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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Let's close with a golden key

Vamos fechar com um chave de oro...what a way to end my golden encounter with myself and with a new sliver of the world.

I've been back 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-now TWELVE days. Every day I do remember something. Sometimes it's this moment:

And sometimes it's keeping up with my "classmates" in Brasil or reading their blogs.

Usually it's the church I passed on my daily bus ride, and sometimes it's a song that I found irritating once upon a time but now, like my sister's toothpaste blobs in the sink, is a much missed thing:
Toma Negona

I wrote my new years conclusion a little early on the plane home from Bahia:

This year I've seen what I'm entitled to-- and it's not much. This year I've seen what i have--and it's too much. Today, at least, I felt how much I'm loved--and it's so much.

I wish to stay a little longer...after I've already paid the check...lingering in this realization.

I'll call on Brasil from time to time this semester in San Diego when I have the patience and humility to play with my new friend peace.

And a few days later, on a different continent and wearing very different clothes, I feel much the same way:

I've travelled before, so I know that my life, my trip, my pictures are always more exiting to me than to anyone else. So, I at least 90% of the time manage to keep my mouth closed about Bahia when it's not relevant to the conversation. But, it's oh-so-good when people ask and really want to hear. In between friends and family, I've found some air time. And I've began the task of integrating (because I've scrapbooked, I've moped a little, and I've almost mastered my one-minute-version of my semester
for people who ask but don't care too much) my Brasil life with my real life. Because, although travelers are often tempted to lead several lives (or escape from one or two into another one or two), I'm realizing I just want one.

Happy New Year...may a moment or two in 2011 surprise you with sneak-up-on-you delight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Somebody must like me

Somebody must like me because I had another perfect last day in Bahia. My other last day in Bahia (the 13th...when I left Salvador for Minas Gerais) was wonderful because I met about 8 people on the street and had wonderful banter...something I couldn't have managed 3 months before. Today, to my surprise and glee, I realized I had 4 hours back in the Salvador airport before my next flight (the flight pattern doesn't make sense...Belo Horizonte to Salvador to Rio to Charlotte, but hey) and so I'm taking advantage.

I checked in my bags, got my ticket and strapped on my fanny pack (imagine losing my documents just because I felt like I needed one more adventure. Plus, it's a general rule of thumb that bad things happen on the last day because you let your guard down or do a hail mary or something). I grabbed a bus, pulled the notification string where I saw a place that looked like a place for real Bahianas like me and got off. I then spent my last remaining 50 reais on 2 dresses a blouse, and two items of great importance (and the ONLY things I would want, as I had acai last night, to say goodbye to Brazil): Caldo de Cana (sugar cane juice) and agua de côco (coconut water). I made friends with some ladies who wanted my orkut (like facebook....but not nearly as high-tec...and yes, I have one) and then appreciated as the last Bahians called me "querida" and "mel" (love and honey) and the last people asked me "where are you from?" and prepared mentally to start hearing english soon.

Now it's worth mentioning that I walked 3 minutes from the street where a lady made me a cup of sugar cane juice by feeding sugar cane through a grinding machine to a high class mall where security men and ladies are riding around on scooters. This is also where I'm using the wifi (next to the Burger King...yup) to make this post. So, this country is not's's just super lopsided. (Funny to explain that the US is lopsided too...generally the preception is that we're all white, fat kind of people from 3 car, 2 dog, 2 children kind of families and that there doesn't exist poverty nor hunger)

And here I am, saying goodbye...and I can't be sad...because I'm about to go see meu povo (my people): Meggie, Becky and Mikey.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And now I will attempt to cover up pride with a piece of saran-wrap called humility and show how my Portuguese has improved. I say this more with awe than anything else. It's amazing what immersion can do. I am still confused all the time, sound like a duck when talking and can't pronounce words that end in ção (I'm guessing 20% of words have this merry ending) but I'm understood. And it is necessary to be understood, otherwise, you feel like you're not really being human that day.

Before my Portuguese make-over (40 words)...a copy-and-paste job from an August post

After my Portuguese make-over (a few more) excerpt from my research paper...don't recommend google translating's a little dry

A atenção à saúde mental é primeiramente disponibilizada através dos CAPS em comunidades com população maior de 20 mil habitantes. Usuários de CAPS têm o direito de usar serviços do ambulatório ou permanecer no CAPS em casos mais graves por um o dois turnos: de manhã e a tarde. A depender da necessidade avaliada pela equipe e o caso do usuário, os profissionais que fazem o acolhimento indicam quantos dias o usuário deve participar das atividades no serviço. Estas atividades são denominadas oficinas terapêuticas que são criadas em conjunto pela equipe a depender das necessidades emergências para tratamento do usuário. O serviço funciona de maneira coletiva com grupos de apoio e oficinas feitas para ajudar a auto-
estima e o sentimento de pertencimento a comunidade.
1. I went to a work Christmas party with my friend's father on Friday (don't's the same thing here, the wives/husbands/girlfriends/boyfriends don't really want to be there but they think they're pretending really well that they do) and for secret santa, one girl received various remedies for her "anxiety" (aka her co-workers think she's neurotic), including: chamomile (ok I'm with you), natural sleeping pills (still with you) and maracujá (passion fruit). Now, everyone just nodded, like "duh, passion fruit induces sleep. Yup. Yup." and although I knew this after 3 months in Bahia, I was just so distracted for the rest of the night thinking about the same situation in the US. I know there are people who know what plants to use for colds or natural remedies and the like but I'm fairly sure this kind of common knowledge differs here and there ("lá")

2. Another thing that is funny to imagine in reverse: I went to an 8th grade graduation, also on Friday and the slide show of pictures was set to Justin Beiber and David Guetta. On Saturday I went to a high school party and everyone stopped to sing together "I'm having the time of my life" and "Party in the USA". Maybe just in the circles I run in, we don't sing Brazilian pop music and think we're cool. I should be used to this by now, but the strength of American pop culture abroad is still so... striking (and sometimes disconcerting)

3. I'm going to miss prevalent out-door markets. Where am I going to buy my cheese? Farmer's market.....psssshhh....then I can't get my goyabada at the same time, nor my panetone. Que é isso??

4. At dinner tonight I actually followed the conversation close enough to be able to offer my own personal vomit story at the appropriate time. Nothing better than when your humor actually translates how you would like.

5. The squeaky wheel gets the oil= he who doesn't cry, doesn't breast feed (Quem não chora não mama)

6. Went to the zoo with 3 pretty Brazilians. The most striking animal was seen (the passive voice is annoying in Portuguese too) outside of the zoo. This capivara was seen on the banks of some lake I can't pronounce.

7. It's good...whatever the season or hemisphere or time, to lay in the grass (and then go buy caldo de cana....sugar cane juice)

Friday, December 17, 2010

I was here to research, right? I haven't given much cyber space (rsrs) to explain what I researched in the "interior" of Bahia. I was a sort-of intern in 3 health posts called CAPS -Centers for Psico-Social Treatment". At these three posts I interviewed patients (called "users" to empower them to not feel "sick") and doctors, psychologists and other employees about the discrimination people suffering with depression face in their communities. I organized my findings into three categories: stereotypes that society in general holds, discrimination within the family, and discrimination within CAPS itself--among other users or employees. For example, when the group of users (some with more serious mental disabilities than others) walked together to their weekly dance class in the center of town, some of the other users would walk another way as to not be associated with the group. Some don't wear the shirts or sport the CAPS paraphernalia (shown above) and many keep to themselves the fact they are undergoing treatment for their depression.

It's now imperative that I show you what I ate last night:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Working with your hands does the heart good...and gives you calluses

I will collect here, for your going-back-in-the-day-pleasure, the trades I've had the pleasure to view. Also, my English is very strange these days so I'm going to leave long posts for a better-English (and less rainy) day.

We have: a man demonstrating how to make beiju (don't know how to describe can be sort of like a tough tortilla or eaten like a chip. If it's cut in pieces, you can eat it with your coffee. Or, you can grill it with cheese and meat inside), women cleaning the the days catch of "fruit of the sea", and, more obviously: baskets, tapestry and cigars.