Family Brazil Journal 2009.02.08

We’ve been ‘social’ lately. The neighbours to our right, Graziela and Rodrigo, have been incredibly helpful as we’ve set up our internet, learned about good grocery stores, helped figure out home alarm systems, etc. We invited them over, along with their three year-old daughter, Maryanna, for dinner. It was our first time using the BBQ, so we hoped it would go okay. The BBQ’s here are different. They’re brick oven-like things that you put charcoal into as the heat source. But man, do they work well. You just place your meat through a spear, set it to cook over the charcoal and let it roast away, turning it every so often. Mmmm…. beef…. LOL. It was great getting to know them a bit better. Rodrigo spoke some English so he and I could talk a bit.  Graziela doesn’t speak as much English, and I would have loved to talk with her more, but body language filled in some of the gaps, as did Rich’s translations.

We have also met another family two doors to our left. While the boys were in the backyard playing soccer, Michael was wearing a Manchester soccer jersey. Someone from the deck of the neighbours house yelled out something about, “Where’s that jersey from?!”. The first thing that caught the boys attention was that someone had just spoken to them in English. Secondly, someone recognized a soccer jersey that wasn’t from Brazil. Since then, we’ve learned that the mother is from Uruguay, the Dad is from England, and the two adult sons living there right now have lived in both Brazil and England. Their English is WONDERFUL! We have friends that we can all speak to, now! The sons, Kevin and Chris, both came to dinner and helped out with the BBQ, played some soccer with the kid, and shared wild surfing stories. We have enjoyed getting to know them better as we’ve gone to the beach together, had Chris come over to help Ryan learn some Photoshop tricks, and just chatted away with them both. They are very kind people who have found a special place in our hearts.

Last week, Chris was kind enough to drive Rich and the older boys around to look for bikes at second hand stores. They found two that would do the job, plus Chris and Kevin lent us one, so we now have three bikes to use. It has been very helpful when we have needed to get last minute things from the grocery store, pick up a garden hose from a hardware store up the street, etc.

Part of our purpose for coming to Brazil, other than to have fun, try to learn a new language, and have the kids see and appreciate another culture other than their own, was to find some kind of service project we could be a part of. It hasn’t been easy finding one that would work with both our family dynamics, as well as our location. However, one may have fallen into our laps. There a many, MANY stray dogs in Brazil. Some have been pushed out of their homes when the owners have rented out their home, while some are products of unspayed or unneutred strays coupling up. In any event, there are many strays. We are dog lovers and it’s been sad seeing so many dogs hungry, injured, or just plain lonely. We’ve combined both the need and the love, and turned it into a service project idea. On a small scale, we’ve taken three dogs under our wing and have been feeding and providing fresh water to them. Because of the potential for fleas and a few other undesirable conditions, we can’t have the dogs come into the yard or home, but we feed them out on our road, love them up, and enjoy the trust they seem to be able put in us. There’s Spotty (a black and white dog), Lucy/Blondie (a yellow dog whose name creates division in our family… some prefer ‘Lucy’ because she looks a bit like my sister, Jen’s dog Lucy, while some prefer a more descriptive name to make distinction easier), and Limpy (who has since lost his limp, but the name remains). On a larger scale, we are going to try to get involved with a local established dog rescue organization. Chris is getting us more information on that in the near future. The kids are excited to be helping and making life better for some of the thrown away dogs in the community.

The beach has claimed yet another victim in our family. Thankfully, not in a sucking out current, but in a powerful wave that slammed Rich off his body-board. As the wave sent him twirling head over feet, it turned him on his side, pushed a wave right into his ear, and the other side of his head into the sand floor. He popped out of the water with a very sore ear and stumbled up to shore, walking like he’d had several too many. His balance was gone for a bit, and he feared he’d ruptured his ear drum, but a follow up visit to a doctor the next day seemed to indicate not a rupture, but a highly inflamed ear drum. He has since been taking it easy and staying dry. It seems to be feeling better with no signs on infection.

Speaking of infection… I had an exciting bus ride with Jillian the other day. I took all the kids to the Ingleses beach, as we needed something to do and we hadn’t been to that beach in a long time. While we were there, dark clouds started to close in. It wasn’t a big deal, as we were already wet, but after a while the rain pelting down on us began to hurt. Plus, there seemed to be some dark, smelly fall-out coming from a drain pipe into the beach water. That was our cue to head home. While we were en route, Jillian began to cry and tell me she felt like she was going to barf. With nothing around to help contain the anticipated explosion, I grabbed one of our beach towels. Sure enough, Jillian followed through on her threat and I quickly learned that towel positioning is critical when trying to contain vomit, but not until it was too late. Foul, lumpy ‘stuff’ was slipping through the folds of the towel and landing on my lap, the floor, my bag….. Ugh… And the bus ride had only just begun. Oddly, the young man sitting beside me stayed put, which meant I had limited space to try to organize chaos. It was futile, so I sat there with vomit all over both Jillian and myself until either he got off the bus, or we landed at our bus stop. Eventually he did get off, but not for an agonizingly long long time. Jillian stood up and we began mopping her off. Then I started on me, and then the seat. Ryan was good enough to collect all the towels we had brought, which I ended up needing all of. By the time we got to our bus stop, the very last stop on the line, we had cleaned up enough to be a little less offensive, and with a quick apology to the bus staff, we left to walk the last bit of road to home. An exciting day for all
of us… And thankfully it didn’t appear to be flu bug or any other kind of contagious thing. Perhaps some bad cheese we bought at the beach?

Today, it’s a lazy Sunday. The sun is shining, the air is damp from a massive downpour during the night, and we’re taking it easy in the cool of the house. Emily, Matthew and Jillian have gone on a mission to the local grocery store to get some cereal and some ice cream… interesting combination. Ryan and Michael tried to purchase a hachet at our local hardware store, but the store was not open quite yet. And I’ll try to get out of my pajamas in time for some adventure to begin.

-Heather

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