So apparently I’m not one for important dates. I totally forgot my own one-year anniversary of living abroad in South America. I believe it happened around November 4… it was more than a year ago that I boarded a plane at O’Hare International in Chicago with the final destination of Buenos Aires (little did I know I’d eventually end up living in Rio!), but with no idea what to expect from the path ahead, just knowing that I was excited about finally living abroad, which I had always wanted to do. This past year has been a roller coaster of sorts. Though laid-back, boozy, fun, adventurous, and friend-filled, I’ve had to battle some inner demons about what-the-hell-am-I-doing-down-here, whether it’s “worth it” (though those two words are so subjective it’s difficult to say whether you can ever know), and how my year-plus-long hiatus from the real world back in the U.S. of A. will affect my future when I eventually do return there.
But I’m trying to keep things in perspective. I turned 26 this year, which means, unnervingly, that I am now in my “late 20s.” (I don’t care what you, people who are older and wiser than me, say, frankly being 26 is still scarier than 25, and certainly much scarier than 24.) How does time fly so fast?! But (fingers crossed), I probably have another 30-40 years of working ahead of me. And frankly, I’m not in any huge rush to settle into my proper adulthood (that is, having a career, a life partner, possible children on the way, mortgages, car payments… eesh).
And besides, Rio is just a seriously amazing place to live. Ask anyone who has been here. It’s hard to leave–which is a curse and a blessing.
But speaking of blessings, I recently hosted my second Thanksgiving as an expat in South America and got to share the most awesomest of American holidays with my Brazilian friends here. Though we had a couple scares where we thought we weren’t going to be able to pull it off (mostly debacles involving a terrible, tiny, no-good oven), in the end (and by that I mean after seven hours of cooking!), we put together a great meal. I baked my first ever turkey… and, if I do say so myself, it came out absolutely amazing (which was a big, but lovely, surprise). Best turkey I, and the Americans among us, had ever had. And that is quite an accomplishment! I also made about 20 pounds of mashed potatoes, and some sausage, apple, leek, onion, and celery stuffing. We also had lots of veggies: roasted olive oil and herb root vegetables, garlicky green beans, buttery broccoli and carrots, and sweet vinegary cabbage. And our friend Tiago even brought feijao (black beans), the most beloved of all Brazilian foods, to complete our Thanksgiving in Brazil. The only staple we were missing was the cranberry sauce, but alas, cranberries are not a tropical fruit, and you can’t find them here in Brazil. My brave co-hosts who agreed to take on the mission of preparing this meal were my good friends Laura–a fellow Hoya who opened up her bomb apartment for the gathering, bakes a mean apple-cinnamon crisp, and who said our Thanksgiving meal was just as good as home!–and Dominic–who, despite being a Brit, brought the Thanksgiving spirit in full force and slaved over a hot stove with me for seven long, sweaty hours, and who also appreciates the simple fact that butter makes everything taste better.
Our Brazilian friends praised us for the meal, and I’m glad they enjoyed the food, despite the fact that all of them were confused about what exactly stuffing was. But even better was that it was just a lovely gathering of wonderful people. Though the night went by in a blur (Picture me, glass of whiskey in hand, still cooking the last of the vegetables, frantically yelling “We need to baste the turkey!”, but without an oven mitt to actual take out the turkey to do so, running around greeting people wearing my gym clothes, because I didn’t want to get food on my dress while cooking, but with my jewelry ON, because what good hostess doesn’t greet her guests in her jewels??), I do remember thinking to myself, and conferring with equally-if-not-more-drunk Laura, that all of this was JUST LOVELY. And it was. Of course, we made our friends partake in the time-honored tradition of going around the room and saying what they were thankful for. Most of what was said was about our great group of friends. I also gave a nod to Rio, this amazingly beautiful city, and said I was grateful for having left Buenos Aires (no offense, BsAs… Rio and I were just meant to be). Despite the obvious reasons why Buenos Aires wasn’t a great fit for me (no beach? no thanks.), what has made Rio feel like “home” to me has been the truly wonderful group of people I was lucky enough to be welcomed into here. Brazilians are, on the whole, such warm, kind, inviting people. But my group of friends in particular is awesome, and I am very grateful I’ve gotten to know each of them.
So enough with the words, here are some pics (except, did I mention I was drunk? so I can not be held accountable for the quality of these…). Also, quick note: That harsh red light reminiscent of a brothel is, in fact, the light that Laura has in her dining room. We did not actually have Thanksgiving in the red-light district.