Friday, December 27, 2013

Carioca Christmas

Me: Whats the baby oil for?

One of the things that I was looking forward to the most when moving to Brazil was the complete and utter lack of Christmas. Yeah I’m not going to lie, I HATE Christmas! Most people think I’m weird for this, but while you’re sitting with your family nice and cozy in front of a fire place opening presents, I’m driving all over the place in the snow (or worse just cold, slushy weather), visiting one family member after another. So needless to say I was elated about hiding out in the Connection Rio house and avoiding Christmas in its entirety last year.
Somehow my plans went horribly awry and here I sit, next to a shiny Christmas tree, writing my Christmas blog.

The first problem with my master plan to avoid Santa Clause was that I moved in with a Peruvian family two weeks before the dreaded Dooms days. As a matter of fact, the day I came to see the house here in Cantagalo (Ipanema), my new 7yr old little brother was clinging to his moms leg begging to set up the tree.

The second problem with my plan to avoid Christmas festivities was el Super Pollo. Super Pollo (and about 50 other places all with the “pollo” in the name) are Peruvian chicken restaurants that are scattered all throughout the DC metro area. You can generally smell the tantalizing aroma of rotisserie chicken and yuca from about 3 miles away… The stuff is AMAZINGLY delicious and is always served with the white and green Peruvian mystery sauces that NO ONE can explain.

Where am I going with this? Well, Peruvian chicken is amazing, Peruvian cooking is delicious, and there was no way in hell that I was going to miss a Christmas dinner of Peruvian turkey (complete with a yellow mystery sauce that apparently they don’t even know what it is, it’s some Incan pepper!).In South America, or at least in the Spanish speaking countries, not sure about here in Brazil, Christmas is usually celebrated on the night of the 24th. That night we ate turkey, salad, and panettone, a popular cake served around Christmas time here.

I think the best part of Christmas was that Thiago, the smallest of my new siblings, was begging for a Chess board from Santa Claus. Why a Chess board? Well I came to Brazil to train Jiu Jitsu, however, the majority of my time off the mats I spend playing chess with Connection Rio Sponsored athlete and good friend Nabas. We spend about two hours a day playing a minimum of 3 games of chess (the majority of which I lose). Now that I’ve moved out of the Connection Rio house my chess games are what I miss the most. Yesterday we played two games on the beach and two games up on the mountain Pedra da Gavea. Well, Thiago saw us playing one day and asked that we teach him. He’s only 7 yrs old and he wanted to play chess so bad that he begged for a chess board for Christmas!

So I spent the 24th in the house with the family but on the 25th I ventured out to Barra da Tijuca to visit the Connection Rio house and my fellow Gringos. Before leaving Ipanema I met up with an X guest from the house in a swag little apartment that he was renting from someone he trains with at De La Riva. We went to the beach enjoyed the sun (and a little Jiu Jitsu) and then I headed out to Barra. I was supposed to be there at 6 P.M. to meet Nabas. I got there at 7 P.M. and he got there around 8 P.M. That’s how Brazilian time works.

A little Jiu Jitsu @ Ipanema beach

I rang the bell, walked in the door, and froze halfway down the path. I’ve never been to a frat party, but I’m sure they result in the kind of devastation that I saw in the Connection Rio front yard. About 20 mats were stacked up at the corner of the pool right next to a table full of empty beer, liquor bottles, baby oil (yeah that’s right, baby oil). The house was empty except for the person that opened the door. The unusual silence created quite an appropriate post-apocalypse vibe. Apparently what started off as a wholesome breakfast of maple syrup, good old American pancakes, and mimosas warped into baby oil. Wrestling singlets, and two or three things that are inappropriate to put online. The debauchery was then taken to the beach, which explained the nearly empty house.

When they did finally get back we proceeded to celebrate Christmas like we celebrate everything else at Connection Rio: with a BBQ (and um yeah there was more cachaça… and chess). Compared to the afternoon, the events of the evening were a lot calmer, however, the singlet did come back out again. I tried to get a picture when my chess game was interrupted by an inebriated wrestler but he declined (which was a smart move because the picture would definitely be posted below if I had one).


This is me, trying to write my blog... but I'm not 
while on the way to see the doctor... which I didn't
Instead drinking a Capivodka

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What happens off the mats...

Praia Brava

Nicole: can you drink and drive in this country
Me: it’s Brazil… (Therefore, a stupid question)

As a 26 year old, aspiring athlete I strive to act as professional as I can both in person and on social media networks. Ok more on social media networks than in person, but I do try. I’ve spent the last three months training 2-4 times a day, EVERYDAY with breaks on Sunday and the occasional Saturday off. I don’t have a job, but I still wake up at 6:30 AM every morning, drag myself out of bed and head off to the gym to train, whether I want to or not. The past couple of weeks getting to the gym has involved an hour to two hour long bus journey over a mountain. While I have never been confident in my ability to fly, the bus drivers here in Brazil seem to be functioning off the belief that if they accelerate and take a corners and speed bumps at neck breaking speeds they may be able to fly through the air like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. While I have yet to see a bus flying through the air, I have, on multiple occasions, thought we would go flying of the mountain and plummet into the ocean below. (Note: if you'd like to hear more about the dangers of Brazilian transportation check out my friend's blog Tales from Deep Half) 

After three months of this and three competitions, I felt the need for a little break.

Lies. I was supposed to compete this weekend in Arraial do Cabo (3 hours north of the city), but the tournament was canceled so I ended up on a forced vacation instead.

No matter what the reason was, this past weekend I was in Buzio, Brazil with Nicole, the only other female in the house. Three months in Brazil, and this was my first time out (I means seriously I don’t even go out around the house except to get Acai). 

The first thing we did when we got to Buzio on Saturday was get coffee (I had been up for the past 24 hours, but that tale goes in the untold stories of Brazil). Immediately after that we walked down to Centro. Centro was a lot bigger than I expected with a ton of hostels, places to eat and more Argentinians than Brazilians. We got some cold beers and sat on the beach for a while before watching some break dancers in the Plaza. I don’t even think we had dinner, we should have had dinner because there was definitely several Caiprinha’s consumed that night.

Note: Caipirinha's are a popular Brazilian drink that has Cachaça, lime, and sugar. Basically, it’s a glass of hard liquor with a ridiculous amount of sugar.

Me in my burge

On Sunday, we rented a Burge (small car or big go-kart, however you want to look at it). For R80  (about 40 bucks) they came and picked us up from the hotel and we were able to keep the burge for 24 hours. What they didn’t explain to us before paying was that it was a 4 gear stick shift. Thankfully, my first two cars were both standard so I was able to pull away without completely embarrassing myself (in front of the cute guy that was showing me how to use the thing). After mastering the burge (because the clutch was crap, emphasis on the clutch being crap and not my skills as a female driver) we hit the main road (the only paved road) in the burge with a couple of beers and headed out to the beach. It was my first time driving out of the country and I have to say I’m pretty sure I was the only female in Buzio that was behind the wheel! We made our way to Praia Bravia a beautiful secluded beach with pink sand and…. More caiprinha’s. Perfect place to relax and enjoy a book. So being me I went three hours away to a town with beautiful beaches only to refuse to get into the water! According to Nicole the water sparkled and it looked like you were swimming in gold. That in combination with the pink sand made it a pretty awesome beach to visit.

However, while leaving the beach we discovered:
1. We were lost
2. We needed gas

Which leads us to exhibit A: 

Exhibit A: policia federal (not MY policia but policia all the same)

Exhibit B: answer to the question "can you drink and drive in this country"
Let this not be confused with the act of drinking. stoping. getting in a car. and driving. 
This would be drinking WHILE driving

It was at this point when we were somewhat tipsy and lost that I pulled over a cop car to ask for directions. Not only did I get a personal escort to the gas stations (again managing to NOT embarrass myself behind the wheel), but I also got a phone number, and a “date” if you will for when Mr. Policia Federal got off work later at 11 p.m. (note exhibit B).

After this experience I kind of understand guy’s fascination with nice cars… that definitely wouldn’t have happened had we been walking around with no need for gas or directions!!

Further exploits from Sunday night will be censored due to the fact that, “I’m a 26 year old, aspiring athlete that strives to act as professional as I can both in person and on social media networks”. Let’s just say the night involved several more police officers a trip to two private beaches outside of Buzio and a return escort back to our hotel at an ungodly hour of the night! Oh yeah there was 5 Argentinians in there somewhere as well...

Monday was a day for recovery we got up, enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and then headed out to Tortuga beach before returning the burge. Tortuga was another quiet beach located next to some very posh hotels and restaurants. We had a cup of coffee at a nice table the over looked the water (which was filled with people snorkeling). Afterwards we had to return the burge and return to our mundane lives as pedestrians! The fact that we were actually able to drive around definitely made the trip a lot more fun since were weren’t confined to any one particular beach/area.

Sunset from one of several overlooks 

Another random beautiful spot were these guys were fishing 
(never seen a spear gun before)

All in all it was an amazing trip and a much needed break from living in a house with 20 guys all of them time. Well actually, I don’t live in a house with 20 guys anymore, I live in Ipanema but that is a story for another blog post! 

Praia Brava (with the pink sand and golden water

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cem Kilos: Size matters!

If one more person tells me to shrimp out from under someone that has an extra 20 kilos on me I’m going to snap. After getting a taste of what it is like to fight with someone my own size I’m so over laying on my back and getting crushed from cem kilos. Jiu Jitsu is definitely a sport were small people can dominate someone larger than themselves, but seriously, technique can only get you so far before your being crushed. It’s impossible to shrimp out if you have 100 kilos bearing down on your measly 60 and an arm the size of your legs blocking your hips. “Try to shrimp”, they always yell at me. “I’M TRYING TO BREATH”, I want to scream back.

After three months of repeating this process every day I’ve come to the realization that trying to shrimp out is impossible. The only way to get out is to patiently wait for them to leave and opening (and stop yelling at me to “shrimp out”) and capitalize on it. All over possibilities lead to a waste of energy that eventually will result in me getting arm barred. Recently, I spent a whole seven minutes getting laid on, trying to catch my breath, and then defending the arm bar. When he couldn’t get the arm bar he switched sides and repeated the same process. For seven minutes I just laid there on my back. Complete waste of time.

The first time I rolled with people my own size it was like discovering a completely different sport. Jiu Jitsu is completely different when you don’t just lay on your back apparently. The techniques that they show you in the beginning of class aren’t just to tease you with stuff you will never get to do because you’re well… laying on your back. When you roll with people your own size they actually have to use Jiu Jitsu against you. They can’t just pick you up and well… lay you down on your back. They can’t just do a sit up when you’re in cem kilos and… you guessed it, lay you down on your back. Those techniques that they show you in the beginning of class, you can actually try them and see if you they work or not.  Amazing.

To make a long story short: size matters.