How I Can Afford To Travel!

My most REVEALING post to date! If you've been wondering how the hell I've been able to last traveling this long, well here it is! All secrets are out in the open! This post tells you how I do it, and how YOU can do it too!

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On Being Featured In A Documentary

I somehow managed to get myself featured in an upcoming documentary about "Voluntourism". This may be the big break I've been waiting for! The trailer is out - and I'm in it! It looks so good, I'm so excited! See for yourself... watch it here!

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Scotland: My Favorite Country In The World

I've been to many places in several different continents, and have seen spectacular beauty... But every time I visit Scotland, every other country pales in comparison. Read this post to find out why at this point, Scotland was and still is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on Earth...

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On Finding My Bliss In Italy

When you go on big trips like this, however cheesy it sounds, you always do end up 'finding yourself'. And there are moments... difinitive moments when you achieve clarity, contentment, and pure happiness. This all happened to me in Italy. Read my most soulful post to date, inspired by the full moon in Italia...

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The 2014 Rio Carnival!

I've seen, done, and experienced crazy things in my life... but nothing will EVER compare to the sheer MADNESS of the Carnival in Rio De Janeiro. It is a bloody miracle I came out of it alive! Everything you've ever heard about it - alcohol, drugs, sex, and SAMBA... they're all true! Read about how I managed to survive the most insane festival I've ever attended...

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An Epiphany At Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places in Italy. We hiked 5 villages in one day, and it was breathtaking! But something completely unexpected happened on the hike... An encounter with a complete stranger made me realize possibly one of the most important things I need to do with my life...

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

My First Week Working On A Cruise Ship


I survived my first week!

There is so much to say, and I don’t even know where or how to start. I’m trying to organize my thoughts here, but my sea sickness has turned my brain into mush and it’s hard to think!

As always though… I’ll do my best. And so here it is… My first week as a Norwegian!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


There are too many Filipinos. Hahaha! Feels like I went back to the Philippines, I swear. I think the ship is made up of about 48% Filipinos, 8% Americans, 10% Indonesian, 5% Caribbean, and ___% everybody else. 

The ship is like a big, beautiful, and mobile hotel. Everyone talks about either going home (when their contract ends), or FOOD. The primary reason they go out during “port days” is to go out and eat food. Which to me, as a novice, is pretty weird, since they HAVE amazing free food on the ship every single day. Why the heck would anyone pay to eat anymore?
I guess I’ll find out after a few months? Right now I still think it’s pretty crazy.

The Atrium...


MY MOTION SICKNESS IS OUT OF CONTROL. The first two days were the WORST. I could not function. There’s SO MUCH to learn, and my brain wouldn’t cooperate because there’s too much bile on my throat. And apparently, the whole week we were sailing on pretty calm waters! UGH! I hope I get used to this… It’s getting REALLY ridiculous!

THE ROUTE


My ship is called Norwegian Dawn. Currently, we are on a 7 day Caribbean cruise that takes us from New Orleans to Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya.  I believe I’m going to be on this rotation for at least a couple months… and from what I understand, I may be transferred to the Pride of America, which is the ship that goes around the Hawaiian Islands. My schedule is sort of up in the air, but as long as I stay at this ship, Norwegian Dawn, I’m gonna be going on this Caribbean loop for a while.



MY JOB


First of all, let me explain what my job is.
I was hired as a training specialist. As a trainer, my primary job is to train the crew on various things like Orientation, Safety, Medical Familiarization, Customer Service. Etc.  This part is easy. I’ve been training people for more than 10 years, I can do this with my eyes closed.
The difficult part is familiarizing myself with the ship, the organization, the culture, and how everything works… because part of my job is to be an expert on all aspects of ship life. The crew looks up to me as a source of information… And right now? I know squat.

MY RANK

So apparently, my position on-board is equivalent of that of an officer. They gave me a uniform, and I have these things called “epaulets” that you attach to your shoulder, like a shoulder pad. The number of stripes you have on your epaulet signifies your rank.
OBVIOUSLY my first command as an officer was to change my name tag!!

The highest ranking officer on the ship is the captain, of course. He has 4.5 stripes. His first officer has 4, the Hotel director has 3.5… and so on and so forth.
Well, I, have 2.5 stripes. I know. Fancy, right?  My friend who is a pilot just told me he has 2.5 stripes on his epaulet as well, so I guess this means I can finally fly a plane like I’ve always dreamed!!!

OK no, not really.

But I have to admit, it’s REALLY cool joining the ship with a rank right away. I see how the crew looks at me… and when they see my stripes, they automatically treat me with respect! Even the passengers on-board make way for me when I walk past them… There was even a kid that gave me a salute!  HAHA!
I dunno… I guess there’s something about the uniform. It’s very.... reverend.


MY PERKS


OK this is my FAVORITE part of the stripes… the privileges that come with it!!! So apart from the automatic fear/respect that it commands, I get to enjoy the following:

1. Solo Cabin – Albeit a little small (Cupboard under the stairs, type), I actually really appreciate the privacy.


2. Better Food – We have a crew mess where we can eat breakfast lunch and dinner, buffet style, which is actually pretty awesome. I’ve had the food and it’s pretty good! But as an “officer”, I get the special privilege of dining at the Officer’s lounge with even BETTER food! Same food that they serve at the nice high class restaurant they have at the ship! YUM!
Usually, none of the crew is allowed to eat free at any of the restaurants designated for the guests. But on “Port Days”, I’m one of the few that’s allowed to.

3. Housekeeping – My room is cleaned by the housekeeper everyday

4. Laundry – My clothes are washed and pressed for free – anytime! All I need to do is put them on a laundry bag outside my door, and I get it back on the same night.

5. Internet – is really expensive on-board. Everyone pays for WiFi. But because I’m a trainer, and I need the internet for work, I can go online and check my personal stuff…  (discreetly). They’re pretty strict about it, but I can go and check my email and Facebook for like 5 minutes a day… And I can post on my blog when no one is in the office with me. Hehe… Otherwise I just get off the ship on Port Days and get free WiFi somewhere…

6. FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE – We all basically work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. But I can schedule my classes so that I can go out for a few hours during Port Days to explore some of the islands... Then just work till I hit the number of hours I need for the day/week!

7. GYM USE --- The crew has a gym, but it’s gross. The gym for the guests on the other hand is really nice… and YES I am allowed to use it!

There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet… but YAY! I think I landed a pretty sweet deal!

THE CHALLENGES


Well, like I said, my motion sickness is getting in the way of EVERYTHING.  I’m wearing these motion sickness bands on my wrists that I got at the pharmacy. I have a whole bunch of Dramamine, AND I have these pregnancy pops that my sister in law gave me. They’re ginger candy things that helps with morning sickness.
NOTHING WORKS.
Apparently I just have to get used to it. L


The coffee  sucks. Really. WORST coffee in the world. First thing I did when I got off the ship was go to the supermarket and buy my own coffee. Instant is better than what they serve here.  I’m no coffee connoisseur but I’ve been spoiled by Italy and Brazil. There really is no going back after you’ve tasted the real deal.


The hours are long and weekends don’t exist. I have a feeling the whole 24/7 work thing is going to start getting to me pretty soon. Right now I’m still a little overwhelmed with all the information I have to digest... but I've been blessed with a really knowledgeable and patient partner who's teaching me and holding my hand through the process, every step of the way.
The people I work with are generally pleasant and nice, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them even more.

I'm worried about the holidays because this is going to be the first time I won't be celebrating Christmas the way I'm used to celebrating it...

BUT... all in all, I think I'm going to be okay... Hopefully.

It may be a couple weeks till my next post --- unless something REALLY interesting occurs. ;)

But yeah... All is well, so far.

Let's see what happens, shall we?

Tchau!

My partner, Terrie, and I



Thursday, November 27, 2014

On How I Managed To Get Hired To Work On A Cruise Ship


Secret's out! I'm goin' on a Cruise! 
The inspiration came when a friend of mine sent me the Yahoo News article, How I saved $24,000 While Traveling The World. He said the article made him think of me. 

This is Wandering Earl

This guy, Derek, from the website, Wandering Earl, describes how he earned that much money while working for a Cruise Line. When I read it, it just hit me. BAM! That's it! That's what I'm supposed to do after Brazil! I could work for a Cruise Ship for 6 months, save some money while traveling, and then use the money to travel again! DUH! So simple! How hard could it be to get a job working on a ship? It should be really easy, right? Right?

Wrong.

Boy, was I so wrong on so many levels.

THE APPLICATION PROCESS

I started applying to all the Cruise Ships at the beginning of August - right around the time the article was sent to me. I even bought Wandering Earl's E-book about how to work for a cruise ship, to help make sure I had all the bases covered.



I went all Type A on it, I swear. I could not have been more anal about what I did. I basically made about 10 different versions of my resume. One resume for each position I applied for... with a Cover Letter to accompany each application. There were openings for Guest Relations Officers, Group Coordinator, Program Coordinator, Receptionist, Hostess, Shore Excursion Staff, Training Specialist, etc. These were the positions I had the experience for -- but not necessarily qualified for.

Most of these positions I mentioned required experience working for a cruise ship, OR a 5 star restaurant or resort. PLUS... almost all of them needed the applicants to speak several languages FLUENTLY. English PLUS Italian OR Spanish OR Portuguese OR German OR French.

Sure, I could get by in Brazil with the little Portuguese I knew... And I have a little French tattoo on my wrist... My Spanish was pretty decent in Peru - but it all dissolved when I started learning Portuguese. English was all I really had --- and even THAT was deterioration... Deteriorates... Deterior?

Screw that. I applied anyway. I applied to ALL the Cruise Ships with job openings... Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Royal... 18 of them to be exact. All with a tailor fit Resume AND Cover Letter. I rocked it. I OWNED the applications!

THE REJECTIONS

After NOT hearing from any one of them for a month, apart from ONE rejection letter... Well, my confidence just sank. It didn't help that when my friend, Eduardo, applied, he practically got job offers a week after. He didn't take the job though, but still... It just reinforced the fact that my lack of languages and experience in the hospitality industry made me unqualified to work for the ship.

In my head, I just quit. I got a little depressed after that. 
Just a little. 
No, I lied. I reached my lowest point, I turned bipolar. 



I just thought I had everything figured out. I thought I had a new path and a new journey ahead of me that will allow me to keep traveling... but the plans crashed and burned.

I needed a new plan.

THE NEW PLAN

What I really needed AND WANTED was just to earn money. I needed to work and save some money for a few months so that I can travel again. So I decided I would go back to The Philippines. I could go home, get a job, and live at home with my parents, who will let me live and eat there, free of charge... they'd even lend me a car! And I could get a corporate job... A temporary one, just for a few months so I could save up... Then pack my backpack and travel again!

YES! It was a GREAT plan! I spoke to my friends, they've started looking for job openings for me... and just like that, I had potential jobs lined up for me in Manila! Beautiful! My friends are awesome!

Because it was going to cost me a few hundred dollars more to fly straight from Brazil to Manila, AND because I wanted to meet my brand new nephew (who was born in September)... I booked my ticket to LA first. The plan was to stay there for a couple weeks, and THEN fly to Manila. It was cheaper that way. Besides, I REALLY wanted to see my brother's baby.

WHEN LIFE DOESN'T GO THE WAY YOU PLANNED

I booked my ticket from Sao Paulo to Los Angeles... but I didn't book my ticket from LA to Manila. I stalled. I figured I'd book it later. For some weird reason I didn't feel like it just yet.

Well, a couple days later, I figured out why.

Norwegian Cruise Lines had responded to my online application, and they wanted to move forward with it. After almost 2 months of not hearing from anyone (apart from one rejection)...SURPRISE!!! All of a sudden, I was back in the game!

The best part about it was that --- out of all the jobs I applied for, out of all the Cruise Lines... This was the job I really wanted. It was for a Trainer position. A job I've known and loved almost my entire corporate life. In fact, on my little note pad where I wrote down a list of all the cruise ships I applied for, and what position, Norwegian Cruise Line had 2 stars next to it, with a little scribble that said, I want this job!!!
I kid you not.

Holy shit. I know, right?

As soon as I saw the email, I had a feeling. A gut feeling. A really good one. :)

TO CUT THE LONG STORY SHORT

5 weeks, 3 Skype Interviews and a Teaching Demo later, I was offered the position of On-board Training Specialist for Norwegian Cruise Lines.

On-board, meaning I train the staff and crew members (on Customer Service, Rules and Regulation, Safety, etc) on the ship! I get to join different ships as well... Ships that travel to different destinations.

My first assignment was supposed to be on a ship headed to Bermuda. But since I had a few delays due to my medical clearance,  my due date was moved a week later --- and so was my destination!

I am now leaving from Los Angeles to New Orleans to board a ship that is headed to The Caribbean, on Sunday, November 30th. 

I'm on a "26 Weeks On, 10 Weeks Off"contract that starts on the day I board.

I'm a little freaked out but also excited. I'm leaving in a few days but everything is still a big question mark. I haven't met anyone in the flesh, I don't know what my schedule is, I have no idea whether I'm going to like working there or not, I have really BAD motion sickness so I'm a little nervous, too... So yeah. I'm a hot mess... but all in a good way.


AND SO...

...when life doesn't turn out the way you planned, I have learned, that you should get down on your knees and thank the Universe... because most of the time... and in my case, ALL THE TIME... things turn out better than what you've ever even imagined.

I don't know what's going to happen once I board the ship on Sunday. I don't know if I'll like the job, or if the long working hours will drive me crazy, or if my 7 day work week will kill me... I have NO idea what to expect... But I know I'll make the best of it like I always do. I know I'll work my butt off and TRY... And I know I'll do my best in trying to keep this blog running while I'm on-board, if only to keep my sanity in tact. :)

So wish me luck, you guys! The next time you hear from me, I'll be bitchin' in the Caribbean... as my awesome friends put it. :)

Ahoy!!!!

Brilliant Image courtesy of Eduardo and Maria :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Life In Brazil



After not reading any posts from me for a few months, a friend of mine who doesn't have a Facebook account said to me -- "Éartha, I lost you in Brazil!"

Shame on me. I know. :(

But I'm still here!!! Alive and very well!

I'm so sorry for disappearing without warning. I don't have any excuse to offer apart from --- Brazil Happened. Really. Its lame, I know.

If you let me... I'd like to catch you guys up on everything that went on in the past 4-5 months I have been on hiatus. This will take a few blog posts to go through EVERYTHING in proper detail... but it will be worth it. :)

First, let me start where I left off...

AFTER THE WORLD CUP


To anyone who paid attention, Brazil was slaughtered by Germany... and it all went downhill after that. The energy in Sao Paulo died down, but the parties still continued. I've actually never seen so many Brazilians cheer for the Germans in the finals, considering the massacre that happened... but apparently that's just how much they didn't like Argentina. Germany won, everyone was happy again... and life in Brazil slowly went back to normal.



For me, that meant going full swing with my teaching!

TEACHING ENGLISH

Just to give you guys a little refresher... I got a job teaching English in Sao Paulo. I got hired by a few schools to give Business English lessons to intermediate to advanced students... Most of them worked for finance. Sao Paulo IS the financial capital of South America after all. I also got a few private students through word of mouth... And that's pretty much all I did for the entire time I was in Brazil!

I was very surprised at how easily it all worked out for me. I don't have any TOEFL certifications or whatnots... I didn't have a working permit either... None of that matters in Brazil though! All they were looking for were Native English speakers. Of course it helped that I had a teaching background --- but that only meant that working on lesson plans was a lot easier for me. A lot of my co-teachers didn't have experience whatsoever, but they were hired because they had the right passport! It's a little crazy... but I wasn't complaining! It meant I could survive and earn a pretty decent living in one of the most exciting countries in the world! I was golden!

My schedule was a little odd. I had to give classes either before work, during lunch time, or after work. Which basically meant I was at the students offices at 7am, 12:30pm, and 6pm... and I'd use the time in between to eat, commute, prepare classes, and sleep!

I would earn anywhere from 80 to 120 Reals per class, depending on the length of time or the distance... I worked Monday through Friday, and on my busiest day (which was a Thursday) I had 5 classes back to back. (I called it Terrible Thursdays) I got paid every month in cash, and for private students, they either pay me for a few classes in advance for a discount, or pay me after each meeting.

So all in all, I'd say it was a pretty good gig! I do love teaching and I loved my students. If you guys ever make your way down to Brazil, teaching English is a pretty sweet way to make some cash. I totally recommend it!

LIFE IN SAO PAULO


When I am not teaching... I have fun. Or at least I try to. :)
Sao Paulo is known for the night life, so my weekends are usually spent with my friends, going out to pubs or bars or karaoke joints around the city... Rua Augusta, Vila Madalena, Liberdade, Moema, pretty much everywhere and anywhere where somethings going on.... and Sao Paulo doesn't run out of it.


On sunny days, we hang out at Ibirapuera Park and make friends, play music, or go skateboarding...




On really REALLY sunny days, we go to the beach! Sao Paulo isn't a beach city like Rio, so beaches over there are a little farther. The closest one is about an hour by bus... The closest decent one takes about an hour and a half.



On occasion, I help my friends out by working at the hostel they own in Vila Madalena called, HBB Hostel. I work the night shift every now and then, and sometimes help them out on their events. Those are the MOST fun.
With Alessandra, My Brazilian mom - as we were working during a World Cup Event

Me, working as a Shot Girl on HBB's 1 year anniversary


ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END

I was only really only supposed to stay in Sao Paulo for 3 months... Then I extended it to 6... Potentially, I could have stayed longer if I wanted to... But I think as I was nearing my 5th month, I started feeling like maybe it was really time to go. That 6 months would be enough.

It's not that I didn't like it there - I loved it! The Brazilians are amazing people... They remind me so much of Filipinos... They're my peeps! But I was never meant to settle down in Brazil to begin with... It was never my intention. All I wanted was to experience it... Work, live, have a good time, immerse... make friends... make a difference! And I think I've managed to accomplish all of that... and learn a little Portuguese on the side!



Its just that --- things started to feel like a routine. Teach...Commute... Go out. Lather... Rinse... Repeat. Everything became familiar --- which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because I was slowly starting to blend in, and BECOME a local. People actually already started thinking I was a Brasilera! Which is a compliment!
But bad because I left my life in LA for several reasons... And one of them was because I was done with the whole "routine"... The "daily grind"so to speak.

When I realized that I put myself in a situation like that again... I had to plan my next move. I had to go. It was time to move on.

Besides... even if I was making a pretty good living teaching English, I couldn't save. I was literally breaking even. Yes I had enough to eat, live, and have fun... which would have been okay if I wanted to stay in Sao Paulo and live there forever --- BUT I didn't. I don't! I want to keep traveling... and I need to earn and SAVE money to do that.

And so I formulated a plan...  to help me do just that! A plan I will share with you in the next week...'
Earn and Save Money - to be able to keep traveling! I'll tell you what it is very soon, I promise. It's pretty exciting!

So anyway, I finished working at the end of September... Then I traveled around Brazil for a couple weeks to relax and decompress... Went back to Sao Paulo for my farewell party, and finally, said goodbye and flew out of there...


It was kind of bittersweet, my departure. Brazil is the longest I've stayed anywhere on this trip. I have made the most amazing friends... learned SO much about the country, the people, and myself. I will always have a home there now, and I will look back on these past 6 months with so much warmth and so much love.

THE STORY CONTINUES

I am writing this post from Los Angeles. Well... Orange County, actually. My brother's house... where I have been for the past few weeks, spending time with my family. It's SO GOOD to be home. I have to savor each moment because I don't have much time left. Pretty soon I have to leave again...
But that's another story all together. ;)

It's good to be back. Follow-up post will be on in a few days. YES a few days... not a few months. Haha :) Can't wait to share the good news.

Talk soon!

(P.S. -- I know I said this post was supposed to go up last Thursday, but my laptop - which is still in Portuguese by the way, crashed AGAIN. O_O  Black Friday is coming up. Let's hope a good Samaritan gifts me a new laptop.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Brazilian Chronicles: Halfway Through Copa Del Mundo



Bom Dia!

Tudo Bem?

That's about all the Portuguese I've got for now. ;)

Alright, alright! It's been - what - 2 weeks since the kick off of the World Cup here in Brazil, and the energy hasn't died down one bit! If anything, I think things are actually getting even more exciting!

WHAT'S IT REALLY LIKE TO BE IN BRAZIL AT THIS MOMENT?


I can't lie. It's pretty spectacular. And I'm not even a football fan! I mean I can only speak for myself and my experiences in Sao Paulo, and I can't say much about the other places in Brazil... But here in Sao Paulo, it's like the entire world stops for football. Hardly anybody works!

I teach  English classes and in these past 2 weeks, about 50% of my students cancelled because of the games. I honestly don't mind - I'm happy to have the time to watch the games myself, but it's gotten to the point where my friends don't think I have a job at all!
For example - If Brazil plays at 4pm, everyone only works half a day, to give people time to brave the Metro to get home or to get to various locations where they can watch the match. Automatically, all my classes scheduled from 12noon onward that day is cancelled! (Yippeee!)

Then you walk down the streets to *try* and take the Metro or the Bus, and EVERYONE is wearing green and yellow, or wigs, or crazy sunglasses or hats, green and yellow scarves, and green and yellow face paint. EVERYONE is thrilled and just HAPPY and EXCITED... both locals and foreigners alike, I gotta say.


I can't afford to watch any games at the stadiums, but you can practically watch the games anywhere over here. There's an open area in the center called the Fifa Fan Fest which is a lot of fun... But mostly we just see it on the streets of this neighborhood called, Vila Madalena. They basically just shut down a few blocks, set up a huge monitor, and hundreds or even thousands of people gather around to watch the game together on the streets. It's SO much fun... I LOVE it.


Sometimes, being a gringo has its perks, because once the Brazilians hear me talk and realize I'm a foreigner, the free drinks start pouring in. :) I LOOOVE Brazilians! :)


IF BRAZIL ISN'T PLAYING

Then all the foreigners from all the other countries roam the streets to support their own teams. It's basically the same thing, only instead of seeing Green and Yellow everywhere, you see different colors. :)
At The Fifa Fan Fest


THE COST


Is really expensive. Everyone hikes up the prices when there is an opportunity to, and with all the foreigners being here, well... Taking advantage is an understatement. But that's just the way business goes! And Sao Paulo is already expensive to begin with, even without the World Cup, so we can clearly deduce that I'm pretty much broke --- but happy!

Food is expensive... Like, a large pizza at a random diner could cost about 30 USD... Shopping? Well... let's just say I've been having my family send over some clothes because I'd rather wait than spend money over here. It's kind of insane. The Metro - you pay 3 Reais every time you enter (about 1.50 USD), same for the bus... And because of all the commuting I do everyday, I usually spend at least 10 Reais per day on transportation. It adds up.

What's cheap? Err... Havaiana's and cigarettes? Hahaha

TV STINTS

With the whole crew, being featured at Globo 1

Incidentally, while I've been here, I've managed to be on TV twice! It's just the local news, but still. Pretty cool. They love interviewing foreigners, asking us the same questions over and over... "Who are you supporting"... "What's it like being in Brazil"... "Will you support Brazil"... blah blah blah.
It's really silly, and sometimes stupid... but it's FUN! :)

2 Weeks In, 2 More To Go

Brazil is playing against Chile on Saturday... And this is a Do or Die match. It determines whether Brazil moves forward or not, so it's probably the MOST important game to date. I'm not a soccer fan, but MAN the suspense is killing me! I have NO idea what will happen if Brazil doesn't win.

Right now, things in the country are good. No protests, no Metro strikes, everyone is just happy and excited to be here, and the Brazilians are SO open and friendly towards the foreigners.

But if things go badly for the team on Saturday, I can't guarantee that things will remain the same. Brazil HAS to win. They HAVE to. Because if they don't...

Shoot, can you guys IMAGINE what it would be like over here? I can't. And I don't want to. So we'll just have to see.

I'll let you guys know for sure. I'll keep you all posted.

In the meantime - VAI BRASIL!!!!


Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Brazilian Chronicles: World Cup Game 1 - Brazil vs Croatia



It's finally here! The first game of the 2014 World Cup is in Sao Paulo, and the city is buzzing!

I do not have the funds to go to an actual game (and quite frankly, even if I did, I don't think I would spend all my money on it), but over here, it's all about the viewing parties!

June 12th has been declared a holiday for the city of Sao Paulo, so EVERYONE was decked out in Green and Yellow, happily anticipating their country's first official WC game against Croatia!

I celebrated along with 80 other people at a WC viewing party at Hostel Brasil Boutique, the BEST hostel in Brazil. Since I practically live there, I have taken on the task of face painting the guests... You know, because that's just what I do. :)



The game wasn't till 5pm, but guests started trickling in at 2pm, nervously downing their free caipirinha's to warm themselves up.

I have no more words, so I'll just show you what happened through photos.

Green and Yellow Overload
First Goal
Another Goal!

Happy Campers

First Goal Selfie
Team Hostel Brasil Boutique!

And when Brazil won, we took the party to the streets and this is what we stumbled upon...






#VAIBRASIL!!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

An Extended Pit Stop In Brazil!



And after the longest AWOL in history, I'm baaaack!

I apologize for the long hiatus. I do have excellent reasons for it though. First is -- my laptop crashed. Yes. It was (and still is) a nightmare. A few months ago, I had a feeling it was about to conk out on me, so I asked my family to send me a terabyte's worth of external hard drive... but the laptop died 2 weeks before it was due to arrive. The good news is - all of my files are apparently still in tact. My whole year of travel is preserved. The bad news is, because my hard drive has some weird physical damage, I have to go to a specialist to get it fixed to be able to extract my files from it. So my data is there... I just can't get to it. I have a brand new hard drive now, and I'm out a few hundred dollars... The annoying thing about this is that the Windows 7 that was installed on my laptop is in Portuguese, and it didn't come with a language pack. And so I'm stuck with a laptop I hardly understand.
On the bright side, this definitely gives me more motivation to learn Portuguese.

Why do I need to learn it? Well... because...

I HAVE TAKEN UP TEMPORARY RESIDENCE IN BRAZIL

... and I have been here for a month. A MONTH! I survived, and I will conquer! :)

OK... remember my Ayahuasca Retreat? Well, I didn't go into detail on my last post, but what it actually showed me was Sao Paulo. I asked Ayahuasca what I should do, and in so many words (and visions), it said - "Go to Sao Paulo"...

I know I must sound nuts, but I didn't just follow it on a whim. I had to be smart about it, and make sure I had a way to survive over here. I had a few friends who had mentioned I could earn a living here teaching English, and that they had a couple private students they could send my way. I also happened to have a friend with a friend who works/owns a language school who just so happens to be in need of a native English speaker right around the time I arrived... so... Enter Eartha. :)

I also happen to have made some very good friends in Sao Paulo... People who I now consider family... so knowing that they'll be here made me feel better and confident about the whole thing.


It wasn't easy though. It was extremely challenging trying to view apartments, finding my way around, and trying to get errands done (like getting the laptop fixed) with the language barrier. I had to rely heavily on those people in the photo above for help, and the stress during the first couple weeks has begun to catch up on me via breakouts on my skin. Which is part of the reason why I couldn't write anything till now.

1 MONTH AND COUNTING

But, after a very rocky start, I am now employed by 3 language schools, I have a few private clients, and I am renting a flat (with a flatmate) in a REALLY good location near the center of Sao Paulo! Seriously, it's almost a little scary how things have worked out so quickly. I guess this means I made the right choice in moving here after all!

The plan is to stay here for 6 months (basically until Brazil kicks me out) and just see what happens :)

SAO PAULO


Being in Sao Paulo makes me feel like I'm fulfilling my New York City fantasy. I've always wanted to try living there, and Sao Paulo is so similar to Manhattan, I may as well be calling myself a New Yorker!
It's similar because the city is just so compact, filled with skyscrapers... only it's about 10 times the size of NYC. All that everyone ever does over here is work work work - it's pretty crazy. Everyone is a workaholic... but Sao Paulo is where the money is, and all the Paulistas (what they call someone from Sao Paulo) are scrambling around for it. Money does make the world go round.
I'm hoping not to adapt this kind of mentality, although it is a little challenging, especially for someone like me who's basically running on credit. I want a good work-life balance while I'm here... Work hard, party hard -- and they DO have a really good scene here too...
A month in, and I think I've done a pretty good job. :)

THE WORLD CUP

It really wasn't my plan to be here for The World Cup. I just got lucky! I'm sure my football fanatic fans aren't very happy about me being here because I don't know squat about football... but I'll try to make the most out of being here!

I have received mixed reactions from the Brazilians about WC... Some of them love it and are really excited, some don't care, and some just plainly hates it. Word on the street is that the government spent and exorbitant amount of money for the World Cup, leaving a lot of the countries priorities (like food, housing, and all the other big problems) unattended... and the people are angry. I've actually seen the protests on the streets, I was here when the buses went on strike, and it can be a little intense.  

An example of some of the street art that started popping up regarding the dark side of World Cup


I can feel the excitement brewing though. Only a week till the first game and all I see around me are green and yellow! The hotels and hostels are slowly getting packed with foreigners, and pretty soon it will be CHAOTIC! I'm hoping it won't be as bad as Rio's Carnival. That experience drained the life out of me!

IS IT DANGEROUS TO BE HERE?

Yes. To a certain extent, yes.

Is it any more dangerous than, say, Los Angeles or The Philippines?

Não. I don't think so. I think there's a possibility of danger everywhere if you're not careful. My bag was stolen in the most posh neighborhood in Buenos Aires...a  place I never would have thought things like that could ever happen... So just like everywhere I go, I always have my guard up, and I carry my pepper spray... Just in case. Fingers crossed I never have to use it though...

BACK IN THE GRIND...

I really feel bad about the month-long hiatus, but it couldn't be helped. I'll do my best to keep you guys updated on the World Cup happenings over here, and don't be surprised if the blog becomes a little bilingual. I gotta practice my Portuguese because one cannot survive Brazil without it!
It has to be said though, that I am having such a good time here. I'm always very fortunate to be surrounded by good people. I think it might be one of my superpowers... Knowing how to pick friends. :)
So wish me luck... Or rather, wish me Boa Sorte, and I'll speak to you guys soon!

Tchau!