Friday, November 26, 2004



I've been blogging like a day now and I've already devolved into putting up snapshots of the uninteresting things I do. Oh well, I guess this whole thing is more for my own edification than for my hypothetical reader.

Last night was, of course, Thanksgiving, and I passed it quite happily with a motley assortment of Americans and Brazilians at an expat apartment here. I made an apple pie, the most American thing I could think of, in some sort of elliptical earthenware casserole dish, without the aid of measuring cups or a rolling pin. And it was totally edible; good, even. The rest of the food was excellent. I stuffed myself big-time.

Thanksgiving is maybe my favorite holiday because it is so purely focused on things I care about deeply: food and friends. There's no religious hogwash or anything else to get in the way. And it's also inextricably linked in my mind to my family, and to America. With the possible exception of the Red Sox winning the World Series, it is maybe the time I want most to go home. But actually I did well. I was pretty happy here, pretty content. The company of random folks you only recently met, especially if they're your countrypeople and it's a national holiday, can sometimes be very comforting.


my potluck contribution was an elliptical apple pie


stuffing our faces


itamar approves of our culture and traditions


five satisfied americans at 3am: maya (with toothache), mariel, michelle, tariq, and jay

Thursday, November 25, 2004



So my camera was at last repaired and returned to me, and I am putting up some photos. The last several days here have been abysmal (see rain picture) so I'm holding off on pictures of the outside until we get a little sun. But here's some of the inside, which sadly is all I've been seeing lately. I've been working nearly all day every day on this paper with Roland, the professor I used to work for. The deadline's in a week. I hang out in the apartment, work, cook, and occasionally go to one of the $1.50 Afro-Brazilian dance classes they have in town. These are great fun, especially for those watching me flail.

As you can see from the pictures I have a roommate, Márcia. She's pretty freaking awesome. She's a percussionist and plays with the band Ilê-Aiyê, which I'm told some people in the US have heard of. She's one of only two women in the band. Before that she played with Didá, which was an all-women's band. She's extremely kind to me when I exhibit foreigner's dumbness, and often comes to my rescue. But she also likes to play tricks on me. Her idea of a really funny joke is if we're both on a bus and I ask her if this is our stop. She says yes so I get off. But when I turn around she's still on the bus, smiling and waving and whispering "bye bye". Then at the last moment she leaps off the bus too.

The other night we were at a bus stop and there was a sort of sketchy but basically harmless older dude who asked Márcia to marry him, so she started in on this big story about how she and I were already married. We were both drummers in a band together, she said, and I also made money on the side by throwing knives at women rotating on wheels. This she demonstrated by pretending to rotate. I chimed in to say that I was very happy because I'd only killed two this past year, whereas the year before I'd killed five. She gleefully confirmed this: "Só dois, só dois!"

At times my Portuguese works very well, as in the above story, and at times it totally fails me, as it did the time I was stopped on the street to be interviewed by a TV news show. But it basically functions, if at a low level, and I hope and trust things will only improve. I was recently at a reggae BBQ house party thrown by a bunch of Italians (strange, I know) and met a nice guy named Alex who was really into Edgar Allen Poe, Nietzche, and bands called things like Mother of Disease. He was dressed all in black. Besides being a nice guy and wanting to talk about Nietzche with me, he used to work in radio and had one of those amazingly clear voices that made it possible to understand virtually every word he said. And I realized that really, though I liked him, I liked his voice better. As of now, my Brazilian friend base is quite sharply restricted to those who speak clearly. Márcia certainly does, and without it I'm not sure if we'd be able to be friends.

Didn't you go to Brazil to do something with economics? you might be asking, if you've mananged to read this far. Yes, I did. And right now it's maybe 90% likely that I'm going to move to São Paulo within a month to go work for an NGO that does microfinance. Hanging out in Salvador has been great, and the time has been well-spent on learning Portuguese and finishing up work from before, but I'm impatient to start the fellowship outright.

Happy Thanksgiving -- I wish I were home. More pictures when the sun comes out.


márcia, my roommate


márcia says hi to you


márcia's instruments


my home


spouts of rain outside my window


márcia's godson, oma, gives a blurry thumbs up


the part of brazil I see most

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