9/6/09

Ola do Brasil!

Today is our fourth full day in Brazil and I really cannot believe that more days have not gone by. I feel like we have done so much already! To recap, just an hour or so after I wrote my last entry the pilot announced that our plane had leakage issues and we had to turn around. We arrived back in Atlanta at around 2 am and didn’t head back to Sao Paolo until almost 3:30 am. I actually found the situation kind of comical and while I didn’t know it yet, I would soon find out that this was just the beginning of an extra long journey to Belem – over 2 full days! It was during that time in the airport that I met two guys from my program: Nick and Forrest. I was so happy that I met them when I did because it was great to have people to hang out with while we waited through our multiple layovers and flights. The next bit of time was not too eventful, although I spoke again with some interesting people, had my first taste of Brazilian cuisine (very expensive in the Sao Paolo airport), and got to know my fellow group members a bit.

When we finally arrived at the Belem airport it was about 12:30 am in the morning! We had actually kind of assumed that, since we didn’t think that anyone would know what time we were arriving, we would have to stay in a hostel in Belem for the night, but much to our surprise Carlos, the Academic Aid for our program, was waiting to pick us up! We were all very tired and after the two hour drive to the Sitio, the ranch that the group orientation would be taking place at, I slept very well.

The next day was spent primarily in orientation meetings and in getting to know each other as a group. There are fourteen of us, all from various schools around the US and I am pleased to say that together we are a very cool group with diverse interests. We have students majoring in everything from physics to sociology, animal science to international politics and everything in between. Because of this everyone in our group has different strengths and brings a slightly different point of view to whatever we are discussing – a fact that has definitely made for a really exciting and interesting experience so far.

Two days ago we left the Sitio and headed out to the north eastern coast of Brazil – a three hour drive through beautiful grassy countryside interspersed with rural roadside towns and coastal fishing villages. This area of Brazil was very different from anywhere I had really experienced before. The homes and buildings were very rundown and people would just be sitting in chairs and playing with their children right on the side of the highway. It was crazy how just driving on the highway you could get an interesting look into the lifestyle in rural northeastern Brazil. We did this really challenging activity where each of us were individually dropped off in a random place along the road very far apart from one another, given a task that we were to complete, and told that we would be picked up in the same spot in three hours time. It was interesting but I found it very difficult to communicate with people in the area. The experience definitely showed me how important it would be to learn Portuguese and for that I am very greatful!

Tchau por agora!

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