Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day One: Arrival!

Wednesday, January 7

Our long odyssey is finished and we are officially settling into life in Brazil!  We already feel like we have been here a week or more and we regularly reference what we saw here “yesterday” even though we haven’t even been here 24 hours yet.  Our flights were not excruciating, though we very much expected them to be.  Our tallest guy got a row to himself on our first flight and got to stretch his long legs out and sleep after our painful 3:30 meeting time for our 4:00 departure.  One of us overslept (we’re not telling who it was!) and squealed in just in time to jump on the bus.  Though it was a bit dramatic for a moment or two, it all worked out fine in the end.  

Things went smoothly all the way across the country and as we dropped down into South America and our drivers met us as planned to move our monstrous luggage to our very short term home in Santarém.  We learned that we will only be here for about two days until we pack up again and leave for the community upriver where we will spend most of our time.  We will tell you more about that place when we get there but we will let you know now that we are returning to the same primary site visited by last year’s Jan Term group.  

For today, though, we were crazy, crazy, crazy tired but Shawny pulled her usual torture of keeping us up as long as possible to help us recover from our redeye flight and adjust to a time zone five hours away from our California homes.  We looked longingly at our new hammocks in our dormitory rooms but agreed to trek into town to get a feel for the place that is the “big city” of our current Brazilian state.

We took a city bus downtown (always an adventure!) and walked the riverfront to take in the town. We stopped an ice cream vendor and most of us tried avocado popsicles (which are GREAT!) while others sampled peanut, acai and some other exotic fruit the name of which we can’t remember.   We got great joy out of standing on the banks of the actual Amazon River trying to eat popsicles faster than they could melt in the Amazon sun.  

We went in search of last minute items like flip-flops (Havaianas – made in Brazil -- only!), personal journals and Brazilian currency.  Like everything here, it took way longer than we might have predicted to complete these rather simple tasks.  At one point most of us gathered at one bank while only a couple of people trekked to another one in search of cash.  In the shadow of the bank’s doorframe, many of us fell asleep sitting on the concrete.  

We hurried home to enjoy the excellent cuisine of our friend and group cook: Louro.  He made his specialty: fried chicken.  After our satisfying lunch we finally took the naps we all had craved all day, but only for a short period to keep our time zone transition safe.  

While we napped, Shawny and Jesse went to visit the agency with whom we will work in the community of Anã: Saude e Alegría (Health and Happiness).  They learned that the agency was completely thrilled with the work of last year’s group (Yay, DIRT 2014!) and wants to pick our brains to improve their work as community collaboration experts.  We are honored to try to be of some assistance.  

As always, we are having major technical difficulties getting up and running here and we hope that we resolve them soon.  But we’ve been here five times before and we know better than to make any promises.  

We’re excited to be here and we are excited to share everything that happens here with you.  Keep clicking back and we will keep trying to make sure you will find new content when you get here . . .

Daily Photos

 Leaving San Francisco at 7am to embark on the journey of a lifetime.


Saying a prayer at the chapel at the hostel for our trip as we begin one of the many adventures in Santarém.

The first flower to catch our eyes when we pulled in to the hostel in Santarém. Pure beauty.

Representing Saint Mary’s out in Santarém. Gaels go global slogan in full force!

Please do not bother the plants! One of the many signs around the Hostel protecting the foliage.  

Ahead is the Tapajós where it meets with the Amazon (Brown color) at the far end of the river.

On our daily stroll on the beachfront in Santarém. Can you believe the view? The clouds are something else. 

An interesting medallion glued to the rock on our walk. We’ve never seen anything like it. 

An interesting perspective from the streets downtown. It’s so different from anything we’ve ever seen in the United States.

Motorcycles and Mopeds are one of the easiest ways to get around in Santarém. They fill the streets. If only you could see how they navigate the streets. Locals pay people to cover their seats with cardboard because they get hot after being parked awhile.

A church in Santarém whose baby blue stood out among the buildings downtown. What do you think it looks like inside?

The stark contrast between the Tapajos and Amazon Rivers can be seen from the shore of Santarém.

We hit the town on our first day in Brazil, where we formed a bittersweet relationship with the Equatorial sun.

We were all nice and cozy in our colorful hammocks, where we crashed after long travels and our first day in Brazil. (photo enhanced)

Connor and Michael helped pack all of our luggage onto the buses at the tiny Santarém airport. (photo enhanced)

Looking over a port in Santarém. (photo enhanced)


1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad to hear of your safe arrival in the wonderful Brasil. I can't wait to watch the first video. Will it feature Carlos and Shawny's walk on the beach?
    - Jaclyn