Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day Seven: Wednesday, January 13 – The Diagnoses and the Rest of the Day

News from the Illness and Injury List: we now have a diagnosis for Gary and Scott. It’s not an absolutely final diagnosis, but it’s the best we have so far. Most importantly, they don’t have a dread disease and they don’t have a parasite or worm. What they probably have is a virus that is circulating here called the Rota Virus. It produces fever, diarrhea, and sometimes vomiting. Sadly, there is no solid cure or preventative, but happily, it runs its course in about three days. Our experience with Gary and Scott seems to match up with this description. Jared is on his second day, so hopefully tomorrow he will turn it back around. We have medicines that help to keep our patients’ fevers down and that can help to calm their churning stomachs. Whoever catches it next (if anyone) will still be miserable but we will be able to step in sooner with relief. Indications are that Noelle and/or Ciara might be the next in line.

We spent a long time tonight talking about the Rota Virus and everything we can do to minimize our own risks. We also read some testimonials from people who have had the virus. By the time we were done we were all laughing pretty hard and planning our own performance group that shares stories of our bouts of diarrhea. Scott recommends that we could call ourselves “On the Run.” Of course, we know that diarrhea isn’t funny for anyone who suffers it but we also know that we are likely to encounter it and therefore we must just laugh our way through it. We will work hard to avoid it and help each other along the way.

For those who aren’t already aware, we have one student who has completed his course to be an EMT (Neil) and another who is a very engaged pre-med student (Matt B.). They have really risen to the occasion as our official team health specialists. Neil in particular is consulted on every scratch no matter how small and Matt B. is a constant consultant for Neil.

They both got to learn some new stuff tonight as we got another important diagnosis, this one by x-ray: Shawny has a fractured fibula in her leg. On the boat yesterday she was the third one to jump off. Unfortunately she found a freakish high spot where a sand bar was closer to the surface than would have been expected. Though she hit hard, she helped us move the boat to deeper water so that no one else would hit bottom after her. She has crutches and is moving around just fine. Everyone is offering her more help than she can handle. The break is not terrible and once we can get the swelling down she should be in good shape.

For those not suffering, this day was a great one. (Even for the sick and injured, it was nice to have some answers around which we could plan.) One set of people went to the beach to work with the kids this morning. Without directly coordinating lesson plans, they managed to match perfectly. One group taught about colors, one group talked about parts of the body, and the other group brought the game Twister and managed to bring the whole set of ideas together. By the end of the session, the kids really knew their color words (at least the ones that apply to Twister) and they knew the words (and concepts) “hand,” “foot,” “right,” and “left.”

We developed more relationships with individual kids today and we learned some family relationships of which we were not already aware. A few of the parents came around to our worksite this afternoon and we got to deepen our awareness of the family ties in “our” neighborhood.

After lunch we realized that a few of us just needed some rest, so we made it optional to work on our construction job in the afternoon. Most people went on down to Jaime and Georgete’s, but a few people stayed home. We already decided to take tomorrow morning off with the kids, so we get to sleep in a bit for the first time since our arrival.

The construction workers had a great afternoon, but not necessarily because of their work. That is, we worked to help build a framework for the sloped roof we are adding to the storefront, but it turned out not to be level so we had to take it all apart. Pulling nails was an interesting challenge for some of us, especially because the practice here is to salvage EVERYthing that could possibly be used. Thus, we are trying not to wreck the wood or the nails as we tear things apart so that we can use them as we correct the problems and rebuild.

Though we barely got back to zero on the construction project, we still had a productive day because of the people that we met. We met the parents of one pair of siblings in our group, Denis Glaube and Diana. Their father Danilo is one of the artisans that will sell his wares in the storefront. His specialty is hollowing out a certain kind of wood and inserting ballpoint refills into them to make really beautiful custom pens. He offered two to our group and we drew names from a hat to establish that the pens would go to Quincy and Schuyler. Danilo etched their names into them, which convinced a bunch of us to put in orders for some for ourselves (and maybe even some of you!).

We also met a wonderful pastel maker. Pasteis (the plural form of pastel) are little pockets of dough with meat or cheese cooked inside. We have had them before, but not freshly made to order right in front of us. They were so tasty that we can barely wait to eat them again.

Our evening was pretty calm, as everyone has shifted to a slightly slower gear. Some have slowed down because they are sick; others have slowed down because they don’t want to get sick. In any case, camp was calm and tranquil tonight, with occasional bursts of laughter blasting out into the air from the middle of group conversations.

One highlight of the evening was that we each received a letter from a sixth-grader in West Lafayette, Indiana, where Shawny’s sister teaches. Our Happy Hollow (that’s the name of their school) pen pals were full of questions about us and about Brazil, as they are studying Latin America now (or soon?). We loved the notes and are already pretty attached to their authors though we have never met them. Thanks, Happy Hollow!

And thanks to all of you for your support!

Jaime and Matt working together to nail down part of the slant roof.

Danilo and Georgete showing us how to make pens out of wood.

Quincy hammering a wood box together to hold the finished pens.

Fresh meat hanging at local butcher


Dani and Gianna eating pastel , fried dough with meat and cheese on the inside.

Diana practices her English colors and body parts (and poses for the camera) in a spirited game of Twister.

Lua enjoys his midday snack. How cute is he?
Jeff is excited to get Guaraná soda and cookies after learning English and dominating Twister.


Jeff surprised all of us with his supreme flexibility and superior English vocabulary.

After construction and craft production we stopped at a street vendor for delicious fried snack.

As Tatarugas Ninja review colors for their teaching lessons today.


Brie playing with the local sisters Soliane and Soria


Denis and Lua showing some cousin love


Quincy and Lua. Taken by one of the local kids.

After we taught the kids their colors and body parts( in English), we tested their skills with a game of Twister.

Alessandra and Sabrina reviewing their English lessons.


  1. A big thank you from Shawny's family for taking good care of her during this time! Hopefully all of the illnesses will pass soon and all projects will be completed!
    We tried to email from school today - my third graders have many questions - especially about the pink dolphins! We'll try again tomorrow!
    Love, Shelly

  2. It's us again...just after talking to you.

    Southwestern Elementary third graders have some questions...

    Indya (9) - How does it feel to have a broken leg?

    Ben (9) - How long will it take to build your building?

    Jordyn (9) - When the kids learned English, have they learned any more words besides the Twister words?

    Blake (9) - Can you get closer to the dolphins for pictures? That would be cool!

    Laney (9) - About how many pink dolphins did you see?

    Colton (9) - Have you seen any snakes yet?

    William (9) - I want to live with the dolphins!