Where I Have Been Map

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sick in Belem

Well I never thought I would spend a day in Brazil sitting in my hotel room watching youtube and eating baby food. But the sad fact is I am sick. One thing traveling can do is exhaust you without you even realize it! We have walked so much in blazing heat these last couple of days that my cold was bound to get worse. So when I almost got a pillow to the face last night from waking up my sister for the 800th time with my consistent hacking cough, I decided today might be a good day to rest up and get better.

Oh but before I continue I should probably expand on the baby food comment. Before my mom left with the rest of the group to visit a near by college, I asked her to bring me back some food for lunch. In my head I was thinking like some bread, maybe some ham, you know... normal people food. She walks back into my room twenty minutes later with a huge grin on her face and a bag of goodies. I was confused as soon as I heard the "Cling" of glass coming from the bag. She pulled out a bottle of gatorade, bag of chocolate covered nuts, and 3 jars of baby food. My initial thought was if there was any hope of me getting over my sickness my lunch will quickly rectify that. But actually after you get over the thick, slimy texture it's not that bad! I'm almost done with my first jar, banana flavored... yum.

The city I am missing out on exploring today is called Belem, and it is very different from anywhere I have visited yet these last couple of months. Belem is the closest city to the dock where we will take a boat out to the small town of Gurupa, so the city is centered around the docks. However the docks are the only part of the entire city that look extremely well kept. This city is poorer than any other we have visited, and although I've seen it before... it is still a shock every time I stare poverty in the face.

The day it really hit hard was when we were walking back from watching a movie at the mall. My dad was completely right about the warning he gave us at the beginning of our trip about watching movies. We sat in the theater and escaped into a world of "Transformers" for two hours, and when we stepped back outside... I was completely confused about where I was. I had to remind myself that I was in Brazil... and while walking down the streets, it was hard to cope with this fact.

My dad chose to go the most direct way back to our hotel, and that way was through the streets also used as the central market area. When we turned the corner onto this street, I felt as if I had walked out of one movie and stepped into another. We stumbled through the darkness and instantly smelled trash and urine. We tried to walk around the rocks jutting out from the broken sidewalk, but by avoiding those we would step in puddles of water and trash. It was easier to see when we entered an area that was lit by a giant spotlight so the street cleaners could see easier, but the lighting made the area seem even more eerie than it was. I felt as if I was walking in ground zero in an abandoned city after a it had just been attacked by something. The only thing missing was hearing an odd siren in the distance, breaking the silence. I said to my dad, "This area seems really shaddy... I feel like am going to see someone jump through a window any second after robbing a store." And he told me "I would completely agree with you if I didn't know where we are."

We successfully made it back to our hotel, but I couldn't help feeling weird about knowing that normal people have to work in that sort of area every day of their lives. But then again at the same time my whole perspective on things was shifted when the very next morning we walked to the market and were surprised to see a HUGE parade coming down that same street! The parade was for a festival called Sao Joao where Brazilians dress up as their version of "Country" which includes wearing tacky dresses and pig tails for the girls and painting on freckles. Parades in Brazil are different than parades back home, because instead of sitting along side of the road and watching the parade go by, Brazilian spectators actually get up and JOIN the parade! They walk with it all over the city and drink and dance until it ends.

So after all discovering all these sites of this new city we are in, I hope I can soak it all in and get better before tomorrow! Because being on a boat on the Amazon river while being sick is not the best idea. I hear that piranhas can sense when someone is sick or wounded...

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