I've now lived in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro for eight days. A fair deal of things have happened to me since I arrived, but I haven't given myself the time to sit down and write about it until this very moment.
I arrived in the evening of Saturday May 10th after traveling since 6:30 in the morning, first from Stavanger to Amsterdam, and then from Amsterdam to Rio de Janeiro Galeao international airport. The final flight lasted right over eleven hours, a trip which would have been much slower if it weren't for the fact that I sat between two very friendly Brazilians on my way over (and had access to free wine, thanks to flying with KLM). At the airport at around 7:00 PM Brazilian time (four hours behind Norwegian time) I was greeted by Deborah from Projects Abroad, who along with a driver took me from the airport to my host family's home in Fonseca, Niterói, where I'll be living for the next two months. I was introduced to the family, and stayed there for around an hour unpacking and making myself at home. At around 9 PM Oliver, one of the other volunteers staying here, came home from a day at the beach. He invited me to a private party in Ipanema with some of the other volunteers, which I gladly accepted. We ended up staying till around 4 AM, ending our night at a beach party in Copacabana.
Sunday 11th was spent in Rio de Janeiro, where I went with a big group to see the Flamengo-Fluminense match. A Brazilian football game has a very different feel to it than an English one: there aren't as many chants and songs going on as there are in England, but there's definitely a lot of energy being used nevertheless. We sat on the Flamengo side, where the swear "filho da puta" ("son of a bitch") seemed particularly popular among the native fans who'd come to support their team. Highlight of the game? When Ronaldinho scored a free kick.
Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th were mainly introduction days. I spent Monday visiting the Projects Abroad office in Niteroi together with Luzia, who also showed me around the central area. I spent Tuesday visiting the language school Skill for the first time, where I was warmly greeted, and attended four different lessons from 6.30 PM to 8.30 PM as a "student for the day". On Wednesday 14th I visited Amas for the first time, where the introductory games we played together with the boys were mainly used as a method to embarass me (ex. having to do sit-ups or dance to a popular Brazilian pop song if I wasn't able to guess the correct boy from reading a note where they'd described themselves in a word or two). Embarassment aside, the boys seemed very sweet.
That evening I went back to Skill, where I got to know some more of the classes I'll be assisting during the next month. I experienced a pretty awkward moment at Skill when in conversation with a woman who was there as a substitute teacher, as one of the regular teachers had fallen ill. She explained to me that she didn't really know the student, and seemed uninterested in doing much work. She proceeded to leave the room, explaining that he'd benefit from being able to have a conversation with me in English. On her return half an hour later, she completely ignored her student and began interviewing me on what I was doing in Brazil. She asked me if I was doing voluntary work through any christian organisation, to which I replied I wasn't. She then began to explain that a lot of the people traveling from abroad to do voluntary work in Brazil where there through some religious organisation or church group, and I again told her that I was doing nothing of a kind, that I was simply volunteering for the sake of volunteering. This seemed to offend her, because her next move was to slip her hand into her collar and expose a silver cross she was wearing around her neck, which she then placed hanging directly out of the top of her shirt. Uncertain how to react to this "challenge", I simply ignored her, and chose the first and best opportunity to get out of the room.
My final class that evening was a much better experience than the private lesson. I got to work with a group of students at a pretty good level, and an overall very good mood. The teacher, who turned out to be a year younger than myself, was also very enthusiastic, and because of them I left Skill with a smile on my face.