Ok I decided to first write about what I´ve done so far then in another blog explain Rio de Janeiro in general (the little I know and have observed so far).
My first day here it was raining so it was a very relaxing day, spent a lot of time writing messages, a blog and Paulo (my Brazilian dad) took me to get a phone. Im using an older one of theirs and just had to buy a chip and get a prepaid plan. Then he showed me where the metro stop is, the supermarket, etc (all of this is within a few blocks from home its so nice!). Then I walked around a little on my own, bought some postcards and some food (they told me I don't have to but I feel bad). I talked to some people from home and we stayed home in the evening. Paulo made a great DVD of their time in San Diego (at San Diego State and traveling a little) and so we watched that. I love them, we always have things to talk about, always laughing, they´re great.
Thursday was GREAT day. Me, Paulo and Elena all do exercise in the morning. They go running or to the gym and I do my yoga and functional stuff (Im going to rent a bike at the beach soon I cant wait!). So after that Paulo took me on a "tour" in his car and we drove all around the bay (bahia), Botafogo beach, beautiful parks and recreation areas around the water (similar to San Diego with the bay and sidewalks full of exercisers). It was a beautiful day. Then we went and saw the famous Copacabana, Ipanema and a few other popular places here. We walked on the sidewalk (its great, theres a separate sidewalk just for bikes), took pictures and drank water from coconuts. Then we back for lunch (they have a maid, Graca who comes 3 days a week and she cooks amazing food, all super healthy) then Maria took me out real quick to run some errands. She took me to the post office, an English school to see if they were hiring (they send to send my resume, so who knows!), the store, etc.
I rested for the evening then there was a "meeting" thing that CouchSurfing has every Thursday night.It was so cute because Maria Elena and Paulo were worried, I wrote down the people's phone numbers and Paulo went downstairs with me to meet the guy that was taking the metro with me. They gave me the numbers of taxis and police. I love that they're worried and protective, it's nice to have people that care and I know that's what my parents would want. Plus Im careful and don't care a lot about drinking and partying so it works out good that they worry a little bit and Im careful. The meeting is at a pizza stand on the beach in Copacabana and everyone has nametags with their name and country, it was so fun. I met so many cool people from everywhere… it was half Brazilians and half foreigners. I met a lot of Americans that live and work here and they gave me some great info and tips if I want to try working here. I don't know, it sounds okay for a little bit just to be in Brazil but the actual lifestyle sounds a little difficult. Because since you're working as a tourist, you have to deal with what they give you. Schools don't give a lot of hours so you need to work in at least 2 schools and do tutoring and sometimes they schedule classes at odd hours and kind of far away. Things like that that might be okay for a little bit but I think I'd prefer a better system with more stability.
Today I got to have a beach day which is what I really wanted and it was perfect. I met a Brazilian friend, Thiago from CouchSurfing who has a motorcycle and lives 2 blocks from me so we met and went to Ipanema beach. One of his American friends was there and we met an American girl who looked Brazilian and we had no idea but she heard us talking and it turns out she's from Maryland! Very funny. A friend of Thiago saw him and said hi, it turns out he used to live in San Diego, played soccer at SDSU and even did work in Tijuana. Really interesting guy who has traveled a lot and has a lot of the same interests in social work, community work, etc. So I got his contact info and maybe it'd be a good contact, who knows! The beach was beautiful, typical image of Brazil, sunshine, blue sky, all the girls in thong bikinis (I don't know how I feel about that, my butt is pretty white). All in all it was a great day, exactly how I had imagined Brazil.
Besides going to the beach and socializing Im still looking for volunteer work and Maria Elena (my Brazilian mom) is helping me. She might go with me to help feed children at a day care kind of place whose parents are from the favelas but working during the day. Also, she has a few friends who recommended some things. Maria Elena is a professor but only has class twice a week so she said she'd like to volunteer with me also. Other than that, I have a list of things I want to see and do. And just from CouchSurfing Im meeting a lot of great people, both helpful locals and curious travelers like myself. I think if I stay for just the month or more, I will definitely be able to stay busy.
Danielle Sounds perfect so far :-) I'm definitely jealous of the beach and your view in the morning :-)