Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day Twenty-Two: Thursday, January 28 – Manaus

We slept in after our early morning arrival in Manaus, then headed off for one of our most glorious experiences of the whole month: a trip to a Brazilian churrascariaChurrasco is a method of cooking meat that is a combination rotisserie/barbecue.  Thus, not only were we eating at a steakhouse for the first time this month, but also we were being served from huge skewers of meat that were carried right to our plates.  Every cut of meat that we could possibly imagine appeared and we could have as much as we wanted of every slab that approached us.  Some of us tried things like chicken hearts and cow tongue, while others focused on familiar items like filet and brisket.  There was also a full-scale salad bar, which was a little different from the ones back home though it still felt quite luxurious to have such a spread of selections available to us. 

Because some of us had barely eaten dinner last night and most of us slept through breakfast, we were REALLY hungry.  There was no more perfect place for us to land in that moment than at a churrascaria.  We ate piles and piles and piles of meat, all of which was cooked to perfection.  Even the garlic bread that they served seemed transcendent in some way.  They had some pre-made desserts in which we also indulged, including some mousse/pudding items and fresh strawberries and thick cream. 

The only possible downside to our whole experience was that we were desperate to sleep after such a heavy meal.  We knew that we were going to connect again with the kids that we met on our first day in Brazil, so we feared that we were going to have to drag our sleepy bodies out to their headquarters with or without naps.  As it turned out, though, Moises and the kids were intending to have their event at about 5:00 anyway, leaving us plenty of time to get some sleep.  Perfect. 

We all awoke completely ready to join in on the rally that Moises and the kids had planned, even though we didn’t really know what it would be like.  We brought all of our percussion instruments just in case they would come in handy and it turned out to be a great idea.  When we arrived at the headquarters (actually someone’s house), the kids and adults were all lined up and wearing vests to identify their organization.

As soon as we lined up too, they began marching through the streets of their community singing a song about the earth and forwarding a message about protecting the environment.  They had made some homemade percussion instruments so we shared ours with them and we used some of theirs.  Shawny “marched” in a wheelchair, with Matt Beutner as her driver. 

Everywhere we went people flocked into the streets to see what was going on and we helped to distribute some stickers that carried their message.  The march ended at a local park, where the Brazilians challenged us to a soccer game.  First, the U.S. women took on the Brazilian women and girls (with Shawny/Matt B. as goal keeper) then the men challenged each other (with Jesse as goal keeper).  Noelle scored two goals to help the women win 2-1; the men’s game ended with a 0-0 tie.

We all returned to the house and had fresh mango juice, chicken sandwiches, cokes and watermelon.  The kids were gathering around and asking us how to say all kinds of obscure things in English (no dirty words though – they didn’t even ask!) so we think whoever visits next should do some lesson plans for the group of kids in Manaus. 

When we left the house, we learned that we had gotten pretty attached to the group pretty quickly.  They were begging us to return some day, which we expect to do. 

We stuck around so long that we had to really hurry to get home and shower for our flight home.  We hustled to the airport with plenty of time to spare, but were shocked to undergo the most extensive security check that any of us had ever experienced. 

The airport personnel touched every single item in our carryon bags, including each individual page of Ciara’s journal. They made Shawny take off her full leg brace and stand on her broken leg.  They took a flower that Louro had handmade for each of us and pulled it apart piece by piece (not on all of them, just on one).  They confiscated items that would easily pass a U.S. inspection.  It was crazy and it took quite a long time. 

Once they had completed this whole process at the x-ray machine, they had us walk about twenty more feet and then they did it all again.  We barely made our flight, but because we were about a third of the passengers on the entire plane, they had to wait.  Somehow, this grueling process probably helped us to overcome our separation anxiety, as it made us glad to get on the plane and away from those inspectors. 

From there we faced about thirteen hours of flight time and another three hours of layover in Atlanta.  We landed in California before noon on Friday and we expect to spend the entire weekend finishing our final projects in an SMC computer lab.  Again, we invite you to join us on Thursday, February 11, at 7:00 p.m. in the Soda Center on the Saint Mary’s campus where we will show one project from each team. 

One thing that we all recognize is that the success of our venture this month is largely due to many of you readers out there.  Some of you helped to pay for our trips.  Some of you are the staff and administrators at Saint Mary’s that make Jan Term possible.  Some of you provided moral support and encouragement at times when we were struggling.  And all of you paid attention to help us recognize that what we were doing was important and meaningful even beyond the scope of our immediate experiences.  Thanks.

Graffiti in Manaus.

The insane clouds of Brazil.

Who let the dogs out?

 Shawny decided the safest way to get around with a broken leg was on a motorcycle.

A fire juggling clown in the middle of the street.

In Manaus we were treated to Churrascaria, a Brazilian style meat buffet. Ana was pretty excited.

Bryan and Gianna take over the sign in the conservation parade on the streets of Manaus.  

One of the little girls we hung out with before and after our time in Santarem. She was going to come home in our luggage along with Lua.

After the parade and soccer game, we all got together on the soccer field for a picture.

Some kids watched the soccer game. Maybe they were tired from the march.

Beutner pushes Shawny around the goal mouth for a 2 - 1 victory over the Brasilian girls.  

The restaurant named Bufalo where we ate our body weights in meat.

Walking the streets in Manaus using percussion instruments to send a message about the environment.

The huge speaker on top of the car that sent the message that the people of Manaus need to save the Earth.

The sunset in Manaus as we arrived at the soccer field.

After the soccer match we posed with the kids of Manaus and took a group picture.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you guys had a wonderful trip! I'm so proud of all your hard work. It was so incredible seeing the same kids and seeing them grow from last year.
    -Cassidy Gunter