Where I Have Been Map

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Brazilian 4th of July!

I gave up sleeping in my hammock today after 4 days of sleepless nights. Although it pains me to say it, the hammock got the best of me. Last night I was tossing and turning as usual trying to find a comfortable spot where my back wouldn’t kill me the next morning, and my hammock, sick of dealing with me, spat me out the side. Luckily instead of falling on the hard tile floor I landed in the bed. I debated getting up and crawling back into my hammock, but as I laid on a flat surface for the first time since I had arrived, I gave in and slept in the bed.

I woke up this morning without intense muscle cramps, but unfortunately my cold had gotten much worse from the nights of no sleep and days of continuous walking in the intense sun. My throat was on fire and I was still coughing away my life. My host mom made me a Gurupa drink remedy which consisted of limes, honey, and oranges. It was delicious, but considering I have a strange fondness for the taste of Peptolbismol and cough syrup, I guess I’m not the most reliable source.

I spent the day sleeping and trying to get over my cold, instead of our usual daily routines of roaming around the town and visiting people. Gurupa is so tiny, only consisting of 6 streets, yet it can wear you out quickly if you walk from one end of the town to the other in the blazing hot sun. Most people here don’t even go outside during the times of noon and 3pm. All of the restaurants and stores are closed during this time as well to discourage people from leaving their houses and venturing out into the dangerous sun. We learned this the hard way.

However, at night it is a different story. Once the sun goes down the temperature is really cool and refreshing. Last night we spend our majority of the night outside, since it was the 4th of July. Of course, no Brazilian celebrates American Independence day, but we thought it was time to bring some of our culture to the townspeople of Gurupa. I went out and bought a box of fireworks and what I thought were roman candles. I tried to read the direction of how to light the fireworks in Portuguese, however considering how prone I am to natural disasters, we decided to go to our friend Perdro’s house so his son, Benedito, could help us light them. The rest of the students met up with us there, and as Pedro and Benedito put together the big fireworks, we sat around trying to figure out how to work the roman candles. After about 10 minutes of sitting in a circle looking like confused chimpanzees, Benedito picked up one of the roman candles, opened the top, and threw it up in the air. An array of Confetti slowly floated down and covered us… they were not roman candles at all.

Lucy picks up the stray pieces of confetti after we finally figured out how to use it

Pedro lit the first firework, held it in his hand, and squinted his eyes. The flare shot up and the sparks jumped all over the cobble street, but when we looked up at the sky all we saw was one tiny explosion. About 2 seconds later we heard a deafening “POP” that shook the ground and echoed throughout the whole town. That is when we discovered what a Brazilian firework actually is, no display but lots of noise. I guess I should have figured this, considering we live right down the street from the town’s bars and clubs who play techno Brazilian music at all hours of the day on full blast. My dad said that loud music is not an annoyance to any Brazilian, but seen as just the cool way to listen to music.

After the firework show, Benedito started up his motorcycle and asked me if I wanted a ride around the town. Now, I remembered Benedito from the last time I had visited Gurupa 4 years ago. He was 10 years old at that time, and he rode in the back of our boat when we were heading to the interior of the rainforest. Even though the waters of the Amazon contained dangerous creatures, Benedito was standing up and playing around with his friends trying to grab fruits from the trees we sped by. Was this little kid the person I would want to be strapped too while riding 60 miles per hour on uneven dirt and stone roads on the back of a motorcycle???? …..YES!

I hopped on the back of the bike without a helmit, since they were not required in this country, and Benedito took off at full blast. We were going extremely fast, but after awhile I gained confidence that Benedito knew what he was doing. Bad idea. At one point we were flying though this abandoned dirt road with the only light coming from the little huts sparatically spaced out along the road, and Benedito turned his head to say to me “This town is even smaller on a motorcyle isn’t it?”

Now I don’t know if I have a curse with black cats, but they seem to find me everywhere I go. Well, right when Benedito turned to me and took his eyes off the road a black cat came running right out in front of our path. Benedito saw my eyes widen and turned around just in time to slam on the breaks and whip our motorcyle off balance. We were being swung to the right, to the left, back to the right just barely staying above ground at every twist of the handles. Just before I could discover how pavement and lose rocks felt on my bare legs while traveling 60 mph, Benedito regained control and got us upright once again. We arrived back at our house without a scratch. Although we faced a situation that could have been much worse than it was, I surprisingly cannot wait to try it again. However before I do, I should probably invest in a helmet…. And a cat shock collar.

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