First, I've figured out how to post videos so some I've taken while down here are below. The panoramics are from Chapada Diamantina, the drumming is from Salvador, and the dance is from the Festa Junina at PIC. Oh and there are some new pictures up in a few of the albums, nothing too important, but if you're bored!
I had a great weekend this past weekend. After going to the game on Thursday I was able to sleep in on Friday and gimped to the lab later (sidenote: the knee is feeling better, but is definitely still not right. I need new, good shoes, but shoes are 3x more expensive here, so I'll take some painkillers and keep riding the bus).
From lab I went home with Gabi from the lab. She lives in a town near BH that reminds me of Oregon City quite a bit: it's about the same distance from a major city as OC is from Portland; roughly the same size, seemed to be about the same sort of economic status (realtive to the country). I got to meet her family and friends and she took me out that night. It was a blast to see 'real Brazilians' doing what they do best: throwing a party just because they can! There really wasn't any one thing that was spectacular, but it was really nice to go to a home and hang out with everday people (i.e. not the academic type I've been around lately). Gabi is very nice, and one of the true friends I have made down here. Saturday we just lounged around her house (after some cachaca the night before that was a good choice!); I showed her pictures of home, friends and family, and we compared music. Then we had a lunch with her family: chicken and okra (YUM, see below)
The idea of people being all the same at the base in something I've brought up several times and noticed in other travels, but it was really evident here. The details in life might be drastically different, but I'm constantly amazed how similar people are.
This idea was also a topic of discussion that came up with another friend I've made down here, Thiago. I spent Saturday night with him, his wife and a couple of their friends. Thiago is a well traveled guy, and it's always really fun to talk with him about all kinds of things. Sunday he and Fernanda (his wife) showed me around the town (they live in the same town as Gabi), and then took me to Fernanda's mom's house for a home cooked meal: real feijoada. Oh yum!
The food in Brazil is really really good, if far from light (no part of the animal is off limits and low fat is a joke). It reminds me a lot of the classic southern cooking, heavy, delicious meals; but with rice and beans at every meal (not exaggerating at all). Oh and AMAZING fruit (and I'm here during the winter when some of the best are out of season).
After the meal, Thiago showed me some of the DVDs he has of Brazilian music; WOW! Such energy and happiness. He's going copy the DVDs for me, as well as giving me some music (Gabi is doing the same).
Throughout the weekend I was treated incredibly nicely; visitors are treated so well here. All of the people I have met are more hospitable than anyone has the right to expect; again reminds me of the South [Southern Hospitality], but they take it even further here. Like I told Gabi, I don't have to do anything down here and I'm instantly popular. Everyone wants to talk to me, it's great, and really helps my Portuguese (progressing nicely, of course just as I leave).
This weekend was a true cultural exchange and precisely why I'm traveling. Tourists wouldn't have seen what I did this weekend, and more, they probably wouldn't have wanted to, but I couldn't have been happier. As they say down here, any better and it would have been spoiled (or something like that)
I could keep going, but I'll control myself. This is a truly amazing country and I have no doubt that I will be returning. I have a lot more to see if nothing else. More than that, the culture here really relaxes me and makes me much more comfortable, and even more importantly, I have true friends I want to stay in contact with.