Friday, January 11, 2013

New Years, New Experiences.

I haven't given myself the chance to sit down and write for a while.  I've been caught up in some relaxing reads and spending time with friends.  Let me catch you up.

On New Years Eve:

  • Henrique had a party with a bunch of his friend's from his old school.
  • Two of my aunts from my pai's side came over with their children.  My cousins Igor and Renato brought two of their lifelong friends along with them.  All in all, we all crammed into rooms and had a lot of fun visiting and hanging out.
  • The younger cousins, their parents, my pais, and my other aunt went to the farm to spend the evening, leaving us 20 something year olds at the house to hang out and hit the city.
  • Everyone except Henrique went out to the local tennis club for dancing and a good time. (We rolled in about 6:30/7:00 am, however we didn't go out until about 1:30/2:00).
  • At the tennis club I ran into a bunch of old friends and spent most of my time jumping from group to group while trying to visit with everyone and catch up.  It was the perfect way to ring in the new year.  I ended that part of my celebration by hanging out with my primos (cousins), Laura, and their friends!
New Years Day:
  • All of us 20 something year olds woke up and were on our way to the farm for lunch.  Henrique drove the truck with three of the boys and Renato drove Laura's car with her friend and me in it.  Let's just say, a truck is the best way to get out there due to the higher clearance and better traction in mud and dirt.  All in all we made it out.
  • We spent the majority of the afternoon laying around and eating, while visiting and sharing stories.  Then it rained and we were all forced to wait under shelter and visit some more, of course that is never a problem for us.
  • After the rain stopped, we decided to head back while we still had daylight.  There were two trucks and two cars, so the cars put themselves somewhere in the middle and the trucks made sure everyone got through every muddle okay.
    • I must admit, I was hoping someone would get stuck, I rooted for it wholeheartedly because it meant we'd have to get out and push and what a big fun muddy mess that would have been!
    • Our car's gas light came on at the beginning of the journey, so not only were we excited by the fear of getting stuck, of going in the ditch, but also the more gruesome end of running out of gas.
    • After a lot of fish tailing and near-hydroplaning, we made it back to the city and settled in for the night.
  • Overall, the company was beyond wonderful and it was a great family filled couple of days!

For a couple days I went and lived with my third host family, whom I also loved dearly!

Driving a Car:
  • When I was a Rotary Youth Ambassador, one of the rules we couldn't break was to about driving.  Due to safety rules and insurance issues, we weren't allowed to drive any type of vehicle.  Living within walking distance from everything and not having a car at my disposable didn't make this rule difficult to follow. 
  • So what does my host brother do...he walks in and tells me he needs my help.  He walked home from work because he locked his keys in the office.  So what happens?  I get in our brother's truck and we go pick up his car which results in me driving a stick shift (thank goodness I have experience with that and was only a little rusty) by myself back to our apartment.  I was terrified.  I don't like driving other people's cars under normal circumstances in the United States.  Needless to say we all survived and when he asked for a ride the next day I politely refused.
  • We put together a small BBQ within a matter of hours that night, after we picked up his car.  We got into the car and I had a beer in my hand.  Open container and all, and apparently you can bring open beer cans into the grocery store.  That was a first for me!
  • We ate good meat, had a small group of people together, and we went for a middle of the night swim.  It was a great night!
Salon Day:
  • On our last day together, my host mom, Maristela, took me to her shop and then to the salon with her.
  • At her shop she told me to look around and pick out any shirt I wanted and she would gift it to me.  I had a wonderful time looking through her clothes selection and trying on some stuff.  It still amazes me how giving she is and how sweet.  Never have I expected this and never would I be upset if she didn't offer me something so simple and yet so complex.   She has the largest heart and I am lucky to be her filha.
  • Then we went to the salon so she could get her hair and nails done before vacation.  We were sitting there and visiting and she suddenly got the idea that I should get my nails and hair done too.  After some persuading and time management I found myself getting a manicure and pedicure while sitting back to get my hair cut.  I have never felt so pampered as I did getting a foot massaged and my hair washed at the same time. I didn't get much length cut off, but it gave my hair enough lift and I've always loved the way Brazilians cut hair!
  • Repelling is the act of letting yourself down a mountain/cliff, with a cord.  It is kind of the opposite of mountain climbing.
  • My mãe, Maristela, had brought up a story of repelling that they had done with a guide earlier that week.  I was instantly hooked.  She helped me set up a time with the guide, it was my job to get a group together, and suddenly everything was falling together.  She told me that she would pay for me so that I would get the chance to do this and it was a truly great present.
  • I got together some exchange student friends, one of them being Avery Nelson from Northfield!  We got a ride out with Senhor Barbosa (one of their host fathers) and we made our way to an Indian reservation.
    • The Indian Reservation had typical tradition housing, and then government housing which resemble normal homes that you'd find anywhere.
    • We pulled in to stand among some natives and watch a little naked boy that they described as a "true Indian" walk up to us.
    • There were people washing their clothes and their motorcycles in the river that led to the waterfalls.
    • There were a dozen or so children that came down to the falls with us and played on the cords when we weren't using them.  They were sweet and shy and having a grand day.  They don't have swimming pools like some kids, but they have waterfalls and rivers and they make the best of their time.
      • It was such a great time to see them enjoying what they have.  They didn't ask for pity and I don't see where someone could pity them.  They live a simple life, but they don't starve and they were truly happy.  They didn't need the complications of phones and televisions to make them happy, it was as if they were in tune with what truly makes people happy and they were all enjoying every moment of this short life.
  • There were four waterfalls; three smaller ones and a large one.  The smaller ones were easy to play in and stand under, while the larger one was dangerous to get close to.  Of course we couldn't deny a challenge, but the sheer force from being close was too much and too thrilling that we didn't dare get any closer than the rocks would let us.
  • As for the repelling part.  There were two different courses.  Both were a 40 meter drop, the first 20 being "positive" (meaning you could use your legs and push them up against the side of the cliff) and the second half being "negative" (or in other words, free fall).  The main difference in the two courses was that one was underneath one of the smaller waterfalls, meaning you were getting hit in the face by water on the way down, and the other was next to it and dry.
  • Pleased to say, I was the first one to go.  Although I was merely the first to go on the dry one, I still take pride in being the first to go at all!
  • I went down three times, twice under the waterfall and the first time next to it.  Then I went around with the boys and explored the other waterfalls.  It was a fun adventure and I should have taken tennis shoes, but my love for wilderness and good coordination helped my sandals keep my balance most of the time.
  • There was a group of older women that went with us, one of them had really good sugar covered peanuts which I have always fancied.  I asked her where she bought them and it turned out she makes them.  In conclusion, I came out of this experience with a recipe for a delicious peanut concoction.
  • On our way back to Tangará, we stopped to check out an underground river that shows for a few meters, they use it as a drinking source.  On the way there, we were informed that there are jaguars in that part of the jungle.  I couldn't decide if it was a cruel joke or not, but then we came across a fresh print.  Needless to say, I was overly cautious and nervous on the walk to and from the river.
Recently I was reunited with my best friend Isa.  She was traveling and just arrived in the city again.  We have been practically inseparable since we've been together again, and it has been quite wonderful.  :]

I think that's all of the big exciting new stuff that has been eating at me to get written down.

Have a wonderful weekend!