Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Day Seventeen: Galinhas, Pinturas and A Complete Alteration of History!

 Day Seventeen: Friday, January 27, 2017

OMG!! OMG!!  OMG!!  We won a soccer game!!!  3-0!!!  OMG!  Details below! 

What a surprise this morning!  Not only did we not get awakened at the usual time this morning, but the breakfast crew didn’t get an earlier wakeup than the rest.  Even more, Shawny, Jesse and Gui got up early and made pancakes for us while we slept late.  A few of us woke up and feared something was wrong, as daylight was fully upon us, Shawny and Jesse were missing, and most of us were still asleep.  Zummo got up early and helped with breakfast; Julius and Jake followed not long after.  The rest, though, enjoyed uninterrupted sleep for a whole extra hour.  Everyone was super happy when we got up and our happiness only increased when we got to eat pancakes, both plain and M&M ones. 

Junior and Zé both showed up at the pousada and were surprised to find it relatively quiet.  When we finally got up, that state of calm changed quickly and we hurriedly ate breakfast and prepared for a day of work.  We split into two roughly equal groups: one to stay in our area and take on more painting, the other to do finish work at the chicken coop. 

The ones who stayed back enjoyed one of the most beautiful days we’ve had (lots of sun but not too much heat), with lots of birds singing and monkeys playing all around our area.  That group painted the new sleeping area a kind of brick-ish color and some of the unfinished walls around the kitchen in white.  They repainted the bathroom to match the new one and they repainted the oca that brick-ish color.  It is no longer the pink Strawberry Shortcake hut!  The painting group did a lot of work, but none of it was terribly difficult, so it was a good combination of feeling very productive but not getting exhausted doing so. 

The chicken coop group didn’t have very difficult work either, though two of the jobs to be done there were a little complex.  The areas that needed to be finished included: the gap between the slope of the roof and the chicken wire ceiling, the openings in the ends of the peaked roof, creation of new beds of banana leaves for the chickens to roost and lay eggs and removal of the tree that probably facilitated the entry of the maracajá into the galinheira.  (Galinha, by the way, means hen and galinheira means henhouse.) 

On the first job, Jake and Kevin took the lead and helped Junior fill the gaps using scrap wood that was lying around.  Claudia jumped in on that job too.  Covering the ends of the peaked roof was more complex than it might seem because it was almost impossible to reach the spots where the new triangles of chicken wire needed to be fastened.  We figured it out.  And we taught our hosts the wonders of zip-ties as fasteners, making quick work of the job. 

Creating new roosts was fun for Shawny, Zummo and Annie, because Madalena helped them use dead banana leaves from the banana tree Shawny planted two years ago to fashion little ringed nests for the chickens to use to lay their eggs.  We had heard that the chickens wouldn’t lay eggs for two weeks or more as they needed to adjust to their new space, but we got two eggs this morning and it seemed that more might come still today.  At one point, the whole chicken coop crew was hanging around the outside of the coop, holding onto the wire and looking in, hoping to see a hen actually lay an egg.  Elvis was playing, a breeze was blowing, the sun was shining (but we were in the shade) and we just happily waited.  It kept looking like a hen was about to lay an egg, but we didn’t witness it. 

The big job of the day there was to take down a three-trunked tree that seemed to provide an entryway for the sneaky cat that killed the last chickens.  One of the trunks was pretty thin so we used our reciprocating saw to cut through it and remove that one.  The other two, though, seemed in need of a chainsaw.  When we learned that the great chainsaw artisan of Anã was unavailable, we turned to Auvair, who named himself “the human chainsaw” and returned with an axe.  He started wedging out the very hard tree and each of us took a few hits to make our mark. We used ropes and gravity to guide the two bigger trunks out of the way of the coop and then chopped them into smaller pieces by hand to get them even further out of the way. 

Junior pointed out that it was lunch time, so the coop crew headed home to join the painting crew and strategize about our upcoming soccer games.  We found some more Gatorade in our food bags, so we used it as hydrating prep for the afternoon.  We took the afternoon easy so we would be rested and ready for our games today. 


We reversed the order of the games today, with the women’s game following the men’s game, as it was expected to be the more exciting match.  Those expectations were met.  The community came out in force, with lots of little kids on the scene.  Some had climbed high, high, high up in a tree to get a great view of the field.  Their perspective competed with our drone, which was a source of great amazement for everyone on the sidelines, especially the kids. 

The men’s game brought a little more strategy out of our team, as they focused on defense rather than on trying to score.  We got a new Brazilian ringer in the form of Alex’s brother Bruno.  He was incredible.  And we were also joined late in the game by that chainsaw expert that was MIA this morning, who added some incredible footwork but no goals to our overall performance. 

We put up a good fight, holding the Brazilians to only two goals.  The announcers were commenting on how we were stopping the Brazilians in their tracks, mostly by mowing them down.  As Matt said, our overall plan in both games was to just “be bigger” than them, which we achieved without doing much of anything else.  We got in their way, plowed them down and smashed into them relentlessly, which worked. 

The announcers were particularly impressed with Jake, who once again wore his boots and used them to send massive kicks down the field every time he connected.  But he also proved to be an incredible obstacle to the Brazilian defense and the announcers had much to say about it.  Joe, too, was hustling all over the field, getting in the way of our opponents’ plans over and over again.  And Nate was particularly fleet of foot today, which is quite an accomplishment considering his size.  Matt was a locomotive again today, making his way from one end of the field to the other in amazing time.  Kevin first got the chickens off the field (an important job for someone to do, along with managing the dogs that just wander out there in the middle of play) and he also got some great blocks in; Julius danced around the ball in some pretty impressive displays.  Eddie was a great goalkeeper, even though one ball got past him while he was playing.  (Aldrich didn’t play due to a temporary problem related to his contact lenses.  The problem is now solved.)  Zé took up goal as a sub and was diving all over the ground to stop his own compatriots from scoring.  One got by him, too, though, leaving the score 2-0.  Our Brazilian teammates got some great shots on goal, but none of them got through.  Still, the locals were impressed that we held this very strong team to only two goals.  We were impressed with ourselves too.

But we got to be even more impressed when the women took the field.  All of our female students played.  Kim and Marissa, both of whom played soccer for the first time on Wednesday, got some great steals when the Brazilian women thought they were advancing toward the goal and Kim in particular managed to boot the ball way down field several times, thwarting our opponents’ plans.  Rachel was again a deadly defender, this time earning the description of “tank” as she refused to let anyone advance past her position.  Ever.  Annie, Natalie and Alessandra were scrappy midfielders who served as gadflies swarming the opposing team whenever they tried to set up a play. Colleen subbed for Julia in goal in the second half of the game and made some fierce stops that showed the other team she was not to be messed with. 

Our primary offense consisted of Claudia, Julia (once she left goal), Zummo and one or two Brazilians (Debora, Miriam and Alessandra), depending upon which of the Americans was taking a break.  Debora is a wonder, as are the other Brazilians, but they were no match for our front three.  Claudia was hurrying to keep the ball in scoring range and Julia and Zummo were an offensive machine.  Debora scored our team’s first goal in the first couple of minutes of play.  We all went crazy.  But once we got to the second half and Julia was out of goal, Julia scored two amazing goals, one a beautiful header and the other a second chance on a missed goal by another teammate.  She was a sight to behold as she dribbled past every defender and just floated into scoring range. 

But even though Julia was our top scorer, our MVP was definitely Zummo.  She is more athletic than most of us even realized and she DOMINATED that field today.  The announcers couldn’t get enough of her and ran out of superlatives to talk about how great she was.  She was one of our top defenders, she changed the course of play numerous times at midfield and she ran from side to side as we set up plays to score our goals.  She clearly deserves credit for two solid assists, but we all spent most of the second half sincerely yearning for her to score a goal, as she EARNED at least one.  She was a like a soccer-playing gazelle, who never, ever, ever tired. 

When Julia scored her two goals, we swarmed the field and lifted her onto our shoulders like each of the goals was the end of the most important game ever.  At the end of it all, we stayed out on the field all together, took pictures and just basked in the glory of it all.  This is the first game our SMC teams have ever won outright, though we have tied before at least once. 

On the way home, we decided to divert up to the chicken coop, to get a look at it in its nighttime glory, with the security lights on and the chickens all nestled on their little jungle gym made of sticks.  We learned that two more eggs had emerged after we left today, so it seems that things are going to get pretty productive there pretty quickly. 

We made another sojourn to the river to rinse off and/or bathe.  Some of us went right in wearing our soccer clothes, as they needed to be washed anyway. 

During dinner, we had a discussion to help Shawny and Jesse as they attend a community meeting in the morning to discuss who we are and why we are here.  We all talked about what the answers to those questions should be and in trying to express what we get out of this experience, we found ourselves making very emotional realizations about what is happening for each of us (and all of us) here. 

We made that conversation count as our reflection for the night, then moved on to the Purple Biker for today.  As you can no doubt guess, it’s Zummo.  Obviously her soccer performance was a good reason to give it to her today, but she has been very impressive for this whole trip for a number of other reasons as well.  As Jesse said, she behaved like a veteran from these trips when she first joined this group.  She is absolutely untiring in her commitment to the job at hand and she is always eager to see what’s next.  She finds a way around the rough spots (like doing laundry at night using a headlamp) and helps smooth the way for others.  We have all benefited massively from her presence among us. 

Tomorrow is our last full day in Anã.  We haven’t quite faced what that means yet.  We have jobs to do so we need to just crank those out and then deal with the issues around our departure after the work is done.  We have a cultural night celebration on the beach with the locals on Saturday night and then we will recognize that our next job is to pack up and leave here.  Oh dear.

Julius went on a walk during the siesta and happened upon this house and admired it’s simplicity. 

The women, for the first time ever, won against Anã! The final score was 3-0. Our very own Jules McDonald scored 2 of the goals!!!

The whole group celebrating an awesome day of soccer!

Nate stealing the ball from one of the Brazilians. 

Kim writing in her journal while enjoying the beautiful lookout. 

Our friends Lemon Pepper and Olaf perched themselves on the new jungle gym in the coop. Below them are Elsa and Freckles enjoying the warm ground. Some of the DIRTies were able to name the chickens after they were assimilated into their home.

The hens are testing out their nests so their eggs will have a safe home. The roosts were built by the last year DIRTies and were put in the coop again by the 2017 DIRTies.

Rachel plays a rock game with Junio, where you guess how many rocks the other person has in their hand. Based on the facial expressions it appears that Rachel won the round.

At the lookout near the pousada, Rachel, Kim, Nat, and Zummo take time to write in their journals and enjoy the view of the river. Journaling is a common pastime during the break between lunch and our second shift of work.

Zummo and Jules had an essential role in the win against the Anã women’s soccer team. Jules scored two goals in the second half (one with her head) and Zummo assisted the first goal in the first half. Let’s take a moment to take in the beauty of Jules’ hair please.

The calm before the storm.

Chickens making use of their jungle gym.    

A behind the scenes sneak peak of the chicken coop.    

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to soccer.

It’s always all smiles when working with our good friends Kevin and Junior.    

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