Monday, February 25, 2008

6 Week Orientation

So this weekend was our 6 week orientation. It was crazy amounts of fun.

Friday morning Johannes and I were supposed to meet at 9:00 for some coffee, but I was 15 minutes late and he was 25 minutes after that, so all we had time for was (you guessed it) a quick pastry/slice of cake. A few awkward chocolatey cheek kisses later, and I was on my way...well sort of. It took me a few minutes to figure out where to go in the street to get to the bus station. I did catch the bus eventually for the 3 hour bus ride to Lisboa. A guy behind me was speaking in English and when I asked him if he was American, he smugly replied "Canadian and British" and ignored me the rest of the trip...stupid prick.

When I arrived in Lisboa, Martina was the first person I saw, followed by Isabel, Adrienne, and Ben. Then I met three of the four Argentinians: Gabriele, Ursula, and Hugo (who WAS esteban from James' musical). We got on the bus and headed to Vila Nova de Milfontes. Alyssa (YAY!!!) and the orther Argentinian Andres met us in Setubal. We met Mariana in Vila Nova de Milfontes and walked to the hotel (there were tons of random slugs on the ground, quite strange). That night we ate dinner, went over rules, then just hung out for the rest of the night. Alyssa and I had this thing about a banana, hilariousness. We stayed up until about 4 in the morning doing random crap and talking. Alyssa's host family is MESSED UP! Her host parents are getting a divorce and they're basically crazy...

Saturday I had to get up for a 9 o clock breakfast (yuck), which the hotel totally skimped out on...all we had was bread, yogurt, and coffee, while in the other part you could have cereal and all this other stuff. We stayed in Camaratas too, which are big rooms filled with about 20 bunks each. All of us were wondering where all this AFS money goes, we spent all this money and don't even get real hotels. The bathrooms were really nice though, Alyssa andI were going to sleep in them...but not really.

Anywho, Saturday we got up for breakfast and then did some really pointless activities. We had lunch and after lunch and after some more pointless activities, they let us wander the town. Alyssa, Ben, and I found a clothes store, a candy store (amazingness...), some supermarkets where we discovered that sour cream just does not exist here, and wandered down to the beach. After the beach we had 30 minutes to go back to the Supermarket to pick up some stuff for my Mac and Cheese dinner dish for the "international dinner". We were running through the streets
of Vila de Milfontes to make it back in time, only to find out we had 30 minutes longer than we thought. After that, we made the Mac and Cheese, ate the dinner (Ursula made Empanadas and Tuna Pie things - both were AMAZING). After dinner we did this talent show thing that was sort of dumb, but somepeople sang and played guitar so it was sort of fun.

The volunteers took us to this Turkish Cafe where we had cappuccinos and just hung out, it was a really cool place, the decorations were awesome. The rest of the night we all just hung out talking a stuff. It was crazy fun...Alyssa and I hung out in the sort of common room, and the night shift nazi kept coming down and telling us to be quiet, even though we were WHISPERING! Then we went to the kitchen to get some cereal, and the night shift nazi FOLLOWED us and kept asking what we were doing, so we just had to tell him we were getting water...nazi...Later we took some videos, I don't remember everything exactly but it was pretty awesome.

Sunday morning we got up for breakfast (which we saw they had set out the night before - teh nast) and took a walk along the beach. We had to do a few more pointless activies unfortunately, but we still had time to eat lunch and hang for a bit. When it was finally time to go, we all parted with beijinhos and promises to meet up again soon.

Those of us going by bus had to take a taxi to Sines, then a bus to Lisboa, and then another bus for me to Porto. It was long, but I had music and phone did die, but whatever, I got home alright...and I did fall out of the bus walking down to meet Ines, equally painful and embarrassing.

Today I had a lesson with my Portuguese tutor, and I must admit that after a weekend of speaking mostly in english, it was a bit hard getting back to speaking mostly in Portuguese. I'm starting to make friends here, Ana Lucia, Pia, and I might hang out in a weekend or two. After school I went with Manana - we had some pastries, went on the metro together, I helped her with her English homework, and her mom gave me a ride home. Tomorrow we're meeting to walk to the metro together, and this weekend I think we may play some Tennis.

Well, I believe that's it...or at least all I had the patience to write. Stay tuned =)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kip Visit

So, Kip has already written a lovely description of his trip here...and I was lazy and wouldn't be able to write anything this good anyway. Here's an excerpt from his blog, hope he doesn't mind. Enjoy...

Well, basic outline: I found Kip eating in my kitchen Saturday morning looking a bit worse for wear. He apparently had gotten semi-mugged in Porto. And honestly I think he might have gotten the wrong idea of Porto, it is probably as safe or unsafe as any big city. (comments by Caroline in green)

"After my lovely post-arrival nap, Caroline and I talked a little bit with her host-padre about my cooking and apparantly Caroline had been setting high expectations that I would be cooking there. Hehe, well I am not one to disappoint with food so I agreed one of the days to make an American meal and afterwards we headed out to Porto where Caroline was supposed to meet one of her friends.

After a long metro ride and some catching up Caroline and I arrived to find a tall thin blonde-streaked guy looking just a little younger than me (actually Kip, he's 17, so not much older than I am) dressed in a nice European style. This apparantly was Johannes from the Ferro Islands, which come to find out is a territory of the Dutch, with its own language and mythology and songbooks! We fascinated ourselves by taking a little tour of Porto complete with a trip to a coffee shop where I tried a Mokachok - served in layers, I think it included whipped cream (chantilly in Portuguese), thick thick chocolate and something else. It tasted like chocolate gravy, outrageously thick and chocolatey with a light and ever so slightly spicy flavor. I personally got a mixture of this chocolate drink with coffee, since I needed a good waking up.After enjoying this refreshment, we toured around a bit.

Porto I would describe as similar to the London of the movie Sweeney Todd just with more monuments - same sketchy people all over and really dark and dank with stone streets and buildings. Several times I asked the two of them where we were and very nonchalantly they would say 'eh, I have no idea... where does that alleyway go?' (hey, it wasn't that bad! We knew our general area...maybe). I was not feeling good about this. But we stayed out of trouble and spent a good amount of time hanging out by the riverside, which was pretty wide open and nice (hah, and you guys sat in birdpoop and Johannes FREAKED OUT). I liked having open space with good lightinig and not-sketchy looking people around. Across the river we could see the buildings of different Porto wine producers, and as well there were some boats in the river and as we crossed to the other side, we amused each other with international swear words and the various translations thereof. I think Johannes won out with his Ferroese phrase meaning something like 'damn you to the flames of hell' (I'm so learning that language someday). It had a nice ring to it. But we circled around a couple of times, found some Spanish speaking girls from Catalunya to take pictures of us, got some Portuguese pastries (Johannes wanted chocolate cake... and he wanted it right then. It was very out of the blue... C: '...yeah, so I told him I wasn´t interested...' J: 'I want chocolate cake.' K:'What?' J: 'I want chocolate cake, is there a cafe around here?' ) (so true...he was after that chocolate cake all day). We had a nice time walking around Porto and Caroline and Johannes even bought tickets to the Nightwish show in Porto for mid April (hellz yes).

I had told Caroline that I wanted Chinese food for dinner, but her host Padre had told us we needed to be back home by 9pm which in Spanish time is dinner time, so we just went home and discussed food options. Her host Padre of course was very friendly and pointed out some nice places we could visit along the seashore. Well we went out looking and toured around the beautiful plazas and seashore and eventually settled on a café reasonably close to her house that had pizzas. (yay random pizza) I got a pizza wth egg on it while Caroline got a tropical pizza.The whole time we were walking and talking, we discussed what we missed from home, who we missed from home and crazy things for the future - for instance Micajah, he is the first child to kind of enter into our group at home, the 'View Crew' if you will (or VC for short... not VietCong, none of us is named Charlie... or Asian for that matter). In as short as 5 or 6 years, some of us in the VC may be getting married or even begin having children! That´s just too soon! We discussed it at length and heck I couldn´t even decide who my best man would be at a wedding. The point is, we´re getting older and even though we still get together as much as we can, the dynamics will continue to change and I don´t know if I´m ready to be called Uncle Kip, you know? We talked also about what it will be like when we got back to the US, and as we talked about it, there aren´t any hangout places or cafés in Forest. So Caroline and I talked at great length about a café that we would like to make in Forest, a place with enough space for a dance floor and a band, good tapas and snack foods for students and people on a hurry, good generally inexpensive coffee for people on the go (there is no such thing as a to go cup here, we miss that). My thought for the name was Iberia, but who knows. We could have pastries and scones and good bread and tapas and snack foods (not junk, real food), it would be an awesome meeting place and hangout place, especially if it were out by Sonic or Carol´s or something.

We entertained ourselves a great deal talking about that until we finally got home late and got some rest before the next day.I was a little bit lazy after all my travels and so I got up about 11am to shower and be ready for the day. We resolved to be cooking lunch which could be ready about 2:30 and so we went out to tour the Vilha do Conde area. We went out to the seashore where we hungout on a pier above some rocks. We watched the waves and admired the shells, it was a beautiful and peaceful place, not to mention the pretty awesome weather. I commented that sometime we should come out for a little cookout of all the mussels hanging out on the shore. There were also tons of little gastropods such as limpets and tiny conch-like snails with curled shells. It was beautiful and peaceful, and we also went out to see a 16th century high seas exploration ship called the Nau. It had realistic mannequins inside that were for lack of better words creepy, but all in all it was an interesting boat with lots of robe and barrels and rocks in the bottom (supposedly for road paving in the 'New World').

When we got back, it was time to decide what lunch would be! We had already told them that we wanted chicken, spinach and a couple of other things, but we finalized the menu to: grilled barbeque chicken, roasted potatoes with onions, spinach salad and my fruit parfait dessert. There were two interesting things about this meal. First was my invention of a barbeque sauce, the second was their complete revulsion to the idea of eating spinach raw. To create a barbeque sauce, I pretty much rounded up everything in the kitchen that looked like it could fit and cooked it together for a little while. I think I used apple cider vinegar, ketchup, sugar, salt, black pepper, hot chile powder, oregano, and some other stuff I couldn´t name. But you know what, it actually turned out pretty good! I was very surprised and pleased with myself, it could have maybe used some mustard or brown sugar or molasses or cumin, but it worked! Then the host madre had already very nicely cut up the chicken for me, so I just let the sauce marinade with the chicken for a little bit while we prepped the potatoes. Caroline, of course was my very deft and helpful assistant every step of the way. I quite enjoyed being able to cook again and have my own dominion of flavors and construction of something delicious and beautiful. It was a very freeing and lovely feeling to be creative with what I know best. Caroline even added to the atmosphere by bringing down her laptop and playing some musical songs that we could sing along to. It was just like being back at home cooking :-). We cut the potatoes into cubes about an inch wide, along with semi-circle thin slices of onion and a dressing of olive oil, salt and this pesto that the family had (it could have used more salt all in all I think). That we just tossed together and put into the oven at 400ºF, which as it turns out is 205ºC. Then I made a little vinagrette for the spinach salad. The spinach, I should note, was much tougher and darker in flavor than American spinach. By itself I could understand why they were not very pelased with the idea of raw spinach, but I think with my dressing it was going to turn out just fine, and I was excited to have them try something completely new to them. I whisked together some apple cider vinegar with olive oil and honey to emulsify it, then I added some slices of tomato meat to give it some body and texture. Then it was time to face the chicken. Some of the pieces that were cut off the whole chicken were definitely not what we would be interested in eating grilled in the US - chicken ribs, the keel bone, the neck and several other things I could not even recognize. I asked the host dad if I could give the neck to the dog, and he very vehemently (though friendly) insisted that he would eat it himself.

I must point out that this family has a dog in their little back yard, he´s a very friendly golden retriever that generally seems to not be treated with love (I must's true). The family hardly ever pets the dog, much less lets him in the house and never gives him treats and the host padre at least handles him very roughly, by the collar and with harsh words and always dismisses the dog from anything. Meanwhile, Caroline and I are generally hoping the dog can come over so we can pet him and give him little snacks and stuff. It was very different treatment from what I´ve even seen in Spain. All across Spain, dogs I´ve seen were treated very nicely, usually even without a collar, just running around free. All the while Spanish dogs are generally really really well trained to voice and signals to stay and come and get down and all that. Caroline´s host family seemed to really enjoy the trick of having the dog shake their hands... but other than that he only had commands to go away or get back in his little area of the yard or to be pulled over and chained to a tree. I did not really agree with the handling of the dog, but he is under their care and seemed to still like people and very healthy, so it´s not a great violation of anything I guess.

Anyways, after sifting through a couple of methods, the host padre showed me that they do have something similar to a grill - it´s very much like a cooling rack set right on top of a heating element, set overtop a pan to catch the runoff juices. Having the heating element set right underneath the rack on which the food was set made for lots of charring, but in general it looked very good and cooked nicely through. The smell of it and the music and the company of Caroline brought both of us back to our summer tradition of fourth of July festivities at the Ballard house (gotta love it, eh?), which we tried to describe to the host Padre who was most curious about our yankee culinary creations.

So there it was! We had a nice salad dressing for the spinach, which they seemed most curious about, as well as beautiful grilled barbeque chicken and roasted potatoes and onions. It made me miss my mother´s home cooking but at the same time I was satisfied to be there with this beautiful home food with Caroline to enjoy and also the wonderfully pleasant and welcoming company of Caroline´s host family. The entire family was very very receptive to the meal and even rather enjoyed the spinach salad, despite their preoccupations! (they have cooked spinach here ALL THE TIME. I must say I will be happy to get home and never have to see that mushy crap ever again. Please mom, if you read this, I am never eating mushing warm spinach when I get home) Then it was time for dessert!

The night before they had brought out some frozen raspberries which were by this time thawed with some liquid. They then had some fresh strawberried which we sliced up. All of this we macerated in the liquid with a good deal of sugar and a little salt to taste, to let thicken and marinade (I guess) in the fridge. We then crushed up some portuguese cookies (hey I did this!) (important note here... the Iberian peninsula does not have soft gooey cookies. They do not exist. There is no such thing as a hot soft chocolate chip cookie to eat with hot chocolate or milk or whatever. It is a sad state of affairs, and something that everyone mentions from time to time missing from home. I think some day I may simply make a lot of soft chocolate chip cookies to bring to the JMU office. They will be gone in a flash, but it would be nice I think.) and we set the cookies in the bottom of single serving bowls. Then we whipped up some Portuguese natas (it went everywhere with that blender...), which I guess is like heavy cream into chantilly, or whipped cream. This was laced with sugar and a little bit of vanilla, then set on top of the crushed cookies. Then we brought out the macerated fruit and spooned that on top of the whipped cream, then topped it all off with a swirl of honey, just for that extra touch of home. If I do say so myself, it was my favorite part of the meal, and very well received by the family. In response, they told me that 'next time I come' I should bake some bread, too! I can definitely do that. I think they liked it, and I do dearly miss my bread.

The rest of the day we just spent walking around and discussing our future café for Forest and relationship stuff. It was just nice to have a friend to talk to who knows me well enough to finish sentences and knows exactly who I´m talking about and what I mean, not to mention what I miss. Then again Caroline is kind of a special case in any way since she´s my little sister (aw yay...), eu ermão (btw- it's spelled irmã) or mi hermana.It was sad to go since Vilha do Conde was such a beautiful and open place, not to mention friendly. I hope to go back sometime and actually I might be dropping by at the end of my spring break to Santiago de Compostela and then maybe later again on my last weekend free, the first weekend of April.

It´s nice to see your friends."

OK- this week has been good so far. Today two of my teachers didn't show up to class so yea, menos muitas aulas...I had lunch with Johannes near Casa da Musica and then we just hung out, talking and such on a bench in the Rotunda park thing. Hanging out is a precious thing...a lot of the time it's like you always have to be doing something to have fun, it's nice to be comfortable with someone to "just hang". He's really fun to talk with, I'm glad we both go to school in Porto. Anywho, yea. We went to a McDonalds for lunch, got some Sundays, and talked about Family, Politics, Friends, Activites, was good.

Once I got back to school I went to the bibliotecha with these girls from my class Raffa and Mariana. They were really nice and we showed each other pictures and talked about stuff. Then there was English...very easy.

When I got home I went to the gym stressout and I think I'm going to start taking a latin dance class there or something - que fixe! I feel like I'm starting to fit into the family a bit more and this weekend is the 6 week orientation which I'm pretty excited about. Here's to a good rest of the week! Don't forget to check my photobucket - worldtravelercaro - for pictures!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A week in review, and a rollercoaster of one at that!

Another week, another post…

Yet again I apologize for the time in between posts, it’s ridiculous that I should have so much time and not be able to post…then again most of that time is spent on train rides. Now let’s go over this week shall we?

Friday – Some friends of the Nunes’ arrived. They had two daughters and a son. After dinner Ines, Fred, their daughter Raquel and I went out to get coffees with some of their friends. It was cold and I felt sick and they wouldn’t leave until like, 1:30 in the morning, which really sucked because we had to get up early the next day. Not exactly a very fun night.

Saturday – We went to Ponte de Lima, which is a medieval town where Fernando works as a professor. His school was originally a monastery built in the 12th century, so we went on a little tour. After the tour of the school we went to the town to see some of the architecture and monuments and things. They had a bridge built by Romans! And there’s a market here that’s been taking place every other Monday for 2000 years! That’s how much history is here…Once we had eaten lunch we went to this nature walk thing, and the landscape here reminds me a lot of New Mexico or El Paso…dry with the sort of piney trees and rocky mountains. Saturday night I went out again with the other kids and this time was a lot more fun. People talked to me and I could talk back.

– I went to Porto with some of the other AFSers. It was so much fun. We ended up eating a late lunch/early dinner at this Turkish restaurant (Elif helped us with the names of the foods), got some Mochachocs, and walked across this bridge overlooking the River and all the wine factories and stuff. I love hanging out with them, they’re the only people who really get me here…And Johannes and I and maybe Raven might go to a Nightwish concert in April!!! That would be soooo awesome.

Monday – gosh…I don’t even remember what happened Monday…a whole lot of nothing! But I did get two packages from home – AND MY PASSPORT!!!!

Tuesday – yea…kind of the same…nothing happened, except I picked up my passport at the post office

Wednesday – this is the day that I have all day at school…leave the house at 10 ‘til 7 and get to school at 8:15…I hate it. After school though we had an AFS group meeting with my counselor (Nuno, he’s awesome- sort of like chic nerd, he's got the emo glasses and everything!) and some other Porto AFSers, and we went to eat and just talked. Nuno said that I’m progressing fast with the language and if I try really hard I might be able to become fluent by the end! But when I told this to my host dad, he said he didn’t think that was the most important part and that he didn’t think I could do it. When I got home I really had to go to the bathroom so I said a quick hello and went upstairs…unknowingly I apparently offended them though…

– I got up and didn’t have any clean clothes and my host parents got kind of angry that I hadn’t taken my laundry sooner, but I didn’t know! Thursday night they sat me down for a sort of “serious talk” and I asked me if I was happy here…and you know…I’m not really, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell them. I don’t like taking 2-3 hours just commuting to school every day, and I feel like it’s hampering my ability to make friends. But my host family said I’m not making enough of an effort and that I’m too passive with friends and school and activities. I felt so cornered and accused. My host mom was just spitting out one “I don’t understand why you do this!!” after another. She said she didn’t understand why I had to go to Porto Sunday to be with the other AFSers instead of staying with the family. And that she didn’t know why if I was bored I hadn’t tried to look for anything to do BUT I HAVE!!! I went to the Centro de Juventude to see if they had anything to do but they said they didn’t and I’ve been asking about dance schools… They kept mentioning that it was okay if I wanted to switch families, like they wanted me to or something. I’m kind of confused about all of this, and Nuno is going to be gone to Switzerland for 2 weeks so I’m not going to have him to ask what to do or to talk to. I have a lot to think about…

Friday – today I vowed to be positive and keep an open mind – and it was so much fun! I talked to this girl Manana on the way to school. She lives in Vila do Conde but is the only other person here who goes to Garcia da Orta. She’s really nice and invited me to play tennis with her on Saturdays. Even she said it's hard to live so far from the school, and she's Portuguese. I can see myself being friends with her though, and it’s cool she lives close! We even like some of the same movies, and I think maybe she'd like to have a friend in Vila do Conde as well. And thankfully she’s one of those people who are really patient with my language skills…hopefully that can grow into a friendship or something…I might even meet up with her this weekend and introduce her to Kip.

Later, my stupid Filosofia teacher made me do the test, which I had no idea what to do for it, let alone what the material was about. Estupida…

After school, Julia and I went to her house and had a snack and just talked for probably an hour. It was so nice…then her friend Sara came and the three of us and her family had dinner. Afterwards, Julia, her family, and I went to see a small concert of Fado! It was held at a Jesuit center and was raising money for a charity. We walked up this stone path lit was candles into a dim room with curtains and scarves and pillows and candles everywhere. First was a group from Coimbra, 3 men with guitars and 3 men singing. They wore the traditional black fado scarves and sang very melancholy songs. Then there was a break and Julia, me, and a few girls from my class at school and their friends went outside to talk. It’s a lot nicer being in an environment away from school, it’s easier to open up to people. Then there was a group playing music more typical of Lisbon, which is a brighter sound and louder…but that could be because we moved to the front where you could sit on pillows on the floor instead of in folding chairs. Unfortunately I had to leave around 11:45 (I hate being so far from Porto…) and came home…AND KIP IS COMING TOMORROW!!! I’M SO EXCITED!!!!

I miss home so much…every last one of you!!!!

(by the way - I have a photobucket now, just go to and search for worldtravelercaro, the same name as this blog)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

new post coming tonight so don't forget to check later today!!!....Happy Valentine's Day (blegh)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Carnaval...and the insane way these people party

I can’t believe I’ve been here almost a month. It seems like an eternity and no time at all at the same time. It’s hard to describe…the other exchange students feel it too though. You live in this place where time and money have no significance…both seem not to exist. You either have too much or too little of both.

The past few days have been Carnaval, which means no school. Just as a bit of background info, Carnaval is sort of like our Halloween. Everyone dresses up in costumes and goes out, though minus the trick or treating and plus parades. Today’s my last day of break, but school hasn’t seemed like school yet, so there’s not a lot of difference. Lots of free time as usual.

Saturday – went shopping in Baixa (the downtown) with Ines and her friend Pipa. The weather was great. Didn’t buy anything though, just looked and went to a café. And when were outside the mall, this crazy guy came up to me, mumbled some stuff in Portuguese, touched my hair and walked away. It was so creepy!!! I was supposed to have dinner with some AFSers but it didn’t work out, so I came home and watched Phantom of the Opera. I also found out the word for ladybugs = Joaninhas, which means “little Joanna”. Thought some of you Sweeney Todd fans might appreciate that.

Sunday – Ugh, the weather was terrible! Rained a ton in the morning. By afternoon it had cleared a bit, and Ines and I went to a café with her friend Joanna (everyone here is named Joanna! Seriously!). After the café, Fernando and Fernanda picked us up and we went to Vila da Cha for launche at Fernanda’s parents house with a bunch of family. Kind of boring for me, since my language skills are limited.

Monday – I woke up, had breakfast, took a shower. I went with Ines to the Centro de Juventude to see if I could join an orchestra or choir or have lessons or ANYTHING. But alas, nothing. You can only start anything if you sign up in June or September. So I seriously don’t know what I’m going to do for the next few months without music at all and no extra curriculars. Extra curriculars (music and arts) are my LIFE! Around 6 pm, Ines and I took the subway to Porto where we went to Pipa’s house to get ready. I was meeting up with Raven and Andi (a Hungarian AFSer), but a lot got lost in translation. At first we were going to meet at the Sao Bento metro station, then at a bus stop, but they eventually called a cab and came to Pipa’s house.

We then went to Pipa’s friend Ana’s house for dinner. Very yummy actually, sort of like
a Portuguese version of Mac and Cheese. I actually found the Super Bowl on TV, broadcast in Portuguese…though I only watched for about 5 minutes…so sad I missed it =(.

After eating, we walked to this place called Mario’s Bar that was right by the Ocean. It was really cool, if not extremely windy. I got a vodka and raspberry and a vodka and something limey while I was there, really good. It was a bit small, but they played some Latin music, which was fun to dance to. At about 2 am we left the bar. Andi had to leave (sad, she’s really awesome) so we went up to the street to meet her dad, and found this outdoor bathroom that was really hilarious, but beside the point.

When she had left, Ines, Pipa, Sara, Raven, and I went to the nightclub Industria, which was in this shopping mall thing. Raven and I swing danced a bit (though it’s freaking cramped in a club) and I got this coconut rum thing – might have been my favorite of all. A live band played, and they weren’t great, but OK. Not good dancing music though, which kind of sucked. They had two dance floors with two DJs, so we sort of went between the two all night. Unfortunately, someone spilled their drink on me (yuck) and it was really smokey. I’m still feeling it in my vocal chords.

I was really surprised at how many people I saw that I knew. A few from my class, a girl from my German class, and even Maud – one of the other two AFSers at my school! We finally left the nightclub at 7:30 and went back to Pipa’s house to crash.

Tuesday - Fernando and Fernanda came and picked us up around 1 pm on Tuesday. We went back to the house and there was a parade! We watched it from Ines’ window. It reminded me a lot of the Bedford Christmas parade, only no marching bands, and way better floats – though they were all schools and organizations and such. At night, I got my webcam hooked up and Chris Woolley and I fiddled for an hour or two with how to get it to work. At one point, Chris couldn’t hear me and I couldn’t hear him, then I tried with Fuzz, and Fuzz could hear me and I couldn’t hear him. VERY FRUSTRATING. But finally, Chris and I finally got it to work, but at that point only had 10 or 15 minutes to talk. At least now I (think) I know how to make it work, so it won’t be a problem.

Wednesday – woke up, had breakfast, read a bit, watched some TV, took a shower, had lunch…writing this. Really boring. *yawn* I think I’ll take a walk soon. The weather is gorgeous, almost hot here, like 70s and sunny. Maybe spring is on its way? Hopefully!!

Kip is (I think) going to visit in a week and a half (the weekend of February 15 through 17). I’m so excited!!!! Unfortunately though, I’ve had a toothache the past couple of days. Not good…I just hope it gets better and I don’t have to go to a dentist here.

Miss you all so much…please comment, or email, or IM, or write…anything! I love news from home, it gets me through the week!

Saturday, February 2, 2008


It never ceases to amaze me how a Portuguese woman can come home after a long days' work and whip up a meal that looks like it belongs at Crown Sterling. Seriously. Last night I came home from school (it was pouring, blech) and Fernanda whipped up a meal of chicken courden-bleu, greens, vegetables, pie, chocolate fondue, and homemade whipped cream. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Today I thought I was going to go to dinner with some other AFSers, but no one could I went shopping with Ines and her friend Pipa. I came home and had dinner (fabulous as usual, fresh fish, spinach, rice). We watched Phantom of the Opera...yet again, funny how snippets of a previous life can catch you off guard. So many memories are associated with that music for me. Now I'm here. It's Carnaval, which means tons of little kids dressed in costumes, and (hopefully) going out on the town.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Getting LOST

I just want to watch LOST =(

But the free ABC online is only for people in the US, and iTunes downloading takes hours and costs my host family money.

It's just one TV show!! It shouldn't be this hard to find!!!