We are in Curitiba!
It's so great!
We're in the hotel room. I thought I'd give you a quick update before going to bed.
The following is a list of things that Curitiba has that I have missed about my life in the US (to also give you an indirect idea of what I've been living without):
-cafes (so many cafes! and many of them are attached to museums! That's right, I said museums!)
-reasonable drivers: example: when a light is green but there is traffic, and there is no space for a car in the lane after the intersection, the drivers WAIT at the light so as to not block the intersection. Isn't that AMAZING?
-clearly demarcated bus stops
-stores that are open on Saturdays
-houses made of wood and not shitty shit bricks that disintegrate and make it impossible to hang anything on your walls and that chip when you bump into them ok /rant
-almost no J-walkers
The more Brazil reveals herself to me, the more I feel comfortable with the idea of a long-term relationship with her.
Someone just left a comment on an earlier entry saying that I make too many negative generalizations about Brazil. And then smug boyfriend, after seeing the comment, said, "está vendo?" Annoying.
In my defense, I'd like to say that (a) only in the last couple of months have I been anywhere in Brazil that was not the tiny country town where we live and the even smaller suburb where Alexandre's family lives. Well, that's not entirely true. We went on a road trip to Serra da Canastra last year, but it was the same interior culture that I experience every day. I blame the lack of traveling on 2 things: (1) not having a lot of money for my first year here, what with the expensive dollar and me building my teaching career and having to save every extra penny to go home to visit, and (2) a boyfriend who I love very much but who is a total homebody. The other thing I'd like to say, or (b), is that I think I've been pretty clear to point out that I realize that my frustration may be limited to the place where I live and maybe even the specific social groups that I'm forced to interact with, but since I'd never had any opportunity to know otherwise, my bad experiences were what Brazil was to me. Also, just because you understand that people are the way they are sometimes by circumstance, that it's not necessarily the fault of some people that they're so ignorant, it doesn't make it any less frustrating. I don't think I'm inherently better than people just because I happened to have grown up somewhere else. But I think I've had different experiences, and being the odd one out gets old. My goal was never to offend Brazilians, so I hope I haven't.
My thesis, I guess, is that it's not that the things that upset me most about our small town are inherently wrong-- it's that they're wrong for ME. Some Americans that have been here in Brazil in these small towns have loved their experiences. Some people sincerely enjoy a slow, easygoing life, and enjoy the attention of being special and different, or whatever else. I need efficiency in my life, and efficiency doesn't exist in small towns in Brazil OR the US. I need diversity. I need a strong culture of art and literature and music that encourages creativity and individuality. I need public transportation. I need to be accepted for who I am without being asked to define and explain myself daily, literally. I need to be around other people who see relativity in the world and who have more of a world view in general, who read books and newspapers and who don't believe everything they see on TV and who know more about other countries than what they see on Sessão da Tarde.
And the things in the list above don't hurt, either.
So am I clear now? Are we all on the same page? (Get it, page? like webpage? har har) There are good and bad things about Brazil, just like every other place in the world. I'm not going to defend myself by making the conclusion that "I like Brazilian people," because I certainly don't like ALL Brazilian people, in the same way that I don't like all American people. The majority of people, even when they're ignorant, don't necessarily treat me BADLY. But I'm allowed to rant, because it's my blog, and because I'm certainly not going to complain to the few sort-of friends I have about how annoying and frustrating their city is.
It's getting late, and this entry is starting not to reflect what a joyful day I had today. I'll sleep now. We've got a train to catch in 7 hours. Yes, an old-fashioned train that's going to take us through the Paraná countryside to... I don't know where. (The in-laws planned it all.) I'll tell you tomorrow when I know, and I'll put up pictures.
Goodnight. I hope you all are well.
Read about the rest of our wonderful Curitiba trip here.