Today is an important day, for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, it marks one month since our arrival in Ji-Paraná. In this past month I have cried, rejoiced, laughed and smiled more than I have I think in my 24 years of life. It's been a whirlwind of emotions and when I sit down to meditate I find it hard to not let one of those emotions take over.
Over the past month I have tried new foods, seen new animals (and learned new things about animals I was already acquainted with, damn chickens who sleep in treessss), traveled extensively throughout central Rondônia, met new people, seen new things, I've been stung by hornets (first time in my life, and I got stung two days in a rowwww), I've gotten bicho de pé, or the bug that buries itself in your feet and I've slept many hours in a hammock on the front porch, listening to the horses whinnying, cows lowing and roosters crowing. I've learned new card games, sang new songs and shared in difficult moments for the town (a girl in Humberto's mother's class, 10, was with her aunt, 21, on their way to school when their motorcycle was run over by a school bus. Both passed away last week.) I've shared in soccer games, barbecues, drank lots of Brazilian beer and tereré. I've probably drank more coffee and consumed more sugar as a result in the last month than I did during finals week this past semester. I've made mistakes in my Portuguese (saying that a car was fucked instead of smelled bad, said that the bridge that we went over was made of little pieces of bread instead of wood and said that a girl's hair was garbage instead of straight) but I have also gained the ability to explain more complex issues (talking about the beauty in the weeds, describing why throwing garbage out the window of a car is simply the biggest sin I think someone can commit and talking to school directors and social workers about difficult issues in Brazilian society). I've planted plants, I've touched a dead cow and I've ridden a horse to the water's edge. I've talked with students, played with my future nieces and talked with my future nephew about his dreams for the future. I sat still for three hours while my future niece, 14, gave me a very detailed manicure and pedicure (she painted flowers on each nail). And I have eaten more beef in the past month than I have eaten in 24 years (I have now declared that I am vegetarian to the family, therefore, that means to them that I just don't eat beef, but chicken fish and pork are still up for grabs, haha, works for me).
Although I am loving life here on the farm, I am getting excited for São Paulo. I've started looking at apartments (www.easyquarto.com.br is about the coolest website everrr) and as a result I am realizing how much fun it is going to be taking the bus, hanging out in the city and really getting involved in my studies as well. I'm happy that I can say that, because a month ago I was dreading leaving. I'm more comfortable everyday here in Rondônia and only today I had my first unfriendly encounter with a Brazilian, and it was in a bar/restuarant and two drunk guys were amazed by my presence and one ran up, touched my hair, and ran away (like what happend in Mexico frequently). My friend, Grasy, who works for Bolsa Família who was with me, just burst out laughing, she'd never seen someone act like that before. We quickly left, of course, but it was my first real experience feeling like I didn't belong here. Her boyfriend also worked for a few years in the United States so we have alot to talk about as far as that stuff goes. Also, she's very socially active and loves her job--working with poor kids and their families, working in their schools developing nutrition programs, weighing and measuring the students, and talking to their parents about how to better help their kids be healthy. Aside from being a great contact for research, she is a great person and I have a feeling that we have the potential for becoming good friends.
Tomorrow is the first Brazil game in the World Cup... I am sure that it is going to be crazy here. Given that the entire town is covered in green and yellow streamers, every store has put in a television, and the ice cream shop even gave out green and yellow horns to every client last week to get prepared for today. We are going to be watching it on the farm with some members of Humberto's family and friends from surrounding farms and then we are going into the city later in the evening. Let's hope for a win! North Korea is a tough team!
My body is starting to adjust to Brazil. The humidity is the most difficult thing to deal with, as I quickly acquired a UTI after my first 3 weeks here, and now have athlete's foot, but day by day I am adjusting to learning new ways to do things (like drying my feet off in front of a fan after a shower, and applying powder and changing my clothes 2 or 3 times a day and even showering more than once a day, which I at first thought was a silly Brazilian thing but now I realize you NEED to do it to stay healthy.) I pine for the cold days, like this morning, so I can wear sweatshirts and jeans, but usually by 11 all hopes of it staying cool are gone!
I am hoping tomorrow to be able to upload my pictures and such that I have taken over the past few weeks, so we will see if I have some time while we are in town to run to an internet cafe. I apologise for the lack of updates but on the farm it's pretty shotty internet and when I get a good signal I use it as well as I can for email, looking for apartments, etc.
I miss all of you in the states, specifically my parents and my grandmother but also my Vandy friends who are all over the place right now! I also send hugs and kisses to Kristina and the one and only Flavio, as well as the rest of the Brazil crew in Sarasota. I'll be seeing you guys in January!
Until next time! Boa noite de Ji-Paraná, Rondônia, Brasil. Tchauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!