arrival journal: day one

A hard goodbye to family yesterday was swallowed up by the effort to unpack and situate all of our luggage into the airport, where a friendly–albeit nervous–Delta counter agent got us ready to go. It was clear he didn’t have much experience with people traveling to Brazil as he was reading the prompts coming up on his computer: yes we have a visa, yes we know the maximum amount of days, yes we get more baggage than normal. Regardless, we were on our way through security to Chili’s to celebrate with some Patron. All in all–way easier than we thought it would be.

Our flight to Atlanta brought us just in time to the gate for our international flight. Our upgrade to Delta Plus was WAY worth the deal as we zoomed right by a long line to tuck into our roomy seats with private overhead bin space. Two meals, one blanket, and less than nine hours later, we prepared for landing at Sao Paulo airport. We were grateful for a smooth flight and man, someday, we’ll get those fancy-pants-first-class-lay-down-bed-thingies (champagne in real glasses, a cheese platter with port, fresh meals, oh my).

In the immigration line, we met up with several other parties arriving to Graded. All kind, all adventuresome, all more experienced at this international teaching thing than me, we knew these people to be our kind of people. It felt good to find a tribe so quickly. There’s something to be said about an expat community.

Working together, we managed to get our tribe’s parade of boxes and bins and suitcases and bikes and pets and musical instruments through customs. Once we came through the sliding glass doors to the other side, we were bombarded by a sea of warm welcomes and big hugs. Probably upwards of two dozen Graded employees, decked out in their red school shirts, swarmed us with hugs, whisked our bags away to be delivered to our apartments, flooded us with welcomes and greetings, translated for us when dealing with TSA. Then we were guided to the local coffee shop in the airport for pão de queijo (mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm fried cheese bread) and fresh cafe.

I felt safe and secure even in a foreign land where I didn’t speak the language.

A fifty minute bus ride from the airport through the city to the school was a stomping grounds for conversation about politics and sports and safety and recommendations. Upon arrival to the school, every detail was prepared with our comfort and ease in mind. There was an assembly line of stations: cash allowance, health insurance, banking, phones, computers, wifi, shirts, phone numbers. A buffet lunch of yummy whole foods was hot and ready for the scooping. A mini grocery store was set up so we could take the groceries we needed to get started.

I felt completely supported. So much so, I was shutting down from the intensive and attentive care. But alas, this comes along with the territory.


A short bus ride later, we find ourselves walking into our new home: a two-story apartment on the eighth floor overlooking trees and skyscrapers with a spiral staircase that’ll take your breath away (and maybe your ankles after too many capinharias). For all of our friends and family who said “that staircase is crazy”…

You were right.

Relentless unpacking with sore bodies, tired minds, and overwhelmed emotions led to a short nap on our new bed (not a day sleep, Tammy, just a nap). Our night ended by being wined and dined by our school at a local Brazilian barbecue place. They even made sure to take care of my special (read picky) dietary needs. The energy of our tribe in the room was electric. And tired. I sit in bed now typing this, overlooking the lights of lives in other apartments, and I am done.


Here are a few tidbits that stood out to us today:

  • The school has its own…wait for it…bartender. Yes. Please.
  • They call eating at 7 around here, “Gringo Hour.” What do they call eating at 5?! (Not that we do. Ok we do.)
  • The sun set at 6 tonight. A glorious 70 degree day made me forget it’s winter. But an early dark sky reminded me.
  • I am experiencing vertigo. Whether it’s from the travel or being in a high rise or all of the transition or just all the things, who knows.
  • Our new “persons'” son is already imitating me: “That’s out of bounds,” he says, in a Midwest drawl.
  • I lay on the bed in tears today. I was grateful for our own place, because it is safe and comfortable and easy. Out there is so foreign, so strange. This whole not speaking the language thing is, well, out of bounds.
  • I am one of the only, if not THE only, foreign hire at Graded to be doing this overseas thing for the first time.
  • We hit the jackpot with Graded. Their ownboarding is leaps and bounds beyond other schools’. I am humbled and grateful.
  • We hear birds from our balconies. Yay.
Selfie on our balcony.


Anything in particular you’re curious about…let me know!