sexta-feira, fevereiro 29, 2008

Thunder! Lightning! Floods! Stranded cars! (HEAD LINE)

Last night we had a huge "big boomer," as my Bryan-Dad would call it. It's a rare thing here, thunderstorms. Not sure if that's a common coast thing or not, having only lived in MI before coming here, I grew up with thunderstorms and tornados and thought them a normal part of summer.

Here it's a big event. People get scared. And for good reason - these kinds of storms bring big rain, and despite this rain being a fairly common kind of event on a monthly basis, there is yet to be a good drainage system in place for most of the city, so entire major roadways flood (those of you in MI area, imagine what would happen if suddenly I-94 completely flooded out and all that traffic had to find another route for about 5 hours), walls collapse, sewers over flow, and mudslides in favelas kill 10's of people. Not the mention the accidents caused by the water standing on the roads, cars that entered and got stuck, sitting abandoned, or floating away to run into someone or something.

My husband told me an interesting story of his drive home yesterday. There is a major vein road called ACM (Antonio Carlos Magalhaes)that connects the Orla (the road that runs along the coast) and the road that runs to the airport (called Parallela) that ALWAYS floods during rains like this, always in the direction of those headed for the coast. What usually happens is that the traffic some how finds it's way onto the opposing side driving the wrong way and after a few horn beeps, everything seems to work out. Apparently it was so bad last night that traffic couldn't even flow on the Parallela bound side and it was all forced onto a side street that runs parallel to this road. This road is a one-way, Parallela bound road as well. Now that you read all that and didn't understand it, you can check out this map, zoom in, and try to see what I'm talking about if you so desire. If not, read on.

View Larger Map

What apparently happened is that the traffic from ACM ocean bound quickly diverged itself onto this road going the wrong way, while traffic going the right way (ACM airport bound) did the same in the opposite direction, both with the intent of getting the freak out of the mess of flooding, undrivable road. So this basically amounts to 4 lanes of traffic in each direction (2X4 = 8 lanes total) packing itself onto a 4 lane street with almost no roads to turn off on to, and meeting in the middle, nose to nose, and nobody could do a damn thing about it. You couldn't very well drive over the cars in front of you, but you couldn't back up either because the cars just kept coming up behind you trying to escape the flooded road. So you had another complete blockage. Like someone cut off all routes between the Orla and Parallela, because basically that is what happened.

My husband, by some miracle witnessed this and didn't get stuck in it (no idea how he managed that), thought it might be a good idea to call the traffic police to come direct traffic and get it moving again. So he called and called and no one every picked up. So he called the local cops (Policia Militar) and had the following conversation:

(phone rings)
(someone picks up but says nothing. There is back ground noise and some people talking)
My Husband - "Hello? Hello...."
Random Dude - "Hello!"
My Husband - "Ummmm, is this the Military Police?"
Random Dude - "Uh, yes, yes, it is."
My Husband - "Well, see, there is a huge huge cluster fuck of a traffic jam here and I tried calling the Traffic Police, but they don't answer. I thought maybe you could radio them or something and let them know that someone needs to ...."
(Dude interrupts) "You need to call the Traffic Police."
My Husband - "Yeah, look, I did that and no one picks up, but something has to be done here..."
Random Dude - "Uh, yeah, thanks brother, thanks."

I seriously doubt that anyone was called or notified. I suppose eventually the mess worked itself out. They almost always do. But lots of people were hurt last night, from flooding, falling, stranding. One of my coworkers had to walk all the way home in hip deep water because she couldn't get a bus home from class, then she fell down a mud hill and hit her head. We read today that the ambulance service here had no power last night, so they received no calls and were unable to be dispatched to help anyone.

And this is modern?

If someone could just figure out how to make a drain work properly, we could avoid all this.

Be sure to check out THIS WEEK IN BAHIA later for videos of the river that was a street near my house, tidal waves by buses, and some nice shots of the street on a normal day for comparison.

quinta-feira, fevereiro 28, 2008

Ju has caught whatever I have - flu, it seems. Last night he got feverish and started crying in his sleep and coughing a lot. My husband spent most of the night sleeping on his floor trying to comfort him and giving him little sips of water. This morning after my shower, I saw he had returned to our bed and was trying to get some real sleep. I went down stairs to make coffee and force myself to eat something (having the flu kills my appetite) and then I started hearing Ju calling me upstairs. I went into his room to find him in a fit of fever nightmare, sweating and crying "Waaahhhhh, Mommy, I want another shoes! Waaaahhh, Mommy, MOMmmy! I want another shoes!" Some kind of nightmare where I wouldn't let him wear the shoes he wanted to wear I guess. I burst out laughing when I heard what he was saying in his sleep. He is now sleeping fitfully in our bed with my husband. Poor thing.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 27, 2008

Definitely the flu. Chills, fever in the afternoon and evenings, swollen glads, coughing. I just want to sleep. Flee. ug.

At the of Ju's Bob the Builder DVD there is a small commercial for DVDs of Fraggle Rock. I wonder if they makers know that those of us that LOVED that show as young kids are now having kids of our own and will buy them out of nostolgia, having nothing to do with whether or not we think our kids will enjoy it. I want that DVD. Ju says he wants Thomas.

Mommy, if you are reading, it would make a great birthday gift for your only child ;)

terça-feira, fevereiro 26, 2008

A few days ago, we took Ju out to play and ride his trike, and then to the mall to pick up a CD my husband had ordered. We dragged a long my friend the Lion, and eventually ended up at Le Bisquit; a rather Hobby Lobby like store for those who don't know it. This is a general "good behavior" tradition where Ju gets to pick out a new hotwheels car - besides, I LOVE this store: there are beads, stickers, school supplies, little toys, party favors, indoor fountains, yarn, etc - everything I could possibly want and be able to find in Brasil.

Ju waded through the general pile of cars and hadn't chosen one when I decided to go off and pick up a few things of my own, leaving him in the care of my husband. By the time I came back, I found he had chosen a small green car that looked a bit like a plane, a fighter jet looking thing, and .... a Polly Pocket car complete with Polly to ride in it.

Polly Pocket car has by far been the favorite new acquisition, getting time in the shower, going to bed with him, and going to swimming classes with him. He decided he wanted it to be a kitty car, so he had me draw a kitty face on the hood, and now he drives his small Siamese cat figure around in it (the Polly has gone missing in just 48 hours, I am not surprised and relatively confident he didn't eat it).

I try not to raise Ju inside of cultural gender roles, but I wonder what will happen to him when he starts school.

domingo, fevereiro 24, 2008

Last night we went to the "Praia 24 horas" event to see some bossa nova played on a stage in the middle of the ocean (while the audience all sat on the beach). It was great fun - lots of food and drink vendors walking around, we met up with some friends, parking wasn't too much trouble, and you could swim out to the stage and tread water watching the artists sing and play right in front of you. I stayed out for half of one guy's set - I had forgotten I could just tread water like that for that long. (I actually think I swam a lot more last night than I really have since I moved here - I have a terrible fear of ocean currents and waves and rip tides that I'm not sure when and where it came from.) The event was well organized and safe and pleasant for a free event in Bahia; I was quite impressed. We even went so far as to take the digital camera for some nice random shots.

After we dropped off Isis and Vito (family friends; Vito is Ju's age minus 3 months) at 11:30, we came home and Gustavo had the great idea to skinny dip in the condo's pool. I have not skinny dipped here since I first moved here, mostly for fear of seeing my neighbors, or worse their kids, who are often out later than late. The good thing is that our house is right next to the pool, so anyone looking out of their windows to see us incognito would have to be doing it from ours - no worries there. I was rather nervous about it at first, since it's much easier to see that a woman is naked in the pool than a man (although because of tan lines this late in the summer, it is quite obvious) and I actually let my hair get all chlorinated in hopes that it would shield my embarrassment should we suddenly have company. After some time playing with Ju, who has gotten over his fear of going under the water after two months of swimming classes, I forgot I was naked until Gustavo pointed out that I had done so, at which point I started hearing voices and decided to get out before someone saw me. About 15 minutes after we got out, a bunch of teenagers took over the pool area until well after 2 am. Good timing!

Ju thourally enjoyed the experience and promptly asked to go swim naked as soon as he got up this morning. I explained to him that mommy and daddy can't swim naked during the day but that because he is small still, he can swim naked if he wants to, at home. He seems pretty excited about the prospect of going back into the pool and trying to swim, naked. Hopefully it will work the same way if I make him wear his sunga again.

sábado, fevereiro 23, 2008

I notice I write more often about Ju than anything else. I suppose that shows quite a bit about how I spend my time when I have free time to write - and that is with Ju at my feet or near by, being the descarado that he is. For a change of pace, here are some other random thoughts.

Lela has always been a picture licker. Recently my mom sent down some photos of the wedding and now I always have a calico fuzzy body next to my laptop, trying to lick them. I have no idea what is so attractive that she likes them so much. I hope she isn't slowly killing herself with this weird habit.

I realized I had always assumed that people kissing on television and in movies were faking it. Well, they are, of course, but I mean with no tongues and such. Not sure why I always assumed this, but it just seemed natural to me that since these people, despite being actors etc, had girlfriends/boyfriends/wives/husbands that they wouldn't possibly be really using tongue in that shot. I mean, I know it looked like a tongue, but wouldn't their significant other be upset? I have no idea when I lost this assumption, but I think it was quite recent.

This entire year has been one big adjustment in responsibility for me. I started really teaching, really planning, and really "being in charge" of other people who work in my classroom. I never see myself as a boss. I am not comfortable telling others what to do. I suppose it takes some getting used to. I ended up doing the same thing with the DI program. I have been working with my team for over a year, but to really get the program started, I wanted to get others trained and have other teams and get school support, and some how in all that I ended up coordinating this program for the entire school. Not that I don't love the program and want to see it succeed, but I didn't mean to sign up for this - I'm not good at managing people, teams, not letting emotions show or get involved in what I'm doing. It's not anything I ever trained to do. Some days I wish I could just quit, but then what would happen to the program? Maybe someone else will volunteer for this position next year. It's unpaid and stressful, so I doubt it.

sexta-feira, fevereiro 22, 2008

I am sitting here waiting for Ju to finish eating. The extent of his conversation with the kitchen is so interesting, I thought I would type a play by play.

"Is a boo an a [r]ed. Is a boo an a [r]ed in der"

"Rice, come back rice, come back"

"I don like it. I don like a this chikin."

(singing) "Is a rice an a peas, is a rice an a peas."

"Is a pushing buttin. hmmm, ai ai, ai ai."

(I say, "Ju, sit down please. All the way.")

(singing) "All da way, all da way, going going going going going.... going going"

(he drops the spoon on the floor) "Mommy, I wanna spoon."

(I tell him to get down and get it)

"Go get it, go get it. Don fall down, don fall down, don fall down! thank you thank you, thank you mommy, thank you Juju. Whoa, whoa, whoa - haha, whoa - hahaha, whoa - hahaha"

And that concludes this most interesting post.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 20, 2008

At least it's healthy....

Ju has developed some rather strange eating habits. I chalk it up to my basic rule that snacking is okay as long as it's on healthy stuff. Don't all these health magazines keep telling us that grazing all day is more healthy than several full meals. A basic day of food might run like this:

7 am - yogurt with wheat germ
8:30 - banana squished up with powdered milk
10 am - two apples
11:30 - rice, beans, some frozen peas and maybe a can of sardines
3:30 - another apple and a yogurt drink
5:30 - 1 tomato, juice, a pear
7 pm - half a french bread roll, juice

Last week he would only agree to eat his veggie soup if I would let him dip his apple in it. He ate the entire bowl as a dip. On Monday we went out for sushi and he ate all the cucumber garnishes, the sea weed off several shrimp wraps, and the roe from the sushi rolls (large orange fish eggs that look like tapioca balls).

sexta-feira, fevereiro 15, 2008

"mommy is a napkin"

"mommy is a kleenex"

The other night, Ju ate his veggie purre soup by scooping it out with a granny smith apple and eating it as a new fangled dip.

I have to go into work again tomorrow, I have too much I still have to get done and prepped. Ug. It took me three tries to spell tomorrow right. My brain is fried.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 13, 2008

School is back in full swing. I have two new students in my class, both who are wonderful and sweet (and girls - as if I needed more girls!) and eager to learn. Days have gone pretty much normal, despite construction going on in the HS/MS, with the exception of an occasional power outage here and there.

UNTIL>>>>> today. Some of you might remember my rant about power outages and (ahem) not-so-intelligent-administration-decision-makers. Luckily when we lack power since then it has not been a long term status. It's been a bit shakey because of the construction equipment running all the time, moving and disconnecting things, and so on. Yesterday I kept trying to run around school to find some where to print the names of my new students and their photos for the "who's at school" wall, but the power went out for long enough that I had to give up. Today when it started to flicker on and off during the morning exploration centers, I didn't think much of it because it usually comes back. It finally kicked off during circle (9 AM) and never returned (which spurned a whole series of stories of ghosts in bed rooms by my students that all generally ended with a parent removing the ghost, kicking it out, or otherwise eliminating it from the premises).

Luckily, since some parents decided to have countless meetings with our director, a skylight had been installed in my room during the vacation and when we have no power we no longer are in a dark cave with no natural light. We did our group activities with this natural light, washed hands, had snack, and went out to the playground. At some point, the message was passed through that went the power came back, we were not to turn on anything that wasn't in use and only use ONE A/C, lest we knock out the circuit again (I later heard we had completely blown out the circuit on the street and there was no estimate when it would be fixed). We spent the rest of the day with out power, and eventually without water because the pumps won't work with out power, obviously. The no water thing is particularly difficult for those of us in the preschool, and worse for me who has no less than 6 students who go #2 at the same time every day (!!!).

Parents started showing up to get their kids around 11 and word was passed that we were to remind the parents to also take the older siblings home when the younger ones left, as there was no power to cook lunch or wash hands in sinks, or anything really. The classrooms were already sweltering (90+ and humid and many without opening windows), but after being on the playground for almost an hour, I had to take them back inside just to get them out of the sun. Eventually parents trickled in and got their children.

No power here also means no phones, so I later found out that calling all 459 parents had taken over 2 hours to complete with 6 cell phones across the administration office. Some parents were never reached or did not return phone calls or maybe just had no way to get their kids before they left work, and when I left at 2 PM there were still quite a few sitting around on the front steps, looking bored and hot, unfed, and I felt bad for them.

domingo, fevereiro 10, 2008

Today was my last day to do nothing, and sure enough I had a headache and in fact was up do doing nothing all day, so off went Gustavo and Ju to the weekend parties and social gatherings and I sat here and watched movies and lamented on my pounding head. It's nice that the boys can have their day together, although I miss them. Yesterday I spent most of mine at school trying to finish prepping my room for the start of the new semester, but I didn't really get it all done. Oh well.

My dad called this morning while the boys went to the supermarket (and did all the grocery shopping in one of those "car carts" which completely amazes me), and I spent about an hour and a half talking to him about everything from politics to family to weather. I noticed we end up talking about the dreams we have and what they mean. I can't recall having had as many conversations about dreams and meanings with anyone else in my life as I have with my dad, and this is only in the last 2 years or so. It seems we have the same dreams, or similar dreams, and seem to interpret them the same. Not sure what that means, except that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. It's funny how much closer we have gotten since I moved here - closer than we ever were since I was a kid. Well, not funny, nice actually. Makes me all the more encouraging for him to find a place down here to retire to 6 months of the year.

quinta-feira, fevereiro 07, 2008

Some interesting news on the first day back at school - Last September,they closed our gym because the roof was falling off and they were going to fix it. It remained closed through the end of the last semester, but with promises that the roof would be done by the time we came back in February. Well, sure enough, the roof is actually done (shock), but it seems that it spent so much time without a roof that the floor melted in the hot sun and summer heat. So now we have to wait another month or more before we can use the gym because they need to replace the floor. Sigh. Somehow, this is so typical, I just can't quite bring you all to understand what I feel right now.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 06, 2008

I just discovered my credit card has been cloned. Now I have no credit card. Not helpful.
I have lately been obsessed with saffron. (I know there is a song in here somewhere) I had never bothered to buy it, not having any experience with it, and my general spice shelf never went that far into the realm of exotic (read: garlic, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, rosemary, oregano, etc), but starving late one night at a friends house where pizza had been ordered and everyone was happily eating (I am allergic to tomatoes, for those who don't know), I decided to eat an experimental concoction consisting of spaghetti, butter, black pepper, and saffron. Lo and behold, I have found a new unique flavor. I started putting it in everything I cook that is boring. The bad result of this is that it makes me want to eat more because it tastes good. I know you know this problem. I have a similar relationship to fresh garlic - if I can still taste it in my mouth or smell it in the air, I become an eating machine. I blame my vacation weight gain on this spice. .... Well, that and acarajé.

sexta-feira, fevereiro 01, 2008

Every boy needs a good scar. Right? Boys get banged up. Well, little kids in general get banged up (I know, I am a teacher).

Yesterday we spontaneously decided to walk around Carnaval. No, Carnaval is not the cause of the scar. We had gone to all the trouble of going to Porto da Barra to go to the beach, and since all the Trios were leaving from there shortly after we had decided to leave, we walked up to the Farol to see what was going on. It was early and not too crowded and we met some Aussies that were hanging out the front of a pousada. Ju liked the experience but wasn't fond of the noise and asked to go home, so we headed back to the car.

We decided to stop for Acarajé on the way home in Rio Vermelho. For anyone who knows Brasil, you will be familiar with the side walks made of pieces of rock to form patterns. While waiting for the Acarajé, Ju stood up on one of the benches and fell off head first onto the sidewalk, getting a big gash across his forehead and scaring the living shit out of everyone there. The beer guy gave us some ice and the Bahaina tried to give us advice, and Ju was screaming his lungs out with blood pouring out of his head.

We sped off looking for first aid station (there are several up because of Carnaval) but didn't find one that was open, so we went to the hospital by our house. Their emergency room was open, but they don't attend children, so off we went again (with a quick side trip to the house where we picked up my insurance card since we didn't have Ju's yet) and ended up at Aliança Hospital, which is easily the nicest one here. We went strait to the pediatric emergency door, where we were told that they didn't have any doctors on duty that night (why does this place exist and stay open???). We ran across the complex to the regular emergency area in a completely different building where there were doctors. By this time Ju had stopped crying and almost stopped bleeding and was kind of just passively wondering what all the fuss was about and asking for his Acarajé.

In the emergency room he got five stitches (by the father of one of my former students, although I only found this out at the end) and was very well behaved. Another mom from my school who's son is in group 2 came in to see what was going on and I chatted with her a bit too. (Not sure if this was good or bad for my career as a rich kids' teacher, but whatever) All said and done and Ju was fine and still asking for his Acarajé and Gustavo decided to go make a formal complaint to the "pediatric emergency room" that had no doctors, after which we went back out to the Acarajé place to get Ju what he wanted and to let them all know he was okay. There was a kid there about his age dancing to some kind of DVD performance of some artist of some kind who told Ju he should not dance because he had gone to the doctor and had a boo boo. It was pretty cute.

Today he is totally normal, except that we can't let him get his head wet for another day or so, so he still smells like blood and iodine. We told him he's going to have a Harry Potter scar now (he doesn't know what Harry Potter is really, except that mommy has books about him that have lots of pages he can turn and pretend to read), and he seems to think it's not such a big deal. In fact, on some level I'm sure he's enjoying it because of all the extra attention he's getting, having ice cream for dessert after lunch, and getting to watch Bob the Builder and play and make lots of messes. I still won't let him eat candy though.