Saturday, March 21, 2009


As one would gather from my last post, it has been a busy week. We're renting an apartment in downtown Garanhuns and expect to move in ASAP next week (we're getting the super to repaint the rooms and install a new shower head in the meantime... exciting moving-in stuff). It's cheap, quaint, and close to everything we need in town ... work, favorite restaurants, super markets, etc. Because our school is on the other side of town, we do a lot of walking around in this hilly city, and as a result are getting quite a work out every day. Good news for these two spoiled, American slobs. We've been training at the language school. I was supposed to teach my first class today, a class of one. She called in sick. So, we're rescheduling. But I spent about four hours at the school today, sitting in on classes, observing how the methodology works, etc. It's an immersion method, and apparently very effective. The students I spoke with today seemed to have quite a bit of comprehension, despite having only studied English for about a month. It's making me rethink my methods for learning Portuguese ("Eh, I'll move to Brazil and, you know, just wing it.")

There is a nice bookstore/cafe in the same neighborhood as the language school. They stock many classic Brazilian titles, as well as world literature in translation (of all books to have in stock, they had The Yage Letters by William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, most likely of local interest due to its South American setting... I am not sure, but I think that they procure the yage concoction in the Amazon. I picked up a copy of Pessoa's selected poems, and have translated (or transliterated) some stanzas with basic vocabulary. I think it's helping.

I made the mistake of leaving my iPod back in Arcoverde. I only brought one book (Ted Hughes's Essential Shakespeare) other than my Portuguese textbook. Brazilian TV isn't worth the time, at least not the original programming. So far, I've only noticed two different novelas: one set in India/Rio, and the other set in California/Rio. Other than that, it's BBB (Big Brother: Brazil). There are news broadcasts, of course, and kid's shows (some with racy material by the standards of American children's programming... but I guess a woman in a bikini does help one learn simple phrases like Bate as maos (clap hands)... I know I'll never forget it).

So I'm a little short on entertainment (not that I have had much time for lounging around the house reading ... we've been crawling through the streets of Garanhuns like rats in a maze, mostly buying stuff for the apartment, and meeting with our boss at the school). I've been writing a lot in my notebook, sketches for new works, observations, etc.

Interesting note about Portuguese. Aparently the noun saudade has no English equivalent. The closest is "longing," but that is really a gerund phrase. It reminds me of the French ennui which is often translated as "boredom" but has no true English equivalent.

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