The Roller Coaster Continues…

The Roller Coaster Continues…

Day 31

I think the exhaustion started to set in again on Wednesday.  I finally cooked a real meal, although not Brazilian, it was fairly easy and turned out super delicious!  Keia, Joe, Kevin and I made a couple lunches and dinners of it throughout the week because things tend to go bad here very quickly even if you keep them in the fridge.  It seems like nothing lasts more than 3 or 4 days.

Wednesday night, Will invited us to another Jazz concert in Centro.  We went to meet up with the group and take a bus into the heart of the city.  We’re getting more familiar with buses lately, since they are the cheapest form of transportation beside the crazy vans that run along the coast.  It was a little tough to find the place, but when we ended up at the start of a small alley crowded with tables full of people drinking beer and eating dinner in the street, we knew we couldn’t be far.  The little club was free to enter, but in many places here they have a neat system to allow the bar to run more smoothly.  When you enter you get a slip of paper with any possible drink you might order, and as you go up to the bar they mark what you buy so that you can pay your bill all at once on the way out.  The only problem with this system is people losing that slip, so if you do it’ll cost you R$100 in most places.  The band wasn’t quite set up when we made it upstairs.  They were still tuning instruments and moving equipment around on the floating loft above the first floor.  If you were there for a more relaxed night and simply the sound of good jazz, you could also go farther upstairs to an open air seating area that was significantly less crowded.  The band began playing around 10 or 10:30pm, and they jammed hard.  It was a really awesome show, except Keia and I found we were exhausted after just an hour or so of being there.  The guys walked us to the bus home, and I think we’ll have to go back some other time to really enjoy it.

Thursday brought a normal day of class, a bit of a sore throat, and our normal Thursday outing to the CS meeting at the quiosque on the beach.  We have lots of friends that regularly go there now, and it’s a unique event in that anyone can really start a conversation with anyone else on a whim without the awkardness that usually accompanies such a bold move.  The meet-ups are always fun, but I’m starting to feel like I enjoy the hangouts with the friends we’ve made here in a smaller group more than the craziness and semi-repetitive conversations CS can be.  We left fairly early again, by most everyone else’s standards anyway.  I feel pretty lame if we don’t make it past 1am here.  On the other hand, I’m trying to take care of myself so I have the energy to enjoy everything else in Rio.  It turned out to be a good thing I saved it that night, because Friday was a shitstorm.

Joe, Keia, and I started on our way to PUC around 7:30 in the morning for an 8:30am orientation we found out we needed to go to.  We’d already missed the first day, and we figured it would be good to finalize our positions at the school.  This meant missing our last day of class at Carioca Languages, which was sad but necessary.  I highly recommend classes there for anyone in Rio looking to learn Portuguese.  When we arrived and found the director of exchange programs there at PUC, she literally had never been contacted about our situation or knew that we even existed.  We quickly realized that the accord between UFRJ and PUC for student exchange was out-dated, no one had yet spoken to PUC about the possibility of us going there, and that the chance of enrolling this late in the game was looking very very unlikely.  We went up the ladder as far as we could, made a dozen or so phone calls, and got on the bus to UFRJ at the other end of the city.  After arriving at Fundão (the island housing the main UFRJ campus), we spoke with the International Relations Coordinator, Simone, who had been informed of our situation and was helping set up phone calls between the Directors of the Engineering and Rectors or Vice-Rectors at each school.  She was direct and helpful, which I was very grateful for at this point, but she did not seem too hopeful.  At this point we had been told that we would know Monday morning whether the news would be to shape up or ship out.  Before leaving with only the hope for good news come Monday, Keia asked Professor Orlando if PUC really was our only remaining option.  We found out that there is the possibility of taking the classes we need at another federal university here in Rio.  It is not on strike, and it is called Escola Nacional de Cienças e Estatísticas (ENCE).  Not many people have heard of it.  Apparently they train people for the census there.  However, it has the classes we need.  One last trek back and forth between offices and security checkpoints plus a few more phone calls later and we are at least hopeful again that if things do not work out with PUC, we can start classes next week at ENCE.

That night our friends, Luciana and Nayra, cooked dinner for us at Luciana’s apartment.  We watched Pirates of the Caribbean afterward, and although we stayed out until the wee hours, it was a perfectly relaxed evening with good friends.  None of us have family in Rio, so we’ve sort of banded together to make our own.  Today we plan to visit Jardim Botânico together.  It’s supposed to be a fantastically beautiful botanical garden near Lagoa.  I’ve actually got to get ready and be on my way there in just a moment so that will have to be all for now, but you’ll hear from me again soon.


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