I've been in Brazil for three days, and in many ways, I can't help but feel like an infant.
I don't speak a word of Portuguese, and the little bit of Spanish and French that I know does me absolutely no good. Wherever I go, I am under constant escort from one or more of the teachers who work at the school that I'm visiting. They put me in taxis and inform the drivers that I know nothing.
I can't order food for myself (or even read a menu), and even when I see the food, I'm often can't tell what it actually is.
On top of this, my American dollars are useless here, and the hotel where I am staying is in a less-than-safe neighborhood. As a result, I have been told not to leave the premise unless I am with other people. I can almost see the school where I will be teaching from my hotel, and yet a taxi will be transporting me to the gates every day.
For a guy who prides himself on independence, it's been strange. I feel as if I should be strapped into a stroller and given a pacifier.
But on Sunday, I spent the afternoon and evening touring Vila Madalena, a Sao Paulo neighborhood known for its concentration of graffiti art. Beco do Batman (Batman Alley) is an especially popular tourist destination, and from the photos that we took that day, you can probably see why.
The graffiti was incredible.
I spent the day walking the streets with a Canadian, talking about the graffiti, Brazilian culture, teaching, writing, and stories from our lives.
Later, we joined an Australian and two Americans for dinner. I tried acai for the first time. I dined on Brazilian beef and drank traditional Brazilian alcohol while listening to music and learning about some of the culture from my dinner mates.
I was advised by a friend to try to allow the Brazilian culture to wash over me, and that is what I did on Sunday to great effect.
There were still moments when I felt like an infant. When it came time to head home, my friend had to put me in a taxi, explain to the driver where I was going, and then took the taxi driver's business card, just in case I didn't get back to the hotel. I felt like a ten year-old boy being sent across the city for the first time.
But still, it was a fantastic day, and even as an infant, I feel incredibly lucky to be here.