Saturday, August 18, 2012

English 101

Just sitting down for a much needed (and earned) rest. I decided I was going to do something about the perpetually dirty floors today. I now know why they are always dirty! It took me 2 hours just to do the dining/living room area. I am drenched in sweat (sorry to all you sensitive readers)! We will never open the doors or windows again!!! Actually, I am going to find a maid, and I am going to pay her whatever she wants! (Thanks Tom!)

All joking aside, it was quite satisfying to take care of something that has been bothering me; and to see the buckets and buckets of filthy water go down the drain. They use these big squeegee things here. You just push a wet rag around on the floor with the long handle and then use the squeegee to pull up the excess (brown) water. It dries really quickly and it seems to get up more of the dirt that way. Maybe we have these in the U.S., but I've never seen one. I'm trying to figure out how to bring one home. (Hey! I found a Brazilian product that I like better than my American counterpart! Chalk one up for Brazil!!!)

The kids are all down at the pool right now with Tom. It is winter here. Really harsh (It's only about 80 degrees). We live in a gated community with armed guards. (It's really funny when they call the house to say someone is here and I am the only one home. We have some really great conversations.) Anyway, inside this community, and just down the street from us, is a recreation complex with a pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer field, and playground. It has been wonderful for the kids. However, that is where all the reddish brown dirt comes from. The playground is a big sand pit and the girls come home with pocketfuls of sand.

The second day we were here, I took Tessa and Keira down to the pool. We were the only ones there besides 2 little girls who looked to be about Tessa's age. They kept staring at us and whispering. (Apparently we are somewhat of an oddity down here.) Finally, I struck up a conversation with them using my no-fail greeting ("Hello! I don't speak Portuguese. What is your name?") --I didn't know how to ask this in plural. They looked like smart girls. I thought they would figure it out.-- Giovanna and AnaClara (it only took me 3 times to figure that last one out...they speak with foreign accents down here!!) To my witty greeting, I proudly added, "How old are you?"-- 9 and 8 respectively. Man, now I am really communicating! This is the point in the conversation I started using hand gestures. I introduced them to Tessa and Keira (who were more interested in swimming than being social). That's ok. My new little friends were having a lot of fun trying to talk to the crazy "Americano". They kept asking me a question that I could not understand. I used another favorite phrase: "Nao entende." ("I don't understand"). They giggled and then they ran off. I thought that was the end of that.

Pretty soon, here come Giovana and AnaClara again to the pool, this time with a paper in hand. They hand me the paper. It says, "On which street do you live?" Good question. I have no idea the name of my street. I begin pointing wildly in the general direction of our house. Then, I successfully asked them where they lived. I think I understood the reply. It is on the opposite side of the complex as us.

 Now they start talking about Tessa and Keira's eyes. I understand this much. But, I think they are referring to the blue goggles they have on (maybe they don't have goggles here?) Ever the teacher, I begin a little English 101 lesson with my new young friends-pointing to the goggles and saying "goggles" (slowly and loudly of course), I then hold up my sunglasses and say: "oculos do sol--sunglasses" (Try to picture me slowly enunciating each syllable). They just keep saying "Olhos azuis?" and pointing to their eyes and then to Tessa and Keira. "Yes, yes." I say. "They are wearing blue goggles."  (Haven't we already been over this?)  Finally- they are practically jabbing themselves in the eyes by this time- the "teacher" understands the "pupil". They are asking if the girls have blue eyes! I'm laughing now, "Sim, sim. Olhos azuis!" ("Yes, yes. Blue eyes!") I motion Keira over to the side of the pool and instruct her to remove her goggles. I wish I had a picture. There was Keira- head upturned, goggles on the forehead, eyes as round as saucers- and these 2 Brazilian girls perched on the edge of the pool leaning in as close as they could, staring into the eyes of my beautiful little girl. The amazement and wonder! They are so excited to see real blue eyes up close and in person! (Apparently, blond hair and blue eyes are somewhat of a rarity down here.) But that wasn't enough. Now, they want to see Tessa's eyes. I motion her to do the same. They are equally astonished by these unusual blue eyes! Now they want to see my eyes. And my husband--does he have blue eyes?! They just can't believe it! We must be quite the spectacle walking down the street...6 sets of blue eyes.

After the excitement dies down, Giovana and AnaClara want to know if the girls can play on the playground. Sure! Tessa readily accepts. Keira wants to keep swimming. I can see the playground easily from my seat by the pool, so I send Tessa with my blessing. They immediately teach Tessa a new game. It involves throwing sand. This is a big no-no in our family (what if the sand gets in your eyes?!) I watch Tessa pick up a handful and cock back her wrist. Just then, she takes in a quick breath and turns to look at me with that look of guilt in her eyes. I tell her to go ahead (with a warning to not throw it toward anybody's face). This goes against every over protective fiber of my being, but I am so incredibly happy to see my little girl with new friends in a foreign land--I'll overlook it just this once.


  1. That is too cute! I love how much those little ones tried to communicate with you! Plus I bet Tessa was super excited to see mom breaking the rules!

    1. No kidding. I've been doing a lot of rule breaking lately.