Friday, August 1, 2014

Almost time to return home!

Its funny how, in this journey of life, even though we may begin at different times and places, our paths cross with others so that we may share our love, compassion, observations, and hope. This is a design of God that I appreciate and cherish” – Steve Maraboli

Wow! What a lesson of life this trip has been! I find myself deeply moved by the friendships I have forged, the places I have seen, the events I have witnessed, and the love that will forever warm my heart for a country that is not my own, but seems to remind me at every turn of what it feels like to belong exactly where you are. I began this journey very sad to leave the United States, and I find it ironic that I am experiencing the same feelings as I prepare to leave Brazil. As if a part of me will always be here in Belém, waiting to join with the rest of me! I am especially grateful to Phillip (MHIRT 2013), because he made it possible for me to attach myself to some of the most wonderful and caring people I have ever met! As I progress into the next stage of my life, I shall carry these memories with me, until I return again. This journey was so much more than I expected, and everything I would have wanted it to be!

From the laboratories at Universidade do Federal do Pará (UFPA) to the beautiful beaches of Mosqueiro, I will miss you! Coxinha de frango and açaí, you have my heart! I never imagined in all my years that an almost 10-year break from education would lead me here! I have learned so much about Brazilian culture, and even more about my own existence. I have been truly fortunate to have a second chance to make the most of this thing called life, and I will cherish every future opportunity to learn more about others and myself.

Até logo!


Though nobody can go back and make a new beginning, anyone can start over and make a new ending.” – Chico Xavier

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Last Little Bit of Uganda

One of the reasons I've been so delayed in writing this post is that the rainy season started early this year in Uganda.. we had thunderstorms all weekend and just got sunshine for the first time on Tuesday! This fog is no joke- the network has been down and it's been hard to get work done (also because all I want to do is curl up with a good book!). However, the Ugandans see it as the opposite- rainy season means it's time to start planting, so they've been out and about in their gardens in the early morning.
Finally, some sunshine- the only thing missing from this picture is the sound of the generator that has to power the entire hospital and its offices on days that the power is out. We are located between the sewing room and the laundry room, so there are always people milling about when we are in the office (hard at work, of course). Also, notice the three phone numbers on the sign- I have yet to meet a Ugandan with only one cell phone number. Even I have two phones and three numbers!
Moreen, the woman who takes care of the guest houses on the hospital campus, has convinced herself that I am going to starve in Uganda. Not for lack of food, of course, but because in these last weeks I've gotten tired of beans, cabbage, and rice. So sometimes she feeds me avocados the size of my face to make sure I'm getting enough nutrition.
Here we are visiting our friend Happy's home in a village about an hour off of the highway and two hours from Ishaka. It was a long day, filled with lots of milk and potatoes, but it was so nice to be welcomed into her home and to see their farm and way of life. This warm hospitality is something I will really miss about being in Uganda!
Here I am with Susan, the Ishaka Health Plan secretary, finance officer, liaisons officer- she does pretty much everything! Susan has been so so helpful to me and Alex during our time in the office. She keeps us up on all of the gossip and also lets us know what's happening as far as office finances and relationships with groups enrolled in the health plan. Not so obvious in the picture is Muhango Daryl- the baby that Susan is carrying (and will deliver very very soon!!). Since we like to joke that her baby will be named after me, and since I told her today that I was very fat as a baby, then we decided an appropriate name would be Muhango Daryl- Fat Daryl. 

I will miss Susan, Muhango Daryl, and Uganda so so much- we are leaving Ishaka in five days, and I will be back home in Memphis in one week (after over 24 hours of traveling- blech). It's crazy! I've had such a fabulous experience here and am so fortunate that I got to spend my summer in such a sweet town in a wonderful country. The people here are among the friendliest I have ever met, and I hope to come back and visit them and eat large avocados with them sometime soon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Josh and I eat feijoada every Wednesday and Saturday. Our favorite place to go is downtown near the old FanFest stadium.

Josh's favorite place to eat is Amazonas, a small restaurant close to our hostel. We eat there almost every day.

In Rio de Janeiro, Adriana and I went to a samba party in Lapa with some of the people we met at our hostel.

We also took the tram up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. It was gorgeous.

Josh bought a soccer ball in Rio de Janeiro and carried it everywhere.

Here I am on the beach with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Eu visitei Museu Paraense Emilío Goeldi!

Welcome to Museu Paraense Emilío Goeldi! What a wonderful experience for me! Here are some of my favorite photos!

Saturday, July 26, 2014


It's hard to believe we have been in Sao Paulo for 8 weeks now.  Things have calmed down recently since the World Cup is over. I've been able to get into a daily routine that stays pretty constant which is nice for me. The university is still on strike and from what I understand it will continue to be for a while. The strike does cause some bumps in the road that are sometimes difficult to traverse but most of the time we can work around it. 

I have found my Portuguese vocabulary is growing tremendously.  I recently joined a CrossFit gym and have been forced to learn to speak Portuguese as only a handful of the members can speak English.  I have met some awesome people here and they have all been very welcoming and make it lots of fun.  Its nice to have a group of native Brazilians to hang around and also get some competition.  

Today after I left the gym I jumped on a bus to go to the lab. I overheard a person speaking English to the transit employees so I decided to strike up a conversation with him.  His name was Stephen and was from Memphis.  It turns out he was a MHIRT student in 2012 and was visiting Sao Paulo.  How crazy for us to be on the same bus in a city of 20 million people? I couldn't believe it.  

Last weekend I visited Rio de Janeiro.  Like Adriana said the views from the mountain tops and from Sugarloaf were amazing but the people weren't as friendly as they are here in Sao Paulo.  After I had visited all the touristy destinations I found myself ready to get back to Sao Paulo where I am more comfortable and the food isn't so expensive (50 reais on average for a meal, no thanks!)

No Frango to talk about this time

What do you mean we only have 2 weeks left in São Paulo? I'm just starting to get used to living here though!

Well, even though I cannot believe it, we have been in this giant city for 8 weeks now, but I can finally report that I have gotten out to explore other cities a bit. About 2 weekends ago, I decided I needed to go somewhere else, so I decided to take a nice 6 hour bus ride to visit Curitiba. It was a good experience, and I'm glad I did it. As soon as I arrived there, I met a guy at the hostel where I was staying that spoke Spanish, and he volunteered to go exploring with me and to help me document my journey. We had such a great time and covered so many sites! 

The next weekend Victoria and I decided to finally take a trip to Rio de Janeiro to see what all the hype was about. What we learned from our trip is that within the actual city, the people were generally more rude and the atmosphere was not as nice as within São Paulo; however, when we went to visit Cristo Redentor and Pão de Açúcar, we discovered that the views from outside the city were incredible and made the trip extremely worth it. We did encounter one creepy thing while we were in Rio, but it would be difficult to explain the situation on here. All you have to know is that when you realize that there is a whole beach to sit on and a person picks a spot very obviously near you, you may be wrong to excuse the actions of this person as innocent, and you may find yourself running across a large avenue to board a random bus with an unknown destination. But we are finer than fine now! 

I've not only been traveling around these past weeks that you haven't heard from me. During these weeks, I've also been hard at work in the lab still to try and make good progress on my project before I return home. I, however, had to learn a hard lesson about science. This lesson is: if little mistakes are made during your experiment, you may find yourself having wasted 7 weeks and having to start everything over. I am sad to say that it is not likely that I return with any actual experimental results after this trip, but I will be working hard to get as much done as possible before I depart. I also don't think the 7 weeks have really been wasted. It's been an amazing opportunity working with brilliant people who have helped me improve my lab skills a great deal! I would never ever take back any of the time I have spent here. I'm hoping the next two weeks will be just as amazing as the first eight!

Ate logo!

Friday, July 25, 2014

E Quase Tempo para Embora

I can`t believe that it is almost time to leave this country. It has been a great time and I have met so many people that I will be sad to leave. I am fortunate that I will be able to communicate with them from Whatsapp and Facebook. We have also come to the end of our research and it appears that we are going to have good results from this as well. I have made so many memories here that will last a lifetime! And I will miss Belem dearly.

Recently, I tried a cake of amendoim (peanut)! It was very good!

They have many desserts here. What I found very interesting is that they have a bolo de milho that is very similar to southern cornbread.

On Wednesday, I went to the Estacao das docas to listen to music. They played music for the children which was suprisingly very good. Then, there was a hip hop band called Chronistas da rua. I thought their music was very catchy. The last type of music that they had was Carimbo. Carimbo is the music that I heard for the first time at the arraial de pavulagem. The party at the estacao was very fun! There were so many people and everyone was dancing! There was an added bonus because it was my friend's birthday. We surprised her with a cake!

Well, I believe I have come to the end of this post as we are about to embark on a journey to Algodoal. Algodoal is an island which is a part of the state of Para. It is about 2 hours from Belem by car. I expect it to be a great time!