Where to start? We've been her one month as of today, and so much has happened!
They started construction of our apartment 5 days after arriving, straight in the middle of carnival. The whole family had their opinion about the layout and after many compromises, a rough sketch in pen was made on a scrap paper that is now our official blueprint. At first there was only construction happening on weekends, so I figured that by the time we left Brazil next year it would be done. But now there's some guys coming 6 days a week. it still feels incredibly slow, as the structure is getting put in place, and it's a total disaster zone outside of our bedroom (which is the only room here on the 2nd floor that is finished - Eder's family put it in last year). The photo here is of our baby's room - lovely!!! 8 weeks to go and it's a total construction work zone. The cutie pie in the photo (right side) is Camile, Eder's cousin and god-daughter. The other image is of our future apartment in its current state.
I am sooooo anxious to have an apartment of our own. But, in the meantime, we share facilities downstairs with his two brothers, mother, father, brother's girlfriend on weekends, and of course, king of the house - Ralphie Muniz, their adoring dog-son. Sometimes it gets rough sharing the kitchen with the mom, and there have been many a comments about my inability to cook, my lack of cooking, that I should be cooking more for Eder. I'm trying to let that go in one ear and out the other.
Pregnancy/Gravidez: Well, I'm getting huge!!! The baby does the craziest gymnastics, making me stop whatever I'm doing just to look and feel in disbelief. Latest symptoms - continued reflux (urgh!!! 2 months and going strong), lack of breath (could be the 100 degree heat and humidity too), feeling week and getting tons of stomach bugs. I'm on round #3. In Sao Paolo at the Fulbright orientation I went to a hospital to get an IV for re-hydration after my insides had emptied out and to check the baby to see if all was ok. The best news is that our doctor is great, she will come to the house and do a home birth if we want (we do!!) and will bring a tub so that I can chose to be in water either in labor or during birth. There's what seems to be an excellent hospital she's affiliated with and will deliver my baby in in the case of a transfer. And I've identified someone I'd like to be my doula, who is fluent in both Portuguese and English, has 2 kids, and is quite an incredible woman. Crossing my fingers that works out. For now, I'm swimming 2 evenings a week - about 1500 meters each night. It is incredible. The pool feels like a sauna, and I have to brave the buses to get there and back (not so fun) but it's all worth it. I am hoping to resume prenatal yoga once we buy a car (when, oh when!!?? that is being held up because we did a wire transfer of money and I spelled Eder's brother's name "Edison" which makes sense to me but it's really "Edson" pronounced like Edison, so just for all that we have no car for 2 more weeks urgh).
Graffiti & Fulbright: So, this has been the slowest for now. Eder has done some incredible pieces and got right to work importing hundreds of spray paint cans to sell here in the city to make some money on the side. His work is stunning (will attach some photos here if I can figure out how!) and I think he's in his element going out and doing these pieces all over. He painted two in his neighborhood, one along an expressway (the Parallela) where new zoning laws have meant that dozens of high rise luxury apartments are being built and simultaneously destroying natural oceanfront wildlife. He wrote a political tag next to the piece calling out the government and residents "For Sale: Parallela - Plant a Building, destroy the Atlantic Wildlife, Hurry not to Lose out!" The photos here are some of his pieces, but he's been so prolific, you have to check out his flickr, where all of the images are posted: http://www.flickr.com/photos/calanguiando/
What are my initial observations of graffiti, tags and murals here in Salvador? I'm struck by how run down and old most of the graffiti pieces are. You can tell they were done long ago, and have suffered from the elements - car and bus exhaust, people leaning on the walls, walls crumbling, sun bleaching out the color, sea salt wearing away at the pieces... There are a few new pieces, but it seems most of those were done by the Projeto Salvador Graffiti - so they tend to be more conventional, more prescribed, less artistic and creative, and certainly, seem to lack adequate colors and quality spray to be anything really impressive. There's a big new piece up at the military school that is images of tanks, guns, you know, the whole war machine. At first I thought maybe it was a critical commentary on war, but to my dismay, it was proudly the theme of the wall surrounding the academy.
The highlight of the Fulbright so far has been the orientation, meeting the 40 other grantees in Sao Paolo last weekend was a blast. Everyone has incredibly interesting, enticing and creative projects, ranging from studying "Forro and Reggae music" in northeast Brazil, to studying informal and formal housing in Salvador, participatory planning in Sao Paolo, affirmative action in rio, to popular theatre here in Salvador... It was great to meet everyone, and learn about their projects thus-far. It turns out half of them will be coming to Salvador for 5 days in May 10-15th. I will have just given birth, so I'm trying to figure out how to balance that with participating in the trip. There are many conflicts like that coming up - a U.N. World Urban Forum in Rio at the end of the month that I probably won't be able to join, as well as travel options around the country that I will have to wait and see how possible they will be.
I think that's it for now folks, I look forward to hearing from you and your visits! I'll keep posting as often as I can. I'm still trying to figure out multiple photos. maybe i'll do another post that just has photos so far.
aight! peace and love,