Man, the time passes quickly here in Bahia; suddenly my flight to the U.S. is less than two weeks away. Now that the date is so close, I find myself more anxious than ever to return. I can hardly wait for the holidays… and that reminds me, I need to do some Christmas shopping. My to-do list for the last two weeks is full of completely random little things: “Ship clothes home. Buy (insert item here) for (insert name here). Have lunch at Sete Portas. Read such-and-such book at FICA’s library. Invite so-and-so out for a drink. Visit Feira de São Joaquim. Get everyone’s e-mail addresses. Buy new backpack because the straps are falling off of my current one,” and so on. Somehow I’ll get it all done.
It’s funny, I feel really out of it when it comes to American politics, society, and culture. I know none of the movies or TV shows that have come out in the past year (my mom and brother are making a list of the ones worth seeing); I haven’t followed the political happenings, except for the bare-bones basics that make it into Brazilian news; I’m totally clueless about the latest societal trends, uproars, accomplishments.
Building off of that, I was thinking the other day about how little the media reporting that airs here in Brazil conveys about the actual experience of living in the United States. I still feel the same way as I did when I wrote my February 5th entry. The media is often so… relative and arbitrary in what it chooses to focus on. For example: I frequently read the police section of the local paper. If the international media jumped on and sensationalized the violent deaths in the favelas of Salvador – or even better, in Rio, Recife, or São Paulo – like they do with the deaths in the Middle East, the world would end up thinking, “Boy, that Brazil sure is an extremely violent and dangerous place.” But all the homicides in Brazil are ignored, while “TWO PEOPLE ASSASSINATED IN GAZA STRIP!!!” makes national headlines. Probably because the people in the Middle East are killing each other for more spectacular reasons (holy war) and using more spectacular means (torture and suicide bombings); plain old shoot-outs and stabbings because of money owed on drug sales are humdrum. Makes me wonder what else is over- and under-reported in the world.
To close, an entertaining anecdote. The other day I was walking home from work at around 3 PM; the sun was strong and it was close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I decided to get an ice cream cone along the way. Since I dislike walking while eating, I stopped momentarily to hang out in the shade and eat my ice cream.
And this guy who I don’t know from a hole in the wall comes up to me and goes, “You shouldn’t eat lots of sweets, it’s bad for you.”
“Excuse me?” I reply.
“Sweets,” he says. “You know: cake, ice cream, candy – it’s unhealthy.”
“It all goes right into your bloodstream. Have you ever taken a blood sugar test?”
“No,” I say.
“Well, you should,” he announces, then continues to stare at me, smiling.
This was the point at which I just shook my head and walked away. I mean, what the heck? Who DOES that?!? It would be understandable if he was, like, handing out pamphlets for a free blood sugar test at a local clinic or something. Or if he was somebody I knew and was kidding around with me. But no. He just felt the need to approach a perfect stranger and attempt to lessen her enjoyment of ice cream on a hot day by informing her that sugary foods are bad for her body. Thanks, man. Was he simply looking for a way to start a conversation with me? There are less idiotic ways to do so. This is not the first time I’ve wondered if something in the water here makes Bahians insane.
Speaking of insanity, yesterday I was woken up at 7:15 (had been planning to sleep until at least 9) by some sort of commotion happening downstairs in the kitchen. I couldn’t tell what it was about because everyone was shouting at the same time, but I had to smirk when I heard the owner of the house yell from the second floor, “SHUT UP! Talk quieter! THERE ARE PEOPLE SLEEPING!!!” Oh, the illogicalness! I can’t get mad, because it’s too funny.