Giant Baby Steps

Today is our 19th day in São Paulo.  We had to go to the Federal Police Station this morning to get our RNE which is something like an ID here (don’t ask me the details).  We need our RNE to open a bank account, get our CPF (another document – I think it’s for taxes?), get a cell phone plan, and get our shipment moving.  Yes, that’s right, I said our shipment of ALL OUR STUFF hasn’t even left San Francisco yet.  Welcome to life in Brazil.  Luckily things went pretty well today and we left after 2 hours with a temporary RNE that will suffice until they issue us a permanent one, hopefully within the next 6 MONTHS.  It’s amazing here.  We were warned that the Police Station would make the DMV look like the most pleasant, efficient place on earth.  Maybe because we got in early it wasn’t SOO bad for us, but I think it’s fair to say it was a couple of hours of solid chaos.  Mamas nursing babies.  Kids running around, screaming in all different languages.  There were a couple of nuns there…  All in all though, it was a success.  And the coffee shop on the first floor of the building actually has an amazing pão de queijo.  So, RNE: check.

In the cab to the station this morning I realized that it was the earliest I had been out and about in São Paulo since we arrived.  Welcome to my life of not having a job…  But, despite regularly showering in the mid-afternoon, the past week was full of “accomplishments” for me.

Wednesday I met up with a new friend, Fernanda, for a Portuguese/English exchange.  Fernanda is married to one my brother-in-law’s coworkers.  She speaks English but definitely has room to improve, and I am desperately trying to learn Portuguese, so the boys put us in touch.  Fernanda and her husband have 2 beautiful kids (4 and 1 1/2 years old) so I went to their apartment to hang out.  It was my first “adventure” on my own so I was really nervous.  Michael wrote me a script for everything I would need to say to the cab driver, the doorman at her apartment, the cab home…everything.  So, I get in a cab and tell the driver where I need to go.  No problems.  Then, 5 minutes into the trip, I realize I DIDN’T BRING ANY MONEY.  What??  Now, I realize that you need money for cabs in ALL countries so I shouldn’t try to blame it on Brazil, but in my defense I almost NEVER bring a purse with me here (since it’s better practice not to), and Michael always carries the money.  Regardless, I started sweating and freaking out as Michael did NOT include “I’m sorry, I stupidly forgot to bring money.  Can you turn around and take me back home, then wait for me outside my apartment, THEN take me back where we were going?” in my script.  Honestly Michael, you should really include more scenarios like these…  Either way, some broken combination of Portuguese, Spanish and English eventually got me back to my apartment to run up, grab my money, and head back down.  I arrived to Fernanda’s 15 minutes late which was still 10 minutes early since we’re in Brazil.  Waiting in her lobby made me feel a little better about my tardiness and gave me a chance to practice saying, “Oi, boa tarde,” in my head so I would at least sound good at first.

I then spent the next 4 or 5 hours with Fernanda and her precious kids.  They live in an awesome apartment complex with incredible amenities for kids — multiple pools, jungle gyms, a trampoline — so there were lots of nannies and a few other moms out with their kids.  Fernanda has a part-time nanny but she said that most women here have full time nannies.  It was great spending time with the kids because #1 they are adorable and #2 they are very concrete.  They are much more likely to be be talking about the chair that they are standing on, the ball that they are bouncing, or the pool that they are splashing in, than abstract thoughts that I would have no way of following.  I was jealous of how effortlessly their 4 year old son Lucas spoke Portuguese.  How can this kid who can barely go to the bathroom on his own speak this language so much better than me??  If I’m being honest so can the 2 1/2 year old who can hardly talk.  But more important than my poor Portuguese, is that I did it.  I survived.  I loved the family.  And I think I learned a little.  That being said, I was “too exhausted” to cook dinner and told Michael that his long, stressful day of work at a law firm in a foreign country didn’t hold a candle to what I had just endured.  Thankfully he is a sweet soul and enjoys cooking.  🙂

Thursday was my first solo trip to the grocery store.  We live really close to a massive Super-Wal*Mart type place (Extra), but the food there kind of sucks, and so does the entire shopping experience, so we have been going a few blocks away to Pão de Açúcar which means “Sugar Loaf,” and is a reference to Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio.  Grocery shopping in Brazil is a little different as it will inevitably be in any foreign country, but it’s totally fine.  The tricky part is at check-out.  See, here we have most things DELIVERED.  It is nice.  I came prepared with my address on a piece of paper and filled out the necessary form, attached it to my grocery cart, and walked out.  Totally unsure whether the groceries would ACTUALLY get delivered to me or not.  Thankfully, an hour later my tiny little kitchen was full of new groceries.

OK so enough of the accomplishments.  We also had FUN this week.  But…this post is far too long already so I’ll save that for tomorrow.  Happy Bachelor night!  (But don’t tell me what happens — I watch it Tuesday nights on iTunes!!)


6 thoughts on “Giant Baby Steps

  1. Ahhh, the pão de queijo at the Policia Federal, I remember it well =) Doing all these things by yourself is the best way to learn, but I remember how exhausting those types of days were. But before you know it you will look back and those moments will feel like ages ago!

  2. ash i CANNOT believe all your adventures – i am dying laughing at how you are recounting it all to us and i’m so incredibly proud of you – you are totally made for this even though you feel out of place – i am sure it is hard (have there been tears?) but you are such a champ for real.

  3. Ash – What an adventure you are having! I laughed out loud at your descriptions of “that day.” Hope you are keeping a copy of all of your blogs for historical (and hysterical) sake!
    Can’t wait for the next installment.

    Happy Birthday one week from today! Love, Papa

    • Thanks Papa! Thankfully, blogging everything is like a virtual journal that we can one day turn into a memory book or something! So if you see it on the blog, it’s documented. 🙂 I love you!

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