Friday, February 18, 2011

Adapting Back

I know I live in Rio de Janeiro. Hell, I can say I've lived in Rio de Janeiro for years now. Regardless, whenever I spend an extended period of time abroad, I have to re-adapt.

Here are my principal areas of re-adaptation:

Paying for things: When I come home I have an issue with buying things at the so-called less than official places. Case in point, the popcorn lady. I doubt and question myself. Is it R$1.5 or $2? Would this guy be able or willing to break a R$20 note? Things like that. I truly believe that when you are comfortable and knowledgeable in purchasing, you don't ripped off.  Of course I keep putting the 'Please charge me an extra R$1 because I like it' face on. It's starting to piss me off.

Portuguese: Not that I'm even close to fluent but I usually don't have consistent and annoying Portuguese brain farts anymore. I may not say it right but I can get my thoughts out there.  Hey, when you are a ranter, you find a way. But after a trip home I get brain gas that would make any stoner fall over laughing.  It's out of control and certainly does not help with the above mentioned problem.

Bums: I've been desensitized after so long here but that immediately goes away after going home. I find myself crossing the street to avoid the obviously crazy bums. I can not keep doing this in Rio de Janeiro because I'll never walk in a straight line again.

Crosswalks: I've stopped j-walking. Want to call attention to yourself as a foreigner, do not throw yourself into oncoming traffic. Cariocas are amazingly skilled at knowing the precise seconds between that bus and cab speeding your way. They can pick an almost inconceivable moment where they can cross without getting hit nor busting out a jog.

But I'm getting back into the swing of things again.  The R$1 foreigner charge has gone down to 50 cents and I'm proud. I held a full conversation this morning with my Father-in-Law that caused only 2 creased brows and 1 huh?.  Not to mention I j-walked past a crazy bum on the way home from Hortifruti. That's two birds with one stone my friends.

So I'll get back to 100% wannabe Carioca before I know it. Now I just need a tan and a beer belly. Oh wait, already got that last one.

How about you? What do you need to adapt to when you come back from vacation?


  1. When arriving back here, it usually takes a little time to stop saying please and thank you in English. But the switch is pretty quick.

    Lol Portuguese brain farts! I get these when I'm tired or hung-over. And it's funny because while I can communicate pretty well speaking and flapping my arms without having to put too much mental energy into it these days, when I'm tired, I find myself having to concentrate/focus a whole lot more and any fluidity I had goes out the window. But that brings me back to the first years here, remember how exhausting it is to learn a new language/culture/city/family, all at once? I'm okay with the occaisional brain farts now. Huge improvement.

  2. I say thank you in English when I fist arrive in Brazil at stores, at the Bakery...I say excuse me at the subway in Sao Paulo and then I say "com licenca"!
    I catch myself looking for "Scrubbing Bubbles" at Carrefour and looking for "Guarana Antartica" at Stop&Shop when I am back in Boston...!!!
    Not to mention the crazzy dreams that I missed my flights, forgot my passport or that I am trying to paralel park my Ford Expedition in a tight parking space downtown Sao Paulo...

  3. I say "com licenca" at the subway in New York and at the train in Boston...

  4. The language is the big one for me. I go home, and like Gil/Ray, I'm using "obrigada" and "desculpe" and "com licenca" all over the place in the US.

    I get back, and I can't even manage the Portuguese to sort out the questions the customs & immigration people are asking me (since they always speak Portuguese, even in the Foreigners line....). Even though we've done that now so many times I should have the questions memorized. It's terrible, the brain farts induced by international travel.

    The other thing is reminding the boys where to put the TP when over there, and again when we get back here. Our youngest really argued with me in the US last time, wondering what on earth the trashcan was FOR in the bathroom, if not for his tp.