June 29, 2011: Day Two, Nashville, TN
Woke up early in Nashville and immediately sought out coffee. Luckily, the place we are staying pre-departure, the Scarritt Bennett house on Vanderbilt’s campus is well staffed and incredibly beautiful. The gothic architecture is a wonderful backdrop to ‘going back to school’. Since I never live in a dorm, this is the best I could have asked for and certainly better that my parents or I could have afforded.
The day was jam packed with information on Brazil and it really got me pumped up for the trip.
Marshall Eakin, Professor of Brazilian history at Vanderbilt and our mentor kicked things off with a general introduction to Brazil that was insightful and more informative than anything that I’ve read thus far. Prof. Eakins pulled together many of Brazil’s disparate identities and boiled it down to a digestable amount of information.
Lunch was followed by a bombardment of Portguguese lessons that felt like I had an insurmountable task ahead of me, even after completing three lessons of Rosetta Stone. As our teacher said, we will be in Brazil in two days, so there’s no choice but total immersion at this point. We did learn the important words such as ‘cerveja’, ‘futebol’ & ‘choppe’ as well.
Onwards to serious history, intermingled with race and culture. Learning who and what it means to be Brazilian and last but not least into the ‘fun’ lecture on culture at large regarding language, music and so on.
It was a day chock full of information and it was pleasurable to be on the other side again without the pressure of having an exam. The mere pressure of coming out the other side of this experience with a project is enough pressure. However, the information presented today, in addition to my colleagues input, stoked my creative fires.
Tonight’s meal was at a Brazilian steak house. I’ve never been to one previously and this was an interesting experience. My group was overloaded with the options and enjoyed themselves so much that it made me jealous. I did imbibe the caipirinha and enjoyed a well stocked salad bar in addition to the excellent plantains, yucca, beans and the goodies.
Back at the room and prepping for another day of learning and finally, the itinerary! I cannot wait to see where we are going to travel to on this trip. One of the assistants let slip a few of the places and they sounded amazing. A beach and a secluded island were on the list, in addition to a soccer match being a good possibility in Recife or Sao Paulo. Needless to say, if that works out, I will be in heaven.
June 28, 2011: Departure Day One, Philadelphia
Woke up early in order to finalize preparations for the trip. As usual, I fretted way too much about what I should take and spent more time pacing.
The family took me to the airport this morning. Everyone knows how much I hate flying. Something came over me years ago and I’ve not been able to cope with it ever since. Must have ben one too many near miss experiences. Now I do not travel without my trusty prescription companion despite my best efforts to overcome my fears with books, meditation, and other forms of therapy.
The flight was horrible. Turbulence is an understatement. Every book that I read on recovering from a great of flying says that pilots hate turbulence as much as any one in the cabin. I tend to disbelieve this after flight 112. This pilot appeared to love the bumps and I cowered in my hoodie waiting for the bottom of the plane to fall out from under me.
Landing and arriving at Vanderbilt was uneventful. Began to meet my companions and learn slightly more about the trip. Had some time to kill prior to initial dinner meeting, so I consulted trusty beer advocate.com for a good place to grab a pint.
Wandered across town to Yazoo brewery only to find the pub closed, so I ended up at Flying
Saucer. Great selection of beers on tap and decent atmosphere for early in the day. Grabbed a Yazoo hefeweizen and Fat Tire amber.
Returned for good old cafeteria food and met the remainder for my crew for the next 30 some odd days. Good collection of profs from around the country. Appears to be a few interesting people among the bunch. Only the first day, so time will tell where interests lie and how people will get along.
Full day of learning Brazilian history, culture & language (and maybe an itinerary!).
Soundtrack: Johnny Cash “Best of American Recording”
MIA & Diplo “Piracy Funds Terrorism”