quinta-feira, dezembro 29

Resolutions and Photos from Novo Riacheulo

Inspired by my fellow American lost in Rondônia, Titia Amor, I decided to do something I haven't done since the 2008/2009 New Year... I decided to make a New Year's Resolution. Back then, I promised myself that I would start a new chapter in my life, principally, re-discovering my spirituality and working on my health. Interestingly enough, within a few weeks, I met a man who shared many of my own opinions about what being "spiritual" means and enjoyed listening to meditation music, too! Within a year we were engaged, and today, we're married with a puppy! The whole "working on my health" part kind of fell to the wayside when I realized drinking long islands and dancing my butt off 5-6 times a week was just as effective as running and dieting... and although I have lost incredible amounts of weight since 2008 (about 25 pounds without really trying), I am still far from the body I would like to have, as I would like to increase my muscle tone. This is really hard for someone who sucks at sticking to any type of workout regimen... and endlessly frustrating when you live in a country that is insanely obsessed with how toned everyones butt and thighs are.

Anyhow, I just put down R$100 at the neighborhood gym today for their "three month for R$100" special. Their monthly rate is normally R$50, so this worked out to be a great deal, even if H and I find a new apartment (which I hope we do....) sometime soon. Of COURSE when I go in to register, the owner of the gym is one of H's old time buddies and there are also women in Lycra. There's also douchebaggy looking men staring at themselves lifting weights but hey, it's cheap, right? They're also open at 530am-Midnight. Super plus!

On another note, we've been enjoying the fact I am on vacation from the school to hang out on the farm as much as possible since we both love it (and Ice loves it even more, of course!) Ice manages to make friends wherever he goes, independent of their creed, color, or how many feet they have, or how long their tail is. When we are at my inlaw's, his friend of choice is one of the big pigs. He yanks his tail, nips his ears, basically does everything to get his attention to play. The pig loves it and eggs him on most of the time. Unfortunately, pictures have not yet been taken!

There are, however, pictures from the trip to the farm on Wednesday! Here we go!

Ice on the way to the farm

How can you say this is not the most beautiful place in the interior??
We're headed to Novo Riacheulo, about 1.5 hrs from Ji-Paraná.
There's no cell service, except on top of the mountains, and this is why I love going here. Urania (she's in one of the upcoming photos) was born in this town and her family basically runs the entire village, from the ice cream shop to the church, it's all run by her family. 

Ice and his two best friends in Novo Riachuelo. He gets sooo excited when we pull up!
They're both girls, too. He's a pimp.
Look at that tail!

"We're goin' on a hike! Wanna come??"

Checkin' out the Corn with H

This is why I live where I live.

This is what the Passion Fruit Flower looks like!

Ice with H, Urania (blonde, wife of H's cousin and my new best friend in Ji-Paraná)
and her cousin, I think... she's related to everyone in this town. 

This picture is for my Vovó! It's a "Quero-Quero"
Check out the wikipedia page in Portuguese!!! Get to translating!! 

Tuckered out after a long day of running around and patrolling. Within about an hour the other pup joined.
That's imported silk from Thailand that they are sleeping on by the way... thanks mom for the dog bed!!!

I'll take some more pictures tomorrow... as we are killing another pig for the new year. MmMmmMmMm I love me some pork. Diet? New Year's Resolution? Awww man... looks like I'm going to have to double up on my workouts and walks with Mr. Ice!

sexta-feira, dezembro 9

So, I'm finally announcing...

I'm going to be working at the local college next year! I'm so excited. Well, actually, I'm just going to be holding my own classes in their space, but it's going to be an interesting experience! I hope it all goes well as the extra cash will help me pay off my school loans... baah.

Anyhow, the official facebook page (in Portuguese, of course) is now up, www.facebook.com/inglesjipa and if you live around Ji-Paraná please send the info to your friends!

I'm going to continue working at the school I am at and do some private tutoring on the side (hopefully) so we will see how this all works out time-wise.. I'm sure I'm going to be exhausted, but exhausted and slowly becoming debt-free are OK with me, for at least a year, anyways!

quarta-feira, dezembro 7

Dogs, Rain, Fish and Cows... what else!?

So a lot has happened since my last update... first, I have landed a new and exciting teaching position for next year (I hope to continue at the current school I am at as well, meaning I am going to be working 12 hour days, but with every other weekend off, so hopefully I don't die.) I had this great idea when I was in high school about going to college... then after I finished that, I decided to continue on to graduate school. The result? I'm loaded down in debt and I've got to 1) figure out a way to pay it off ASAP so Humberto and I can really get serious about our "adult" life and 2) find a way to do it that is ENJOYABLE. I think all will be well :)

Also, we have adopted another bundle of joy into our home. His name is Ice. (When said in Portuguese it turns into Icey... and everyone goes HAHAH! That means GELO (ice in Portuguese..) RIGHT?! Even our vet was amused. You'll see why whey you see his photo.

Ice, in the flesh. A MinPin Mutt with a mean streak.
He's all black with a little white on his chest and little dots on his feet like he stepped in a puddle of white paint. In this photo we were at the café on the Avenida... he's that kind of dog. Of course I bought him a bottle of water and had his little bowl with me so he wouldn't get dehydrated.

The adoption was a big debate because our previous dog passed away from Distemper... a terrible horrible no good very bad dog disease that is common here in Ji-Paraná, mainly because most people don't vaccinate their dogs and we weren't sure if the disease was out of our home yet. After I put Zara down, I bleached the house, top to bottom, washed all our sheets in bleach water, everything I could possibly do because not only did I want another dog... we have lots of friends with dogs and the last thing I wanted was for them to catch this horrible disease. I have to say I think it is probably the worst disease to watch a dog suffer from, and most pet websites agree with me on that one. They just slowly deteriorate, then magically get better, then from one minute to the next they loose complete sense of where they are, who their owner is, become paranoid, then lose control of their own bodily movements. It tore my heart into pieces and I would never, ever, wish that on another dog owner. After talking with a variety of vets and consulting many websites, I just grew more frustrated. Some sites said within minutes the virus is dead, others said it took years for the virus to die. After doing some hard thinking, we decided at least a month of a dog-less house, with intense bleaching and keeping everything as dry as possible (similar to HIV, it doesn't survive well in hot and dry environments and since our temp here is always around 90F, I made the bet we were in the clear.)

Miss Zara
We've also entered into the rainy season. I have been having a lot of interesting conversations with the people who were some of the first settlers here in Ji-Paraná about how much the environment and weather patterns have changed in only 30 years. The rainy season used to be a continuous rain for 6 months. Now it's just a storm, or a drizzle at most, the lasts about an hour, and it doesn't hit every day. The water tables are all low... the rivers are all low... and everyone knows why. Deforestation. (Vovó, click on the link! You'll find it very interesting!)

From: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/

Back in the 50s until about the 80s and even until the early 90s, the government actually HELPED people to cut down the forest here for "development". Free land, incentivising clearcutting and highway development. The famous Highway 364 is the highway where my inlaw's farm is. It's true that you have to take down some trees to "develop" but at the same time Brazil did a horrible thing to itself... it stripped away a lot of its natural resources and now the climate is changing at rates that are being witnessed from year to year.  The new government restrictions (you must maintain 30% of your farmland forested and you can't burn anymore) aren't exactly abided by all of the time and enforcement is few and far between. However, people do their best to abide by these regulations because the penalties are heavy and potentially will cause the farmer or fazendeiro to lose their entire investment because of the violation.

However, yesterday it did rain. And it rained during my lunch break. Humberto took me to a wonderful restaurant under the big bridge that joins the two parts of the city together on the bank of the Machado River. 

The restaurant had the freshest fresh fish I have ever tasted in my life... I ordered mine fried with a creamed corn sauce... it was incredible (unfortunately I forgot to take a picture...) and here are some pictures of the restaurant... and of us!

Me and the love of my life... Well, part of me anyways.
And finally, later that day, while at a red light, I looked out my window and I had a bunch of eyes staring at me... let's see if you can see what was staring at me!

Mooooooooo! (or in Portuguese, MAUUUUUU)
Until next time! Beijos para todos!