I decided I was in no rush to leave Sao Paulo in my hungover and sleep deprived state, so I skipped my flight to Sao Jose do Rio Preto and slept instead. The next day I grudgingly took a 6-hour bus ride there. My Brazil honeymoon phase was already over, and I was exhausted from being bopped around, meeting new people and places, and being ripped from them just as soon as I got comfortable. I left Sao Paulo in a bad mood and landed in Rio Preto in an even worse one, as I waited in the dark, sketchy bus station for my ride. It finally hit me that again, I had nothing. Nowhere to stay that night, nowhere to live, no bearings, no phone, no way to get around.
The first week consisted of waking up at 6:30am when the east-facing curtainless windows blasted their sunbeams in my face in the room I was staying in on the college campus where I work. My second night there, two Spanish-only-speaking girls showed up and shared the room with me. I felt like I was at camp again. Of course, I’m the only gringa who knows Portuguese and not Spanish, so our communication was limited and laborious. Lucky for me, they were linked in to the Spanish-speaking network at the college, so a friend of theirs who had already been in Rio Preto for a year helped us do all the boring necessary stuff, like register with the Federal Police and get CPFs, our social security numbers here in Brazil.
I was completely frustrated to not have internet, not know the bus routes to get anywhere, not have an apartment, and not know anyone to ask anything to. Those problems ate away at my first week here, and my already weakened spirit. I found an apartment and things got a little better. A friend visited me from a nearby town and that helped too.
I’ve now been in Rio Preto for three weeks and I still feel down about it. I’ve started work, which is thankfully going just fine, but I only work part-time as part of my grant agreement, so I have plenty of time to myself. Yet there’s little external stimulation here. It’s unfortunately been slow-going meeting people. One good friend would change a lot. For now I’ve decided that studying Portuguese and traveling will be how I enjoy my time, so last weekend I decided to visit Curitiba.