When I first moved to Brazil I thought there is no way I am ever driving in this crazy place. Most intersections don't have stop signs. You just kind of pull up and play chicken. Most streets don't have painted lines. Ten years ago everyone drove motorcycles and now the road is a mix of cars and motorcycles and the motorcycles follow their own traffic rules. Of which there are none. Also, my mother-in-law lives at the top of a very windy and narrow hill, so I was pretty nervous about trying to get our nice new car up and down without destroying everything in my path. Well.. I did it! Last week our nephew spent the night and the next morning I drove him to school one block away. It was only a block, but after not driving for a few months, it felt like pure freedom. I felt like rolling the window down and screaming, "'MURICA!" but, you know, I'm still on a tourist visa so I probably shouldn't push the whole crazy American thing. And a few days ago I felt brave enough to take over at the bottom of my mother-in-law's hill and haul our Honda CRV on up. I kept it in first gear, took it nice and slow, and made it without incident. I had observed Farley making the turns enough times that I knew where to cut the wheel and where to give it a little gas. I've yet to make a full drive from our house to my mother-in-law's, but I feel confident that I could give it a shot and everyone would survive.
Grocery shopping was a source of anxiety and depression for me for a while here. That was unexpected and a little difficult to deal with because I love to grocery shop. I love to cook and bake and getting fresh supplies and thinking about what I'm going to make was always exciting. I thought it would be pretty easy to find what I need, since I shopped at a little Brazilian store in the States all the time and was pretty familiar with the Brazilian staples (rice, beans, Sazon, garlic, etc.). Wrong. All of a sudden I realized I have no idea how to buy heavy cream, sour cream, cheddar cheese, baking soda, creme of tartar (I'm still looking for that one, but I have good word that I can find it at a bakery supply store), etc. Thanks to family, friends, and the internet I've been able to decipher what some things are and find other items that are close enough to what I need. In the words of the Mighty Tim Gunn I'm making it work! Most things have a taste that's slightly off from what I'm used to. I guess that was to be expected, since that happens just travelling across the States. I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch, but the flour tasted very strange. I don't think it's made from wheat. They tasted alright when they were finished baking, but still, not as I remember. I also had to cut up a candy bar since I have been unable to find chocolate chips. Make it work.
If this post is rambling a bit, it's because I caught a cold from the youngest expat. My head is groggy and my throat is raw, booooo.