This is Goodbye

167Goodbye

It’s over.

The apartment is empty, the accounts are closed and we’ve said all of our goodbyes.

I’m writing this from my house in Houston while Brian finishes off the last of his paperwork in Brazil. He’ll meet me here in four days.

It’s over.

I have such mixed emotions about it. Sadness for leaving friends, gratitude for the chance to know them, excitement for the future.

Gratitude wins.

We’re closing the chapter on Brazil, but not the door. Who knows what the future holds? Certainly not me. The possibility of returning in a year or two is still very much alive, but it’s not in the plan just yet. We have things to do, family to spend time with, new adventures to find and more roads to travel first. So much to do.

I’m sitting in my living room next to my daughter, enjoying the companionship of it. I miss my kids so much when I’m far away, and there is that gratitude again for having time to spend with them right now. Who knows what the future holds? Certainly not me. What I have is right now, my Girl sitting next to me, my Boy texting me, my friends still very much in touch.

Brazil is behind us, Houston is right now, and Scotland is in front of us.

Who knows what the future holds? Certainly not me.

But I’m excited about it.

I won’t be posting here on this blog anymore, but I’ll pick up from here and continue writing over on A Kilt and A Camera. Please come over and follow along. I miss enough people right now, I don’t want to miss all of you too.

Here We Stand, and Here We Go

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Today is my last full day in Brazil.

Today the last of all of our furniture will be loaded on to various vehicles and shipped off to other people’s homes.

Tonight we’ll sleep at a friend’s house and stay up until the near-dawn hours talking and enjoying their company.

Tomorrow I will do a final tidy on my two big suitcases and one big carry-on.

Tomorrow I will take the long drive in to Rio and get on a plane.

Tomorrow I will say goodbye to Brian again for a while.

These last two weeks have been full of friends, full of parties, full of last minute activities and full of goodbye’s. I’m so glad to know we’ll have a chance to see so many of them again. We’ll try to come back for a wedding next year, and quite a few people we know will find themselves in Houston and Scotland with us later this summer. Saying a final goodbye to all of them at once would have been just too hard.

So we’ll move on. We’ll dry our eyes and head for the next adventure. We’ll continue to be so grateful for the chances we have to live where we have lived, and to go where we will go. We’ll keep in touch, we’ll keep the frienships we have, we’ll keep our heads up and carry on. It’s what we do.

I think I’ve got one more blog entry in me for this site. I’ll wrap it up when I get back to Houston, and then I’ll be moving on from here too. Please make sure you keep following along on our other site, A Kilt and A Camera. I love this blogging thing, and I’m ready to pick it up and carry it with me into the new unknown. Make sure to read over there so I can carry you all along with me too!

Now I guess I better get up and finish my packing. Tchau!

Making Time to See It All

Why is it that when we live in a place, we never take the time to see the cool things there? We never quite make it to the museums, or hike that trail, or ride our bikes around that neighborhood like we keep meaning to?

Now that time is short here in Brazil, we’re scrambling.

Katja and I finally made a point of going for that bike ride we’ve been talking about for two months, and finally made a point of seeing the bird park.

Check out our most excellent transportation for the day:

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Tires filled? Check. Chains lubed? Check. Brakes working? Well…

Two out of three is good, right?

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First we headed over to the Parque dos Passaros. Rio das Ostras is home to one of the nices bird sanctuaries and rehab centers in Latin America.

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We had a guided tour by the Environmental Director, Victor.

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It was really impressive, and so much nicer than we expected.

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It was hot, and the middle of the day, so most of the birds were pretty inactive, but we still really enjoyed looking around and seeing the area.

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Of course it helps when you get to stop and sample the fruit. Have you ever tried pitanga fresh off the bush? Quite good! Although a bit sour. I bet the juice would be really good in a lemonade.

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After we dodged the mosquitoes along the park trails, we rode around town some more.

It was so nice to take our time, feel the breeze in our hair, see all the birds and lizards, stop for lunch when we felt like it, and park the bikes to sit on the beach of the lagoa to just talk and relax.

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We live in a really fantastic place. I wish I had more time to explore it. This was the first time I’ve ridden a bike in years (why? I loved it!) and it opened up so much more of the city than I can explore on foot.

Note to self: Get yourself a damn bike as soon as you arrive in Scotland. Don’t wait.

It was a great day. Beautiful but hot weather, time spent with a new and fantastic friend, the freedom of going wherever we want. There is so much to see and do before we go, so much of a need to absorb it all and hang on to it. A day like this makes me feel like I’m doing it right.

Remember, I’ve only got about another week to write here. After that you’ll find me at A Kilt and a Camera. I hope you come follow along!

The Goodbye Party – Again and Again

One week to go.

The parties have started.

Friday night’s party was not technically our goodbye party, but it was a chance for us to see some of our friends for the last time before we go. It was a blast! It was an expat party, and quite a few of the people there were either moving to Scotland too, or have plans to visit there later this year. It was nice to be able to say, “See you soon.” instead of goodbye.

Yesterday’s party was harder. These were several of our Brazilian friends and we won’t see them again unless we come back here some day. We don’t know if that will happen though, so it really was a goodbye.

We all gathered at the beach in Barra São João, gathered around the BBQ and had a great time.

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We roasted in the sun, went through gallons of water, and gallons of beer, we followed the shade.

We also laughed, told stories and jokes, and tried to pretend it wasn’t a goodbye.

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Then we showed the Brazilians how to drink tequila.

Salt. drink. lime.

It was revenge for the first time they showed us how to drink cachaça.

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Oh, the faces! First the confusion, then the wariness, then the grimace as the tequila and lime kicked in. Hilarious!

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Everybody made a point of telling us how much they’ll miss us.

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We were mostly successful at fighting off the tears.

Mostly.

Then Brian found a way to work it off with football.

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We have been so lucky to make such good friends here. This is the hard part, the goodbyes. How do you do it?

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How do you do it when they’re telling you they love you, and begging you to find a way to stay, and wishing you the best while they try to dry their eyes?

I don’t know.

I’m here for another week, and Brian will leave a few days after me. We have dinner plans every night until we leave. Every night we’ll spend time with another set of friends who we’ll say goodbye to.

Dammit.

Bring on the tissues.

A Walk Around Town

We’re trying to hang on to every last moment here. Taking in sights we’ll miss, trying restaurants we never quite made it to, seeing friends as much as possible before we go.

We took a Saturday stroll around town just to look at everything.

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There is always the beach. The ever present sound of the waves, the weekend crowds, the miles and miles of skin, the children playing in the sand and the water.

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There are families, grandparents, babies, friends. There is beer. There is sun and cool water.

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There is the river from which our town takes it’s name. Rio das Ostras, River of Oysters. Are there any actual oysters in there? I have no idea, and if there were I certainly wouldn’t eat them. I know which parts of town that river flows through to get to the sea.

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We cross the foot bridge and wander through the urban neighborhoods. There are fish shops, little cafes, families spending time out in their yards.

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As we make our way to the center of town, there are still reminders that we are only two blocks from the beach.

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Barefoot and wearing a speedo downtown and have no pockets for your cell phone? No matter, just stick it down your trunks.

Can you tell we’re a very informal people here?

We had a bonus treat this time. Cowboys at the cafe bar? Sure, why not.

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Ride on up and grab yourself a beer. We live the good life here, obviously.

Bom Te Ver

As I wind down here, and get ready for new adventures, I’m looking around me every day and seeing the things I’m really going to miss.

Every morning at sunrise we hear the birds off our balcony. “Bom te ver, bom te ver.”

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It means “Good to see you.”

What a happy wake-up call. OK, so I don’t like being woken up at sunrise by anything at all unless it’s bacon, but if some obnoxious bird is going to do it anyway, this is way better than a rooster.

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I would shoot a rooster and eat it for breakfast with a smile, but how can you be mad at a bird that tells you it’s so good to see you every morning?

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Especially when they’re so bright and pretty?

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So I wake up, stumble out of bed and pull the balcony doors all the way open. Even as I stand there with my swollen, sleepy eyes and bed-head, they still say they’re glad to see me.

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It’s a good way to start every single day.

I’m really going to miss them.

I have a feeling the birds in Scotland aren’t going to be nearly as cheerful. I have a feeling the northern birds are going to sound a lot more like “Oh, shit. Raining again.”

It’s Time to Go

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Cheers, Mate. We'll miss this place. Madly.

It’s been four an a half years since Brian first arrived here. We had just started to realize how much we liked and cared for each other. What would 5000 miles do to that?

It made it stronger.

We’ve had the most amazing experiences here, especially the friendships that mean so much to us. We’ve learned a new language, integrated into a new culture, explored a little piece of a new continent, suffered through a medical emergency, suffered through long separations and had the time of our lives.

In three weeks we’ll be leaving. We’ll make a stop in Houston for a short stay, then we’re on our way to Scotland. After nearly twelve years away, Brian is ready to go back. He misses his boys. He wants badly to spend time with his aging father who may not be around for much longer. He’s ready to go home.

It’s time for a change for me too. Along with leaving Brazil and moving to Scotland, I’ve decided to move to the new blog. I will be writing here until we leave, and then I’ll be writing over at A Kilt And A Camera. I’ll also close down my @tomebug Twitter ID and be tweeting at @KiltandaCamera.

I’ve blogged here since August of 2005. Nearly seven years of massive changes. I can’t believe how many great connections I’ve made through this site. I’m so glad I got that wild hair all those years ago and decided to start my very own blog, even though I had no idea what the hell I was doing, or getting in to.

So, get ready. It’s sure to be an adventure. More to come as we make the mad dash to take advantage of our last three weeks here and get ready to move to the frigid north. No more hot sunny days with warm water at the beach, no more Portuguese, no more acai or tapioca, no more churrasco. We’re off to the world of Braveheart, haggis and bad weather, kilts and céilidhs, fish and chips. I’m so excited.

I hope you’ll still come read over at A Kilt and A Camera. I’ll miss you if you don’t.

They Lied

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There are a few comfort foods here that I can’t find. Most of the important ones I’ve either learned how to make from scratch, found something close enough, brought down myself, or bribed my kids to bring down with them.

One of the things I can’t do any of that with is cheddar cheese. I’ve heard people successfully bring it though customs, but I haven’t tried that yet. I was too busy taking up my precious ounces of luggage allowance with peanut butter.

I can live without it, but sometimes a nice, hot grilled cheese sandwich with real cheddar sounds so good. I brought down some taco seasoning, and topping off my counterfeit Mexican creations with cheddar would be equally as satisfying, but no go.

So you can understand why I got all excited when I saw this little snack pack of cheddar flavored cheese!

Although I knew it was only cheddar ‘flavored’, and not the real thing, I thought it might be close enough for a treat.

It wasn’t.

SO disappointing.

It’s more like a wobbly chunk of extra bland, and extra oily Velveeta.

I hate Velveeta.

And now I have to go brush my teeth to get the residual grease film out of my mouth.

I wonder if they have cheddar in Scotland?

The Medical Clinic – My First Time

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I was all fine and dandy on Monday.

Tuesday morning I had a moment of, “Hmm. That’s a little bit not right.”

Tuesday mid morning? “Holy hell! Ow! OMG, that hurts! WTF?”

I am a veteran of dozens of bladder infections. I knew exactly what this was, and I knew it wouldn’t get better without treatment. I can drink all the cranberry juice I want, but once the pain starts there is no way my own body will get rid of it without antibiotics. I knew I had to go to the doctor.

The problem? I’ve never been to one here. I’ve done all my checkups in the US, and never had reason to find a doctor here in town. What to do?

Call a friend. Or two.

I thought maybe I could just get the drugs from the pharmacy, and I think if you’re a fast talker and have a pharmacist who doesn’t care too much about the rules then it’s possible, but not for me.

So I sent an email to our friend who offered to take me to the walk-in clinic the next morning. Luckily she has a really understanding boss who lets her have paid time off work whenever she needs it.

It helps a little bit that her boss is my husband.

Our little town only has one walk-in place, all the other doctors require an appointment and are booked up months in advance. We showed up at 9am, expecting to wait a couple of hours. We tried to sign in on a waiting list, but they don’t have one. Just a crowd of people who get taken in some mysterious order that I still don’t understand. We dropped my ID and insurance info at the desk and were told to wait.

Forty minutes later we went back to the desk to see what was up. The receptionist looked startled and picked up my passport, pretending to work on it. I think she had set it aside and forgot me.

Part of the problem is that I still don’t have my Brazilian ID card. It’s been over a year, and due to a spelling error on the first card it still isn’t ready to be picked up. I had to give them my passport instead, and I think it freaked them out. They just didn’t know how to process me.

We just smiled and hovered, and though she told us we were making her nervous we stayed right there until she passed us on to another employee who finally took my info and put me in the computer system.

Ten minutes later a nurse took my blood pressure and asked me how old I am, which I got wrong. Holy crap, I’m 43. How did that happen?

Then we were led around the corner and told to wait outside exam room #3, along with about five other people. One by one they called us in.

When it was my turn, the doctor couldn’t pronounce my name. Is it Pejhay? Pegga? Peeguh? No, just Peggy. He then made himself laugh for a full three minutes by repeating “Peguei, paguei! Peguei, paguei!”

Which means, “I took it, I paid.”

He thought it was hilarious.

This is why I tell people here that my name is Meggie.

Anyway, three minutes after that I was out the door with a prescription for two kinds of antibiotics and a form to bring back in ten days for my exam. He believed me that it was a bladder infection and didn’t want to do an exam and pee test because it would take a few days to get the results back and delay treatment. Fine with me. He’ll check me after the drugs are done and out of my system to make sure it’s gone. Also fine by me.

The whole thing took about ninety minutes. A quick stop at the pharmacy and we were done.

I’m glad I had Rosangela with me, because I’m not sure I could have worked out the admin tangle in the beginning. I’ll go back by myself for the re-exam though, now that I know what to do. Every new thing that I can do on my own makes me feel a little bit more confident that I got this. I’m figuring out this new life in a strange world.

It’s the little things.

Ostracycle – Brazilian Bikers

I remember last year during Ostracycle, we stayed home but saw hundreds of motorcycles crawling the streets of our city for a week.

This year we walked over to Costazul to see what the madness was really about.

It was awesome.

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Thousands of bikes, and their riders, packed into the streets. Brazilian traffic rules applied, which means there were no rules. Want to enter the main road from the side street? No problem! Jump right in, cause the traffic to back up for miles and then scream at the guy you just cut off. Just another day on the roads here.

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There were sports bikes, cruisers, three wheelers of every configuration, and a couple of nice cars thrown in. There were Harleys and Hondas, Kawasakis, and some totally unidentifiable home jobs. Most of the three wheelers seemed to have VW bug engines.

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There were vendors set up to sell every type of gear imaginable.

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There were some seriously odd characters walking around, and some people who were seriously attached to their motorcycles.

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I think my favorite item for sale was the baby-sized leather vests. Even cuter were the babies that were actually wearing them. I didn’t get a photo because I was overcome with the cuteness and forgot I had a camera in my hand.

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Some of the bikes were old junkers, we saw some that were literally held together by pieces of rope, but most of them were really nice. Some of these paint jobs were fantastic.

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So we strolled all through the area trying to keep cool by eating popsicles and frozen acai. We failed and were dripping with sweat anyway.

Still, we had a fun time seeing everything. We went early, and got home about an hour before the massive downpour rolled in and drenched everything. We still heard the bands playing later that night, so I know the party went on as usual.

I’d call that a fun Saturday.