And everyone is so nice! I really can't get over it.
I go to a Church function: "Oh! More Mormons! How nice. Welcome! Would you like to come over for dinner?"
I go to an embassy function: "Oh! More Americans! How nice. Welcome! Would you like to come to our party?"
I go to an international function: "Oh! More foreigners! How nice. Welcome! Do you need a ride anywhere?"
I go anywhere: "Oh! Your baby is so precious! Oh, look at their blonde hair! Oh, look at their blue eyes! Oh, they are little dolls! Your family is so beautiful! Oh, your Portuguese is so good!"
At playgroup earlier this week, someone thought I was Jill's sister instead of her mother. And at church, multiple people thought I was supposed to go to Young Women's instead of Relief Society (the women's group at Church).
So, let's just say that Brazil has been good for my ego . . .
I didn't realize before coming that I would meet such an international crowd. I thought I would meet Brazilians and Americans. I had no idea that all of the foreigners from different countries had groups that met together and socialized. I have met people from the British, Danish, Canadian, and Norwegian embassies. I have meet women who were born in Lithuania, Korea, Paraguay, Malta, and South Africa.
And they all speak so many languages! I have meet many people who are fluent in more than four languages. Here I am struggling to keep Spanish and Portuguese apart, and they are able to switch between so many! It's impressive. And not as good for my ego, but ha, we wouldn't want me to get too proud, right?
Today was a milestone for me. I drove! Do you remember this post where I talked about learning how to drive a manual? Well, our rental car in Brazil is a manual. The vast majority of cars here are. I hadn't driven one since the Boling family reunion in July. (I don't think I ever drove my dad's when I was there in November and December; I didn't want to try it on icy/snowy roads, and I had my own vehicle with me.) And previous to July, I think it may have been a year since I had driven one, because my sister and her husband sold one of their cars for a much larger one, so when I went to Nebraska last year, we all fit in their huge car. Anyway, so in 2012, I was all proud of myself for learning how to drive a stick, but then I didn't really ever have an opportunity to practice again.
If you know me, then you know that sitting in the house day after day after day with little social interaction doesn't bode well. I can only play so many hours of hide and go seek and Barbie before I really need to get out. I like play dates where I get to talk to moms and my kids get to have kids to play with.
But the rental car was a stick! The thoughts of driving a stick, without another adult in the vehicle, with three children (who may be crying or screaming or fighting), in a rental car, and in a different country had added up to being too much for me. But then staying at home so much was getting to be too much for me to, and there really is a limit to how often you can bum rides off of people. Two weeks ago, I left the kids at home with Jeff and drove it around the neighborhood. It was all flat and pretty easy. I told Jeff that I handled it pretty well. (Jeff had never seen me drive a stick before.) He was (is?) not as confident about my abilities. He took me over to the embassies (it was a Sunday, so they were pretty deserted) where I could practice. Then we ended up in front of the Canadian and Serbian embassies, which are on a hill/slope. Jeff wanted me to go from a dead stop into first on a hill without squealing the tires. Impossible, apparently. I think I succeeded three times. I killed it maybe twice. And I squealed like twenty times.
When we got home, Jill said, "You did it perfect once, Mom, but the rest you kept banging my head on my seat."
Well, today I finally found the courage to just go and drive myself somewhere. Jeff was home from work in the morning, because the embassy flooded last night. (More on that later.) So the car was here, and I wasn't going to wake him up to take me to baby group. So, I put the kids in the car, and off we went. And it went fine! I never killed the car. I only squealed the tires twice. I never put it in the wrong gear. I survived stopping at three different stop lights. On the way there, Jill actually said, "Good job, Mom. You're doing it!" When we returned from the play date, Jill told me I only bumped her once (but that could have been the speed bump's fault). I feel so brave. :)
I can't imagine trying to figure out driving in a country where you drive on the left side. It seems like that would be really hard to get used to.
So, about the flood. Jeff has had quite a week. On Monday, an email went out saying to avoid certain parts of Brasilia, because the Sem Terra group (Landless Workers' Movement) had been given permission to demonstrate. I remembered them vaguely from when I lived in Sao Paulo as a kid, so I read their Wikipedia page as a refresher, and it mentioned that in 2005, the group targeted the American embassy along with another Brazilian government building. Then when Jeff came home from work on Tuesday, he mentioned that his day had been a little extra exciting, because the demonstrators again went to the American embassy, and the embassy was put under lockdown. After they left, Jeff was involved in removing all of the paraphernalia outside the embassy. (Apparently after leaving the embassy the demonstrators went to the President's house, and things got a little more heated. Here is a news article.)
So that was different than a regular workday!
But his unusual work week was not over! There was a large storm Thursday night (which is good, because Brasilia is in a drought), and Jeff went to bed early, because he was hoping to get up at 2:00am to watch the BYU basketball game. But around 9:30, his work phone rang, and he was told that the embassy was flooding. Fabulous. So, off he went. He got home at 7:30 the next morning, poor guy. (Which is why I didn't want to wake him up to make him drive me to baby group.) He spent all night helping the crews push water out of the embassy with squeegees. Fun. Fun. Fun.
And here are some pictures.
Parenting fail: We promised them popsicles but instead drove in circles around Brasilia.
(We knew there were popsicle vendors at the Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers Plaza). We could see where we wanted to go, but it took us a really long time to figure out how to get there. Once we did, it was so late in the day that the vendors had already left. So then we went to the grocery store, but there were no popsicles at the store. Just really expensive ice cream. It was disappointing to say the least.)
Our new friends, Ronald and Kate, showed us around the zoo. One of the animals has a name that contains, apparently, a very bad word in Spanish, so I unintentionally surprised my husband when I said it. :)
Jill and Daniel outside of the National Cathedral. The Cathedral was one of the only things I remembered from my family's visit to Brasilia when I was young. (What you see in this picture is basically just the roof. The majority of the Cathedral is underground.)
This view is what made the visit to the Cathedral so memorable. Almost the entire ceiling is made out of stained glass and has three angel statues hanging down—flying—from above. It is beautiful.
This picture doesn't really show how gigantic this flag is. It is huge. The flag pole base is super, super huge. I took a picture of it, because it was so impressive, and then as I was reading the wikipedia page about the Three Powers Plaza, I learned that it is the largest flag in the world to be flown regularly. Just the flag weighs 1,300 pounds.
Jill in a grove of palm trees next to the Congress building.
Is it just me or is she growing up too quickly??
So there you have our happenings. I hope you're surviving your winter weather!
An interesting note, Brazilian Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, so we'll go from being three hours ahead of Eastern time to only being two hours ahead. Then when the States ends their Daylight Savings Time in April, Brasilia will only be one hour ahead of DC. Okay, it was interesting to me at least . . . :)