Friday, January 15, 2010

Day Nine: Friday, January 15 – Back at 100%!

News from the Illness and Injury List: Jared is better!!!!!!!  Yay!  This is the greatest news of our week because we have felt so sorry for him for these last several days.  He finally slept for more than seven hours straight, which is a major accomplishment when you are sick in Brazil.  Strangely, when he awoke and was finally fully lucid, he had another lovely surprise waiting for him: there was a live bat hanging INSIDE his mosquito net!  (His net had partially fallen down when we checked in with him this morning so we assume that the bat somehow slipped in then.  He never had any contact with the bat; he just noticed it hanging there.)  He came out to the porch and we were so thrilled to see a sparkle in his eye again that it took us a moment to process what he was telling us.  Of course, we all freaked out.  We got the security guard from the camp to come rescue us from the invader; he was happy to comply and even seemed a bit surprised that we were bothered by this visitor.  (In case you are wondering, we made sure that there was no relationship between the bat and Jared’s illness by talking to our local doctor.)  Right now, no one is out of commission.  Gianna took things slowly today as a precautionary measure, but at the exact moment that these words are being typed, we are all back on track.  We are fully aware that this moment will be fleeting, so we are going to get a huge load of delicious Brazilian ice cream (sorvete) tonight. 

Even Shawny is in better shape.  Her leg feels better, her new brace helps her to immobilize it better, and she is hating her crutches just a bit less.  More importantly, the main coordinator of our camp, Dona Maria, arranged for someone to come give her a massage to soothe her sore muscles from crutch use.  She’s realizing that she is lucky to have so many people around to help her.  By the time we get home she won’t need as much help so things should be fine.  She even came to the worksite today and made some jewelry. 

The morning was full of beach work with the kids, including English lessons, some songs, and some games.  The kids were a bit distracted today but we forged ahead anyway.  We had them teach us a couple of their favorite games and that helped them to perk up a bit.  We taught them some words for emotions (happy, sad, sick – is that an emotion?), some action verbs (run, swim, sleep – is that an action word?), and the song Itsy Bitsy Spider (have they ever seen a spider that qualifies as “itsy bitsy?”).  Even the kids who weren’t completely enthralled with the lessons were totally jazzed with the snacks today: Georgete let us get a local soft drink called guaraná (kind of like super-caffeinated ginger ale) and some wonderful sandwich cookies. 

After lunch some of us got to run into town to pick out our hammocks for the boat trip that starts on Monday.  We swung some deals with the merchants in the city center then came back home to test them out on the hooks on our porch.  We also bought some new balls for the kids at the beach.

The rest of the group went back to Georgete and Jaime’s house and kept working on construction (of the storefront) and production (of more jewelry).  On the construction job, our next move was to tear up parts of the concrete floor so that tomorrow morning it can be re-poured and leveled.  Neil, Brian, and Jesse took small sledgehammers to one portion of the floor and knocked it out completely.  On most of the space, though, we just took out divots so that parts of the new pour will sink in and hold more tightly.  On other parts of the space, a new doorframe was installed and the roof was finally finished. 

On the jewelry front, some of us kept up with the bead and string work from yesterday, while others shifted to making designs on cut-up parts of 2-liter bottles.  That is, with chunks of plastic as our canvas, we used Sharpies to draw pictures and designs.  Once completed, we heated them in a George Foreman-like grill for a couple of seconds so they would harden and set (and shrink a tiny bit).  Then we pierced them and turned them into earrings or pendants.  Some of us were pretty good and creating appealing designs.  Some of us weren’t. 

We came back to camp and after an early dinner, had team meetings to discuss our group multimedia projects.  Each team is planning three 5-minute projects using video, audio, and still photography.  One project from each team will be presented publicly on Thursday, February 11, from 7-9 in the Soda Center on the Saint Mary’s College campus in Moraga, California.  Join us if you can.

Jesse and Marcia interrupted our meetings when they arrived with big tubs of ice cream in all different flavors.   Some of the most popular were tapioca, açai, castanha, coco (coconut), and one called pavé.  We hope all of you try Brazilian ice cream some day.  We don’t know why it is so great, but it is. 

We’ll wind up today with more questions from Indiana elementary students, this time from our Happy Hollow 6th grade friends in West Lafayette:

1.    Just how hot is hot when you talk about the weather?
We don’t really check the temperature when we are out and about (and it would be in Celsius if we did), but we think it is usually in about the mid-90s (Fahrenheit).  It feels really really hot, though, because it is so humid.  Your teacher (Shawny’s sister Sherry) can explain this concept to you better than we can.

2.    The class would like to see the pens that are being created up close!
We will try to remember to take a close-up in the next few days.  They are pretty cool.

3.    How big is Santarém?
It depends on what parts you count.  It’s actually a pretty big city, probably with at least 100,000 people in it.  If you count the larger surrounding area, it might be as many as 300,000 people. 

4.    What is the age range of the students with whom you are working?

The youngest is about 3 or so and the oldest ones are teenagers.  It makes it hard to plan lessons when they might be younger than school age or they might be junior high age. 

Thanks for your questions (and your letters!).  Keep them coming!

Brian House and Edrião listening to English lessons.

Jen Steele and Soraia playing on the beach.

Bryan Navarro playing some of the kids in a game of Taco.

Neil Cowperthwaite taking out some of the old floor at Jaime and Georgete’s to pour and set new tiles.

Jesse and Seu Joáo taking a break and talking about the upcoming project.

Neil and the local boys learning English flash cards.

Brian and Edrião taking photos.

Brie, Scott and Dani teaching an English lesson to the kids.

Our cute local girls listening intently.

We went to town to buy hammocks for our boat trip!

Jared found a bat in his mosquito net when he awoke.  Happily, it didn't seem to notice him at all.

Hammock shopping in down town Santarem.

Bryan Navarro was assaulted by two youngsters.  Pulling of the curls was included.

Ana, Jenn, Brie and Marcia hang out with the kids.


  1. It's so good to hear that everyone is doing better :] Don't get sick G! All the girls at home are wishing you well and hoping you stay far far away from the ROTA virus (because we love you and we definitely don't want to catch it from you when you get back to us!) It was great to hear all the laughter in today's video, I'm very excited to see all of the presentations on the 10th.

  2. Spiders and insects and bats...OH MY!! Since you're in the Amazon we are assuming the bat hanging INSIDE Jared's net was a fruit bat, and thankfully "Stellalunas" aren't harmful to humans as long as they aren't rabid. (Didn't you all have to have rabies shots?) Continued success with your construction project, jewelry making and your work/play with the children. Glad to hear your ill compadres are on the mend and that your group is nearly back to 100%! We send our best to Shawny and hope her leg heals quickly, although we are confident it hasn't slowed her down one bit!! Enjoy your boat trip!! We hope you see lots of pink dolphins, but steer clear of piranhas and sandbars! We've marked February 10 on our calendar and look forward to seeing YOU and your presentations.
    Mijo, we love and miss you...stay healthy, safe and strong!
    God's speed to everyone!!!!!
    Bob and Lenore <3
    btw...A roda, your videos and blogs rock!
    In case you didn't hear - Gonzaga 89 SMC 82 :-(