Got up at 9am this morning to see an apartment for 1,500 reais (about $760 USD) — the same one I saw yesterday morning, but the door to the room was accidentally locked by the current occupant. The door was STILL locked today, so she asked me to come back again. Ugh.
I had an appointment to see another apartment at 10:30am, but the woman never sent me her address or her telephone number. So instead, I putzed around on EasyQuarto, found another apartment, called the woman up (Regina), she said to come visit in 30 minutes.
Arrived at her house at 11am. Amazed. It’s not terribly decked out, but it is simple and cozy. There are 4 bedrooms, a living room, 1 bathroom, and a small kitchen. My bedroom is enormous. ENORME. A computer desk, an entire wall of closet space, a queen-size bed, and an extra little built-out space with a sofa and a large window. The price includes wifi and use of the kitchen. She lives there with her daughter, who has 1 bedroom, and her husband, who is Canadian. They seem to be retired. The 3rd bedroom is also rented out — currently to an undergraduate student from Princeton who is studying abroad.
The original price was 1,300, but I told her I was willing to pay for 3 months up front. For this, she gave me a discount, bringing the price down to 1,250 reais/month (~$630 USD). WHAAAT. I was like YES I’LL TAKE IT. The deposit was half of a month, so around $315 USD. Holy shit. My last deposit in Brooklyn was more than double that — and I lived in a shitty apartment for very cheap rent.
Left her apartment to go meet up with my university sponsor/affiliate, Bila, who heads up the gender and sexuality department at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. I went via bus for the view.. Damn it’s nice. Cheapest scenic tour ever.
I grabbed a bite to eat in Centro before meeting with my professor, since the bus was so damn fast.
Went to a Chinese yakisoba restaurant and ordered a juice and a yakisoba with rice. (I thought yakisoba was noodles?!) One of the workers there came and sat next to me and asked me if I was Japanese. Nope. Chinese? Great! We started talking in Chinese. Turns out she’s an immigrant from the Guandong province of China. She had family here that immigrated years ago, and she came because of the opportunity to have a slightly better life. Does she think her life is better here? Yes. And the climate doesn’t hurt. She said that my Chinese is really good for a kid that grew up outside of the homeland — her kids never want to speak Chinese and so their Chinese is terrible. She hopes they can speak as well as I can when they grow up. Man, immigrant parents are the same everywhere, eh? When I left, she and the other Chinese cashier said “come back some time!” Aaaww.
Anyway, Bila is SO nice. We chatted about my research and then headed to lunch.. She treated me, which was so nice of her. Lunch ended up lasting about 3 hours, ha! I felt very good about the fact that most of our conversation was in portuguese! :) I mean, she’s very educated, so it’s way easier to understand her when she speaks.. We talked about their healthcare system here (it sucks, but they private health insurance for about the same price as we have in the states), the food (also kind of sucks, especially in supermarkets, because nothing’s very tasty or fresh.. except fruits), apartment prices, what a doctorate degree in liberal arts leads to career-wise (pretty much only a career as a professor, just like in the states), the gentrification of Copacabana, Ipanema, and eventually Leblon over the last 2 decades, her son (he went to Stanford for law school and she ruvs him very much), my last job… etc.
I also learned the following Portuguese word:
- “Bangladesh”: a group of poor, sometimes homeless, people. Her colleague, for example, was complaining about the “bangladesh” that had gathered in front of their building. Just starting to think about the cultural implications makes my mind tingle.
Oh, and I had a duck salad. It.. wasn’t very good. Way too salty, and somehow still bland. It was in a “nice” restaurant too. Le sigh..
As we got up to leave the restaurant, she invited me to dinner at her house in Leblon (one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Rio..) so that I could help her with her Mac computer. LOL. Homemade dinner at the house of a Brazilian in Leblon? How could I say no!
Took another bus home.
Went to the bank to get some cash for my apartment deposit. Withdrawal maximum is like $300 USD. Wtf? Headed to Regina’s house, dropped off the money. Just kidding. Nobody ever drops anything off in Brazil. They stay and chat for a long ass time. We chatted for a whiiiiiile, which is what happens with almost every BRAZILIAN you meet — Brazilians are the masters of chatting. Regina’s Canadian husband Bob, on the other hand, seems to be a man of few words.
Headed home. Went grocery shopping with the roommate. Made some beef, rice, sauteed onions, and tomatoes. This is the life. Seriously.
Still, it’s not like the idea of getting rich fast is any less popular..
We then proceeded to blast 90s music and rock out at home. There may have been some Aqua, TLC, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, INOJ, and some Ricky Martin up in this Copacabana joint. Damn, America. Sigh.
Final thought: It is so hot up in here that there is sweat under my boobs. That’s saying something, because I ain’t got THAT much in the chest department.
Final final thought: Today was a damn good day.