Saturday, January 17, 2009

Amazon 2009: Day Thirteen (Saturday, January 17)

Today’s video was produced by the team Dar Um Jeito.

Today was our last big push at the worksite before our big TV appearance tomorrow. (Actually, we are supposed to appear on TV on Monday, but the filming will happen on Sunday.) We wanted the paint job on our building to be as far along as possible and we wanted to make the greatest possible progress on the covering for the deck. We succeeded on both fronts.

We split the group into two today, taking two teams to the worksite in the morning and leaving two teams at camp. The teams at camp had important work to do: prep some stills and video clips for a dvd that we will give to the TV station to use as they prepare their story about us and the organization with which we are affiliated. They want to incorporate some of our own impressions into the story that they prepare.

Those clips might also come in handy when we visit the main campus of the university who is providing our housing here in Santarém. We are speaking there on Tuesday in front of a mixed group of students, many of whom are specializing in education theory.

The groups that went to the worksite kicked things into high gear as they worked to finish the deck front and the paint job. The deck work is really frustrating, as the nails we use are a bit weak and the wood is really, really hard. Thus, it sometimes takes us ten or more nails to drive one all the way in. We are also having some serious logic problems on cutting the diagonal pieces that make the shape of the deck. Somehow, though, we overcame all of these obstacles and really made things change.

The paint crew overcame a pretty serious obstacle as well: rain. They started painting and it started raining. They toughed it out and kept painting, but the rain got tougher too. When they finally ran for cover, it seemed that painting might be off the agenda for the day. But just a few minutes later, the clouds parted, the hot Amazon sun broke through, and painting continued as planned.

Though we had gone to the site just to do construction work, our presence there meant that a whole lot of kids showed up wanting to play or learn. We offered both options. Marie headed up a crew that made some sweet little flashcards to help the kids learn conversations. They had notes about weather, emotions, food, etc. Pairs of us worked with three or four of them and they got really good at remembering and using their new English words.

Some of the rest of us decided to get in on their 2-liter cricket game, though none of us actually knew how to play. The language barrier did not prevent us from learning, though, and they were thrilled to yell and scream for us and at us to train us into following the rules. We went home late and exhausted but we were pleased with how much we had accomplished in one morning. We were also surprised to learn from the camp staff that another TV station had come by looking for us. We might have another day in front of the camera before we leave.

In the afternoon, the teams switched places and things continued. The afternoon construction and painting crews really got into a groove and took those jobs almost to completion. The paint crew had the heart-breaking experience of watching some of their fresh new paint peel when the tape was pulled, but some touchups tomorrow should solve that problem easily. The deck crew also found some new brain synapses and somehow overcame the difficulties that have stymied the crews before them. They almost finished that job too.

One difference in the afternoon crews’ experience was that the team called Dar Um Jeito (To Make a Way) did a follow up interview with the museum director that we met on Monday, Lourimar Leal. That team has decided to do one of its multimedia projects about Lourimar. (Special Note: one multimedia project per team will premier at our special presentation night on the SMC campus once we return. The date of that event is Tuesday, February 17. The event will be held in the Soda Center on the Saint Mary’s College campus at 7:00 in the evening. The event is free and open to the public.) Lourimar talked about his ancestors’ experiences with slavery, his own attempts to express his sense of liberation, and his dreams for Santarém’s future. He also offered the great favor of singing some of the songs that had been passed down through his family for generations. For those that were there it really seemed like the past itself was singing to us right in the courtyard of the museum.

We ended the night with another special treat: Brazilian ice cream. We picked only the funkiest flavors, like cupuaçú, açaí, coconut, tapioca, maracujá, graviola, and castanha. We won’t try to describe each one, but we will offer our hope that each of you gets to taste something nearly as good as that ice cream during your travels this week.

And today’s Purple Biker is: Rob Silva! As we noted a few days ago, Rob is a profuse projectile sweater and that distinction alone could have earned him purple bike status. Despite all of his perspiration, Rob still got a heat rash in the last few days and rather than opting out of work, he instead braved the hot Amazon days in long-sleeved shirts to protect himself. That, too, might have earned him the PB. As it turns out, though, he is also our bravest new speaker of Portuguese. He boldly carries on conversations that most of us wouldn’t attempt. Even though he doesn’t always have things quite right, our hosts and we appreciate his impressive efforts. Congratulations, Rob!

Working hard.

Someone gave Joe a baby.

Joe tearin it up.

Cassidy and Erik playing some sort of game that involved 2 bottles, 2 sticks and a ball.

Cassidy with all of her new friends.

The thinking spot on our porch. One of the best places to reflect on the day's happenings.
The fence near our worksite where some kids stand and observe us from afar.

Sleepy Zilly keeping the hammock warm for the next person.

Dona Maria sweeping the walkway in the afternoon sun.

This chair has become the chair where one waits to pounce on the hammock as soon as it is free.


Anonymous said...

Marie, You finally got to use a machete !!! Safety first! :-) Joey, Loved the message on the side of the building,hope showers are in your future..... Miss you both and love to see the photos and updates. To all of the SMC Heros, we are so proud of the work that you are doing and the incredible impact that you are making on so many others lives. All of you are AMAZING! (drink lots of water!!!!) :-) Lots of Love, Momma and Daddy (Cacciatore)

Anonymous said...

I love the huge variety of experiences you are creating for yourselves and your hosts. My class will be very excited to hear that you have received our communication, but it will be days before they do. With wind chills at -25 to -30 we have not been in school since Wednesday. Just try to imagine that next time you are too warm! They already are very excited to get this inside look at daily life in some other place so thanks for sharing all that you do. We also like hearing that you struggle with the math stuff sometimes because we can relate! Keep up the great interaction, you'll hear from our gang again next week I hope since we return to school Tuesday.

Ms. Anderson without the gang

jillagunter said...

Hey smc bravehearts
I need to tell you that you not only are touching lives in brazil with these lovely children, but back home as well. You have made me lol, shed tears and spill over with happiness watching you all.
The ways in which we unknowingly touch others is often profound. Who knows what far reaching difference you are making in so many lives. Thank you. Love you cassidy. mama jill

Anonymous said...

Hello, you wonderful people! Shawny, once again, you are working your magic. It looks like the projects are really coming along. The building / painting looks great, and the kids look fun and so happy learning and playing with you. The upcoming interview with L. should be fascinating - he sounds like a living treasure. On the videos, it was really fun to hear what Brazil means to you and your tips for surviving the Amazon. The food (especially the ice cream!) sounds great. I hope the TV interview today went well!There are a lot of people around here sending good wishes your way. Stay safe and well!
Kim and Dean (Katie's M & D)

Rennu Dhillon said...

You guys look like you are having a blast. I don't recognize Shana, she looks like one of the locals.
Miss you Shanee, come home safe
Love Mom, Dad, Sis, Nani and Nana

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to hear how the Brazilian movie stars are! How did the interviews go? What did they ask? Were you nervous? I bet that they were so impressed with all of you, just as impressed as all of us are with all of you! You all are AMAZING!!!!! Keep drinking lots of water and can't wait to hear the next chapter...... Hugs and Kisses to Marie and Joey. Lots of Love, Momma and Daddy (Cacciatore)

ldamerel said...

This trip is a life-changing experience for all of you! How wonderful to see such an unspoiled way of life. You have worked hard and learned a lot - relax and enjoy the remainder of your journey. Love you, Soph! M.D.& A.