Monday, January 11, 2010

Day Five: Monday, January 11 – Gathering Materials
We should begin with an update on our illnesses and injuries.  Gianna and Shawny are both functioning fine as their toe injuries heal and Briana has experienced a full recovery from her bout of nausea.  Our two laid-up group members from yesterday, Jared and Marcia, were back at about 95% today and ready to get cranking.  Unfortunately, two others went down in their places: Scott and Ana.  The symptoms were nausea and an overall feeling of exhaustion; by evening both of them were up and running again.  Sadly, we see that Gary and Brian will be the next two people who need to stay home and sleep off this bug.  Each person has a different version of it, so we don’t think that we are passing it amongst ourselves.  We have had a few low-grade fevers, but nothing terribly alarming yet.  We continue to use antibacterial soap obsessively, both in the shower and at all of our sinks.  We have hand sanitizer everywhere and we are all trying to be sure to get enough sleep and drink lots of water.  Again, we knew that we would each likely suffer just a bit, so we aren’t in a panic over the fact that we have seen a few of us struggle with these maladies.  So let’s get back to our highly productive day.

A rainy morning didn’t stop us from getting our rain gear out, hopping on our bikes, and heading to the beach to meet the kids.  A few of us borrowed a wheelbarrow to help us get big jugs of water (20 liters each) to the riverfront.  We also bought apples, a somewhat uncommon fruit here, for the kids.  We took over the boathouse that last year’s group renovated and turned it into our classroom for the day.

Our lesson plans for today are oriented mostly toward fun, as we want the kids to be happy about our presence here so that it will be easier for them to learn from us (and us from them).  We played a long and hilarious game of “Simon Says,” which helped the kids to learn words like “run,” “dance,” “clap,” and “stop.”  A trio of young sisters (Sabrina, Soraia, and Soliane) held on almost until the end, but one of the older boys (we’re not sure of his name) was the overall winner.

We next did some homemade flashcards featuring animals and we were surprised to see how quickly the kids caught on to some of the names.  The two tricky ones were “anteater” and “jaguar.”   Anteater was difficult because it wasn’t clear that the kids had ever heard of such a thing, and jaguar was a tricky one because their pronunciation of the word isn’t all that different from our word.  They thought they were stumped because they could only think of their own word, but it was almost the same word we were looking for anyway.  For some reason, the one animal word that almost every kid already knew was “pig.”   Hmm.

We moved on to the Hokey Pokey to teach kids the words “hands,” “feet,” etc.  We then had them translate the song into Portuguese and teach us those words too.   We moved straight from there into some easy dialogues in English, including such linguistic classics as “Hello,” “How are you?,” “I am fine, thank you,” and “What is your name?”  The kids were buzzing trying to repeat our words and they were laughing hysterically at us when we tried to pronounce their version of the same things.

We also played Duck, Duck, Goose, not because we thought that “duck” and “goose” were important words for them to learn as new English speakers.   Our real motivation for this game was to let them run around a bit.  We learned that they are super fast when they run in the sand.  We also learned that we are super slow.

The running around was so popular that we threw in a land-based game of Sharks and Minnows.  We made a little tank by driving some tent poles into the ground to form a boundary.  Then we instructed them to stay inside the lines and try to get across to the other side without getting caught by the sharks.   They got the “don’t get caught” part, but not the “inside the lines” part.  It was a chaotic mess that was a total blast.

We knocked off for a lovely fish lunch, then took a short siesta before heading out to gather the materials for our construction project.  One group went with Jaime and Jesse to gather construction materials.  Two others went with Georgete and Marcia to replenish the art and craft materials that we have been using on the beach all week.  The last group went with Shawny to buy some more bike repair stuff so that Gary can be a well-equipped bike tech for us this month.  (Gary, by the way, was in the bike group today.  They all made a side trip especially for Gary: to a barber!  Be ready for him to look different in our pictures with his new short haircut.

All of us had happy adventures on our travels and we got to see much different parts of the city than we have visited so far.  We all came back together at camp erupting with stories to tell from our day.

We continue to feel happy and blessed.  Even the ones who have spent extra hours on their pillows appear to have no regrets (except that they are missing experiences that the rest of the group is having).  We’ll keep taking care of each other and enjoying the transformations that we are all undergoing.  More tomorrow . . .

A busy street in downtown Santarem.

Marcia catching up on her Portuguese while spending the afternoon shopping for art supplies with Georgete

A tree in downtown Santarem.

Typical boys, Jared and Matt taking a break outside the store during shopping.

A tank which is an example of the water system in Santarem.

This is the bike shop where the boys young and old were fixing our bikes.

These are two of our assistants who were aiding us in fixing the bikes.

This girl was modeling for us on a balcony above the bike shop.

Gary got a haircut for 6 Reais.

This was downtown Santarem at 6:30.  People are closing up shop for the day.

Local girls join together in celebration after playing duck-duck-goose with our group.

Brian House’s new but little best friend.

The cutest kid we’ve ever seen. His name is Lucas. (Photo taken by a local girl).

Are we in the Amazon? One of the many large inhabitants of our camp.

As Tartarugas Ninja and Garfo take a trip downtown to shop for art supplies for the kids.


  1. Shawny- Oh no the toe-I hope that's not as painful as the bug bite last year! I LOVE the kids remembered "PIG"!!!!! They have great memories from last year! It's great to see some familiar faces on the beach and cant wait to see the start of the construction! Great videos guys- keep shooting those cameras, You'll be happy later!

  2. Oh and the girl modeling on the balcony bike shot....AMAZING PHOTO! :)