Tuesday, August 18, 2009
We made it!
We made it! 29 hours from Davis door to Belo Horizonte hotel door. Even with a two-hour mechanical delay on our overnight flight departure in Chicago (which then meant we would miss our domestic connection in Brazil and have to wait another 5 hours in the Sao Paulo airport for that flight), the kids rocked. It helped that the Brazilian under-19 basketball team (just having participated in Portland’s Nike International Challenge) was on our overnight flight and the charismatic and English-less leader, 17 year-old 6 foot 10 ‘Bebe’ took a shine to Bas and Ginger and rallied the rest of the team around entertaining the kids during the delay. Brazilians are known for being a gregarious and boisterous bunch, and this team proved so. The head flight attendant even had to make an announcement for our gaggle of hoopsters and our kids to calm down and take our seats. When the captain made yet another announcement to say it would be at least another 20 minutes before we could depart, Bebe quipped in Portuguese that, after all, they were Brazilians, and that 20 minutes delay was nothing to them. This remark would prove itself true time and again. I should probably learn from this but I think it’ll take me months to let go of my American punctuality.
Once in town, it also helped that Brian had set up an appointment for the morning after our arrival with the one rental company that had fully-furnished apartments for under a year’s lease in our price range in the area of town we wanted to live. This was harder to find than it sounds considering most places here require a year commitment or, in some cases, a three-year lease. And that the Brazilian economy is booming (the US dollar has lost 15% of its value to the Brazilian real in the last three months) while the US economy continues to wallow didn’t help our cause either. Landlords aren’t exactly falling over backwards to meet our needs as renters.
As luck would have it though, the one apartment we all looked at is well-situated (4 blocks away from the central park, 4 blocks in another direction from a well-known plaza, easy walking distance to the central market (think indoor flea market meets animal portion (fish, dogs, chickens, ducks, peacocks, parakeets in small cages, stacked several cages high) of the county fair), the main public library which has a small children’s section, and an American-style (and American gourmet-priced) grocery store); has two bedrooms (the kids will be sharing a room and a bed for the first time in their young lives); and more space than our apartment when we lived in Madrid (now we have a whopping 720 sq. feet). We’re pretty pleased at how fast we were able to make this happen – arrive in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday evening, look at an apartment Thursday at noon, move in Friday afternoon. Besides a soft mattress, scratchy sheets and lumpy pillows (the pillows have since been upgraded), we’re doing really well and are now exploring the area and are on the look out for a school for the kids to attend a few mornings a week.
And a bit about the kids:
Bas has done amazingly well thus far. He is willing to interact with strangers, even those speaking another language. He is really taking things in, studying how and what is being done. He is trying new food and walking everywhere (this is a really hilly city), all without complaint. He even says he’s ready to start school immediately (I think he misses his friends and is hoping to meet some kids his age soon for lots of rough and tumble playtime).
The first thing Ginger asked upon waking up on our overnight flight was if we were in Brazil yet. When I opened up the window cover to allow a large blast of morning light into the dark cabin and pointed out the window, saying “That’s Brazil!” Ginger smiled and said, “I like Brazil!” I hope that stays true. She hardly ate the first two or three days here (an amazing thing for those who know her) but seems to have found her appetite again now that we have a ‘home.’ And her fashion creations draw quite a bit of attention. She loves wearing her butterfly flamenco pants with a tank top, finished off with a bikini top over that. Wow. And I’m not completely sure Ginger has actually touched ground in Brazil…she much prefers that I chauffer her around in the stroller (which again, draws lots of looks since even kids who are just learning to walk are walking!) in this very hilly and very not-smooth sidewalk city.
I’ll write more later about discovering the city and our search for things comforting.
We miss you all and would love to hear from you now that we have an internet connection in the apartment and can check email!