All of the sushi places here (except for the extra cheap one that we still visit once in a while) offer all-you-can-eat deals that come with appetizers like dumplings and hand rolls (tomaki is the Japanese word used in Portuguese), and then as much of almost whatever sushi you want.
Because we were feeling particularly gluttonous, we decided to order the super fancy (read: expensive) all-you-can-eat deal, which included salmon sashimi and other pieces of sushi that we hadn't tried before. It was SO MUCH FOOD. We couldn't even finish the first boat they gave us... this is why:
It's blurry because the place is all mod and I didn't want to use the flash, but you get the idea.
My secret goal here is to inspire the sushi lovers in my life (Patty, Michelle, Elena, and Auntie Tammy and Bayleigh) to visit...
Speaking of visitors! My dear friend Kristin is coming in May!!! :D :D :D As a vegetarian, she's not going to be quite as excited about the sushi, but is certainly going to enjoy the feiras (farmers' markets) with their plethora of new and exciting fruits and veggies. She and I have very similar travel personalities, so I think we're going to have a great time. :D
In slightly more controversial news, this last week was the hazing week for the freshmen at Alexandre's university. Hazing is common practice at pretty much every university here, and some are worse about it than others. Medical schools are particularly harsh. Alexandre says it's because the entire hospital runs on hierarchies and humility, and the freshmen need to remember their place. Many of them come in a little big for their britches--they've just been accepted to study one of the most difficult and competitive subjects in one of the most competitive and respected universities in the country, and can't get too cocky. After all, they've got lives to save.
While that's true in many respects, there has to be some other way to teach the freshmen respect. I honestly don't even know how it's so successful, and I understand even less why the older people continue the cycle after remembering how horrible and humiliated they felt as freshmen. They have a week of nightly parties that become progressively more lax toward the freshmen. Alexandre went the first night (the most harsh), and I decided to stay at home. It's one of those things that I have to chalk up to culture and allow us to agree to disagree.
I didn't want to hear too much about it, but some of the things that they make the freshmen do on the first night are pretty bad. They make them dress up in ridiculous clothing (like men in women's clothes or wrapped in plastic and nicknamed "the present"). They make the girls kiss each other. They make them get on their knees and say things like "we're not worthy." They throw beer over them continually. They scream in the freshmen's faces about what losers they are and how do they think they're good enough to be at the school. Other activities include whatever the older students and residents can think of at the moment.
Luckily, Alexandre has a policy that he doesn't do anything that involves yelling or touching. He likes to tease the freshmen by asking them embarrassing questions or telling them scary lies about the school, but that's about as far as he goes. His year, the hazing rituals were much worse and have only improved thanks to slightly more government intervention. His year, freshmen were forced to drink until they throw up, forced to clean up older students' poop, and other unnecessarily humiliating tasks. It took a few deaths around the country for the government to start cracking down on it.
What I still don't really understand is why the freshmen accept it, why they voluntarily show up to these parties knowing they're going to be treated so horribly. I don't understand why they don't have protests or mutinies. No one likes it, and yet everybody does it. But the university setup is different here (these students will be working with only the same 60 fellow freshmen for the next 6 years, and the older students will eventually become or already are their residents and attendings), and there's a lot of pressure to be accepted. Psychology is a funny (and sometimes depressing) thing.
It's hard to know where to draw the line of "this is culture and if the culture accepts it, then let bygones be bygones" and "these people are humans and have fundamental rights and this behavior is never acceptable." I'm leaning toward the latter.
But we'll end this entry on a more positive note, as per my goal to portray and remember both the good and the bad about Brazil.
The program is called "Academia Para Todas as Idades" ("Gym For All Ages"). I'm not sure if this trend is something unique to our city, or something that is done across the state or even the country, but most parks here have free exercise equipment for citizens to use. I think it's a great campaign to encourage people to lose weight (and yet I STILL manage to find excuses!). Here are some pictures of one here:
There's quite an array of equipment to choose from!
This entry has gotten a bit long-winded, so I'll end here. I'll put up some more pictures from the represa (lake/dam/park area) later in the week. :)