Like I promised, here is what I did last weekend:
Thursday: I graduated from high school again, it was a big ceremony (but not even the fun day, that was the next day when they had their dance, similar to prom/a club/a feast) where we sat around and listened to people talk, we received our diplomas and chocolates, lots of people cried (I teared up a little because when I go back to study it won't be with any of these people again!), and we went on our way. I walked in with Alejandra and my dad here and we were introduced specially as intercambistas. After the ceremony a large group of us went to a restaurant to eat and joke around more. It was a good time, just hanging out and eating pizza and not worrying about anything.
Friday: I woke up at about 9:00 and got all packed up for my weekend trip to Cáceres (about 3 hours away by car). In Cáceres we would have an orientation for all of the exchange students. We picked up Alejandra and Clovis (my chairman) around 1:00 and after running back to my house and Alejandra's to pick up our rotary blazers, we began our journey. Everything is Green now so I didn't sleep much, instead I just watched the scenery and when Alejandra was awake we talked about random things. We arrived in Cáceres at about 4:30 ish, and we met up with the other cochairman Fránsergio (who lives in Cáceres). We were early because Clovis had to be there to prepare some things, the event didn't actually start until 8:00. We ate some ice cream while everyone was visiting and then we headed out to the hotel boat where we would be staying for the next couple of days.
We were it's first trip (imagine Titanic, but in the Pantanal). We joked about it and I got to be Rose, because of my middle name, which is slightly different then my normal Jack role with the diving girls. :). We even had a moment where the kitchen windows were fogged up and a Brasilian made the car scene reference! It was amazing! Anyways we arrived on the boat. I met two journalists that were there for the event, one 20 years old and the other 21. They were a couple and they were really nice and fun to get to know. Then slowly other people and other exchange students began to show up. We had a Rotary meeting on the ship at about 10:00, took some pictures, and spent the rest of the evening playing uno, eating supper, playing uno again, and getting to know each other.
There are 7 intercambistas in my district. Starting in the back row we have Fránsergio and Clovis. Front Row: Claudio from México, Alejandra from Colombia, Alejandro from México, Darren from Australia, Patrícia from Brasil but spent a year in México, Aaron from The United States (Detroit Michigan), Marie from the United States (Eden Prarie Minnesota) and me from the United States (Northfield Minnesota). All of us are fairly new except for Darren, he's been here for roughly 9 months and will be returning to Australia in January. Aaron is the newest, he's been here for a little less than a month.
Saturday: We went to bed about 4:00 in the morning after playing uno. The boat left to start traveling down the river about 9:00 and this was also when breakfast was supposed to end, so I got up at about 9:00 (the first one from our room/first exchange student, go me!) and I went to start eating breakfast. We eventually came to a beach where the boat stopped and docked for a good amount of the afternoon, we ate lunch here and spent almost all of our daylight here. Before lunch we went down to the water and the beach to explore a bit. This area is a very wild part of Brasil, there are lost of exotic animals and lots of snakes and other things. In the river there were piranhas and alligators as well as other strange fish and snakes. Here we found these really cool plants that close when you touch them and we played a little in the water. However the little taste of water we got wasn't nearly enough for us, it was just a little teaser of an appetizer, leaving us starving to jump in completely. However we hadn't eaten lunch yet and we didn't know if we had to wait until after. So we got on the boat again and were sitting around visiting, getting really antsy for lunch and swimming, when we saw a guy checking the depth of the water around us. It was probably 9 feet deep. One of the journalists looked at me and said: "Wanna jump from the boat." and without even hesitating I seriously replied: "Lets." Of course we had to get permission, so we all changed into our swimsuits and everyone asked me to ask permission because I'm from Clovis's club and these girls always get their way easier :P. Darren and Marcio (the journalist) jumped in first from the boat to test it out for us, then it was our turn. I am pleased to say that Minnesota represented well, Marie and I were the first two girls and first two people after Darren and Marcio to jump in. We did it quite fearless, I might add without hesitation or squealing. Everyone hit the bottom but the sand was so soft and wasn't sticky at all, it didn't give us any problems.
After a few people jumped from the second floor (shown in the picture above) we decided we wanted more of a thrill. There again I was sent to ask Clovis for permission, which he granted. Then we went to Fránsergio who was a little more hesitant. He first told us no because the other rotarians would get angry, then he told us we could, but only once. I sought out my dad to make sure that he didn't have any problem with it, because after all he is the most responsible for me. He told me to be careful but he gave me permission to do it. Here I had another proud moment, where I was the first girl (3rd person) to jump from the 3rd story (after Darren and Marcio). I jumped more with excitement than fear and it was SO much fun! Marie followed shortly after and eventually everyone did it. Everyone jumped in from every level with the exception of Aaron, who doesn't know how to swim that well so he just waded in and stayed near the beach.
After we jumped in Darren, Alejandra, Marie, and I went for a boat ride around the river (think Minnesota fishing boats) to see if we could find any cool wildlife, we were mostly looking for alligators. The scenery was beautiful and it was relaxing, although we didn't have cameras to take pictures. When we got back it was time for a meeting where the owner/creator of TerraBrasil (a program that sells trips for rotary students) talked about all of his trips, and I got even more excited for the Northeast trip I'll be taking with them the whole month of January. I will for sure be with 3 other people from Minnesota and more than likely Alejandra AND ≈94 other exchange students!!!!!! After this we went on a cruise to an old farm site and we were there just in time for the beginning of the sunset, the rest we got to watch from the boat. This was the first time I had seen such a colorful sunset in Brasil, it was beautiful!
As it got dark the boat docked on a different beach for the night. We had dinner and began to play UNO again. We played with different rules that were a lot more fun than regular UNO. I'll explain it someday when I get back in the states. We played lots of music and joked around until it was midnight.
Sunday: Midnight came and the birthday of Marcela (an ex-interactian) began (the 14th, the same as my host-mom Ederly, and my beautiful sister Quinn). We celebrated by singing and people brought her a cake, which wasn't cooked, and I never saw it again. I just know I didn't get to eat it... After that all of the exchange students, the two journalists, and the 3 other people our age went down to the beach to play night games and visit. It was nice. Alejandra, Marie, and I explored the beach a little searching for animals and found a dead fish skeleton, but the fish had pointy (resembled a chainsaw) fin bones that stuck straight out and made a cross with it's spine. It was strange. Then we all got back on the boat and began to play English music and sing and dance. We played some more games, and by now all of the Rotarians had gone to bed. Alejandro was shining his flashlight into the wilderness to find animals and when he saw some glowing eyes looking back at us a couple of us got off the boat to explore. We only found a small bird, but I don't believe that was the eye that we originally saw. After that we played more games, looked at the sky, we couldn't find the southern cross which made me a little disappointed because it had been a long time since I had seen the stars and I HAVE to see that before I go. Then about 5 in the morning we made our way to bed.
7:30, 8:00 the next morning I woke up and tried to take a shower, we were out of water for a little bit. So I went to eat breakfast. Once again I was the first person from our room up (and the first young person), I'm sure my host-dad was proud because I sleep very late in our house here and they always make fun of me, but I was not that lazy on our trip. I had all my stuff packed up before breakfast and we (Alejandra, Clovis, my host-dad, and I) left at about 9:00 after the boat docked in the original location, to head for home, before anyone was really even awake.
We went straight to Tangará's RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, I think...) when we got back into town. We ate lunch there and gave a little speech about ourselves first in our native tongue, and then in Portuguese. Then we headed for home to shower, unpack, and take a nap.
I woke up to the power out and rainy cold weather. I said "oi" to my parents and they sent me to the kitchen to eat dinner. When I was eating my brother walked in and said "I'm going out to eat pizza with some people from interact, if you want to go, I didn't tell you because I didn't want to wake you." I said, "nah, that's alright, go ahead without me." He came back in 2 minutes later and asked me again and I decided I'd go. I need to be more social anyways. So we ended up going to Tia Cida's house and visiting with people from Ryla who were still in Tangará. We ate pão de queijo and pizza and people played the guitar and sang.
Monday: At about 12:30 a.m. we loaded up in a couple cars and we went bowling, this was a lot of fun as well. Although I'm awful at bowling and so was my partner, we never took last! We almost won even!!! At about 2:00 a.m. my brother and I went home and went to bed.
About 10:30 the next morning my brother woke me up and told me we were going to a churrasco (BBQ) with the same people as the night before. So we went there and got everything all set up and ready to go. The only weird thing was that the people that weren't there were my girlfriends from my interact. I did get to visit with the other people from other areas as well. The food was good and we had some entertainment from people playing music on the computer and singing and dancing. At about 3:00 we all loaded up again and took them to the house they stayed at to pick up their things. They loaded up in their van, and they were off for their homes. A lot of people were crying because they had been so united all weekend and would part for an undefined amount of time. Once they were gone we went to the casa de amizade to clean up and put everything back in order. Then we went home and watched a movie and visited.
That's all for now although I do have a highlight: I MADE BRIGADEIRO (it's not hard at all) SUCCESSFULLY ALL BY MYSELF YESTERDAY! :) and I was dubbed the translator during the intercambista trip. My family here and my friends are so proud of my portuguese, although I have my moments I'm so much better than I was. My dad told me that it is getting better every day, and my friends always tell me when people talk about me behind my back and talk about my portuguese being good (i.e. their mom's, or the guy at the post office today to the other guy after I left). I think they are all so happy because they are the ones that have been working with me everyday and it's as big of a success for them as it is for me. My parents also love the fact that I'm forgetting my English. One quick example besides the many times I forget words was when I was giving my speech in English at our RYLA. I said: "I am staying with the Ribas fa..(to start família)..[pauuuuuse]]]]]...family. :)
I'll try and update again soon!
I've been having a great time!