I rode the metro today and it was actually a lot like the lightrail in San Jose and the subway in New York City. All of the lines are color coded and the station names are on giant signs outside each of the stops. I got a rechargeable metro card that you swipe at a turnstile to get into the station. Lucia showed me the way to the school I'm taking classes at so hopefully I won't get too lost on Monday and the metro stop is pretty close to the apartment. The area around my school, which I think is sort of a downtown area was really crowded. The metro cars were almost full and there was a lot of traffic. Just like the area around Flamengo there are tons of people selling things from carts and stands on the sidewalks. We walked by at least 20 people standing on the sidewalks handing out little slips of paper, all for money-lending services. There were roasted nuts, popcorn, more churros, pastries, fresh fruit, magazines, noise makers and of course lots of Brazilian jerseys for sale. In addition to the noise from the honking cars and people, everyone selling the yellow and green horns was also blowing on them so it kind of sounded like we were at a futebol game. At the grocery store, even Pringles got into the soccer spirit and their cans say Pringooools!
Apparently tomorrow is Valentine's Day in Brasil, Dia dos Namorados. Wikipedia tells me the Brazilians don't celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14th because that's too close to Carnaval. Lots of the shops around town are selling the same kinds of things we see around Valentine's day; flowers, chocolates, and generally lots of heart shaped things. Lucia and I went into a store and there was a gigantic pile of red heart shaped pillows saying cute things like 'Hug Me' or 'I love you,' but of course em Português. While wandering around the store I saw the popular brand of flip flops Havainas, which I see almost everyone wearing, but also Gisele Bundchen flip flops. There was a giant cardboard cutout of her next to the display. Who knew. I need Gisele's sandals. There were store employees scattered throughout the store who had walkie talkies and just sort of stayed in one place and watched people, they may have been like security guards making sure no one was shoplifting. There were also people like this at the grocery store we went to later. We picked up some passion fruit, which look pretty plain for having such an exciting name. We drank the juice with dinner, with a little sugar added, and it tasted just like passion fruit flavored drinks I've had before.
After wandering around town looking for an ATM that had the Visa logo, I finally have Reais! HSBC Bank had an ATM I could use. It took a few tries to get it though, the card swiping was a little weird, but the menu was in English so I was finally able to get some money out. The exchange rate is about 2 to 1 so the R$70 I took a picture of is about $35 US. Reais look similar on the front but on the back they all have different animals on them. Most shops that take credit cards take Visa so I should be able to get by just using my card.
And now a belated lunch update: Lunch was chicken (frango), arroz, feijões, chopped zucchini in a kind of cornmeal flour, fried manioc/casava, a shredded cabbage-like green, and to drink a bright green juice made with limes and the same kind of cabbage green we were eating shredded. It was pretty tasty, mostly lime-y, but was a lot better with sugar. Everyone added some artificial sweetener, the same kind that's set out at breakfast to add to coffee. Lucia also made a really good chocolate coffee cake.