Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Weekend in Pará

Friday night I played soccer with some friends from school. We played a type of soccer called “Futsal” which is played with a smaller, heavier ball and on a court (a little bigger than a basketball court) instead of a grass or synthetic turf field.  After I came home and had a bite to eat, I went out with Gabriel and some of his friends. The “thing to do” is to go downtown Sinop and park your car and just hangout on the streets. It is called “Avenida” and it is sort of the main street of Sinop, which has all the clubs and bars, etc. We got home around 1:00am. 

After about three and a half hours of sleep (~4:30am) we began our drive to Pará. Pará is the state directly above Mato Grosso. Fortunately, Rotary does not allow me to drive while on exchange, so I got to sleep in the car while Graciano drove. I rode shotgun (leg room! Woot woot!) while Gabriel and my host Mom rode in the back. The drive to Pará was about six hours long including a stop at a beautiful waterfall by the name of Cachuera de Curua (“Cachoeira” is “Waterfall” in Portuguese). The waterfall was in the middle of nowhere and was everything but a popular tourist location. We hiked down to the base of the waterfall on a sketchy trail through amazon-esque vegetation.

Our final destination was a town called Castelo de Sonhos (Castle of Dreams). The town really didn’t live up to its name. There wasn’t a single paved road besides a major highway, which divided the town down the middle. We arrived at our hotel and I experienced a very important introduction. My host father works up in Para, driving large machinery for a lumber company. This was the first time I had met my father since I arrived. I guess it has only been a week, even though it has felt like a month. I wish I could understand more of what my father was saying, because he is constantly making everyone laugh and smile. Since my host father works six hours away from Sinop, my host siblings only get to see their dad maybe three times every month. This made me realize how fortunate I am that I get to live at home with both my parents all year long.

After we ate lunch, we took a quick nap and headed to the beach. We are wayyyyyy inland, so going to the beach meant going to the side of the river. We went on a walk as a family up the river a ways, jumping from rock to rock and trying not to fall in. Then Gabriel and I went for a swim, which was super fun and a good test of my swimming abilities as the current was fairly strong. The sun went down shortly after we dried off and we went back to the hotel room to shower before dinner.

Dinner was fantastic. We ate at a small restaurant in Castelo do Sonhos, where the only thing they served was fish. I really do not know what kind of fish it was, or what was on it, or anything about it really besides the fact that it was fish. Although I probably spent 15 minutes picking little tiny fish bones out of my mouth and food, I still enjoyed it and it was extremely tasty. After that, we dropped Gabriel off at the hotel because he was exhausted, and the four of us (Mae, Pae, and Graciano and I) went to watch some live music and experience some more of the nightlife.

This area of Brazil (rural Pará) is completely different than anything I had ever seen before. The people appear to be very poor and live in tiny little houses that look like they could fall apart at any moment. But they all seem happy and content with their lives. Everything is dirty and dusty and most everyone drives little dirt bikes as their mode of transportation. It is very different from Sinop, the town I live in, which is very different from Northfield and most of the United States. This weekend I realized that I am definitely in a different country, with different people, different places, and a different way of living.

We also visited the place where my host father works in Castelo de Sonhos. He works for a lumber company, driving large machinery and cutting down trees. Castelo de Sonhos lies on the south edge of the amazon, so deforestation is somewhat of a popular profession. 

The following morning, we said goodbye to my host dad and headed home to Sinop. On the way back, we saw a little white car that was all smashed up on the side of the road. It had been in a terrible accident. We learned a little more about the accident once we got into cell service. It turns out that the woman driving the car was the mother of a friend of Graciano’s fiancé, and had died in the crash. Below is a picture of the car.

After our trip to Pará, I feel even closer with my host family (have I mentioned how much I like them?) and feel more comfortable with my Portuguese as well.

I added a bunch of pictures to my Flickr page from this weekend so check those out!

Until next post!


  1. enjoying the updates, Avery. Like the way youre approaching the experiences AND how you're handling them. -"Fatlance"

  2. Hey Avery! This is Margaret Colangelo. I'll be checking in every now and then. Have a fantastic year!