There's Always ONE

Horrible. Awful. Terrible. Nasty. Atrocious. Ghastly. Horrific. Repulsive. Dreadful. Upsetting. Shocking. Staggering. Unspeakable. Horrendous. Appalling. Unpleasant. Bad...  Really, I COULD go on, but for the sake of being a major downer I'll just go straight for the punch.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011.  The first day that made me weep like a baby and want to go home to a country that understands me.  Literally.  I never thought about it before, but a foreign language in essence, strips you of your personality.  In a moment where you would be witty, funny, sarcastic, or intellectual, you are stuck with the basic vocabulary of  a 2 year old.. if you're lucky!  "I'm sure they would like me if we could just TALK to one another!"..  yeah, every time I receive an eye roll or a wave of dismissal I remind myself to NEVER judge someone who doesn't speak my native tongue again!  Who knows, maybe they would be my sister friend?  Just because they can't talk to YOU doesn't mean they can't talk to ANYONE!  I once thought of myself as a fairly intelligent human being, but here, I'm as dumb as a slug in a marathon!  To be completely fair, I knew I had to have at least ONE of these, and since we celebrated our one-month anniversary here in São Paulo on Friday, might as well get it over with!

The day started with two sick babies.  Sir L woke up with a 103 fever, and Princess P wasn't too far behind.  Having 4 kids, it doesn't take much to recognize an ear infection anymore, but I knew I had to take them in to get prescriptions regardless.  Plus, it never hurts to make sure that's all it is!  Sweet hubby helped me make the call to the doctor since the receptionist and I couldn't communicate.  He wrote down the address and we all headed out to start the day.  I dropped Miss B and Mr H off at school and headed back home for a little down time before our appointment.  Somewhere between the motorcyclist hitting the side of my car (and driving off again.. what's up with that?!), and the crying babes in the back, I apparently got distracted because as we pulled into the basement garage and around the corner I heard the deafening sound of metal against cement as I rubbed the side of our van up against the wall!  Appalled and rather numb, I got out of the car to survey the damage...
In my defense, a minivan in Brazil is the equivalent to a BUS in the States.  Everything is not only made for cars here, but teeeeensy cars at that!  Parking spots, lanes, and YES, the entrance to my garage thank you VERY much!  That cement wall literally came out of nowhere!
At first glance, all I could do was cry.  I didn't know what that thing used to be, but it looked like some kind of an electronic gadget, and those are FAR from cheap in São Paulo...
Our poor van didn't exactly come out unscathed either.  It has a purty dent on the door and a scrape that made me feel it in my bones!  If this were MY car, I would be much more relaxed.  But this isn't my car.  This car belongs to my hubands work, and they so graciously lent it to me for the duration of our stay here... little did they know! :(
 Yellow it typically a bright and cheery color.  Wednesday, it was the color of doom.
Our head of maintenance for our building (along with other workers) came over to survey the damage with me.  My eyes welled with tears as they attempted to explain the extent of the problems I had caused and not a word they uttered had yet to be implanted in the small part of my cranium labeled "Portuguese".  Thankfully my new friend was on her way over to do some laundry, and although she isn't fluent either, her abilities far outweigh my own, so she was able to get the gist of the conversation:  "That "thing" you took out was the sensor.  The garage door is now out of order until further notice.  We will bill you after the mechanic bills us.  Oh, and have a nice day!"  Riiiight.

Calling my dear husband, I had flashbacks to guilty moments as a 16yr old about to tell mom and dad about something REEAAALLY stupid I had done.  But of course, since it was Wednesday, August 17, 2011 and everything was bound and determined to go wrong, I heard his cell phone ring.. in the house.  Of course, TODAY is going to be the day he accidentally leaves his phone home.  I didn't have his office number programmed into my phone so was forced to wait for him to realize his error and call me.  Thankfully he is a VERY sensitive and PATIENT man.  But that somehow made it worse.  At least if you yell at me and tell me how dumb I am I can get defensive and get over it!  But all I was left with was my guilt.  Multiplied!

Off to the doctor we go.  With the help of my trusty navigation system, I made it to the street with time to spare.  But what about that building number?  After 45 minutes of driving up and down the street, I was notified that the address had been written down wrong.  Please add an extra "8" in there.. that would be #887, NOT 87.  BIG difference.  A total of 2 hours later we arrive.  VERY late, but hey, this is Brazil!  Who isn't late?!  At this point we are so exhausted we don't even realize the "medical" building we are entering looks like it came straight out of the pages of National Geographic.  And I don't mean that as a compliment.  But the doctor apparently spoke English, so I was holding on to that.  The receptionist however, did not.  She handed me papers to fill out that I couldn't read.  Then we were escorted into the "office".  Papers and garbage strewn everywhere. Dated supplies.  Little space to move let alone breathe.  A tiny exam bed in the corner with a sheet that hadn't been changed for at least the past 50 kids.  All I could think of was what we would contract in that room and I wanted out.  FAST!  After a 10 minute discussion and "exam" that consisted of looking in their ears and mouth (Sir L indeed had a double ear infection as I predicted, but Princess P hadn't progressed enough to determine what she had.. "Just bring her back tomorrow".. say what?!).  NO temperature was taken even though I explained they were feverish.  I mentioned that Sir L had a 103 temp, but since that's Fahrenheit and they use Celsius here that didn't seem to sink in, let alone cause reason for alarm.  Exasperated, we headed back to the reception desk to collect our bill and go home.  The receptionist told me the amount I owed.  I didn't understand.  "Por favor escreva."  She wrote it down. R$1000.  Holy pooh!  I swallowed hard and reached for my card.  "Não crédito."  Okay... "Débito?"  "Não. Dinheiro."  "Dinheiro??  TODOS??"  "Sim."  This is when my heart starts to race as I realize I only have R$400 in my wallet, and that's a GOOD day!  This is Sao Paulo for crying out loud!  Who carries R$1000 around?!  So I did what any worn out, confused, bothered, and now SCARED woman would.  I cried.  Like a baby I cried!  I called my husband only to reach everyone in the office but him.  Some spoke English.  Some did not.  Normally I would try to be patient, calm, and endearing, but I forgot all that while I was trying to hold on to any dignity I had left and NOT let his entire office know I was completely losing it.  "Your husband is in a meeting."  Of course he is.  "Could you please tell him to call me?  I have a problem at the doctors' office and really need his help."  The next 20-30 minutes or so were filled with tears, screams, and unwanted bystander attention.  I fought desperately to hold it together as people tried to "help" since at this time my kids had started losing it right along with me.  We looked like one big sick, emotional American mess!  FINALLY I received a call back, and a saintly man from my husbands' office made a funds transfer over the phone so I could go home.

Once in the safety of my car, sounds escaped me that I didn't know I had the ability to produce.  The combination of humiliation, desperation, and frustration made me unable to form words as my husband and I were finally able to "talk" on the phone.  I sobbed like they do on the movies when loved ones die or homes burn to the ground.  It didn't last very long, maybe 15 or 20 seconds before I pulled myself back together again, but it was long enough to make me want to curl up in bed and stay there until the morning came!  I was beat.  Not knowing where a drug store was, or how I was to even ask for the medication, I went straight home.  Defeated, and emptyhanded.  My sweet husband cancelled the rest of his day (it was 5pm) so he could make sure I didn't end up in the looney bin.
He came home with distressed eyes as he exclaimed he had never heard me cry that hard in all of our 7 years of marriage... and we've been through a LOT!  On the bright side?  Not many women recieve flowers on the day they take out the company car...
He picked up the medicine, put the kids to bed, and held me until I fell asleep.  Turns out Peyton had ring worm, but she's now on an anti fungal cream and although it takes 4 weeks to cure completely, we are now officially (QUICK! knock on wood!) fever, and tear free!  Needless to say Google diagnosed her as I rejected the offer to "bring her back tomorrow".  A friend provided the ointment, as well as an EXCELLENT English speaking doctor referral.  And Thursday?  Why it was blessedly uneventful! :)


  1. You're the best. I love reading you and being friends with your family. What's a car door and a CCTV when you have friends, right?! :)

  2. seems to have been very hard day, I hope you can learn Portuguese, and adapt to life in Brazil, good luck and all the love that exists in this life for you and your family

  3. I hope you don't have anymore days like that :( I'm so sorry.
    The flowers are beautiful! I hope you have lots more of those! :)

  4. :) Thanks guys! Truly, Brazil is WONDERFUL, AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, and just downright FUN! The transition can be super hard for people, but it really hasn't been bad at all for us! (Greatly due to the WONDERFUL friends we have!) Minus this one day, I dare say we may very well be converted to a new way of life.. TRAVEL! :D EU AMO O BRASIL! ;)

  5. Hugs, hugs and more hugs!!! Your post made me cry. Wish I was there to help out (though I suppose I wouldn't be much help since I don't speak Portuguese either. At least I could have cried with you, though...) Love you forever!!!

  6. P.S. Brandon, thanks for taking care of my girl! The flowers were beautiful and the "hug til she fell asleep" truly priceless.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY today!!! Sure do love and appreciate you!!

  7. Talk about a terrible horrible no good very bad day! But you have the right attitude and positivity so I'm sure you'll be able to laugh about it soon if you haven't already! What a cool adventure you're on right now living in Brazil!

  8. You are one amazing woman!!! I am so glad you made it through such a crazy day. I am also glad my brother was sweet and caring about everything. We love you guys!! I am so glad you are doing a blog so you can make it into a book and someday laugh at all of the "American" experiences. You'll be fluent and adjusted in no time!! Tell Brandon Happy Birthday for us!! We love you guys!!