Olá gente, I am writing this blog from Salvador, Brazil in the state of Bahia where I am studying. I have now been in Salvador for three weeks and finally feel somewhat adjusted to the city. I live in a large, two-story penthouse apartment with my host dad (Manuel), my host mom (Noemia) and my host brother (Paulo) on Avenue Sete de Setembro (the day of Brazilian Independence) in an area called Vitoria which is the classiest and safest area of Salvador. My family is very nice and accommodating and my host brother and dad actually speak English fluently, although I have been talking in only Portuguese with them. My apartment is very nice; I have my own room with a router, A/C, a printer and a queen size bed (for the first time in my life). The views off the balcony are spectacular — I can see many other highrise buildings and a large amount of the bay.
I am taking two classes through the local university UFBA (Federal University of Bahia) — Portuguese and Brazilian culture which are four times a week. Through my program with CIEE I have also taken several field trips including a trip to Praia do Forte — a beach resort with a turtle reserve, a tour of the Pelourinho — the old historic center of Salvador with a large amount of baroque architecture, a trip to the zoo which is right across from the university, a soccer game between Bahia and Flamengo (the team with the most fans of any in Brazil), a samba dance class, and a capoeira class (a martial art/dance) among other things.
With my friends I have also been to several different concerts (there are always concerts going on and many are free) such as the Bahian Philharmonic Orchestra, Rosa Passos (a Brazilian MPB artist, kind of like Brazilian pop) and a percussion concert.
I have been trying to eat new foods and have had feijoada (a stew with black beans, sausage and other pig parts), acarajé (a fried fritter with bean paste, shrimp and salsa), açaí slush (like an açaí sherbert with different fruits mixed in), other new fruits (pina, goiaba, etc.), moqueca (a seafood stew with mussels, shrimp, calamari, and octopus), and well as farofa/farinha (kind of like a grain that they heavily drench their beans in). Generally Brazilians eat a larger lunch than dinner which usually consists of beans (feijão) and rice (arroz) with some kind of meat (beef, chicken or pork). My family usually eats lighter dinners such as sandwiches with ham and cheese, salami tomato and cheese, or egg and cheese. They have also offered to buy me any food that I want, so I now eat yogurt and cereal for breakfast. I have also tried caipirinhas (cachaça with sugar and lime) several times, as well as other local cocktails although I find the beer here uninspired and lifeless.
I will try to update this blog as much as possible, but I am fairly busy so I do not know how often that will be. I also will try to add pictures but already have a lot up on Facebook that can be viewed online as well. Tchau!