Monday, July 13, 2009

3 days...Just to Remember

The Southern Cross which is only possible to see when you are in the Southern Hemisphere

This sweaty Canadian's adventures in Brasil are sadly but surely coming to an end. For now. But I can assure you (well like 99.9%) that one day she will return and one day the adventures will continue. For right now I want her to remember that she is never allowed to forget. That is why this blog is here. So that in the future she will be able to rewind her mind like a movie and relive all of these experiences. To remember all the lessons she learned. Well, since I am talking to myself in the future I should technically say what "you" learned.
All the people you met, the friendships you made that are as far away in distance and as varying in nature as each star in the sky. Remember that you are a star and to always let your own light shine to help light up the world, especially when it is in the dark. Remember the person you brought with you to this strange new reality and the little pieces of that person that you left behind to remain scattered as an everlasting mark. More importantly remember the person that you found and took back with you,the one that became one and the same with the person you already were. Just like an expansion of yourself.
Remember the meaning of life is the choice you make to be happy. The power you have to respond to every situation and realize that love is truly and always the only choice. Doing this, you live every moment to its fullest which in turn leads to living life to the fullest. Remember to live now, because this is life, right now. Don't worry about what other people think. Just do what is in your heart. In doing this you will have no regrets. Say what needs to be said. Always. Because the moment that passes with the unsaid words still hanging in the air may have been the only one chance you were given. Take every chance you get, embrace every new opportunity. Remember that there are unlimited possibilities with what you can do with this life. So just do it. Live. Live and only look back to remember what you learned. Give like you have given without thinking of what you will be given in return. Remember this feeling that you have right now of complete and utter joy. Never lose your self to the tangle of wordly worries, and if you do, realize how easily it is to find yourself again. Because your true self never leaves. Now tell me what more you have learned and if you remembered. Because I believe right now that it would have been impossible for you to have forgotten. So remember. Just remember. Don't just remember, but know. Know that in wherever place you are that is where you are meant to be. Home is where the heart is and your heart is always with you so you are always home. Go and live it all, give it all. Most of all; love. And remember one last thing; I love you......infinity. There is no end.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

4 days!

I moved families!! I am now back with my first host family. Yesterday I went with my host brother to his friend's house and then walked back home. We danced some Michael Jackson which was pretty funny. I got ready to go to the Roteract meeting. It was at the place where they always give speeches and stuff. I met many people there that I knew and saw Natalia (the one who I went to her house) and Carol. I sat with them. But then a person from Roteract came and said that they would call my name and I would have to go sit up at the front as a guest. So they called my name after it had started and I went. At one point I was the only girl. Then near the end the special guests were invited to get up and say a few words. I wasn't planning on going but then all the Roteract people said my name, so I went up. To their disbelief for many of them. I thanked them for inviting me and talked about how Roteract and Rotary is such a good thing and it is so nice to see the young people of Roteract wanting to make the world a better place. Then I talked about how well the city had received me and how I was happy yet very sad at the same time to be leaving.
Afterwards I went to a dinner/party. I returned home and went to sleep at 2:00am!
Today I went to lunch with my second host family and their friends. It was nice, we took lots of pictures. Now I am trying to get all the pictures off of the computer at my second host house so I can take them on CD's to Canada. My host sister Tatianna is helping me.

Remember: Your city here is just like a big family! Every new person you meet is more often than not already related to somebody that you already know!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

9 days, good-byes and then some dirt and english

One more of these pictures for ya of me as a human farm doll. :)

Today I had my good-bye rotary meeting in the morning. Everyone stood and said something about me and wished me good luck. Then I thanked Rotary for everything at the end. I got a little teary. There were Rotarians from the two other clubs there as well. It is kind of funny because I was the only exchange student in my town so I got to know all three clubs.
I got some presents too! A face towel and large towel with my name and initials embroidered in them! They also have the flag of Brazil and the flag of my state here. I also got a t-shirt that was from the, well it is the best way I can translate it, "vodka festival" here that Rotary volunteered for. The type of drink is actually called "Cachaça". I also got a DVD of a Rotary party from a Rotarian from another club.
I received an "honorary diploma" for completing school here too! I doubt that they will accept it when I go back though. I guess I will just repeat grades 11-12 lol. But how many people can honestly say that they have legitimately graduated twice? Lol.
My first host Dad and host sister were there along with my second host parents. My second host mom also won a certificate from Rotary International for all her help with the exchange program! I thought that was pretty cool.
I didn't go to school but returned home. I started to pack most of my clothes because I will be returning to the house of my first family this Thursday. I watched Michael Jackson's funeral on T.V and cried. He brought a lot to the world, despite any mistakes he made. We are all human.
My host dad came and picked me up at 3:00pm to go to his work. He owns a business that analyzes soil. It was very interesting. I asked him many questions which led to me finding out that this region in Brazil was once under water millions of years ago. This area now is a savannah. The driest semi-arid region in Brazil is in the northeast in Bahia. It also happens to be the poorest. I wonder if climate has something to do with it. It probably makes living more difficult, I mean with less water and all.
Filipe and Laiza came knocking after and I walked with them to their English school. The boy named Lucas who didn't believe that I was from Canada was there again. This time he believed me I think. Then I went home and saw my host mom going into the house. She had taken the bus and then walked. She gave me a yellow bag that people at her work wanted me to have as a present. It was very nice of them.

Remember: you lived in a savannah! ( I don't know if that is how you spell it)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Just Dance.....It will be okay

Izze, Andressa, Me, and Bia

Trip to Patos

I left after dance class on Tuesday with Ana-Paula my dance teacher. We went on the ônibus. It was a three hour ride. I got in touch with Ben (Oregon, U.S.A) and Carmen (Pennsylvania, U.S.A). We met at the shopping center and then went to an exchange student's good-bye party. Her name was Leonie. She was from Germany but she was using a program different than Rotary. I saw exchange students that I already met and some new ones. It was really fun.
The next day was pretty busy, I woke up early because Ben had asked me to go to school with him and Sebastian (Sweden) but when I called him he was still sleeping!! So Ana-Paula and I went back to bed and woke up later to go shopping with Carmen. I bought them chocolate and then we went to a park to eat it. Later I went to a concert with Jurin from Iceland playing violin and then went to a good-bye party. We went to a restaurant and I met a woman who was American and had been an exchange student in Brazil in 1977 or something like that. She was with her Brazilian friend who had gone to Texas. It was interesting to talk to her about how Brazil was different back then. She went to the city Brasilia (the capital of Brazil) when it was only a few years old and she said that there was barely anything there!
We went back to the good-bye party after. Ben came and I wrote him a message in his book. Then everyone got ready to leave and because three exchange students were leaving everyone was crying. I felt kind of out of place and just awkwardly danced to the music. The exchange students in Patos were such a close knit group, like a family. It is funny because I just randonly showed up in their city the day before almost half of them left!! So there were lots of tears. Maybe at least I made some of them laugh.
I went back to Ben's house and he finished packing (even though he had to go catch the bus in like ten minutes!) and then later I went with Carmen and got dropped off by Ben's host dad at Ana-Paula's house.
Ben's host sister was so sad that he was leaving that she got sick! I felt really bad for her. I also met Brazilian's who are going to have exchanges in Germany, one was named Lucas and the other Pedro (but people called him Guatamala).
The next day I woke up at around 5:00am and caught the ônibus at 6:00am. I walked back home, slept, had a shower, then went to dance!

11 Days

I have been so busy lately. I have not been able to write in here everyday, I should have realized that things would be hectic since my exchange is winding down. I will just update you with a summary. Some how the only thing that sticks out in my mind is how I went to my friend's birthday party and while I was waiting to get picked up with Arthur, somebody spit over the side of a balcony in the apartment building and it landed dead center on top of my hand. I just can't seem to remove that experience from my mind. There, now maybe you can be stuck with the image too. Hahah sorry.

Remember: People clap after the National Anthem, do we do that in Canada?
How it is nearly impossible to walk down a crowded street non-stop here because you know everyone and they all stop to talk!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kiki Saved the Dance

Me with my host mother and brother before going to Ester's Birthday Party

Mateus dressed up for "Festa Junina"

My costume!! :)

18 days

So yesterday Helena picked me up and dropped me off at school for the "Festa Junina". There were many people there and I met up with my friends from another school. I also saw my friends from my grade working there. The money earned will go towards their graduation party in around November. I ate a type of food made from corn that seemed to also have a taste of cinnamon to it. It had peanuts as well. It was a kind of a soup. It came in a cup. I liked it.
I left at 8:45 pm to go to Rotary. I put my blazer on top of my costume. I must have looked pretty darn rad in that outfit. During the ceremony they called my name once so I stood up then sat down. Then when it was my Rotary Club's President's turn he called my name as well. Except he asked me to come to the front. I was really not expecting that to happen. So I went up, flushed, to the front. Everyone looked at me in my strange clothing and laughed as I posed for photos. I can't explain what came over me but I made my monkey face for one. I hope it turned out good. My president talked about me and my exchange and thanked me. I thanked him and shook his hand. Then I went back to the table.
By the time my first host father dropped me off at school again the dance that I was supposed to be in had alreay begun!! I panicked at first but then tried very slyly to slip in the line with everyone else. The only problem was that my partner had found himself another partner! Although I do not blame him for it, I would have done the same thing if need be. That was not the issue though, the issue was that his new partner did not want to let me dance with him. I suggested that we should both stay and it would be funny because he would have two girls. He did not seem pleased at the idea and started making frantic hand motions from the line he was in on the other side of the floor. His facial expressions looked a bit panicked. To not cause any more confusion I bowed off the dance floor.
My friends came and asked me what happened. I explained. Without a second thought my friend Kaique linked arms with me and said "Vamos" (lets go). He lead me into line. The funny thing was he had no costume, didn't go to the school, and had never rehearsed. Yet he did everything right and didn't mess up once. Except for maybe when he started to lead me to the middle of the circle, which was not our part but I told him and we went back. But I was happy after because at least I got to dance.
I apologized to my first partner though, I feel really bad that I was late. I did my best though, I mean, I was almost two places at once. I guess it is still impossible though. Yet one can't help but try.
Thank goodness that Kaique is so spontaneous and had the guts to dance with me. He even managed to lift me up at the part where "the snake was gonna get me". Thanks Kiki, it meant a lot.

Today I went to lunch with Helena and Washington. It was at some sort of German Club or something. There was "Churrasco" (type of barbecued meat) which was good. I showed the Buddhist "Sensei" from Japan how to "Foho" (partner dance). He seemed to like it, he laughed a lot when I showed him the video. He has been in Brazil for five months. He tried to return to Japan but was put in quarantine because of the pig flu so never got to see his family. He has just returned to Brazil now and has been here for three days. I talked a mixture of Portuguese, English, and Japanese with him.
I went to Sergio-Toolio's house for the "Buddhism Class" except there was not translator this time so it was only in Japanese. Because of this my second host mom let me take a nap on the couch. Hehehe.
I went back to my second host mom's house and had dinner then returned to my third host family. Tomorrow I will go to school and then Tuesday I will go to school, then dance, and then go with my dance teacher to a city called "Patos" where I will be able to see some of my exchange friends. It is the city of "Ducks" because "Patos" means "Ducks" in Portuguese. I will return on Thursday. Until then!!

Remember: Brazilian's like their meat. Especially barbecued.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Festa Junina (June Fest)

20 Days

I went to school and during school I rehearsed the dance for "Festa Junina". My partner is a boy named Fabio-Lucas from the first year (grade ten). It went well and was really fun. I came home ate lunch etc. then returned to school in the evening to have another rehearsal. I saw my twin friends while I walked past the English school and talked to them for a bit. They are really nice. The rehearsal went well again. It is funny because in the dance the teacher yells out things that we have to do and everybody does them. For example, she will say "chuva" which means rain and our partners have to use their hands to shield us from the imaginary rain. Or she will say "cobra" (snake) and our partners have to pick the girls up. I think I may have hurt some of their backs. During the last rehearsal my partner just pretended to pick me up. Then near the end the guys have to go in turn and get out a present from a box for the girls. When Carol went up with Pablo he jumped into the box and then came out of it. Hahahha. Pri's boyfriend gave her a real rose and then kissed her. Everyone ooed and awed. I walked home with Mateus, Arthur, Fabricio, and a boy that I only know as "pear". I watched Transformers with Mateus and part of Spider-man 2 then went to sleep.

19 Days

Helena came in the morning and I gave her my Rotary blazer because she would pick me up at the "Festa Junina" and take me to the Rotary Club so I needed her to have my blazer so I could change into it. I don't know how I am going to do it because I am supposed to be at two places at once; Rotary and the dance for "Festa Junina". Hopefully it will all work out.
I went with Mamãe and Mateus and got a traditional dress to dance in. I rented it for R$30.00. It is black with pink, green, and yellow bows and stripes. It is short and I wear frilly yellow shorts underneath and a blue fluffy thing, well, to make it fluffier. It is cute. I will wear my hair in two braids with colorful ribbons and have colorful make-up including really rosy cheeks with painted on freckles.
I watched "the End Times" with my host family on T.V before lunch. That is just the translation it makes into English but I don't know for sure if that is what it is actually called. It is about everyone dying because of this toxin the plants release. It was interesting.
After lunch Mateus washed the dishes wearing his old superman cape from when he was little. He took the dish washing soap and sprayed me with it...*sigh* brothers. I washed my undergarments after outside and hung them to dry. Now I am just going to get ready to go to my school for the party in a little bit.

Remember: People usually don't have dryers here but hang the clothes to dry. Sometimes they don't have washing machines either and the clothes get washed by hand. Mostly the maids wash the clothes though. So maybe you can understand why somedays I was a little more smellier, the guilt of making somebody sweat for me made me wear my clothes as many times over as possible.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Host Dad's birthday,.....MJ's final day...

22 Days

I went to school and then Isadora's Dad drove Carol and I home. I ate lunch and watched some television when Filipe came over. I invited him in and then I walked with him to his school so he could work on a project. Many people were there like Marina, Nati-Yumi, Luiza, Lu, Yasmine, Matteus etc. Their presentation was interesting it was about how there is no wrong or right, just what is best for you in your life. I gave them chocolate after. Nati-Yumi talked to me about an idea some of the girls had about travelling to Canada when they turn 15. Instead of having a debutante party they would come to Calgary! I told them it was a great idea and of course they could stay with me.
I walked with them down the road until I turned to go to Carol's house. We talked and then watched some episodes from a series called, "Dexter". It was interesting but twisted, about a murderer who kills for "good reasons".
When I went to leave it was getting dark. I asked Carol if my host mom would be worried if I walked. She said it was ok. I tried to phone but had no credit on my cell. I ended up seeing my host mom in her car and she said it was too dark to be walking. I apologized. Then when I got home I made the house alarm go off because I got one number wrong in the code to turn it off and she had to return to help me! I felt so bad!! But we worked it out so that is the important part. I wrote down the code for the alarm on a piece of paper so that I will never forget it.

21 Days

I went to school, then home, ate, and then went to dance. I talked to my Dad in Canada on the phone. He is doing well, he told me about my little brother Sebastian who is in Colombia that when he saw the full moon he yelled my name at the top of his lungs. As if I were in the moon or something. It reminded me of when I taught him and my other brother Bryan about the moon. One night the sky was dark and there was a huge full moon and my little brother Bryan gasped and said, "beautiful!" I told him it was called, "moon". He repeated the word slowly and tentatively, "mooo-ooon." Feeling how it felt to make the smooth sound. And then ever since then when the moon came out he would point and say it. I guess they still haven't forgotten, even though it has been close to two years since I have seen them.
I called my first host father because it was his birthday. He said that he would come by to pick me up. My first host sister had also arrived from another city. I went to their house and there were many other people who came. We ate some delicious cake. Then I returned home really late, took a shower and went to bed.

Remember: Michael Jackson is really well known is Brazil and people really like his music. That is probably because he is well known around the world. R.I.P Michael.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I am happy because I am living "Estou feliz porque eu estou vivendo"

24 days

I went to school and accidentally left early when people went to get a drink of water. Pedro asked me, "Para onde você vai menina?" (where are you going girl?) and I just responded by asking the same thing. I thought he was joking. But then I realized once I was outside and nobody else from my class had left what I had done. I had forgotten we had an extra class. I was too embarassed to go back in. Lol. Instead I talked to some younger kids who were really funny. This boy named Pedro (different one) and a girl named Caroline. It was hilarious talking to them, especially Caroline because everytime she laughed she threw her head back and opened her mouth wide. Which in turn just made me do the same thing. So we had a chain of laughing fits. :)

23 more days

Today I woke up early and Helena picked me up at 6:30 am to go to a Rotary meeting. I was a little bummed at first because I was not able to open my Canada presentation on the computer and also they did not have a projector for me to show it even if I did. Because today I had to present about Canada. So I was sad because I would just have to talk about Canada without any accompaniment. I was also thinking about the fact that this means it was one of the last meetings I would attend. But then I decided to be happy. Because at the start at every Rotary meeting they pass around a basket and each person puts in some money along with saying why they are happy. For example, "I am happy because..." but in Portuguese it is, "Eu estou feliz porque..." I realized why I was happy and put the money in. I am happy simply to be alive and to wake up to spend one more new day here in Brazil. So then when they came to give me my Rotary allowance I put in R$50.00 because I really was just happy. I got up and talked all about Canada and it went really well.
I told them basic things like how Canada has roughly 33 million people, which is not that much more than the population of São Paulo here in Brazil. A small number considering Canada is the second largest country in the world. I told them how Calgary has about one million and that it is close to the Rocky Mountains and gets to -30 degrees in the winter and positive 30 in the summer. I mentioned the Stampede and the free Canadian breakfasts. Considering they eat mainly buns in the morning they wer shocked to hear about all the friend, eggs, hash browns, sausages, pancakes etc. I talked about how Canada is unique because people come from all over the world to live there and become Canadian while still keeping their original culture. So Canada has a lot of diversity. Many people have their roots based in some of the first people who came to Canada including French, Irish, English etc. Also the Aboriginals there. I told them that my ancestory came from all those different roots. I also mentioned how it is funny that Canadians have many different chilled drinks such as slurpees, ice caps, booster juice. While here in Brazil people drink steaming coffee in +40 weather! I also told them about my family etc.
I discovered how to open my presentation on the computer just now so have decided to film it and then I will be able to show it on the T.V that Rotary has!! So they will get to see it after all :)

I am going to eat lunch and then go to dance afterwards. Bye for now.

Remember: The decision to be happy is yours no matter where you are.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The days keep passing by....

27 Days

I went to school today and even wrote a letter to the editor in "Redação" class in Portuguese. I got Andressa to check it and there were not very many mistakes.
I tried on some of my host mom's dresses when I got home to pick out one to use for my friend's birthday party on Saturday. I still wasn't sure.
I went to Helena's (my second host mom) and taught dance and filmed the little girls dancing. When I came home my family was all there. I was able to figure out how to solve a trick of my father's where you need to separate two pieces of metal. I did it!
Then I went and had a shower because Mateus said I was a smelly, sweaty, monkey. It is a joke between us, he calls me a monkey and I call him a pigeon or "pomba". Kids at school call him that as well as a nickname.

26 Days

I went shopping for a present for Ester (my friend whose birthday it was) and bought her chocolate flavored lip gloss from this really nice shop. I accidentally slammed the car door on my thumb! It is a nice shade of purple. I didn't cry but started having difficulty breathing and almost fainted from the pain. Boy there are a lot of nerve-endings in fingers! I also went to a Roteract meeting, ate ice cream, and saw baby Pedro Olympio (nephew of my first host parents), walking back with my two friends from Roteract; Annabelle and Polly. I wore a borrowed red dress of my host mom's to the party. It probably clashed with the purple of my smashed thumb but other than that I think it looked alright. The party went really well. Ester looked very beautiful in her white dress as she danced with all the suited boys. I don't think I have ever been to a birthday party like that before in my life. It was her fifteenth birthday which is like sweet sixteen here in Brazil. It is a tradition, like debutante, that she gets "presented" to society. There are young men that she picked who each danced with her in turn. It was very fancy, there was even a chocolate know I liked that. :) We left at around 4:30 am.

25 Days left

I remarkably woke up at 11:00am. I watched T.V then Mateus got up. Carla (my first host mom) phoned and said she would pick me up for lunch so I showered. We met Matteus (my first host brother) for lunch and also brought Eduardo (the brother of Pedro Olympio) who brought his rollerblades. We went back to the house and I showed them what I filmed from my Rotary trips but it was very long and Matteus was tired from the night before so he fell asleep. Then we watched "Blood Diamond". Afterwards their friend from Belo Horizonte (another city) showed up and they talked and then she drove me home. I had made friends with her family before they moved.

Remember: The water really does go down the drain in the opposite direction here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

25 daysss..I think?

Sorry for not keeping my word and posting daily, I really am trying though!
Just busssyy :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

28 days.... second blog entry

Just a thought: Why do they shower so much when the showers electricute them sometimes to turn them on? You would think they would want to shower less because of this...hmmm...interesting.

28 days

I went to school today, I spent some of it reading my textbooks out loud but directly translating them into English to see if I could do it. It worked! Even Rafael came and listened to make sure it was correct.

Right now Mateus is brushing his teeth and reading this. He is telling me to take a shower. I guess I should. And then sleep. I think this has got to be the shortest blog entry ever. Cool.

Remember: People like to shower a lot here. I guess I am a dirty Canadian. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

29 days

I managed to sleep in because my alarm didn't go off. I got out of bed around 12:20, just around when school was ending. I will make sure my alarm is set for tomorrow. I can1t lie here though, it was delicious to be able to sleep in.

I ate lunch and then went to buy some more silm for my camera. I want to film my city before I leave. As well as lots of people, my house, dance class etc. I saw Carol in her video store on my way to the town center. I stopped to talk to her. She said to pass by again on my way back.

When I came back we talked for a bit and then she invited me to go to the super market with her. So I waited for her to get off. We snacked and then went. We stopped by her mother's work in a clothing store. I checked out the outfits for little baby girls. I am thinking for buying some for my new niece in Canada! I also stopped to look at some flipflops to see if they had a pair to fit my brother Max's enormous hobbit feet. Unfortunately they didn't, apparently all the bigfooters had already been and snatched them all, but they said they would get some in.

When we got back from the store we ate. Then Carol's mom came home and Carol's little sister woke up. Her name is Ana Flavia and she is turning three on Sunday. I had a fun time teaching her some English. She was so excited when she would get it right and clapped her hands! It was very cute. Her little dog Bia was sitting with us too. She is just a little ball of fur.

My host Dad came and said that he would pick me up in a bit on his way back from his Rotary meeting. We got a movie from their video store and watched it. Then my pai came and picked me up.

Now I need to sleep. Because I actually have to go to sleep tomorrow.

Remember: How most houses here have jars of biscuits, and there are many different kinds. Like that type with cheese that is kinda hard and crunchy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One Month Count Down!!!

One month from today I will be returning to Canada. I have decided to start a daily blog until the day I leave. I will put anything I think is important in them. Like things that I want to remember about Brazil etc. They are probably going to be different than my previous entries, they are going to be completely random. It will just be an inside view for you about how things are winding down for me.

So today I went and bought some keychains at "the house of culture". It is this store in a really old building. I will bring them back to Canada as souvenirs. I went there after my Jazz dance class. I also bought some "brigadeiro" which was yummy. I have to remember to bring back some "toddy" to make it. Haha you are probably lost in reading this if you don't know what any of this food is. All you have to know is that it all makes for chocolaty-goodness. lol.

School was somewhat interesting. I have stopped sleeping in class. I have learned how to harness the willpower to stay awake. It is quite impressive actually. I think it all started after the time where I accidentally fell asleep during literature where my teacher had been talking about a woman who got tortured. In my dream I was hooked up to a machine and getting electricuted. I was zapped awake, and strangely after that have not been able to drift off again. Maybe it was some psychological thing.

I watched some Billy Elliot today and helped my host brother Mateus (new Mateus, not the other Matteus) with his English. Then Filipe came and I walked with him to his English course. Gosh, a lot of English today, I didn't go to the class though. I met a boy named Lucas there. He did not believe that I was from Canada.

When I came home mamãe had returned from work. Then my Dad came and we ate some soup. Then I went on the computer. I also petted Rufus (their labrador dog) for a bit. That is about it for now. Everything is just pretty serene.

Oh yeah, I finally finished writing in my first journal that I brought here! It has 256 pages, if you can believe it!

Remember this: how some showers in Brazil will give you an electric shock when you turn them on, use a towel!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Paz e Amor (Peace and Love)

Today there was a break through in my class at school.
I arrived late because I had gone to a Rotary meeting at 6:30 am in the morning (my Rotary club is full of early-riser not quite being a morning person but I don't mind :)) and had also said Happy Birthday to my Second Host Mom Helena. This put me at school at around 8:30 am.
Class was going well, except the part where I layed my head on my desk and had a boy named Bernardo come and put many tiny pieces of paper all over my head, mainly in my ears. The other day he was throwing paper balls at my hood-covered head as I shivered away in my seat. Everyone refusing to close the outside door no matter how many times I persisted. I even came to school in four layers of clothing! They do think I am pathetic though, it was no less than +15 degrees. They don't understand how I can be cold and yet have been born in the land of ice and snow. I want to tell them that at least in Canada when it is winter people act like squirrels; collect nuts, keep the doors CLOSED, use inside heating, wear lots of proper warm clothing, drink lots of hot chocolate, and take hot baths. Or at least that is what this Canadian does. I was the kid whose mother bundled up so tightly in a snowsuit that when I fell over I couldn't get back up again. I even peed my pants once when I didn't manage to undo my gear fast enough. My point being that yes I am Canadian, but no, in Canada you will not survive wearing flipflops in the snow.
Anyway, so class was going fine. Minimal paper throwing from Bernardo and people seemed pretty happy. By the time Biology class rolled around my teacher got everyone to put their desks in a circle and began to talk about the last year of school and also what people wanted to do in their futures. My profession seemed to be the only one that you can't put a name too, because I want to make music but at the same time help with social causes around the world. I guess you could call it "Bono" or something like that. But I also said that I want to do everything. I do, I want to do as much as I can. For example, I want to write a book. Why can't I? there is no rule saying that people are only allowed to have one profession in their life. I just want to learn as much as I can. But I don't know how I could have really explained that I want to do that (especially in Portuguese) so whatever, they think I want to be "Bono-like".
Anyway, my professor got to talking about how everybody is never going to forget their classmates and they will always be in their memories and hearts. Then he said that he was aware of some conflicts between pupils. Some people had not spoken to some other people for four whole years! One person just always ignored the other person and vice versa. My professor asked if it was really worth it and that did they really want to graduate on a bad note.
So what happened next was really surprising. Isadora got up, walked across the classroom to where Andressa was sitting and shook her hand, saying the word "desculpe" (sorry). Andressa then stood in turn and offered her hand to Tunico who accepted it, and then to Carol. Nearly everyone went and shook the hand of their former enemy. There were alot of people too! Some of which I wasn't even aware had a problem with each other! Some of which "sorry" was the first word exchanged between them in years.
Finally I stood up and said that I wanted to say something. Before having said that though, Bernardo hid behind his book thinking that I was going to go and forge peace between us. He should know that it takes more than a few balls of paper to start a war with me, especially to make me STOP talking. I am always the one to try to communicate. He eventually came out from behind his book. I said that the ultimate goal of youth exchange was actually mundial peace, and now with all of their school mates they had made peace! Then I sat down, but got back up and went over to shake Tunico's hand, because nearly everyone else was and I also wanted to apologize for anything that could have offended him. Lets just say he is very sensitive and he gave me the silent treatment more than once. Like even today I had crumbs on my nose and he tried to wipe it off but couldn't so I wiped it off myself, which caused him to walk away in sad silence. These little things really aren't worth fighting about but they are the root of these tiny fights that turn into year-long grudges. It's really not worth it. And when you look at how long it lasted and then the small amount of time it took to resolve it, it really is just funny when you think about it. Ridiculous really.
That was my day of peace and love. I thought I'd just share that with you so you could be reminded of what is truly important. It is like what my professor said, you have little fights with your brothers and sisters, your parents, but that doesn't end the relationship. And when you leave them (like I have) all of those little things melt away, almost like they never existed. What you are left with is what's real. And saying sorry first starts with forgiving yourself.

Peace and love


P.S - sorry about writing such a sappy thing about "Peace" and "love" and "peace, especially if you are one of those people who like to be really serious and straight to the facts. Stop kidding yourself and go hug your teddy bear that I know you keep hiding under your bed. I know you have a soft spot too. Peace out. :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

People of the Amazon

We went and visited two idigenous tribes, both times arriving to their communities by boat.
While we were on our way to the second one, Allan (the guide) told us about some of their traditions. He himself shared some of their blood. Kind of like the Meti of Canada except Native mixed with Portuguese etc.
Their way for getting married is a little more painful than typical methods. When I say painful I mean literally. The man who wants to marry the woman has to stay with lots and lots of ants on one of his hands and arms for a certain amount of time. From what I can recall, Allan said that the cheif decided the time but I can remember hearing the phrase, "normally three hours".
When asked if he had gone through it he replied,
"No, why do you think I'm not married!" George the rotarian from Argentina made a good point; that if a person could withstand the pain of ant bites then they would be better to withstand the pain and toil of their marriage to come. The good times and the bad. The weaker ones would stay single, because seriously, I do believe that embarking in marriage does require some level of tolerancey and you have to be up to it. It's not for the light of heart. So maybe their way of picking who got to get hitched wasn't so crazy after all.
I asked the question if the woman had a say in any of it. What would happen if she didn't like the guy? Could she say no? The answer was that the decision was not up to her. Then again, if the guy went through so much trouble just to get your hand, maybe he would be worth marrying. Or wouldn't he be?
The natives are facing some problems. there are all these different things that are restricted now in the Amazon as people are trying to protect it. The thing is, for example, that the natives need to fish in the river, it's their way of life, their means of survival. Look at it, they aren't really the ones destroying the rainforest, there really isn't that drastic of an impact to support their way of life. They live off the land, live with it. Actually after doing some research I have found that one big impact on the Amazon are the global climate changes caused by the increase in greenhouse gases which would mean that the developed countries who are the largest consumers of fossil fuels are responsible. Brazil uses mainly hydro-electric power.
I was surprised and saddened by the type of assimilation that some of the indigenous people have undergone and because of that, the culture that has been lost.
They do not practice their ancestor's religion anymore, they have converted to becoming Evangelistic. Even the knowledge of their religious beliefs and customs have been lost with the new generations. They even now speak Portuguese as their first language and learn their native tounge in school.
When it comes to the language I found it to be interesting. There didn't seem to be an original written form for it. They used the latin alphabit that English, Portuguese, etc. uses. Except some letters and sounds were removed. For example, I do not believe that "C" exists in their language. The fact that they only use our alphabet lead me to wonder if their language was purely oral. Only passed down between generations by speaking. Maybe they had pictures to represent or portray stories. I do not know for sure, I did not get the opportunity to ask.
I liked seeing how their community functioned. The only system that came to mind that it followed was communism. Except that it works in the way that Karl Marx actually imagined it to. Everyone is equal. When I talked to Kate from Canada about it we decided that there are too many negative things attached to the word communism so we decided to create a new term to describe their way of life; equalism.
A man (I think he worked on the boat) painted some of our faces with orangey-red natural paint that came from a strange looking fruit. It was pretty hard to get off after when I went bathing in the river.
We played soccor and at one point I had a break away and attempted to score. I felt slightly redeemed after having had so many collisions with other people in the last game. I slammed into who I think was one of the captains of the boats a number of times, he was just a little guy too. I am pretty sure Ben from Germany still has the huge bump on his shin from where my knee hit.
Pretty soon it started to rain. Hard, Amazonian rain. Meaning that it stayed really sunny but the down pour was alot. I guess I could compare it to being underneath the waterfalls at Foz do Iguaçu. Okay, well maybe it wasn't quite that hard but it was close.
Everyone still continued playing, sopping wet, strange-fruit painted faces. I looked around at all the people. People who had been brought together from all corners of the earth to a place that really showed mother earth in all her glory. Playing together in sportsmanship in a community where everyone is equal. Showing how the world really needs and could be. With people of all kinds coexisting in harmony. But when they were brought together like that, indigenous person and exchange student alike, any difference that would have seemed to seperate us disappeared. We were only left with one common unity, kicking the rain licked ball from one person to another; the joy and wonder of being alive. All part of this big, magnificent world.

*This is a diary entry transcribed (is that even a word? I seriously don't know anymore) :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Toucan's on my Trail

I moved host families the day after I arrived back from the Amazon. I was sad and reluctant to leave the great memories I had made with my second family but at the same time excited and ready to get to know my third. My new family is really awesome, their daughter is in Belgium on exchange. I will get to meet her when she comes back. I have another younger host brother named Mateus. He likes football (soccor) alot which is really funny to watch when his team wins and he does his happy dance.

I think about the third day after moving my parents called me outside one day to show me a toucan that was in a tree close to the house. I filmed him which allowed me to zoom up really close. He had a more colorful and brighter beak than I have ever seen on a toucan. Not that I have seen many of them but I was just comparing him to the one I saw in a Zoo in the Amazon.

Well it turns out that this toucan might have a thing for me because today at school a bunch of my classmates excitedly told me to look outside where I saw the distinctly bright-beaked toucan. I am pretty sure it was the same one.

Then when I was walking home from dance and I was coming into the house I saw him fly down and sit in a tree right beside me! I think it would be kind of too coincidental to be seeing the same toucan everywhere but I am almost sure it is. Maybe I will come back to Canada with a new pet! If of course the tiny monkeys I am gonna bring that like to eat the fruit out of the front yard trees allow for another toucan friend. Except I don't think those little furry guys would allow me to pry them away from eating their fruit, let alone stay quiet in a suitcase. But I will be curious to see, if one day in Canada I look out my window and see my multicoloured friend spying on me from a maple tree. Although I doubt that toucans can fly that far.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Into the Amazon

I went to the Amazon!!

It was amazing and indescribable. I will try to convey my experience on here as best I can in future entries. I am just so happy that I got the opportunity to go there. It is paradise on earth. I stayed on a boat for four days on the "Rio Negro" and slept in a hammock. I only took a shower on the boat once (it was together with the toilet!) and the other two times I bathed in the river in my bikini! The water was really dark, reminding me of coca-cola. I got to see where the Rio Negro flowed into the Rio Solomon and they together create the Amazon River, (rio is portuguese for river). It was so cool to see the two colors melting into one another creating the largest river on earth! It looked more like the ocean than a river.

One night we went into canoe type boats and went alligator spotting. Our guide Allan dove into the water and submerged with a baby alligator! she was small enough for us to hold and take pictures with. She seemed so frightened of us she barely dared to move. Everyone's question was the same; where was her mother? Allan said that if her mother had been there she would have swam away the moment Allan's body made contact with the water. She would have been warned by the sound. Even so, I would not volunteer to enter the water anytime soon.

Another day we went piranha fishing. We had these simple wooden fishing rods and used cut up steak as bate. It took a really long time but the first one to catch a fish was my Austrailian friend Jet. She just didn't know what to do after the fish was dangling in the air, it was pretty funny. Allan showed us how the piranha could use its razor sharp teeth by putting a leaf in its mouth. Altogether our boat caught about three, me not being one of the lucky ones. When I boat returned to the bigger boat the guy gave me all the fish and then I just walked around for a bit holding them. People from the other boats thought I had caught them all. I assured them I wasn't that talented at fishing for piranha. Later that night we ate fish, I asked if it was piranha and they said no. Too bad.

We also had a day where we learned how to survive in the Amazon forest. We got into our canoe boat things (they have a name in portuguese) and went along the river and through all the trees that were growing out of it. Unfortunately for Clarissa (a woman working for the tourism agency) she got stung at least 6 times on the outside of her face and even on her tounge and inside lip!! It was this type of wasp thing that looked like a giant mosquito. It also bit some exchange students but their reactions were normal. With her, her bottom lip swelled to a comical size!! I know it wasn't funny but it was a real sight to see. One girl from Denmark went back to the bigger boat and she was reduced to tears because she has a dangerous allergy to wasps and that sort of thing.

We finally got to some firm land and left the canoes where a "jungle man" (for lack of better words) lead us to the start of our survival journey through the Amazon. I think about five spiders managed to fall on me along the way, after a while my friends stopped pointing them out to me and just let them be. Which was such a relief when they told me. Hehehe. He showed us how to make fire, get water, find food, and create shelter. The water part was really cool because there is this type of wood that filters the water and you can drink out of it kind of like a straw, the water stays inside. The first thing he showed us to eat was a larvae!! at first I joked and said I would eat it (not knowing they would actually try to make me) but then I refused and a boy named Michael from Germany did. When I asked him what it tasted like he said it had been sweet. Then the jungle man (or G I Joe, whatever you prefer) found some Brazilian nuts for us. They were so delicious, they were juicy!!! I wanted more but couldn't because the other people needed some too. He then showed us many different ways to weave together leaves and such to create adequate shelter. It was really cool the different kinds of materials that can be used, some of them are really strong like rope! You know the kind that you can see in movies? Well, that was pretty much it. WE had to wade through lots of water and I asked him if there were snakes, he said, "we are in the house of the snakes, the house of all the animals, we are in the amazon!" Typical jungle man response. It was inspiring. I felt like so primal getting all dirty and making my way through all the vegetation. Afterwards we ate lots of fruit and chicken, using a big leaf as a plate. I felt like some sort of jungle cat.

Another day we went to hike through the forest and had another guide telling us different facts about it. I had to be careful not to grab a tree to steady myself well I walked through all the mud and leaves because there were spikes on them! Huge ones! It's not like walking through a forest in Canada. We came to some waterfalls and also some caves that had bats in them. There was water on the ground, again I was afraid of some sort of snake grabbing me from below. Nothing happened of course. I was also one of the only two people who wore open toed shoes after they had specifically told us not to. At least I am learning how to deal with my irresponsible choices. Lol. I was so scared that I was going to step on something venomous and die. Me and my over-active Canadian imagination. My friend from Austria had worn sandals too and in the end we decided that we weren't completely stupid because at least we didn't get our runners wet by wading through all the muddy water. I should mention that I saw a huge spider in a hole in the trunk of a tree, I am sure that my Dad in Canada would be delighted to hear that. I will show him the photo I took.

After words we went to a river with really dark water and lots of algae (which made it darker). There were strong rapids that would pull people along like a water slide. Except the rocks underneath acted like a cheese grate against my bottom. Not the most pleasant feeling but it was fun nonetheless.

Another day we swam in a type of hydro-electric lake that had pink amazon river dolphins!! I did my dolphin noises and they actually came closer, but then they left. They came back later though. They were so beautiful! ANd it was so breathtaking to see them with their rosy color. On another day we went to a sort of rehabilitation center and saw some manitee. They look really strange with their tiny eyes that close when they are above the water. It makes them look like they don't have any! There was a baby one who was drinking milk out of a bottle. Later I will put pictures of them up.

Anyway, that is all for today!!

Até mais! Beijos

Emily <3

Friday, April 24, 2009


AAAAAAAAAAHHH! I am just thinking of how it is going to be like to return to "reality". It's going to be so weird. I think it is safe to say that returning is going to be more of a shock than coming here. I'm trying just to focus on the "moment" now but the thought that in nearly two and a half months I will be on a plane flying back keeps finding a way to creep up on me. And airports to me are pretty much the same everywhere, so when I get to Canada is it really going to feel like it or is it just going to feel oddly like I am still in Brasil? Will the transition not be drastic enough? Will I wake up in my bed at night expecting to hear the comforting sound of the wolf hound sleeping outside my window? Or expect to see a ghekko on the wall spying on me while I watch T.V? Or the familiar sound of the bedroom door creaking open as my host mom wakes me to eat breakfast? I don't know. It seems that everything that used to be strange and foreign has now transformed to become familiar, secure. Maybe it's going to be like waking up from a very long, very intense dream. A dream that I will try to make last for as long as I can, but never quite be able to venture back to in the same way again. But life changes and I (you as well) just have to learn to live with the uncertainty of it, embracing that each moment is a new one. Remembering that with change there are most likely growing pains and everything may not be perfectly beautiful, not all butterflies are, but the important thing is what you learned in the end; how to fly.

Photo: A picture I took of a butterfly on a stranger's arm at the Foz do Iguaçu.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Canadian Goose Went South!

Wow, it has been a while, first I need to start by saying:

HAPPY EASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got back from a trip to the South of Brasil! I visited many different cities, even some other countries, not to mention met a lot of other exchange students. The photo above is of me and my friends from Mexico, France, Germany, and the United States! Down in the south, Easter is a really big deal because there is a large European influence so that is why we are "bunnified". They also make chocolate in the south which I had the pleasure of going to one of the factories. Where I got free chocolate and got to see the largest chocolate bunny in the world.
I got to visit the "Foz do Iguaçu" which are HUGE waterfalls that connect Brasil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Because of this I got to go to both Paraguay and Argentina!

There are five million people in Paraguay, the majority of which have a standard of living below the middle class. As soon as we crossed the bridge over the large river that seperates it from Brasil, I could definately see how Paraguay was uniquely different from Brasil. It had a dusty street-vender feel with markets lining the roads. Paraguay is known for its low prices and actually its "fakes" (for example a puma purse that isn't a real puma purse). Walking down the street many people approached me trying to convince me to buy socks. That's right, socks. Everywhere I went. They weren't even the hardcore kind of socks, they were ankle socks. My question was, why would a tourist's first need be to buy a pair of nike socks, especially in the blistering heat? And when they were wearing flipflops. Well apparentally there had to be some reason because it won some other exchange students over. The funny thing is, I had thought that I had wanted to buy "a cultural item" of Paraguay. Looking back now I realize that "the cultural item" would have to be a pair of socks. I just thought it was funny, but it's okay, I like socks. I am a sock person. I even have some fuzzy ones. Maybe I should have bought some...hmmm.
We just shopped in Paraguay and I guess I must have been a little overwhelmed by all the stuff because all I ended up buying was lipgloss. Even though it came in a bag that said "keychain, made in Korea". Kids at school were dumbfounded that I didn't buy more, they must think I am crazy or something for not giving into the deals down there. What can I say, I guess I am just not the biggest shopper.

So that was Paraguay. In Argentina we went and saw the waterfalls of course. Then we did some more shopping. It was duty free. Again I just bought some make-up (eyeliner) and some skiddles. There was a store that had American candy that you can't get here. So that was nice to have a familiar taste in my mouth. You know, taste the rainbow. Oh that reminds me, at all the waterfalls we went to there were beautiful rainbows where the water crashed, along with many butterflies. Oh and there were also these vultures that circle the top of the waterfalls to watch for when an animal falls over so they can dive down and get the dead meat. There were also these rodent things that were common in the area. They remind me a little of raccoons. they are not afriad of people and know how to work the tourists. They will steal the food out of your hands, that is all I have to say. :)

We also went on a Safari where at the end we got into boats until we came to the meeting of all the falls and then went underneath them! At one moment I was on the side of Argentina and the next I was back in Brasil. The water was colder than you'd think, but I dried quickly. It was an amazing experience, so refreshing, and so breathtakingly beautiful. When we were going back and the wind was blowing in my face and I couldn't hear anything, it was just such a great moment where I was just so thankful to be there. Trying to soak it all in. On the safari there were these HUGE blue butterflies. I always saw them in movies but to see them flying in their natural surroundings was just awesome.

I also went to the beach one time in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina. It's nickname is "Floripa". One time I body surfed and caught a wave perfectly. I just floated with it like I was part of it and it took me really far! You have to get it just right or else you will be too fast or too slow and miss it. The water was a little colder (as was the later part of the trip, mainly in Porto Alegre) the Canadian in me adapted pretty quick. All of us also went sandboarding on the sand dunes! when I stood on the top of them I could see the ocean and then more dunes and some foliage off in the distance. It was very beautiful as well. Well pretty much, the south was just very beautiful in general. Sandboarding can be compared to snowboarding, but with the exception that it is done on sand (obvious. I have never been snowboarding in my life which is kind of funny considering where I come from. I have been sandboarding but not snowboarding! It was really fun and also really scary all at the same time. I even went off a sand jump....but a really small one.

Another time we stayed at a hotel that backed onto a lake (I think translated it was called the "black lake") and we went on a boat to the other side where we walked to see another waterfall (and I swam in the water!). We then ate FRESH shrimp and fish at the restaurant. It was very delicious. They think that some people got sick from the shrimp, but I ate a lot and was perfectly okay so that was lucky. We also went to this place where they used to grind grain (or something of the sort). As a tradition they still do it every year!

Before I started on my Rotary trip I stayed in Belo Horizonte with the Exchange student Coordinator for about four days. He gave like a tour of the city and I also went to Ouro Preto (which is an antique mining city) and into a mine! I found out that the state I live in, "Minas Gerais" actually translates to "General Mines". Referring to all the mines that are present. It is rich in gold and diamonds for example. That is also why it is more populated because people came here many years ago to make a profit. Slaves were also used a lot. I can't believe that I didn't make that connection before about the translation! I knew that there was lots of mining, I should have looked at the name more closely! Anyway, I thought it was neat.

Here are some places that we visited:
Curitiba, Iguazu Falls, Gramado, Canela, Paraguay, Argentina, Florianopolis, Porto Alegre, I am pretty sure the list goes on but these were the main destinations. Here is a link to Ouro Preto if you would like to check it out:

I am sorry for how "stream of consciousness" style this entry is and I hope that you could follow it! I just did and saw so many things! I don't know where to start. I have many stories as well. I will write more in another blog about my trip.Brasil is a big, diverse, beautiful country!

<3 Emily

P.S - here is a picture of me at the Foz do Iguaçu (this is a smaller waterfall! Look up "La Garganta del Diablo" That was huge!!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Math, +25 degrees feels like 10

A rose in the front of my house

At my city's gold mine with the wife of the governador of Rotary and Lydia (rotarian) Withthese glasses I look like my mother in the eighties and nineties!! LOL

Hugging the Rotary sign in my city

A little piece of Brazilian sky

My little ballerinas :)

So I haven't really written in here for a really long time. I guess it is just because I have been procrastinating. I have been doing so much and don't really know where to start with what to tell you. So I guess I will just start with today. That is always the best way to start anyway, right? I'll fill you in on the other stuff later.
Today in school I was completely surprised by myself. A few weeks ago in Math class my teacher asked a question and asked this boy named Willian to answer it. He didn't know the answer and the teacher just waited there expectantly. So my friend Felipe told me the answer, which was really simple, and I put up my hand and answered it. Just for fun. And so of course everyone was all like, "oooohh, Willian, the exchange student knew it and you didn't". So then he kinda stuck his tounge out at me, so in playful response I told him that on the math test I would get a higher mark than him. This was said as a pure joke. I didn't actually think there was any way for it to happen.
First of all because I didn't even finish grade 10 math in Canada. Because I was doing so bad I didn't want to have a terrible mark so I decided to stop while there was still hope. So I can repeat it in summer with a tutor and actually learn and understand it while getting a better mark. Instead of uselessly scratching through, and then not really understanding anything so doing even worse in grade 11 math.
so that was the first thing. The second thing is, I am not even in grade eleven here. I am in grade twelve. So I am doing grade twelve math, with having pretty much skipped grade 10 and 11. And not only that but right now, I have difficulties in math, especially trigonometry. On top of all this, I am learning it in Portuguese.
Anyways, I did the test, actually amazed that I was almost sure I got a question completely right. Today when I got it back my teacher said, "You scored higher than Willian". I didn't believe it. And I felt kinda bad for it, like I didn't mean to actually get a higher mark, I thought that it was impossible.
Now before you go thinking that I got 60% or something, politely just throw that number out of your mind and take all the above factors into consideration. So with everything I managed to get 26%. I know, I have never been so happy at failing in my life!!!
Also on my Brazilian Literature test I got 31%, which was really surprising. Again this was a higher mark than some people. But that is not the point of course. The point is this; now all the kids who scored lower than me are saying to themselves, "the exchange student who doesn't even have to write the tests managed to get a higher mark than me? And she wrote them in her second language?". So maybe now they have a little motivation. I hope. Or maybe they just hate me. But they are not those kind of people. I just think that maybe next time they will study a little harder. Which will only do them good.

I should also mention that last week or so I was freezing in class. Shivering, the works. I commented that it must have been at least 10 degrees outside. After school when Mamãe picked me up, I asked her how many degrees it was. Turns out it was +25....and I was cold. I couldn't believe it, my body has really adapted to the climate here. When I return to Canada it is gonna be like shell shock.

Wednesday I am going to go to Belo Horizonte by bus. Then I will stay in the house of the coordinator of all the exchange students. then on Friday I am gonna catch a plane with all the other kids to go to the South of Brasil. There I will see Foz do Iguaçu, Santa Catarina etc. It is colder there so I better pack a hoody. My god, it could actually be like 20 degrees. LOL.

I won't get back until like the 10th of April I think, so, good-bye until then!!!

Emily <3

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

FIVE MONTHS!!!!!!!!!

I have been here for five months today! Whoo hoo! I have five months more. I have come to the halfway mark. You can expect some blogs really soon, with photos too. I have been working on them but not finishing them so saving them to "drafts" lol. But anyway, WHOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO!!!

<3 Emily

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dancing to Laughter

Yesterday I taught my first ballet class here. It wasn't anything fancy it was just in my house. I had three studants, Andressa, Vanessa, and Elaine. They are twelve, nine, and ten. I had them laughing alot because of the analogies I used for them to understand and remember the movements. For example that when they point their feet they have an orange under there foot and they need to point completely or else they won't make enough juice. It went really well.
Then today I learned that three more girls were coming who wanted to learn ballet. So in all there were six. Two six year old twins and an eight year old. I moved the class to the garage so we would have more space. But all through the class more kids showed up, watching from the street. So I invited the ones who wanted to join to come in. Later others came in who just wanted to watch along with the girls' mothers. There were some boys there, I think they wanted to learn too but were too shy. Maybe next time I can bribe them with some "bubbaloo" (gum).
I didn't use any music this time because I needed to teach them all the basics first. Tomorrow I will get music to dance to. So instead of music, we danced to laughter. All of them just seemed so happy. When somebody went to try a new exercise and the others watched, everybody clapped after they had finished. Everybody had big smiles. So we were dancing to laughter.
I was so amazed that so many people are interested in this. I guess to be a ballerina is the dream of many little girls. Even for some who don't have the conditions to make it happen. So I am helping them make it happen. I touched all of there barefeet to show them how to point, their barefeet with the dust of the street. Afterwards they asked me if they could bring socks tomorrow. I told them if they wanted to they could.
When it was over they asked me what they could call me. I told them they could call me whatever they wanted. One little girl named Rafaela came up to me after (she has a twitch where she cricks her neck back every thirty seconds or so) and she said to me in a soft voice that I had to bend down to hear, "Can I call you 'Rosinha'?" I told her that of course she could. It means "little rose" it is an endearment of the name Rose. If these many kids stay wanting to learn ballet I think I will have to use a space at the church across the street to teach them. I also want them eventually to have ballet shoes.
Yesterday I went to meet another Rotary Club. The club called "The Rotary Club of Paracatu 200". I think (logically) that it was created when Paracatu turned 200 years. Which was ten years ago.
The meeting went well and they talked about how people from India will be coming here and how to accomodate them. This is because the only meat that most of them eat is chicken and fish. The girl that will be staying in my host mom's house only eats fish. It is probably difficult for the ROtarian's to comprehend completely because this is Brazil, people eat alot of meat!
On the table during the meeting there were bowls of fried pork. I was eating them when I met the man beside me. He was the son of a rotarian called Mauria who was sitting on my other side. He asked what country I was from. I said India. He told me that I wasn't from India so I told him Canada. I then asked him how he knew that I was not from India. He said it was because I was eating duh. Heheheh. Before trying to trick somebody about your origin you should probably not overlook a fact like that. Especially since people just talked about how they don't eat meat. Oh well, he probably believed for like a millisecond.
I talked to the President of the Rotary Club. He said he lived in Vancouver for a bit and also took a bus tour through the rocky mountains. Pretty cool. I think he also visited Calgary. He said, "Good city, lots of oil...lots of money." lol. Well at least people see Calgary as a prosperous city.
Yesterday I also went to get my clothes from my first host family's house. I have been living for two weeks with one pair of jeans...and that is the only kind of pants we are allowed to wear in school. Gustavo showed me where my clothes were because Matteus didn't know and was making chocolate/banana pancakes with his two friends Denise and Natalia. He better not forget that I was the one who taught him that. lol. Or I just might have to remind him and steal all the pancake ingredients in Brazil to get the message across that they are a Canadian delicacy. I wouldn't have to steal the maple trees considering that they don't have any...but I guess I could plant some then dig them up after. Well I don't know where I would get the seeds too....ok wow, I am rambling.
SO while I was there I talked to my first mom about Carnaval and she said that we won't be going to another city but staying here because everywhere was too full. I will go to their friends farm again so that will be fun. And also go to see the music and stuff in the street. Lots of people who live in Brazil say that Carnaval is really crazy, and I have been finding that a few people don't even like it! So I am ok with not going to a huge city for Carnaval. I am sure it will be fun and new though.
Today I went to my club's Rotary metting in the morning. I spoke about everything that I have been up to. They talked about the people coming from India as well today.
When I arrived at school I had to wait for the next class before going in. So I sat in a chair near the front office. People passed me by (people in my class) and asked me why I was there. I told them. Then they were off to go back to class. I thought that it didn't really make sense that I wasn't allowed to re-enter the classroom with them, but whatever.
I was really happy in chemistry because I solved a problem all by myself and then got it checked and it was right! My professor seemed really happy too.
After school I went home and ate lunch and then went to a Jazz class. It went well and I am only about two inches away from doing the side splits. The closest I have ever been in my life. I think it is because the heat makes my muscles more malleable. Anyway, it was exciting. And the other people in the dance class freaked out a little.
After I went to school to play basketball and got three baskets! Then did like this gymnastic swimming class thing where we did exercises in the water. My toes started to cramp and would not move. the toe beside my big toe was pressed up against it and wouldn't return back to normal (well as normal as my gnarled ballerina feet can be lol). It hurt so much, I told the teacher and she helped and told me to eat bananas to help it. After the class it happened again and I accidentally let slip some swears in English, but at least that means that people couldn't understand me. Hehe hehe hehe hehe....oops. But the pain was excruciating.
Then I walked home, met Andressa in the park and talked with her, went inside had a shower and when I came outside all the little girls were waiting for me to let them in. I am just happy that I have something to give them. Something I hope they will never forget.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day :)

Sarah and I (Man my hair has gotten long!)At her birthday party a few weeks ago/ going away party for Leticia

Yesterday I woke up early to go with Rotary to hand out pamphlets on how to prevent dengue in communities where it is more likely to occur. Nobody has gotten sick yet but there are the mosquitos that spread it so caution needs to be practiced. For example, one woman's water tank does not have a lid so that is an ideal breeding spot. Rotary is going to look into getting one for her. People seemed grateful that we were there to support them against dengue.
There was this one stray dog who followed us the whole time and went up with us when we went to people's doors etc. What a good-natured little guy.
I talked to my Rotary President about dengue, malaria and two other diseases. One of them you get it from dogs. It jumps from dogs to humans. I couldn't help but wonder if our little friend (and his little friends who arrived later on) had it. My President (Adélio) told me how he works for a lab that researches these diseases. I think they research the immunity or something like that. He told me that here does not have malaria but that there is alot in "The Amazonias". He said they have to make sure that an infected person from the Amazons does not come here because if they get bitten by a mosquito then that is how the disease is transferred. I used to always think that mosquitos only bite once, I guess I was wrong. Stupid little greedy blood-hungry creatures!! Lol.
A news team came later on and interviewed Adélio. Everyone stood beside him, so I guess that means I was on T.V. I probably looked really awkward but it's okay.
Afterwards I had lunch and then went to my host parents farm. The country was really beautiful threre and I got to see my host dad's HUGE crop of soya beans. He showed me how the caterpillars have been eating the plants really bad. Today he told me that they are adapting to the spray that is used to kill them. Because there is no winter like in Canada, they stay alive the whole year and therefore adapt more. I told him how I worried about this and thought that in the future they would be like "super bugs" and go out of control and then people would starve because of this. He said that it is a probability.
We drove in a pick up truck so near the end my host mom and I stood in the back. The wind blew a sweet smeell into my face and the breeze was refreshing. I closed my eyes and remembered how I was in Brazil. With all the wind rushing past it felt like I was flying, and then it was so loud it felt like I was on fire and I could hear the roaring of the flames, then I was cold and surrounded by water. I was just about to think that I needed to imagine myself in earth when my host father ran over a wood stump and I was knocked back down to earth with a jolt and opened my eyes. It broke the right part of the front of the truck but the damage wasn't detramental.
We went to one farm and there were these two little kids there. we picked goiba and ate them. To my dismay when I was half-way through mine I saw a plump little worm squirming around, and then another. Because I have my whole "fear of worms" I dropped it to the ground and couldn't will myself to eat another. My host mom laughed at me because of this. She said children that live on the farm eat everything. Well I am sorry, I just can't eat a worm when I know it's there, I can eat ants sometimes, but not worms. Lol.
We then went and picked some limes and also acerola. Along with another fruit that I liked alot. I never tried it before but it is really orange/red, juicy, and sweet.
I went inside to see the little boy's music video that he liked to watch, it was a song about a child who lives on the street. Really sad, and kind of heavy for a five-year old to watch. But I guess it is good for him to know the reality of the world. I played with this darling little puppy who fell asleep on my lap while I watched. He had these enormous bulgy eyes.
I also found a mango seed with a seedling growing out of it. The little girl, the boy, and I planted it. It would be cool if it actually grew and I returned one day to see it bigger. I taught the little girl how to give a high five.
We also went to see where the water is kept that is then transported to water all the crops. The water was a strange murky-grey color I have never really seen before. Interesting how water is different colors around the world.
Later when we went home I ate with the daughter of Christina who works with my host mom. She is twenty and taking bio-medicine. Somehow I ended up showing her some ballet and then telling her that I will start having a class where I will teach some girls who wanted to learn. She said she was interested.
After that I went to my friend's apartment. We talked, laughed and played the game of life, and then ate (again, meals are like "hobbit" meals, you know, "lunch, and then second lunch, and then third lunch" etc. lol).
Her mom made some rice wrapped in seaweed and this soup from euka root. I had it before, it is very good. She said that one day she will teach me how to make it. then we just talked for a long time and laughed alot.
We returned to our game of life and then I went on the computer to show them pictures of my family and friends in Canada and also the News clip of my Mom. Oh yeah, my mom in Canada happened to be walking down the street on Thursday when a man suddenly lit himself on fire. She started to help him and yell so nine other people heard and came to help. It is lucky that my mom has such a loud voice, also that there was an ambulance that happened to be passing by. It is sad that the man did that to himself, it is because he did not want to be deported out of Canada. This just shows what kind of an amazing country I had the privilege of being born in. I can never be too thankful for that. I hope that the man gets better, he is in hospital right now.
They thought it was very sad that it happened and were very interested in the story. Then my host dad came to pick me up.
This morning I left at 7:00am in the morning to drive to another city to visit my host dad's brother and wife. His brother (Eduardo) has a farm as well but grows potatoes. They took me to a huge plantation of carrots, it is where the carrots are grown for most of brasil. I ate one. Hehe. There were carrots in perfect rows for as long as the eye could see, and where it ended there were coffee crops.
Then I went to my host Uncle Eduardo's potatoe crop. There are lots of caterpillars eating there too. He let us take some potatoes home. They are the less attractive kind because they are used to make "Elma Potatoe Chips" in the states!! So if you ever eat some of those, just think that you could be eating potatoes from the same farm that I visited! Cool huh?
His wife (Helena) gave me a nice little red pouch as a present that she made to keep earrings in etc. It was very nice.
Then I drifted in and out of sleep on the car ride home and went to sleep when I got home. Then woke up, ate, and then went on the computer. I use chop sticks to eat alot here with this host family, I just thought that was an interesting thing for you to know. Also that we eat alot of Japanese food including "tempuro" (not sure of the spelling), friend vegetables in batter. I just thought you might want to know that to be a little jealous. Heheh :P
I would also like to say; HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!! People don't celebrate it here but I am pretty sure most of them know what it is. I hope you all had a good one!! And also, I left it to last because it is pretty important, to my sister and Ryan (the newly Wed's) who married on Feb. 14, 2009, the anniversary of when they met,


P.S - the link (if it shows up) is to the news story

Ok I don't think it showed up (or at least I can't see it) so just copy and paste.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pancakes, Giraffas, and Gabriel's 4th Birthday

I look overly happy, the birthday boy, Andressa, baby Gabriela, and my new Host Mom

Natalia (with my stuffed penguin doddle), Laíza, Luiza, and I with "Bubbaloo" (the translation for bubbalicious gum, awesome huh?)


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hey Jude; it's been four months

Today marks the end of my fourth month in Brazil. YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!
I have been doing alot lately. Yesterday I went to school, came home, ate lunch, and then went to my second jazz class. I really enjoy dancing again, even all the sweat feels good. Hahah my host mom makes me bring a towel with me. Sorry, that could have been a fact that you didn't need to know. Lol. But it's amazing how muscle memory works, my body is like right back where it used to be and remembers all the different movements. Although it does cramp like crazy sometimes. Sigh, I'm not as young as I used to be..hehehehhee. I know my mom would probably yell at me for saying that.
After dance I went back to school and played basketball. The last time I actually played I was thirteen (I know, it's sad) but I was awe stricken when the coach let me pick teams. I do have a height advantage, I was the tallest one there. I am like a giant. Every family I stay with I like tower over everybody, I am this giant from the land of ice and snow. Heheheh. This girl that I picked to be on my team asked me if it was cold in Austrailia, I told her that I was from Canada and that it is cold there. I also reminded her that Austrailia is hot like Brazil. It seems to be a trend lately that people think I am an aussie, probably because of my rugged giant look.
After we played I walked home/ran home. In the heat. But wasn't hot. It was strange. I just felt like running. I saw little Gabriel, his mom, and baby Gabriela leaving their house so I walked a little with them.
Oh I forgot to tell you what happened in school. I went to the laboratory and saw a human head cut in half, a whole preserved human body, fetuses, etc. I have to admit that I was surprised how well I handled it. Like I have been trying so hard to avoid having to look at that sort of thing but I have to be honest, it was pretty interesting. It is a little weird now though because I can't help but think to myself that the whole time I have been going to school "Fred the head" and "buddy the body" have just been laying there (Yeah, that is what I named them) waiting.. wow my blogs have really gotten...interesting. But still, I am playing basketball thinking, "Yep, Buddy's there, in that room I can see right now while I bounce a ball around that isn't at all reminding me of a human head..."
Anyway, my host mom told me that a rotarian was going to take me to college with her at 6:30pm. Her name is "Laís" and she has an uncanny resemblence to Ashley Tisdale from High school musical. I will eventually get a picture of her and put it beside one of Ashley Tisdale's so you can see. She said that three people have told her this.
We went on the ônibus (public transit bus), it was my first time. On the actually bus there is a gate that you have to pay and then the guy lets you pass. I talked alot with Laís because the drive to her college was really long. Or longer than most drives here in Paracatu. She is taking a course on law because she wants to be a Judge. Everybody takes the same law course and then later branches out into what they want to be. She is twenty years old and the youngest rotarian in our rotary club. It is funny because some exchange students turn twenty in Brazil! she is a really cool person.
She told me that she is the sixth generation grandchild to the grandchild of Pedro Álvares Cabral (the explorer who discovered Brazil!). It's amazing, I actually met a descendent of the man who discovered the country I am in! He discovered it on April. 22, 1500, which is why she is the sixth generation lol.
The college was made to look like Greek Architecture. It is called "Athena's" which would probably explain that part. Laís showed me the different parts of the school, the libarary, and also explained to me how the judicial process goes in Brazil. Brazil is a federation, not a confederation like Canada. It also is not common law here, it is derived from Portuguese civil law. Here is a link if you are interested in checking it out:
I got to go to her class as well. It was pretty cool, I even took notes. I can't lie though, I didn't really understand anything but I think it was something about a pregnant woman.....
Later I looked at the door and there was this guy motioning me to go outside. I just looked away but he kept doing it so I told Laís. It was her friend so we went outside to meet them. They were all really cool. We stayed in the corridors talking after that and I met more people, and also I met the people who tell the people who are in the corridors to leave the corridors. Hahah. It is very similar to my school in Canada. Alot more independence. The people didn't make us leave though because they were me. I did my dolphin noises for them and then it lead to one of them asking if there were Kangaroos in my country. Again, with the Austrailian thing. I then explained to them that we don't have kangaroos but have polar bears. Which then lead to the question if I have a bear as a pet. You know, because I ride one to school everyday. I love talking to people about these things, it is really amusing. They were also really excited that Canada has reindeer, because of Santa and all.
Then I met more people and some professors, some thought I was going to school there. They asked me what course I was taking. I also got to see Laís' friends' class which was just a screen with a guy talking on it. It goes to all of Brazil and the guy is actually in São Paulo teaching. She is the only person in the "mini course" which is what it is called. I knew the professor on the screen was from São Paulo before they told me because I could tell from his accent. They sound more like pirates or maritimers. They pronounce "R" like "Arrr" instead of "pushing the R" which sounds more like a French "R" pronunciation. People here in Minas Gerais speak with the "French R" (well that is what I call it) so I speak with it too. When I first arrived I said one word with a São Paulo accent because whoever I had learned it from had one. It was the word for "because". Later I changed the way I pronounced it because I thought I was wrong. It wasn't until later that I realized both ways are correct.
People said that my accent is beautiful...and then tried to imitate it. Which was a little depressing. Hahahah. I am determined to lose my accent eventually (or most of it) even if it takes me getting a speech coach later on in my life. People still say I speak good Portuguese but I still want to lose my "Austrailian" accent lol.
A met a student who is training in medicine (Omg I just forgot how to spell medicine right there, I had to respell it like five times, see, I am losing English!!) and I was stupid enough to tell him that I went to the laboratory at school that day. He then told me that I could come back another day and he would show me the lab there, that has a lot more "things" to look at than my school has (Fred and Buddy). I said okay because it will be a learning experience.
Then we went home on the ônibus. Before we ate and stuff too. I got home at midnight and then did some homework. I woke up at 6:30am this morning. I was really happy because in Math class I showed my professor the work I had done and that I understood it, he was pleased and stamped my paper with the word "legal" which means "cool". But sadly, I fell asleep in Chemistry. I had copied the notes before everyone else because my hand just moved automatically, and laid my head down to wait. But when I opened my eyes the class was over. Oh well, at least I am understanding Math, for once in my life. It is funny because I am understanding it better now than I did in English.
Today I went to sleep after lunch for a little bit because I was just so hot and exhausted. The heat can be really wearing. Right now I have a fan blowing directly on me at the table beside the computer.
Andressa came over later on and we fooled around on the computer a little bit before I had to go to a different Rotary Club's meeting. I showed her Beatles Music.
The Rotary Cloub I went to is called "The Rotary Club of Paracatu" and has been going for twenty years (heheh the same age as Laís). There are lots of members. I saw the other Matheus who will be my next host brother. His sister is in Belgium. It just so happened to be the President of the Club's birthday today as well as another member's birthday. So Helena (my host mom) got this idea that I should sing "Hey Jude" for them. So I did. And it went okay, or at least they liked it. They seemed pretty happy. It reminded me of a time in Calgary with my friends on Steven Avenue at night and we started singing it and then all these random people on the street started singing too. One thing I have learned is that these things are universal; music and laughter. They are part of every culture. Or every culture I know of. They are just part of human culture. That's why I think it is possible to communicate and connect with anyone despite any differences, because what we all have in common is our human-ness.
Almost half of my exchange is over and I am learning alot. I have decided I will do even more now that I am thoroughly settled in here. And sleep less, because I want to savour every moment. An exchange is more than just going to another country, it is going to another world and leaving everything else behind. Going there with nothing and then in that, finding yourself.