 4 lane highway, drank beer on the way, swerved around potholes, and did manage to find our way to the city we were intending to arrive at in the dark without too much trouble. In this process we did, however, loose the rest of the people we were traveling with, so we opted to wander about the main square in the city, and lo and behold, on this walk we found them. So problem solved. It was a rather typical holiday, Forro, caucus, all that good stuff.

We even made a brief trip to Cruz das Armas (I think this is the name of the city...) to see people attack each other with fireworks (a well known event of dangerous idiocy), and run from out of control Espadas (swords - the type of fireworks that shoots a column of fire into the sky, usually set on the ground with people surrounding watching; in this city people hold them and attempt to burn others, or kick them around like cans on the street as they shoot fire every which way). There are several parts of the city where there is "Area Prohibida" where one is not allowed to attack others with flaming material, however, as one woman we met on the street countered "The fireworks don't know that." Case in point, as we were walking up one of these "Areas" we heard the distinctive sound of the espada behind us. Generally, when one hears this sound, you should run because it means you are likely the in the vicinity to be struck by a burning column. So, just to see which way we needed to run, we looked behind us to see one shooting towards us like a rocket, with a nice slight twirl of a decent foot ball (American) throw. Logically, we ran from it, when really, we should have run towards it. In any case, we managed to just outrun it as it crashed to the ground. What fun.

Our lodging was provided by a friend of a friend who knew a nun who allowed us to stay in a guest bedroom area of their home, complete with bathroom and mosquito netting for the bed. Very nice people.

Somehow, with all this activity, and probably due in part to the wood smoke from all the bon fires in the streets, I have caught something else! Basically a cold, but that has manifested itself in my head, mostly the throat and the nose. It is quite aggravating as I can hardly stop sneezing enough to type sometimes. This is my excuse for not having actually done any work, despite staying home all day to do so. Perhaps my argument will be weakened by this long blog entry. Lets just pretend it doesn't exist for the moment, shall we?

sábado, junho 19, 2004

Minor update. Well, not really that minor.

We finally went to the cartorio on Friday with all the documents for us to get married. With all the red tape, which isn't that much when you get down to it (bumps excluded), it was a relatively strait forward process of filling out computer screens and telling the woman there the information that went in them. Some fun irony -
* With all the fuss for the right documents, legalized by the consulate, and translated into Portuguese, the woman more often asked us what information when where and we just told her - we could have told her I came from the moon, as long as she didn't check the birth certificate, which she did once to get the correct spelling of ELIZABETH.
* As soon as we walked into the office, the woman remembered Meuamor's name from when he had been there two months ago, but had to redo the form upon completion because she had filled it out as if he was the gringo and I was the Brasileira.

so mark the calenders - August 19th at 8:30 AM...

quinta-feira, junho 17, 2004

At the constant badgering of my mom, I have decided to put in another entry for those few who actually were reading this on a regular basis - this may only be for the benefit of my mother.

The first month here (hardly can believe one has passed, no?) has been great! The cats are settled in very nicely, right down to catching cockroaches at the back door at night and carrying them around like little wriggling prizes. They make fun toys, and I know not what becomes of them after they leave my sight - I never find the bodies...

After the scary incident of loosing Ona, who we later found hiding under the refridgerator, and a brief bout with some American Round worms that we found puked up on the kitchen floor one morning (who knew with that many trips to the vet that one of these girls would still manage to bring a foreign parasite into Brasil) they became quite taken with this new home that contains stairs. Lela likes when we throw her strings down from the upstairs, so she can bring them back up to us. Ona seems to like the fact that her "trout meow" echos so clearly if she does it in the hallway outside the bedroom at 3 AM. I think the whole condominium complex can hear her. They spend most days sleeping in the back bedroom where there is more sun, on an old smelly mattress left there by Meuamor's old roomate. He says they even have "chero do gato Brasileiro"- they smell like Brasilian cats now. I think however, that they smell sort of musty, and quite a bit like the mattress which smells distinctly like Taco Bell and makes me want to puke.

A few weeks ago now, I broke something on the car when I had my first driving lesson on a stick shift in 8 years. Speed bumps are not my friend. The car made a bad noise for a few weeks, but stopped sometime this week, for an unknown reason. I wrote to my friend Kevyn of this, accusing him of being crazy for some unrelated reasons, when he pointed out that I must be crazy to try to learn to - to quote his brilliant wit here - "learn to drive a stick in Portuguese in the fucked up traffic of Salvador - kind of like trying to learn to ski in Hell." As funny as this sounds, it is rather true. Someday I will find the link to a lovely animation about Italy that was compared to Salvador by some native Bahians - purely coincidental yet uncannily similar... And none of it has to do with the holes in the road that could easily kill your suspetion, a few tires, and lets not even talk about the ones that could swallow your car (one of these appeared not 1/10 of a mile from where I stayed last year the day before I left).

Last week was a nice long weekend, but I was unfortunatly sick with some kind of "flu da cidade" or dengue, we are not sure which. I was sick, writhing in pain in bed with a fever of 39.4 for the entire vacation, which sucked for me, and probably even worse for Meuamor, since he had to take care of me and deal with my constant whining, dengoza, and thoughts of suicide to get away from the pain of whatever I had. He also was sick with it for 1 whole day. We spent all of Valentine's Day sleeping. What a great married couple we are.

So now I just have to finish all my school work, right? I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can...

domingo, maio 23, 2004

So it’s been a week between updates. That’s okay, considering I am now in Brasil and will remain here until who knows. Things have been very busy, as one might have guessed. In order to get the whole story out, let’s see if I can do this in parts.

Monday morning I got up and ran all over town courtesy of Caryn and her Saturn, taking care of most of my last minute stuff like travelers checks, address changes (except I forgot the one for the University, so I have to see how I can go about doing that from here…), and then returned to the apartment to clean the kitchen etc, vacuum, and try to make my remaining possessions into little piles or put into boxes for Lis to easily deal with after I left. About half way through this process, I decided to check my email and buy another phone card to call Brasil so I would be able to communicate with Elves in Sampa during my layover in Huston to let him know how everything went. This process, which usually takes 3 minutes, ended up taking almost an hour due to weirdness of web pages and the fact that my mailing address had changed. I waited and waited, but the access code never came through.

I also called Continental cargo and the help desk after discovering that I could not check in online (apparently when you need to show your passport for the flight, they will not allow you to do this) and was there fore required to check in 4 hours before my flight, but I was only allowed to drop off the cats 1.5 hours before my flight. This conflict of times and its necessity of keeping the cats in cages either in the airport with me or in the car while I checked in was not settling well. After 3 phone calls, I decided to risk pissing off the ticket counter and check in at 4 PM so I could drop off the cats in good time.

About this time, 5 of my friends had wandered over to say farewell and come to the airport with me. I was awaiting Lis’ return from her conference, so I thought visiting with my friends would be an okay break. At 12:30 exactly, Lis opened the door and said in annoyance “well, are we leaving or what?” In a flash, my 5 friends were hauling suitcases out the door, vacuuming, shoving cats into crates, folding blankets, the works. It was quite impressive. Leave it to Lis to get my ass in gear. I think I never would have made it down here without her.

Once we had everything loaded (4 suitcases and 2 cats in Lis’ car and 1 suitcase in my friends’ car with all of them crammed in as well), we headed out. It was raining and stormy and a relatively poopy day in terms of Michigan spring time. Lis and I headed for the cargo area of Continental at DTW to drop off the cats, while the other car stopped for something to eat. Thank god for cell phones or I might have been out one suitcase.

The cats were petrified. Ona had gone into purring in excitement/freight mode while Lela had become a big eyed statue glued to the back of her cage. Both of them tore their dishes off the doors on the way over. Luckily the guys there had plastic dishes made to go on the doors of the cages, so this was an easily fixed dilemma. The cargo guys were very nice and reassured me that the cats would be okay. They were not, however, that knowledgeable on which forms they needed to check, and tried to take the forms I had had stamped by the consulate that were destined for the department of agriculture. After some explaining, they made copies of said forms and took those which I had had done for them specifically. I do not think they even checked the date of examination on the health forms. The cats were so scared. I really felt I wanted to throw up at this point, I felt so guilty for leaving them there. I was sure they thought I was giving them away. Indeed, it felt like that too.

Rush rush rush off to the airport! When we finally met up with my friends again who reunited me with my suitcase, I was very tired, hungry, and sweaty, and I still wanted to throw up. We made a little train of luggage to the check in counter and conversed with a very nice lady who allowed two of my bags to be over weight (after taking several things out of them to make them not THAT over weight – I am now short 4 pairs of jeans, all my jewelry, magnets, and a few other random items that I pulled out in a rush and stuffed into a bag) and paid my extra $100 for my 3rd checked bag. After this whole fiasco I was left with my two carry on bags, a small paper bag with some random items and some flip flops in it, and the bag we had filled to lighten my luggage. We decided to sit and rest for a bit, chat, make small talk, pretend like I wasn’t about to fly some 7000 miles with two cats…

When I came time to go, everyone cried. It felt so awful hugging these wonderful people good bye, knowing I might not see them again since they would graduate and leave to go who knows where. I cried even harder when I hugged Lis. I truly could not have gotten through this with out her. I don’t know what I would have done. She is one of the best friends I have ever had. My friends decided it would be best to wait and see my through the gates incase they didn’t let me board with the extra bags, which they didn’t. So I left them with Lis, taking a few random items that I could carry and stuffing them into the pockets of my cargo skirt, all the while with the crabby lady who checked your ticket at the head of the line to go through the metal detectors glared at me.

The metal detectors created a whole other fiasco. I emptied my pockets into the bin, took my lap top out, all that great stuff they have you do these days, and still, of course, I set off the alarms. I am prepared for this: with body piercings, one has to be prepared. So they set about “wanding” me, as usual, and found my belly ring, nipple ring, my anklets, earrings, the safety pins in my skirt, and then a phantom beep right next to my knees. So the airport security woman patted down the area, then wanded again. Still a beep. This went on for about 10 minutes, all the while Lis and the whole gang is watching from the other side of the metal detectors. Another security officer says “if you patted it down and didn’t find anything, it’s clear to go” but this woman continues and it still beeps, every time in that same spot, with no explanation. I am not really annoyed, since I have plenty of time to make it to my gate still, until another woman steps in and asks me to come with her into an office. The only nerve racking thing here is that all of my things are still sitting at the end of the x-ray machine and I won’t be able to see them while I am inside this office. The woman reassures me they are fine and won’t even let me approach them, almost yelling at me when I take a step toward them to motion what is mine and to watch it. So I go into this back office, where they pat down the area in my skirt a 10th time, and still finding nothing, examine my bare leg underneath it, and then finally wand it again. This time there is no beep. So now I am free to go. While putting all the stuff back into my pockets, I have a lovely chat with the woman who yelled at me earlier about the Jet program in Japan and Michigan State, before I wave to my friends one more time and run off to my gate. From this whole experience I can only say being mad probably won’t help, but being pleasant and friendly will make them feel guilty for having delayed you.

As I arrived at the gate, they were just boarding and I got 4 phone calls in a row. Everyone likes to wait till the last minute to say goodbye, you know? The people on the plane were also very crabby. Having to stop moving to put my bags into the overhead bin, I was met with the comment of “well, it’s not like anyone is trying to get on the PLANE or ANYTHING” in a nasty voice from a woman sitting below where I was attempting to put my bag. I just ignored her. I don’t have any desire to promote other peoples negative energy, especially Americans in flight. I think airports are just worlds of crabbiness these days. I don’t think there was one person on there that was really in a good mood. Even the flight attendants were unpleasant.

On my brief layover in Huston, I called my parents, Elves, Lis, Amy, and then my parents again. Kind of sad to make the last ever phone call on my cell phone. It’s true that you create the need for it when you get it. I miss it already.

The 9 hour plane ride to Sampa was relatively uneventful. The highlight, besides first being greeted by a fellow passenger with “GO GREEN!” and being seated next to a very nice woman who was also a mother with whom I made pleasant conversation with the whole plane ride, Continental now has this neat graphics system that allows you to see where you are in the flight with several kinds of maps, temperature, time, miles covered, speed, all right in front of you on the screen and in the aisle above. I was completely fascinated with this almost the whole flight and I think I actually fell asleep looking at it, only to wake up 4 hours later and look at it again. All planes should have this feature, its great fun and a good way to keep the kids from asking you “are we there yet?”

Now Tuesday, customs in Sampa was no big deal, despite all the complaints I had heard. I was finger printed and photographed without incident and went on to recover my luggage. Sure enough, one of my suitcases – that which had the shampoo and soap in it – was missing. I was aware that might happen since the flight from Huston to Sampa was really full, I had been told, so it was possible that one of my suitcases would be delayed by a day. No big deal since I was going to be there overnight. I filled out a report with the airport people (actually communicated in Portuguese for 15 minutes strait without too much misunderstanding) and continued on my way to get my luggage x-rayed again with customs. Consequently, since I had my computer, CD burner, and CDs all in two suitcases, these two had to be searched. This did not happen to me last year, so I was not anticipating opening up everything and clothing ended up all over in the process. When I finally met up with Elves, he had been waiting for me for over 2 hours. Since there was no one left to confuse us, we had no problem recognizing each other.

With all my luggage loaded into the car, we went to the cargo section of GRU to recover the cats. I was lucky to have him in this process, since he dealt with exports through Continental and had been in contact with the office already about the cats that morning. At this point, the story is a little hazy since I just sort of followed him from office to office, signing paper work and paying several fees. We first went up to the Continental cargo office and paid them another fee, got a receipt for this fee, went downstairs to the cargo bay area, showed them the receipt and they gave us another form to take to the department of agriculture office. Upon arriving at the department of agriculture office, we were told to go purchase 2 other forms from a different office (about US$1) and bring them back to fill them out at the office. After we did this, they took the consulate stamped papers (yes, I did not go through all that for nothing), took the other forms, filled out 2 more forms and we returned to the cargo office again. They guy who needed to look at them was out to lunch by this time, but we go to go back and visit the cats in the cargo area before going to lunch ourselves. Over lunch I told Elves the shortened chronicle of how Meuamor and I had met and gotten ourselves into this mess of cat importation and moving lives across 7000 miles – quite lovely. When the guy came back from lunch an hour later, we showed him the forms and he directed us to another office. Here another man took those forms and gave us another form and directed us to go pay the federal fee for importations at the federal bank branch in the building. After we did this, we were given another receipt and went back to the cargo office, but the only man who could approve it had now gone somewhere. We waited for a while for him to return, showed him the forms, and finally got the cats. They were relatively calmer than they had been at DTW, but still not happy. I gave them some water as we loaded them into the car for the drive to Elves.’

The cats got to spend some 14 hours outside of the crates, wandering about in a room at Elves.’ We made a makeshift litter box out of a plastic box lid and some soil from pots, which Ona promptly threw all over in the process of using it. A short while later the airport called to say they had found my suitcase – it had continued to Rio on the Plane, so they had just sent it ahead of me to Salvador. The cats enjoyed their time being crate free whilst I went out with Elves to a bar with some of his friends. This was the real test of my Portuguese and I think I held my own pretty well. We also spent some time plotting and sending emails to Meuamor to hopefully throw him off the trail, and playing with his lovely hyper active dog Ulysses. Sampa is cold, cold as Michigan in the spring, and consequently the suitcase that had been sent to Bahia ahead of me was that in which all my warm clothes (all two shirts and a jacket) were. So I shivered through the night in one of Elves’ sweaters, a pair of his pants, and some extra socks, with both cats sleeping under the blanket with me. In the morning, I couldn’t even bare the thought of showering in that cold, so we just stuffed the cats back inside their crates and headed for the airport.

Now Wednesday - at least with Varig we did not have to visit a whole other part of the airport to drop off the cats (since they ride with luggage, they are dropped off with the luggage), but I did find that I had to pay insurance for the cats to be on the plane, a fee I had not been informed of, nor had I prepared for by exchanging money. So we speed walked through the airport to find a bank with a less shitty exchange rate, paid the fee and then had our quick goodbye before I went through the gates.

Upon arrival in Salvador, I recovered all of my bags, the cats, but then found I had too much to carry on one cart. After several trips back and forth between the gates to look for my friend Sávio who was to pick me up and back to the Varig desk where they were watching my luggage, I had pay a guy to help me wheel it all out on 3 carts to wait for my friend to appear. He did so, about 40 minutes later. We actually managed to fit all of my luggage, me and the cats into his tiny car and he dropped me off at my new home, promising to return for me at 3pm to go to the school to surprise Meuamor.

I opened all the suitcases to look for my soap but I could not find it. I also released the cats, who after a short while, seemed like they were distressing a bit, so I brought in one of their litter boxes and showed them where it was before running upstairs to shower. When I returned down stairs, I was unable to find Ona. She has a tendency to hide under things when she is scared. I searched all over, calling her, but I could not find her. Even at 3pm, she was still unfound, but I assumed that wherever she was, she would come out when she was hungry, so I left some food out, and ran out to the car to head to the school.

I had had a certain scenario in my mind for this, but my friend had a different one. Upon entering the school, I was rushed into his office to wait in the dark. He went to find Meuamor and told him that the video he had requested for class was in his office. When Meuamor walked in he jumped, I think out of surprise that there was a person in the office when he was not expecting one than anything else, but quickly realized it was me. I laughed, he laughed, we hugged, kissed… It was better than I could have ever thought…

The whole rest of the day consisted of me being hugged, welcomed back, asked to come to a class, visiting classes, and being the “American” reference. Sávio told me to take the rest of the week off to settle in, be with the cats etc, and that we would start discussion on my school work on Monday. So that is where I am at the moment, catching up. I have unpacked, Ona was found under the refrigerator and recovered, and now both cats are leading relatively stress free lives, typical for Bahia and for cats, and nice for me too. I don’t know that this will be the end of this blog. Probably not. But the move has been made. Except for the loads of boxes as of yet to be mailed by my mother. Let’s see how long that takes.

For now, I’m home.

segunda-feira, maio 17, 2004

It's 2 AM and the apartment is still not clean yet. I stopped at the edge of the living room since Lis had gone to sleep and I did not want to disturb her. It is very sad in here. I have dragged the bed to the living room to sleep for the night since it is the cleanest room in the apartment. So Now I lay here, unable to sleep, typing away.

A few people have come by today. I saw several of my friends this morning, and even had to drive to go see one because her two kids made it not so feasible that she do me the favor. Saying goodbye to my parents was the hardest. I don't want to cry so much, so I am trying not to, but its hard. If you treat it like just another day, you don't say all those little things you meant to say, but if you say all those little things, it feels like the person leaving is actually dieing and will never be seen again. That is tremendously depressing. I feel like that now. It's not like I'm dieing. I'm just moving away. Why is that so much more difficult? When I moved to college it was not this hard, and I still didn't see much of anyone after I came here. This only difference being that one cannot just hop in the car and drive here, ne? What will people remember, really? It is hard to say...

Anticipation is keeping me from feeling sad so much. I cry a little bit, like when I hug someone before they leave. But then I can stop. I don't really want anyone to know how scared I am. I'm scared for me, scared for the cats, scared that my luggage will fall apart on the plane, scared that they will want me to check one of my carryons, scared I will forget something... I have been having these nightmares about loosing papers, forgetting them, cats escaping in the airport and chasing them, lost tickets, every possible problem with this trip, I have had it happen in my dreams. I hope these are not signs.

So, I suppose I will try to sleep at least a little bit right now. Ona has gone to bed in her crate - I think she gets this a little bit better than Lela does. Lela is currently asleep on my leg as I lay here on my stomach typing, but this will have to change since I can't sleep with my head in this position. I probably won't sleep at all. Or it won't be restful - stupid dreams. But still I try...

domingo, maio 16, 2004

So, this apartment is almost empty. Very sad... Tomorrow I go to meeting with clothes for the shelter, a request for marriage under the care of, and some boxes for mom to mail to me with books and such. It is now very late and I must sleep. Still a few to load.

sexta-feira, maio 14, 2004

Today the cats went to the vet again for their final health certificates. I think I did not spend much more money than I would have anyway with this whole process (with the exception of the lost documents), since I have to actually leave a copy with the airlines, so I would have needed 2 or 3 copies anyway, having to pay for each of them to be stamped and such by the USDA and some stamped by the consulate, so... I guess I'm not too bad out. At least I won't have to put Ona in that tiny bag carrier again, she doesn't like it much I think.

Meuamor told me he thought the cats were coming early, so I let him run with that idea, and then actually told him last night that they were coming early. At least this way he will have everything read for them, as well as get a sub for his last classes so he won't have to go teach so late the day I arrive, which I know neither of us wants. He will get the screen put up the day they cats arrive, and will buy food and stuff this weekend, so hopefully it will be all set when I get there. I hope that this admittance that the cats are coming early will throw him off the trail in terms of my accompanying them. Apparently he told his boss/my friend who is picking me up at the airport that he thinks I am coming this month. I really hope this cat thing will throw him off; the look on his face when he sees me will be classic. To seal the deal on this one I think I will look up the flight information for that day in July and email it to him. It should seem more real then.

I am a little worried about the cats on the trip - the vet told me that I need to make sure they are eating and drinking upon arrival, because otherwise the liver and kidneys will start to shut down after all that stress and dehydration. I hope they will have water, but Continental does not want things attached to the doors of the cages, so I can't have a water bottle for them. I hope to have dishes attached somehow, so they can have water, at least, and perhaps some food. At least they are not overweight, so they will be better off over all in this process.

I also emailed all of my information to Meuamor's friend in Sampa who is helping me through all this. I even took digital pictures of the ticket and all the documents and email those along with my intinerary information. Hopefully this will enable him to get some documents I need taken care of before I get there on Tuesday. It took 4 emails to do is since hotmail won't allow so many attachments. Took me almost an hour!

I have my suitcases pretty much packed up, about 4 bags of clothes to go to the shelter, a box of shoes for the same purpose, a box of things I want mailed to me somehow (pictures etc), 3 boxes of books and files that I will need there (all TESOL related) that I must take to the post office tomorrow morning to try and mail them freight, and all the stuff in the kitchen and bathroom to pack up for Bear to use when she returns from the Dominican Republic. I hope I have enough time to do all this AND clean this place up. I will be a little hectic and crazy, but I am tenacious (according to some friends), therefore it will happen.

Lis is taking me to the airport with two yowling cats in the car, and my friend from Chicago is even driving up for the day to help and see me off. I have such great friends, I don't know where I will be without them. I hope there will be as many who are near and dear to my heart in Bahia...

quarta-feira, maio 12, 2004

So much has happened these last several days! I knew it would come to the point where I would not have enough time to write everything that has happened... 5 days till I leave! It's almost impossible to think about, especially since I am still sitting in a chair at my desk and there are still some things hanging on the walls.

Some day when it was raining, I am not entirely sure which day it was, but possibly Sunday, I had several visitors in a few hours who came to remove most of my furtniture. My friend Manda came for the futon bed, some chairs, kitchen cart and some other random things around the apartment, and Amy came for whatever was left and adopted my yarn collection (under the stipulation she also work on my blanket - it may get finished yet!).

While Manda and I, much to the amusement of my neighbor's, managed to push the entired futon mattress into her car, a heavy storm was rolling in. We were contemplating how to move the frame for the futon in a two door coup when Amy arrived with her truck. We conned Amy into helping Manda move all her other shit to her apartment and they had just finished loading when the rain started to POUR! The returned from Manda's, very soaked, a short time later, and proceeded to load up all the stuff that Amy was taking and then both left. I think Amy was a tad displeased that she had to help Manda, but oh well. She should have said no. Sometimes one can be too nice and then it is no one's fault but your own. Amy is too nice sometimes and often holds her tongue when she shouldn't. Love her to death for it.

My drive to Chicago started at 5:30 AM yesterday. We arrived right at 9 AM, went to the consulate, went to lunch, went to obtain a perforation in Caryn's nipple, and then returned home in some horrible weather. The consulate people even know me by name now. I walked in to the office and they knew exactly who I was and what I was doing there. No big lies this time. They stamped all my documents, so I brought up the phone bill issue again, only to find out that they would not stamp the phone bill because it was not a legal document. So after a lot of going back and forth, we made a photocopy of my driver's license and they stamped that. I hope it all works out when I get to Brasil.

So with all that done, I was left with the task of packing all this clothing I am taking with me and sorting out that which I was not taking, etc. This is quite a task since I seem to have more clothing than anyone I know. It also seems difficult to get rid of, since I would rather give it to those I know and love than just randomly have it end up somewhere because I left it at the Goodwill, but I wear such a small size that no one is SMALLER than me, so this stuff I can't wear anymore has no home. Luckily on Sunday at meeting I learned there is a woman at the shelter who wears a 00, so I am sure most of my clothes can go to her. At least I know they will do some good. Karma, right?

I don't know how I will fit the most important parts of my life into two suitcases. The thought is rather daunting and scary. I did all my laundry, so I know what needs to go where at this point, so whatever I can't fit in now will be mailed later, or perhaps I will just shell out that extra $100 for an extra bag on the plane. Can't bet too much more than mailing, right? Maybe even cheaper, especially if I fill the extra one with books I will be needing.

The cats are very freaked out because of all the missing furniture, things on the floor, suitcases, etc. I think Ona thinks I am going to leave them again like I did last summer, so she often comes over and sits at my feet, looking at me and communicating her kitty thoughts. They haven't really figured out what is to come, even though I told them many times, and I doubt they will figure it out, even after we get there. Such is the life of a cat. Little did they know they would get a mom with a wanderlust and they would get stuck becoming international cats.

tomorrow people are coming in the morning for the cat tower and a few other random items, and then Lis and I are headed off to my grandmothers for the afternoon to visit and drop off all the things that will be stored there (winter clothes and some random furniture items I borrowed from her that she wants back). I hate to go there because it will be the last time I see her for a while and she will get all teary eyed (I hate this part of leaving). She also keeps making me feel guilty for not spending more time with her before I leave. I would if I could, but I just can't. I have too much to do in the next 5 days. Only one of them is reserved for me cleaning this place up for Lara, so...

I really wish Meuamor was around so I could talk to him. He thinks the cats are coming early. I hinted enough that something was up, so when he mentioned this, I let him run with it. Little does he know I am arriving with them. He will get screen put up just in time for them to be there, like literally the DAY I get there, maybe finishing an hour after I get there with them. Since I have keys, this makes things easy, but I worry about leaving them so soon upon arrival. They will really need time to acclimate to their surroundings, but will not really get it with me for very long right off the back. I am trying to get Meuamor to work out a sub for the later classes so when I surprise him at the school he won't have to go teach (this doubtfully will be possible). I am playing it up like he has to be home for the cats to arrive. I hope it works...

Now, back to packing. Maybe. More like sleeping. I have a killer headache.

sexta-feira, maio 07, 2004

What a fun 18 hours, drive to Chi-town and back, lie to a government agency, spend $200 in 15 hours....

First off, I am very tired and cranky, and the door blew open here while I was gone and there is no longer heat, so it's freakin' cold in here and I am in an unpleasant mood, in addition to my new worries, so please forgive the pissyness of my update here.

FedEx did locate my package. They called me on Wednesday night to tell me after 2 weeks, it had been found in the supply section of the drop box. Why this is remains a mystery. In anycase the documents were not good anymore, but at least I didn't have to get another $40 money order.

I had already scheduled the second vet visit for yesterday morning to get new certificates, and then another appointment at the USDA, now I had new documents for the consulate. All I had to do was drive them there (not going to trust FedEx again in this matter). Later this same day, Meuamor calls me and tells me that I must get a phone bill stamped by the consulate to prove my residence in the US. I am rather confused by this requirement, but he cannot explain it either, so I take a phone bill with me as I leave the apartment.

My lovely Rosinha (as Meuamor calls her) and I left for Chicago after her final last night, which got out at 10 pm. Of course, between getting money, gas, etc, we did not leave here until almost 12 am, which means we did not get into Chicago until around 4 am my time. I was very tired and had to have her take over driving because I wasn't going to make it. We slept at her brother's apartment for about 2 hours, then got up and showered, and went down the street to have breakfast at the cafe. It was terribly cold this morning, so in my Havaianas and highwaters, I had some numb toes and a little trouble walking, along with cold ankles and tremendously impressive goose bumps.

We took a cab down town to the building where the consulate is. It was only 8:30am, but being it was so cold, we went upstairs and sat in the hallway outside of the office to wait for them to open, which they did not so promptly around 9 am. I dropped off the documents, gave them my money, and they told me to come back in a hour to pick them up. So we wandered out and went looking for warmer clothes along the strip. Nothing was really open at that hour, except the Gap who did not have pants that fit me very well... This is beside the point anyway...

At 10:30 we walked back to the consulate and they handed me my papers, which the lovely stamp on them. So now I feel I am in the clear, no? So now I had them all my documents that I have been told I was going to need for us to be married - my birth certificate, my two statements of single status from the two counties I have lived in, and my police record. I mumble something about having withdrawn the money for them, so NOW I was dropping them off.

The woman is rather puzzled at this. She takes the documents and looks at them, then asks me if I am applying for a different visa, to which I reply "no." She then asks me what kind of visa I have, so I tell her, and then show it to her to make sure it is valid for 5 years, which she says it is. She then asks me what I need these stamped for. I stumble through some weak explanation starting with "I don't know" and ending with "They told me to get them stamped" without a whole lot of detail inbetween. I am still stuttering through this lie when she tells me "Don't tell me anything." She take the documents and walked to the back of the office.

Now, I had not really thought about why I would say I needed these documents stamped before this point. I have been functioning under the idea that I was not to tell anyone official that I was getting married in Brasil because they might either not let me go, not authenticate the cat documents to keep me from going, or make me apply for the family reunion visa which would force me to stay in the US for another 6 months or so (why is it that the visa that is supposed to specifically allow you to be with the one you love keep you from that person longer than any other type of visa?). I have been deeply frightened by the prospect of having them deny me entry because, it seems, that there is so much red tape involved I get the impression that the Brasilian government does not WANT an American to marry a Brasilian, so they put red tape and hassles in the way in hopes that you will give up and stick to your own kind. This is not what I do however, so I bite my thumb at them and stumble through some lame lie when they ask me a simple question.

Back to the story - The woman and the man who actually signs the document stamps are talking now, in Portuguese, but I am not really listening. Now the man comes up to the counter and asks me why I need these documents, to which I give the same lame reply, this time adding "The institution where I do my research said it would be a good idea that I have you guys stamp them. I'm not going to be working there or anything" (this is not entirely a lie, since several employees of that institution have told me this). The man looks puzzled. So does the woman. He asks me what kind of visa I have, so I show him and explain that it is a 5 year tourist visa, and I will be going back to the US in August, but then back to Brasil in October, then back and returning again in December (I don't really know which months, as I was making this up as I went along).... This is really looking like some failed misrepresentation at this point...

At this point I become incredibly stupid and ask the woman if she can also put my cell phone bill in the stamp line to prove my proof of residence in the US. She looks totally mystified at this request, so I drop it. The man looks at my passport again, and then says "Okay, that's $80, it'll be ready for pick up on Tuesday." So I gave them more money and left.

Now I am worried that some how I have gotten the school where I will research in trouble for involving them in this lie, that they will figure out what I am up to and make me apply for a different visa, that they will not stamp the documents and I will have wasted all this time and money.... I don't know, I am tired, and worried, and I have to go have dinner with my sister now.

quinta-feira, maio 06, 2004

Many recent developments, but I will have to post it all later when I have more time. It is currently 10 pm and I am off to Chicago to take the documents to the consulate personally first thing in the morning when they open. Here goes another 500+ on my car in one day...

quarta-feira, maio 05, 2004

Long time between posts, about to get even longer...

Several developments recently, including the saido of some furniture, thank god, but right now it is finals week and I have a paper due tomorrow written all in my L2...

sábado, maio 01, 2004

FedEx has no record of my package. I have been on the phone with them twice today and they can't find it. The consulate apparently never got it, so now the documents that I spent all that time and money getting are not good anymore. Now I have to spend the $250 again and drive to Chicago myself and get them taken care of because I don't trust FedEx to do it again. I am so upset, I can't really type anymore.

quarta-feira, abril 28, 2004

Varig is driving me nuts! I swear to God, if I had the ability to pop, I would have today. Maybe I do have that ability but more tolerance for complete absurdity than I previously thought...

Yesterday I called Varig to look into the availability of space on the flights I might change to in order to accommodate the cat issues. They told me there was space available on eight flights on the 18th. I would not be permitted, however, to make a reservation for the space until I had changed my ticket. After a long conversation with Meuamor's friend in Sampa who is now in cahoots with me, I had come to the decision that I would delay my arrival to Bahia by a day and stay in Sampa overnight to give the cats a break from being in crates and me time to rest and shower outside of an airport, airplane, or related apparatus. This seemed the best decision at the time. So the plan today was to call the airline and find out if there was space on the flight I intended to change to, and if so, change my flight and reserve the space.

So today I called Varig again, to check the space availability on the flights on the 19th that I felt would accommodate my time frame. Upon explaining the situation, the woman on the other end of the phone told me that they had no way to check the availability of space for pets on these flights. I explained to her that I had gotten the information quite clearly yesterday to the contrary, but she insisted and insisted she could not tell me anything. She constantly would go back to the standard phrase "I cannot request a reservation for you because we don't have access to that information."

I finally got aggravated trying to deal with her, since she didn't seem to understand the information or how I was going about trying to acquire it. So I asked to talk to another person. A new woman get on the phone and told me the same thing! I was almost in tears at this point, thinking of the prospect of paying to change to this flight, requesting the space, and then finding out there wasn't any and having to pay to change my flight again, then finding out there was no space yet again.... Much like my experience with getting the documents from the vet to the USDA, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...

At this point the woman seems to realize I am seriously about to loose it (despite having yelled over the phone at these people for half an hour), and suggests I make a request to reserve the space on the flight to see if it is available. If it is, I can book the flight, and if not, I can change to another flight and request that space. So, I in fact CAN reserve space for animals on a flight I am not booked for. I have just been given the exact opposite, TO THE "T", of the information I received yesterday! Why this information changes from day to day, I don't know....

So now I am holding a reservation on my new flight, awaiting this information from Varig. And there are still no documents from the consulate.

terça-feira, abril 27, 2004

One day of delay to Bahia...

After much discussion at the office, it has been concluded that to keep the cats inside of these crates for the 36 hour period that is required to complete this trip in 2 days is inhumane and cruel, so I will be staying over in Sampa and flying out the next morning to finish the last leg of my trip. This will be pleasant for a number of reasons, one being the fact that the cats will get to run around a bit outside of the crates, another being that I will get to sleep and shower before seeing Meuamor, and last that I will get to spend more time with one of the dearest friends my love has, who is my contact in Sampa and is providing me with rides and a bed to sleep in. So now all that is left is to get the papers for the cats back from the consulate, and pay to switch my flight.

At least it is only money and not my first born child...

segunda-feira, abril 26, 2004

I still don't know when I get to arrive in Bahia now. I am thinking of changing my flight to the last possible departure time just to be on the safe side. That would put me in at about 10 pm, which works out okay, I guess, but kind of ruins my plan to surprise Meuamor... And also requires me to be on planes in transit for over 30 hours (cats too!), which does not sound like a great way to start a new life...

I had planned to get there, go to the house, drop off cats, luggage, shower, become a real person again, and then go to the school and wait in the break room until he came down between classes. I visualize him dropping everything and crying - he's a great emotional goof like that. The plan now would be to get several other people in on this surprise and have some of them take him out to the bar after work, so I could get to the house, let the cats out, shower, and sit there and wait for him to get home. There is something about him finding me unexpectedly rather than me finding him to make this surprise that is just more appealing to me. I hope this all works out...

domingo, abril 25, 2004

One issue after another...

I talked to Meuamor last night after he talked to the customs people and the Continental Airlines people. After calling and talking to Continental and discovering I have to drop the cats off at a special cargo area when I leave the US, and that I also have to pick them up in a special cargo area in Sampa GRU airport, I was a tad concerned about how I would accomplish both that and customs and immigration requirements in my 3 hour layover. So, still keeping this little secret of my actual departure date, I had Meuamor call and ask where this place was and if it were at all possible to get the cats on time or if it was inevitable that I would be missing my 12 noon flight. He also was to inquire as to whether or not I would have to pay tax for all the crap I will be entering the country with, none of it being new.

So he has found that: The Department of Agriculture of Brasil is only open for inspection of incoming animals from 9am to 2pm. The Continental people will not release my cats from their cargo area until probably about 2pm. This makes it impossible for me to make my 12 noon flight, and also appears that it will make it impossible for me to have them go through the Department of Agriculture that day as well, meaning - I will be spending the night in Sampa and I also have purchased a ticket for $280 that I cannot use.

I believe I can cancel my ticket for $150 fee, however, I still have to purchase another ticket on top of that. I found that on the Varig web site I can purchase one for even cheaper that what I originally paided, but I can only buy a one way ticket from the Brasil version of the website, not the American/English version. I am worried that if I try to purchase a ticket from there I either will not qualify and will not be able to, or they will send the paper ticket by MAIL and I will not get it in time. Either way, I am a little upset at the amount of money I keep having to spend to accomplish this - the credit card is almost maxed out as it is, and a T.A. stipend does not allow me to make an significant payments.

I will have to pay a fee for both the release of the cats from the cargo place in Sampa and to have the Agriculture people look at them. Continental will take US$ or R$, while the Agriculture people will only take R$.

I will hopefully not have to pay any tax money on my old stupid crappy used things I am bringing, but I will inevidabley be searched etc. because I will have large suitcases...

quinta-feira, abril 22, 2004

Today, I bought cat carriers. That is about it... But they are really nice cat carriers.

quarta-feira, abril 21, 2004

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! So yesterday was not over until today!

First, I woke up late to go to the radio station, so I did not get to shower, eat, have COFFEE or anything. Luckily I wasn't so late that the poor 2-6am DJ was dieing to leave and was nice enough to go buy me a bottle of water so I could in fact function in the studio, as it was 80 degrees in there this morning... So, 4 long hours, now that's done.

I leave the station and head back to the USDA to have my new Rabies certificates for the cats that I picked up last night between class and showing a movie to my students. After all the bull shit from yesterday, I would think they could have gotten it right. The woman at the USDA is not happy that they were signed by the vet assistant in place of the vet. So, guess where I got to go? Back to the old vet a THIRD time. Apparently the vet didn't get it that the first two times I was there to get this document that I was SERIOUS the they were necessary to leave the country (I really am very displeased with them for wasting my time); perhaps they just thought I wanted them for some non official reason (can you hear the sarcasm in my writing? If not, I can call you...). I drive back across town, pick up the third copy of certificates, take those back to the USDA, they stamp those and finally I am close to getting them on the way.

Only problem now was that I had not gotten the money order for the documents to be approved by the consulate. I had planned to do that after I left the station but I had had to do all this driving back and forth across town again, so now I was out of time. So, I take the envelopes from the USDA office with me and rush back to campus for a meeting at 12. I arrive just in time to walk into the meeting, get some handouts, and explain my aggravation to a few colleagues who listened while making these terrible wincing faces (perhaps I was spitting on them in my hurry and irritation).

After the meeting, I walk across campus to the bank to get a money order for the consulate, then walk to the post office to see if I can mail FedEx from there - I cannot. So, I call the number on the envelope to find out how much I must write the check for the mail it, and what the proper procedure is for these types of things. At least they were very nice. Did you know you can just write a check and stick it in the pocket with the airbill or whatever it's called? Seems a little unsafe to me...

So here I am with this damn envelope and I am no where near a drop box. I just want to get rid of the damn thing now, I am so tired of this process. And I have to do all this for my police record, my diplomas, what else.... If I have to go back out to that vet office again in the next week, I am going to pop...

terça-feira, abril 20, 2004

And I thought phone calls were a hassle... I spent an hour on the phone this morning, calling all over to make sure I had everything I possibly could covered at that point covered. Every phone call made me feel a little bit more in control of this incredibly fucked up situation. I was starting to feel like this might actually be accomplished...Because so much of my necessary documentation seems to only be issuable before 3pm, Monday through Friday, I had to skip the first half of my class today (I had permission AND a presentation today) to drive all over creation and try to accomplish some of this utter bull shit that I must go through to get married, just because I am not Brasilian....

From what I determined in my plethora of phone calls, was that I need to have everything notarized and stamped a million times (I know, exaggeration...). How I will do this is another matter...

I left directly from teaching to go to the USDA office and have them stamp and sign my health certificates for the kitties. I had made an appointment last week to come in at 2:30pm to do this, but I thought being a little early couldn't hurt. Probably a good thing, since I had a hard time finding the office as I was looking at the wrong sheet of scribbled notes and didn't have the directions with me. I still got there earlier than I needed to be. After some brief discussion with the woman at the desk, we discovered that some how I had not gotten all of the documents necessary - there needed to be a separate Rabies certificate along with the health certificate, and I didn't have that! So, we called my new vet, who informed me that they cannot issue it because they did not vaccinate the cat; I had to call my old vet on the other side of the city and have them issue it. So, while on the phone with them, and getting talked two by two different people in the office of the USDA, I am informed that Rabies certificates are not issued for cats, only for dogs, but that they can print out something official for me to pick up.

Driving for 20 minutes, belting out Marisa Monte in my car, and I arrive at the old vet to find they have printed out some records and highlighted the necessary information. I asked them if this was suitable for sending to the consulate, and they said it was as official as it got, so I took it and drove back across town to the USDA and presented them with the printouts. They were totally mystified as to why I had brought them this crap that could have been printed by anyone and didn't even have the name of the vet who had vaccinated the cats on it. The state vet finally decides to notarize and sign the document, explaining to me how he was trying to make it look more valid, for which I was incredibly grateful. The woman at the USDA desk tells me I should go back and get different documents and get them stamped because there is infact a certificate for cats in this state. I got the stamps, signatures, and left there a little over an hour after which I had first arrived, in exchange for $48. It was now 3:30.

The next thing on my list was to go get finger printed, since I needed my criminal record. This can only be done by certain police stations and apparently only at 3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But, I had called the police station this morning to ask if it might be alright if I arrived late, since I didn't know how long I needed to be at the USDA (lucky for me that I had gotten there early, or I would have still been there at that point), and they had told me that it went from 3pm-4pm. So, like a bat out of hell ( I love cliches), I sped to the police station (I think there is some irony here) and rushed into an almost totally empty office. I told the nice police man that I needed my finger prints taken for immigration/emigration, to which he replied "we do that at 3pm." I was about to loose it, and just stated that I had tried to get there ontime, but it had not been possible. Amazingly enough, he actually told me to sit down and he would get someone with me soon. Amazing, because I expected these guys to be total assholes.

So they took me back, finger printed me like a common criminal, and then released me to the real world again, smelling like cheap antibacterial wipes and with slightly greyer fingers, with my new finger print card. Hooray, so now what the fuck am I supposed to do with it? I hadn't a clue, but I hoped to have it notarized or something there, so I asked, but no such luck... At least this service was free...

Next I asked if I could get my criminal record (or rather the nonexistence of one), since I seemed to remember someone telling me I needed it, so the nice policeman sent me to another police branch office on the other end of the complex. I wandered in there, not knowing really why I was there, but assuming that my criminal record might be interesting to look at, so what the hell... First thing they asked for was my finger prints - how convenient I had just had them done! So I gave them the inked up card, wrote them a check for $31, and went on my merry way. So my nonexsistent criminal record will arrive in two weeks, I hope. It was now 4:10.

Back into the car, rush rush rush, to campus, just in time for the break during my class, and just in time to give a killer presentation, I think...

After class, I jump back into my car and drive back out to my old vet to request the correct documents, which they provide (now, but 3 hours earlier, where were they?), and sign the ones I already have collected and paid to have stamped. The vet seems very annoyed that I for some reason didn't know that they were giving me the wrong documents earlier that day and that I had to waste their precious five minutes asking them extra questions (God knows I don't want to make a THIRD trip out there in two days).

So now, tomorrow, after I finish at the radio station, I will go back to the USDA office a THIRD time and have them sign and notarize the new, more correct documents, probably for another $48....

Why am I doing this again? For love right....?

segunda-feira, abril 19, 2004

Even with all the excitement building over the last several weeks, I am very worried about this move. I am not sure I am ready to leave my whole life behind. I was at my mothers yesterday and I almost cried because of the thought of not being able to wade through the river again in the summer, going tubing in August... Nostalgia is a killer, let me tell you. I think though, that I will NEVER be ready to leave it all, really. I mean, who really is ever ready to leave your whole life? I will never be ready, so I just have to DO it. So, I am...

sexta-feira, abril 16, 2004

Yes, getting health certificates for cats is a big pain in the ass. They are okay just chilling in crates now, but they are absolutely psycho when they are in a moving vehicle. I don't know how they will handle a plane ride. Maybe a lack of constant movement and a lot of white noise will do them some good. I hope they will not freak out too much. I am still not too sure I want to use tranquilizer on them, I worry if they are too cold but too doped up to move much, if they might get frost bite or something. Their little eartips get cold easily. Poor little things. So, one visit down, one to go in less than a month's time. Joy.

I never knew how much crap I could do without until I started thinking in my mind what I absolutely NEED to take down there. I have been living in my own place for 2 years alone, 4 years with roommates, and 6 years outside my parent's house. In that time I have acquired enough to furnish a sizable apartment. And now, I must find places to sell this sizable amount of crap to. This is the biggest process. I have had several friends who said they might be interested in taking some things, but so many are in this "well, maybe, let me see..." mode - Seriously! I am LEAVING! I cannot take this MAYBE stuff anymore, either you take the things or I have to start asking other people. I cannot just store this stuff somewhere in case you decide you want it later....

I miss my friends....
Long time between updates. This week has been busy. Today I will get the cats health certificates from the vet. This will be a painful process, as I have to get both cats into the carrier and transport them, crying and yowling, to the vet and have them examined. Updates on that later today...

segunda-feira, abril 12, 2004

Today was a the day of endless phone calls to no avail. I am aware, I think, of what documents I need to get married in Brasil. I am trying to do my best to secure them before I leave (this is kind of a necessity), however from what I was told by others, they would be easy to get. I think the judgment of easy is purely dependent on having done it. I spent at least 2 hours on the phone today, trying to call the RIGHT numbers to find the documents that I needed. One of them, at this point, I am not even sure actually exists.

I did manage to secure reservations for the two animal spaces in cargo on my Varig flight, which was a relief. They only charge you for the extra weight, not even for the extra space taken up by the cages, so I am a little less poor than I thought I would be. It seems rather silly that I can reserve these spaces now with a non-American company that isn't even based in this country, but I can't do jack for the Continental flight until 10 days before when I get the second health certificate.

For the cats to get there little furry butts down there on the same flight as me, I must take them to the vet, get their health checked out, get an official health certificate from the vet($30), take that to the USDA APHIS Vet people here, have them look at it and approve it($40), then take that, some paperwork I don't' know exists yet, and $40 and mail it to the Brasilian Consulate in Chicago to get it all approved. This must be done 30 days or less previous to my flight. This then gets mailed back to me and I have 30 days from the issuing of the consulate to get them out of the country and through customs in Brasil. Then, again, 10 days or less before my flight, I have to take the cats to the vet AGAIN and have them issue ANOTHER health certificate just to get them on the plane with Continental. Geez, what a freakin' hassle. Worth it however, to have my fuzzies by my side in Brasil.

Getting my police record, or rather statement that I don't have one, has proven to be a process of trial and error. I called one police department, who told me to call another one, who told me they did not issue it and I had to come be finger printed at 3pm on a Tuesday or a Thursday and then take a bunch of paperwork (and probably some $$$ too) and mail that to the INS. Some 3 weeks later (if I'm lucky) they might return a statement saying I don't have a police record. I will most likely be in Brasil by the time this happens, so hopefully they have international mailing...

I was also previously informed that I need a statement saying I am NOT married. This is a type of certificate that no one I know has heard of before and does not know how to go about getting. So I called the city clerks office, who directed me to call the county clerks office, who informed me that they can issue a statement and notarize it saying that I never applied for a marriage license in this county. But that only applies to this county. So if I am to have a statement showing I am not married in the continental US, it seems I need to apply for one in each county of each state, which is ridiculous. There must be either some other document, or the person who thinks I need it is on crack.

At least I know once I am in the country, I will be able to move about freely. But actually getting there is in no way set in stone...