Thursday, December 8, 2011

Serious Growth and I'm NOT Talking Mold

Living in Brazil has taught me so much about myself. We are talking serious growth here people.

Take my space issues for example. That has basically been beaten out of me, or at least it felt like that at the time. In Zona Sul, there is no space. And when it seems like you just may have founds some, you realize that there was a person on deck waiting to invade it. If you don't believe me, just try being pregnant down here. I had total random strangers rub my baby and lower down to talk to him. It was quite interesting and a bit of a boundary pusher for me at the time. I mean hell, go down a few more inches and you'd be talking to my vag. Yes, that is a little too close for comfort.

I have also started to become organized. This is directly related to the above space issue. While Mr. Rant and my Mother may call bullshit on this one, I do believe they have blocked the memories of my past ways out of their minds. Yes, it was that bad.

And not to be forgotten, I am damn good at pinning clothes. I like to consider myself a 1950s inner city wife. I do it well but keep it classy people, no clothes hanging out my window. Of course they are on my balcony but that's just between you and me.

Then there is food. My major source of nutrition in the states, if you could call it that, came in the form of a box and was heated in the microwave. I only have good genes to thank for not falling victim of the American Obesity trend. In my defense, I didn't really know how to cook and I drank a lot so crap food just tasted better. Of course I'm in Brazil now where, when I got here anyway, the only frozen ready-made food was basically Pão de Queijo or some stuff that I didn't even recognize. Not to mention the fact that there are so many fresh fruits and veggies that they basically fall out of the sky and right into your mouth. FYI, so odd to be saying this, don't swallow. Wash them first or they'll be going out even faster than they went in.

There's also the whole cooking from scratch thing. While I had seen my Mother do it, I just thought she was old school. Apparently it has quite a little following. My biggest shock was when I realized that I, Rachel's Rantings, is capable of making something from scratch that tastes a hell of a lot better than the stuff in a box (and keeps you much more regular thank you very much.)

All this stuff has me thinking that I was really immature when I came to Brazil for the first time at 23 years old. Oh wait, isn't the definition of 23 immature anyway? Sweet, there's my excuse!

Seriously though, how has where you are, physically or otherwise, changed who you are for the better? 


  1. Let me count the ways . . . Foodwise, well, all I could do in Kenya, Ghana, Indonesia etc. etc. when I first arrived there was cook from scratch. Nowadays a lot of frozen and factory-bred foods are invading the fancier shops of poor countries, but I don't want them.

    Living in a foreign country teaches you all sorts of things - patience, tolerance and appreciation. Of course you have to have a sense of humor and be able to laugh at yourself or you might as well stay home. Looks to me you are doing fine in that department.

    I've only visited once, but Brazil seems to me like fun and interesting place to live.

  2. Cooking from scratch is the main thing for me! My husband once said, "when we get back to the states you are going to be an awesome cook." What he meant, that was later clarified after a short burst of anger, was that my cooking from scratch is great down here and think of what I could do with everything available in the US. I honestly think that in the US it will be worse with so many easy solutions and I can easily see myself being lazy with cooking.

    We have both become so much healthier here in Brazil because of all the fresh fruits and veggies. No processed food at all! It's great.


  3. Belly rubbers suck! I say leave pregnant women alone. Plus have you noticed that they are more prone to engage in conversation with the not yet born when said chit chat occurs in bank and supermarket lines. This is just an excuse to cut in line by way of movement towards a gravida using belly patting as a backdrop. Don't even get my started on the content of their one way conversations and these are even worse when acted out in a scenario where fictatious questions posed by, well, a stomach, are answered by the cutters. Ugh.

  4. Stomach cutters is now a new term in the dictionary of Rachel

  5. Rachel,

    You bet, moving to the US changed me in so many ways, mostly for the better.
    When I first arrived here, I had never made my own bed, didn't even know how to change a light bulb!!
    Guess what!!! I just laid some grout at our bathroom over the weekend and replace an accelerator cable on my lawn mower two weeks ago.
    I learned how to lay tiles, install light fixtures, assemble ( crappy ) Ikea furniture, change tires and oil on my car. I also learned about gardening, trimming trees and even how to clean wood floors and disasemble my Base Board Heater to vacuum inside before teh winter starts :)
    Long story short, Gil and I have learned to rely on ourselves for almost everything, mostly things we took for granted in Brazil becasue we had people readily available to do those things for us for a very reasonable low price. :)
    Not anymore!
    However, we still cook from scratch, we haven't fallen for the easy "from the freezer to the Microwave" American style of meals. ;)


  6. Such a wonderful post. I love to see people recognize their own growth as it tends to be a hard thing to do. For me, my major growth happened in Micronesia (yeah... I didn't know where it was either, back in the day, no worries). I took a year off of college to teach elementary school there, and I was dropped in Palau. Beautiful, peaceful, wonderful Palau. But I grew a lot. A LOT. Then, after college I heard they needed teachers in Micronesia again, so I decided to give it another run, but this time I was plopped in the "butthole of the Pacific" (not my term, btw) -- Ebeye, Marshall Islands. Not like Palau at all. No palm trees, no fish you could eat (because the water was so polluted) and so on and so forth. You wanna know crowded? This place is about quarter of a square mile and it has 17,000 people, but no high rises. Just people packed in, shoulder to shoulder. Like, 15 people in a one bedroom "house" (which I use loosely because these houses had no kitchen or bathrooms -- "huh?". I know.) They sleep in shifts, I kid you not. I was fortunate to have only three people in my apartment, but still... anyway, the biggest thing I learned was to share. The people on Ebeye know how to share and share well. There are no homeless people, no orphans, no old people homes. Everyone is taken care of, maybe by family, maybe not. Nobody goes without, even though everyone is "poor" by the world's standards. Difficult time? Yeah, sure. But it was amazing. I had a lot of fun, felt clausterphobic at times, but mostly grew a lot and enjoyed the process (most of the time). I learned so much from my little 5th graders, and I am a better person for it.

  7. Loving the learning here guys!

    Ray, I feel like I am getting a Brazilian handicap from living here. I am so not the do it yourself girl I should/was starting to be. Now I just call someone. Fail!