It has been quite awhile since I last posted here. I have been ever so busy enjoying life down here but I do feel a tad bit guilty.
Anyways, last weekend (over Halloween), from Saturday to Tuesday my interact club hosted a huge camping district olympics event. It is called ODIC. Most places host ODIC at the end of October as well, however they have about four months to get ready. We found out that there wasn't going to be an ODIC if we didn't accept, 3 weeks before the date it was planned. Being the interact club we are, we accepted and got to work straightaway. Now this is where I sometimes feel like a deadweight. I don't understand completely everything and I don't give much advice. However I've always been one of the best for setting up tables and chairs, taking down tables and chairs, washing dishes, setting up tents, or anything that is involves less verbal communication. This also happens to be the area where a lot of brasilians like to skip and 'rest'.
So Friday I went there to help set up our tents and get things cleaned up. Originally I was to return home (even though I had packed my things) because I was to pick up Marie, the other Minnesotan exchange student, and two other girls from her city at the bus stop Saturday morning. However my friends here were a little frustrated and wanted me to spend the night camping with them. It was great to hear their excuse. "Aletha, you have known her for what, 2 months? and you have known us for your whole life!" I must say this was one of the greatest things I have been told for persuasion because it is so incredibly untrue and it was hilarious because we all knew it, yet for some reason it felt so truthful, these people I see everyday that I feel like I've known forever and that I can't imagine life without. So I told them, alright I will spend the night and try and get a ride back in the morning. We went out there and explored the view (finally grass and green space) and we set up our tents. Then I had to go home and get my stuff to bring out, but when we got home we couldn't get a ride back out, so I slept in my bed one last night.
The next day I waited until my brother picked up Marie and the other girls from the bus stop (there wasn't a lot of extra room for me in the car). They were 2-3 hours late arriving here. Then we took them out for lunch and after that for ice cream. It was nice to show a little bit of my town to Marie because the last time she was here to visit I didn't know a whole lot and we didn't go to normal hang outs. Eventually we all loaded up into my dad's truck and we headed to the campgrounds.
I got there and my best friend, Isa, who I was to share a tent with wasn't there. People told me that she had gotten frustrated with another girl and left and possibly wouldn't be returning. My really good friend, Hiago, had returned to the city with her because he was going to practice with his church band. Isa's tent had fallen down because one of the rods had broken and so I was tentless, without my closest friends, and in search of company. Of course I was with Marie so that was nice and I had all of my interact friends to hang out with and I made a bunch of new friends as well, but there is something about being with people that you click instantly with. I set up plans to sleep in another tent with my friend Jianny and my friend Camila. Later Hiago and Isa showed up and the only thing my weekend was missing was Alejandra (the Colombian exchange student).
The first night we ate dinner after setting up our tents. It was incredibly windy and starting to drizzle while we were setting up everyone else's tents that it was an insane adrenaline rush to beat the weather. We had an opening ceremony a little before dinner as well. Then dinner began. After dinner we had a little bit of free time to readjust things in our tents and visit with other people. That night we had a show of a sertaneja duo (similar to country) from our Interact club. It was the same duo I had watched, and mentioned, from the first week I was here at the Rodizio, Ricardo & Luis Felipe. They were really good, they played a few songs in English too!!! They played for a while and we danced and I was proud of myself to know a lot of the songs they were playing. Then after they were done a DJ played for a little while longer and I attempted to dance funk. About 12:00, everyone was sent off to get ready for bed, except for us. We were the organization crew, not there to participate in the fun and games except for the night parties, we had a meeting.
The next morning our group was to get up at 5:00 a.m. and get everything ready for the rest of the day. My tent and my brother's tent got up on time and went to take showers so that we were all ready for the day at 5:30. Due to the insane usage of showers the day before by ignorant campers, the water had been shut off (we used our ration) the night before so we didn't get to take a shower. It was still shut off that morning. Lovely. So getting ready for the day went a lot faster than expected. At 5:30 when everyone from Tangará was supposed to be preparing things for breakfast the walk-up fire works were set off. They weren't supposed to be set off until 6:00. So we spent the rest of he morning telling people they couldn't leave their tents yet, we didn't have water yet, and it was an accident.
First test: After breakfast the first Olympic challenge took place. Everyone was split into their team which was based on shirt color. Each team picked one competitor to represent them. Each competitor would have to eat 5 bananas as quick as they could. The person to eat the fastest won this challenge for their team. The funniest part was, as organization, we were judges. We were B.O.P.E., the highest armed forces in brasil, who usually dealt with favelas (slums). In the movie Tropica Elite, they show a B.O.P.E. training session and this was what our camp was based off of. With this being said everyone was yelling ridiculous things at the competitors about how they wouldn't succeed and half the time the comments made no sense and everyone burst out laughing.
After this we had lunch and I was put on guard duty with some other people to insure that no one (especially couples) snuck off into the tents or onto the trails. We basically spent our lunch telling people to go back to the cafeteria area. I continued on this job during the next test as well.
Second test: There were a bunch of balloons in the pool. Every team could send in one person at a time. This person would grab a balloon and set it in a pail on the side of the pool and then jump out of the water while the next person jumped in. The team with the most balloons won (I think).
Now this is where our weekend got even better. See being the Minnesotan I am, before leaving for camping I checked the weather. The weather forecast indicated rain everyday of the camp except tuesday when we were leaving. Now I love rain, but campers don't. So during this aquatic test it began to rain. It started drizzling, then it began to pour. It was the best rain I have seen in a long time. Being on guard duty I got the privilege of helping campers cover up their tents and get all of their clothes and towels inside their tents. Then I got to send them all to shelter and I got to stay in the rain to help other people. This was a perfect set up for me. Everyone here knows by now that I love playing in the rain. So a bunch of my girlfriends were searching for me to play with me and I had made a bunch of new friends that came out to play as well, and there were a couple other people playing tag and tackling each other. This was probably one of my favorite moments.
After dinner, well every meal, we have to wash our plates and if the veterans ask the 'newbies' to wash their plate for them, the 'newbies' have to accept. It's a hazing-type thing. So I had snuck away with just my plate and I was in line to wash it with a girl who had four plates. I offered her my help and she declined. Then she asked if I was a veteran and I replied "Nope, I'm an exchange student so I'm a 'newbie' forever." We got to talking about where I was from and she was excited to use her English, she called over a bunch of her friends and my favorite friend of hers said this comment: "Oh really, I saw you speaking English to Gabriel earlier (there is a joke in my interact group with all the english gringas, they are always greeted with HI, HOW ARE YOU?) and I just thought you were really good at it." Some people didn't know there was a single exchange student present until close to the last day of the camp.
That night we finally got to take a shower and we got ready for another sertaneja show from another group in our interact club from Tangará (we are musically talented). This time it was a regionally well known brother duo, Diego & Junior. They were really good as well! They played a lot of dancing music, so I attempted time and time again to dance, but I can't say I was extremely successful. After they ended the DJ picked up where they left off, but by then I was too tired to even attempt to dance, so I just sat there and watched. At 2:00 everything stopped and we all went to bed.
That night it rained. An extreme amount. Many people, like my brother, woke up to swimming pools inside of their tents. It was cold, there was no sun the next day, and a lot of people got moved to the chalet rooms. My tent was fine, the only problem was I got up at 7:00 instead of 5:00. Due to the rain we had a slow moving day.
Third test: An obstacle course. A trek into the forest, more like an army march. A race around an obstacle course that was basically a mud pit (yeay!) was completed by 5 people from each team, and then a lucky two other people got to break open a cow eye to finish everything off. I was dubbed the photographer. However being a "newbie" I was also prone to some hazing. The hazing for all of the "newbies" was to run this course. I love mud and I love obstacle courses like this so I thoroughly enjoyed this. We also ran out of time before lunch to have all of the "newbies" do the course so it ended up just being the ones from organization. It was basically a mud fight and it took forever for the stains to come out of my too-pale skin.
After lunch we had a speaker come and present types of difficult people to us, people that you have to use different technics to deal with in life; people that get really angry and explode, people that always say no, people that think they know everything. We did a few activities and then we broke off for a little rest time.
My rotary club was in charge of dinner that day so my mom and dad came. I had missed them a lot and we talked about how everything was going. My mom introduced me to some friends of hers from São Paulo. They had lived in Michigan for a while. It was nice to talk to them about the states and about my life here and there. They are returning to the states, this time to New York, to spend the new year. They will get to watch the ball drop in Times Square.
After dinner there was a Mr./Miss. show. Each city chooses the prettiest girl, cutest guy, and two cross dressers (one for each gender) to participate. Sadly Organization didn't get to participate because we have some very attractive girls and guys and the best cross dressers in town ;). I would have been Miss Gay (dressed up as a guy) and my friend Luis Otavio would have been Mr. Gay (dressed up as a girl). We would have won for sure ;). I was once again put on camera duty. [Most of all of my pictures will be on facebook. Feel free to add me if you want to see them, just let me know why you are adding me, otherwise I won't accept. I'll also have some videos up eventually]. It was a hilarious event.
The hazing ritual: Every year there is one test that all of the 'newbies' have to do, no matter what team, that the veterans come up with. It was supposed to be the dirt trail and then something else, but only our group did the obstacle course. The real ritual that took place was as follows. A piece of a banana was ripped off. The girls were in a single file line, and the boys were in a single file line next to them. Starting with the boys. They were given the piece of banana and had to pass it from mouth to mouth until they made it to the end. If it dropped they were given a new piece and had to start over. Now the piece wasn't that big to begin with (less than half) and bananas when pressed to hard break, if a piece broke off, you kept going just with a smaller chunk. The girls had to complete it after the boys successfully completed it. My only bit of luck was that our veterans felt sorry for us, we were all exhausted, and we had done the obstacle course (which wasn't that hard or repulsive) so they let us get out of it and just watch.
After that we went back for the party of the night. It was just a DJ. I was so exhausted so my brother, Isa, and I went and slept in the kitchen on an air mattress the entire night, until the rightful owners came and kicked us out about 2:00 and sent us to our rightful beds.
I didn't sleep well that night. The tent was stuffy and I hadn't eaten regularly (some days we ate at noon and the next day at 3 for lunch) and I had such a small amount of sleep and I used a lot of energy during the day that I was having problems with my stomach. I ended up waking up about 4:00 that morning and going to the bathroom. I was so dizzy that half way there I threw up, then I felt a little better and returned to bed. At 7:00 I woke up again (no one was up yet either) and I wen to the bathroom. I got really dizzy and I ended up throwing up twice more. I didn't feel good the rest of that day, but it was the end so I packed up my stuff (it was mostly ready) and when we got home my mom gave me medicine and I slept on and off that afternoon. I went to bed at 9:00 that night and went to school the next day, I was more energized than some of the other kids even! (Although there was one kid who went to bed at 1:00 p.m. when he got home and woke up at 6:30 a.m. to go to school) WOAH.
Either way it was an amazing weekend! I saw my first snake (people have medicine on hand for snake bites down here, scary), I got to play in the rain, I played in the mud, I made new friends, and I strengthened older friendships as well!
Next weekend I'm off to a house boat to spend the weekend with exchange students, through a rotary planned event! I still don't know my second family and it'll be three months in a week, but I'm not worried because I'm happy and it'll all come in due time. I graduate again on Thursday of this coming week but it's only finals now so I don't have to go to school. So just incase you aren't in the southern hemisphere. I'm on summer vacation until February, be jealous. :)
until next time.