Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Perfect Ending.

I had the most wonderful day today. I found it so enchanting I decided it deserved it's own blog.

First, my sister and I stayed up until 5:00 in the morning, talking about things, watching movies, and joking around. At about 4:30 we went to the fair in front of our house and I used my traveling boots for this adventure. My parents didn't say we couldn't, and we had mentioned it but never really directly asked, so it had a slight thrill of sneaking out, even though it wouldn't have been a big deal. We went there and I bought a coke, and she bought a typical juice (which I don't really like). We laughed the whole way and then we quickly returned home. We went to bed and woke up about 9:00.

I started my day kind of bummed out. I was hoping to spend the day with the interact kids visiting a orphanage for people ages 10-18. However my dad told me we were going to the farm, and I wasn't mad or upset, but I wasn't expecting it to be so amazing. I had been to the farm many times before and it is really nice and relaxing, but not exactly the fun volunteering I had planned for that day.

We took off for the day and my parents were talking about how I was going to teach them how to clean chickens the American way(because I have done it for as long as I can remember in the States). I laughed it off. We pull into the place and my dad sets up some of the hammocks. The dog my parents had once brought home and then we had taken to the farm has gotten so big! Laura and I spent some time laying in the hammocks, and it was wonderful.

Then they were preparing things for lunch and my dad said something and my mom said, "Aletha will help you kill them [the chickens], she knows how!" and my dad asked me if I really did. So he went and killed two chickens, and brought them back for us to clean. My mom cleaned the first one in a strange brasilian way. Then the second they left for my sister and I. We plucked off the feathers and my job was to clean out the insides, I thought I had gotten out of this job for a year. HA. I did my way and my father was very amused and proud that I actually knew what I was doing.

A little while later we ate lunch; chicken, rice, and beans. They taught me a different way to clean the chicken feet, it is supposedly decent tasting (we didn't cook them, just cleaned them for a lesson) and good for women's skin. They also cooked up the one heart, one liver, and one gizzard. I had already fallen in love with chicken hearts, but I didn't have that one. They had me try the liver and the gizzard, which I have smelt cooking in my Northfield kitchen many times before but NEVER had the courage to taste. Liver I could live without, the gizzard was actually very delicious, it reminded me a lot of the heart.

After that we hung out in the hammocks, on the porch, for our afternoon naps and it rained and rained. It was so peaceful and wonderful. We spent the afternoon joking around, my parents, my sister, and I. I wish I could better explain how perfect that was, but it is impossible to put my feeling of tranquility into words. I also wish I could explain the jokes to you, but some only make sense in portuguese, and the others relate to traits of people in our family down here, both of which I don't think you would find the least bit funny, it is kind of a "you had to be there" kind of thing. Everyone was happy, stressless, and it was as if the world was at peace.

We went to my uncle's farm, down the road, to drop off our mare for breeding. My mom wanted to stand there and see if the job was going to get done, but the mare was playing hard-to-get. We soon left there and went back to our farm, where we packed up our stuff, and we began our drive back home as the sun was setting. It was beautiful and peaceful, and my dad was playing his country music CD, so the sounds of Alan Jackson and Keith Urban filled my ears.

We got home and I spent a little time talking to some people on skype, and we all drank tereré together. Then we put in a movie and my mom brought out the pizza. The pizza was rotten (the cheese on it or something), so she made up the leftover chicken and mixed it with rice, and we ate that for dinner. I showed my family a video of me when I was a toddler, and we watched the rest of the movie.

It was nothing exciting, but it was perfect. I remember in my Rotary interview being asked the question, "If you had been invited by your friend to go the beach with their family and you really wanted to go, but that weekend was your host-mom's 50th birthday and there was a huge party...what would you choose?". I said that I would probably choose my mom's birthday party, because family plays the biggest role for me. As I was going to the farm I realized that I had chosen family over friends, and in the beginning although I wasn't overly thrilled, I was looking forward to spending time with them. In the end, it was one of my best days in Brasil so far. I get a little sad from time to time thinking about leaving my family for my next. They are truly irreplaceable, and without them I think my time in Brasil wouldn't be as wonderful. I have absolutely no doubt that I'll shed a few tears, I start to tear up just thinking about leaving. However, I also have no doubt that they will be a part of the rest of my life.

I think my sister and I are going to drink tereré now, and then we are going to sit around and chat. We have been sharing my room (sometimes my bed, sometimes she brings in a mattress), for the last week. I missed sharing my room with my sister, it is nice to have that again!

Until Next Time!
Até Mais!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Life as of Late

I have been a very busy person over the last month and a half. I spent all of January traveling the Northeast Coast of Brasil on two buses with 100 other exchange students. It was absolutely amazing! We started in Brasilia, which was a 25 hour bus ride away from my city. Then we made our way over to Maceió, our first city on the ocean. We went to Lençois in between, which was a wonderful place to hike and explore. From Maceió we made our way up the coast, spending 4 days in Fortaleza. After Fortaleza we begin our descent hitting cities such as Recife, Natal, Porto Seguro, Porta das Galinhas, until we arrived in Rio de Janeiro. I ended my journey crying, but in a good way. I had made amazing friends over the month from all over the world and all over Brasil.

I got back home and the first night went to a graduation party with my parents. The next day my brother arrived from the city where he was moving to, to go to college. He passed in a university for Civil Engineering. After about a week (I started school again), my sister and her boyfriend came up from the same city where my brother was moving (they live there [Campo Grande]), and they announced their engagement. They are getting married in July of this year, they've been dating for 7 years. Then as they were all going to Campo Grande (even my mom to help my brother set everything up) they invited me to come. Literally they invited me about 9:00 that day, they were leaving at 2. Of course I accepted.

We spent the week there together and visiting family. My brother was moving there and my sister (whom got offered a great job in my city) was moving back with us. It was emotional saying goodbye. Within my first 6 months in Brasil (apart from January traveling) I have spent maybe 1 week away from my brother. I would consider him my best friend, we do everything together, and I feel like I've known him forever. It was hard saying goodbye, because the next time he comes back to visit, I won't be in their house anymore. We used to spend all of our free time visiting about things, joking around, drinking tereré at 2:00 in the morning, watching movies, going to the gym, or hanging out with our friends together. We were even in the same class in school. Brasil isn't/won't be the same without him, but I'll adjust.

We went to Campo Grande by bus, we came back by car with my uncle driving. Travel was long because there was a lot of traffic, but towards night it thinned out. The only problem was that the roads in every state except mine, are wonderful. My state's roads are full of potholes and rough patches, especially the part between my town and the capital (the last 3 hours). Our time changed back from the summer hour, so it got dark very early. We ended up hitting a couple pot holes and got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. My uncle ended up changing it and we went slowly the rest of the way to not hit more pot holes and end up stranded. We also had some problem with bad connection with the battery of the car and it would throw sparks whenever we hit potholes, so we had to fix that. We should have arrived at 6:00 that night, we got in at 11:00, but we got there safe.

I went back to school today which was normal.

My english is worsening everyday, but my family considers me fluent in Portuguese, which is a good thing. I'm making new friends everyday and I switch families soon. My new family has a stay at home artist mom, two sons (one was an exchange student to Germany and they both are taking classes in a town far away), and my new dad who owns the largest chicken butchering company in the area (ironic, né?). I'm excited to experience this new family but I'm devastated to leave my family, the family that welcomed me into their home for the last 6 1/2 months. I also find it weird to call someone else "mãe" or "pai". You may be thinking, but hey Aletha you already had your real mom and dad and you had no problem calling someone else mom and dad for 6 1/2 months, what's the difference now? Well my dear readers, the difference is that I have one mom and dad, one madre and padre (costa rica), and one mãe and pai, I'm sure I'll get used to it, but in the beginning it'll be strange to have another mãe and pai, especially to have two in the same city. I feel like I'm going to be cheating on my first family.

Through all of this I've realized that I'll be home, at the latest, in 5 months. I don't want to go home, not now anyways. I'm nowhere near emotionally ready to leave. I mean don't get me wrong I can't wait to see my family again and eat home cooked meals. I can't wait to start working again and to study things I can completely comprehend. However, I can't imagine my world without Brasil. I'm having a really hard time thinking about having to go back, and of course I will, but I can promise you that I'll be visiting Brasil every time I get a chance.

Até mais.
Aletha Duchene