Eu Te Amo, Meu Brasil

Today, we are in Jaboticabal. We arrived last night after attending the Rotary district conference in Atibaia. The town is named after the jaboticaba tree, which produces little dark purple berries. I tried one and it was a little bitter, but I’m told they’re not really in season right now.


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My host family is very nice. They live in an apartment with a lovely view of the city (including the town’s McDonald’s!). It’s peaceful to sit on their balcony and look out at everything.

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My host sister just got back last night from a year-long exchange in France; her accent now is an adorable French/Brazilian combination. And my host brother is getting ready to go to France for his exchange.

This afternoon, we visited the mayor’s office. They gave us pão de queijo (cheese bread) and suco (juice), and they told us about the city. Then the mayor signed books for us all about the history of Jaboticabal. Every time we visit a place here in Brazil, we always leave with gifts. Brazilian people here are incredibly generous, and I wish I had more to give them.

Our group with the mayor

Our group with the mayor

After the mayor’s office, we walked around the small lake that is on the property. Apparently, capybara live in the water, but we didn’t see any. 

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Then we tried pasteis for the first time. All of us have eaten so much fried food over the last few weeks, and we’re all starting to feel pretty lethargic. It’s safe to say, a trip to the gym is massively in order for me when I get back to the States. At this point, my stomach is feeling better, but I now have a sinus infection. Thank goodness my doctor back home gave me a prescription for antibiotics before I left. It’s been a lifesaver.

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Pasteis

 

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The shop where we bought pasteis. Note all the Volkwagens (we see a lot of VWs here!)

The remainder of the trip will no doubt go by quickly. We’re here for a few days and then off to Franca. Later this week, I’m supposed to split from the group and go to Alfenas, which is in the state of Minas Gerais, to see my friend Luciana.

Here are a couple more photos…

The Statue of Liberty in Brazil

The Statue of Liberty in Brazil

My host mom and sister in  Sertaozinho and Rikke (to my left), an exchange student from Denmark

My host mom and sister in Sertaozinho and Rikke (to my left), an exchange student from Denmark

Cada Dia uma Nova Aventura

Sorry for the lack of posts. The internet in Brazil is not as easily accessible, and I’m having some troubles importing photos.

We’re on day 12. It’s been an amazing adventure. Each day, we are incredibly busy. We have visited universities, a school for people with special needs, a sugar cane mill, a sock factory, an airplane museum, a factory that manufactures turbines and several farms (including one that specializes in artificial insemination of cattle–that was quite the experience!). We also planted a tree in Sertaozinho, where I’m currently staying. In about an hour, I’ll head to another town called Atibaia for a conference.

I’ve eaten a LOT of arroz and feijao (rice and beans). And I have learned many new Portuguese words. My favorite is the Portuguese word for hummingbird — beija-flor. It means flower kisser. *Gush*

My mind is often overflowing with thoughts here. There is so much to take in. People around me are speaking in a language I hardly understand. The food is different. Even the bathrooms are different–you can’t throw toilet paper in the toilet bowl in Brazil because it causes plumbing problems. But the people… Brazilians are the most welcoming, wonderful people in the world. I’ve become deeply attached to so many people here. Even if we can’t always understand each other, we somehow find a way to communicate. Everyone is so gracious, giving up their days to drive us around and to make sure we’re comfortable. It’s pretty indescribable.

I don’t have to long to write, so here are a few photos from the trip so far.

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My AMAZING host family in Sao Carlos

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The gang at TEM Museum

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Rikke from Denmark and I show off our fancy footwear for the farm

Rikke from Denmark and I show off our fancy footwear for the farm

My host family in Araraquara (including Sarah, an exchange student from Illinois)

My host family in Araraquara (including Sarah, an exchange student from Illinois)

Blogwell in Brazil

Day one has been a whirlwind, but estou aqui! This morning, we landed in Sao Paolo and were met by some of our new Rotarian friends. They took us by van to Riberao Preto. Along the way, we stopped and ate lunch at what I understand is sort of a gas station that also serves food. They had an impressive selection, and as you can tell, I pigged out on a large selection of vegetarian food. It’s a buffet, but you pay by weight. One of my teammates, Alyssa, compared it to a Golden Corral Brazilian-style.

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I also tried a soda that is only sold in Brazil.

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And I found some cat cookies. Photo opp… duh. (Please forgive the fact that I look gray and haggard in this photo.)

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After lunch, we continued on our journey (about 4 hours in the car, but I slept a good portion of the way), and got to Riberao Preto around 4:00 p.m. We checked into our hotel and then headed across the street to the mall to buy SIM cards. It took a while, but we got it figured out thanks to help from one of our amazing hosts, Thiago. Thiago was on the team that came from Brazil to Texas for the same Rotary exchange program. Now, he’s showing our Group Study Exchange team the ropes.

Everyone has been incredibly helpful, and we’re already making new friends. I’m completely overwhelmed by the language; although I have been practicing Portuguese for about six months now, I still feel like a child when I speak. My sentences are very slow and simple, and I get the subject verb agreement wrong every time. But people are patient with me, and I’m getting good at nodding and smiling if I don’t fully understand someone!

Another one of our hosts is Raj, who is also a vegetarian. This has been immensely helpful to me as he knows what dish might be a secret harborer of meat. Plus, I don’t know all the words for meats yet, so he has prevented me from accidentally eating something I shouldn’t.

For dinner, we had pizza. Brazilian pizza is a little different than American pizza. The four cheese was super thick because of all the cheese, and my stomach might need to develop a little fortitude during this trip if I’m going to keep eating so much gluten (before leaving the States, I was on a predominantly gluten-free diet, but I knew this would be impossible in Brazil and also not very convenient for my host families). One of the pizzas had ham and peas on it, which looked very interesting, and my teammates seemed to enjoy it.

Tomorrow, the adventure continues. We head to Sao Carlos and stay with host families.

So for now, I will sleep and hope to provide more updates soon. Ate logo!

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View from the car on the way to Rib. Preto