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The Crossroads


After my arrival and tour of the house, I unpacked everything and got settled in. My accommodations are more than enough for me, and my host has proven spectacular. She is imminently helpful and happy to spend time with her guests, which works out perfectly for me. We have great conversation and she's teaching me some phrases. I struggle with the pronunciation so much that I'm forgetting the phrases I'm supposed to be learning in the first place, but she's a patient teacher. After finishing my first blog post yesterday, we set out to tour the neighborhood together. After strolling around Santa Teresa for a while, my host suggested that we grab a beer — sounded like a great idea to me. So, we went to Cafecito, which is owned by an Argentinian gentleman, and I had a “Colorado Indica” IPA sweetened with sugarcane. It was an excellent beer, and it’s brewed in Sao Paulo — I’m batting 1.000 when it comes to selecting local brews thus far. After finishing my 600ml beer — which is the equivalent of a double bottle in the US — she suggested we walk to her favorite neighborhood bar that she goes to all the time. I'm all about picking up some local culture, so I readily agreed.

So, we went to this corner bar at the crossroads of Rua Áurea and Rua Monte Alegre. Veronica was explaining the magic of crossroads and how they’re a spiritual place for many Brazilians. There’s a life and an energy to the crossroads, and this bar sits precisely at such an intersection.  There were cute dogs running around begging for scraps and a ton of locals eating and drinking and smoking outside this bar.  There was also a street vendor cooking meat-on-a-stick across the street. Cars and motorcycles would fly around the bends in the road, heading uphill or down at way too fast a speed. But at the bar, the pace was as leisurely as could be. There were little tabletops built into the external walls of the building so you could stand up outside and have a beer in the open air. It was a glorious night outside, which worked out perfectly for everyone. Then, the crossroads revealed something quite interesting.

There was a guy at the bar that introduced himself after hearing Veronica and I speaking in English. We talked for quite a while and had some interesting conversations about the Favelas, protests in host countries for big sporting events, high school football, you name it. His girlfriend, who he's down here with, works for an organization that is trying to publicize and increase dialogue about the conditions in the favelas, and I might end up interviewing her for my documentary. But the crazy part of meeting this American wasn't his girlfriend's connection to what I'm doing, it was his name, Joe. A pretty common name to be sure, but his middle name is Andrew. I instantly asked if his first name was short for Joseph, which it turns out, it was. So this American living in D.C. visiting his girlfriend in Santa Teresa, Rio is named Joseph Andrew; I'm Andrew Joseph. How crazy is that? Turns out the crossroads had a little intrigue up its sleeve after all.

After finishing our conversation with Joseph Andrew and our beer, Veronica and I strolled home. I’m thinking it’s like 11pm because it’s been dark for a while and I’m a little buzzed, but it’s around 8pm. Even though the weather is perfect temperature wise, it's still winter here so it gets dark right around 5pm or so.

We walked home to have dinner at the house. Veronica made us some spaghetti with a homemade sausage and onion infused tomato sauce. She somehow managed to spill all of the sausage and onions onto the floor as she was stirring it (my guess is she was trying to toss it like chefs do with a wok and failed. I can't know for sure because I wasn't in the kitchen when this happened...) Veronica was mortified that she had spilled, but secretly was happy that she had cleaned the kitchen that day, so the floors weren’t dirty. I was so hungry I urged her to just throw the sausage back in the pan, cook it some more, and we’d be good to go. She insisted on ditching the onions and cooking that part over, which was fine by me. Thankfully she obliged on the sausage, and we were back in business.

By the time we finished cooking and eating dinner it was around 10:30pm. I had gotten about 4 hours of on and off sleep on the plane the night before, so I retired to my room. While reclining in my bed, I watched a little bit of TV on my computer before falling asleep around 11:30pm.

I slept until 12:30pm today I was so tired.

I was woken up in the early morning by a dog barking next door, followed by a rooster crowing back at it from a different neighbor's yard on the other side of our house. The dog and rooster would carry on like this for 10 minutes or so and then would go quiet again. Three or four times they would wake me up before I fell back asleep. But, I feel fully rested and refreshed despite the best efforts of the neighborhood pets.

I have reached out to my contact within the Midia NINJA to arrange a meeting this week so I can get to work on the documentary. We’ll see if his flakiness continues or if I can get this show on the road. In the meantime, I'm off to the market to buy some food. Have a great Saturday everyone!

BrazilAndrew Stern