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.