Saturday, September 1, 2012

Traffic, Monkeys, and Siri

As usual, the past few days have been filled with some exciting new experiences! But before we get into the fun stuff, I want to tell you a little bit about regular life.

Everyone else has spoken a little bit about traffic in their city, so here is my evaluation of driving in Sinop. To be honest, it is not as crazy as I was expecting it to be. Most people follow normal traffic rules and I don't see very many accidents. A large difference between transportation here and transportation in Northfield is that almost half the vehicles on the road at any given time are motorcycles or mopeds. It doesn't even come close to getting cold here, and there will never be snow in a million years, so why not drive a cheaper vehicle that gets a lot better gas milage? Makes sense to me. Anyways, there are very few stop lights and mostly just roundabouts. Stop signs are obeyed most of the time, but are ignored if there are no cars around. Most cars are very small, hatchback type vehicles, as the bigger cars are not really necessary are mostly just owned by wealthier people. Most of the time, I am driven around by my older brother in his Volkswagon Golf, but from time to time I ride on the back of my younger brother's motorcycle. I really enjoy cruising around town on the motorcycle, and yes Mom, I ALWAYS wear a helmet :)

Last night I played volleyball with my younger brother for about two hours at this local volleyball court. You just show up and play with random people. We played on a sand court, which was actually a really good work out for my calfs and ankles. Volleyball or "Volei" is very popular here in Brazil and holds a pretty strong second place position after soccer or "futebol". For the past two summer olympic games, the Brazilian women have earned the gold medal.

Today I gave my presents to my first host family. Victoria Secret perfume for my host mom and Twins Baseball shirts and caps for my two brothers. Also, some peanut butter for the entire family and a promise that I will eventually TRY and make them chocolate chip cookies and omelets. I think they really enjoyed the presents and it was really nice to be able to give them something in return for all that they have done for me over the past month and all they will continue to do for me in the future.

After lunch, presents and a little relaxation, my two brothers brought me to the "Parque Florestal" here in Sinop. I was able to walk right up to a bunch of amazingly colorful parrots, see a bunch of turtles, get relatively close to some monkeys (my favorite part), and walk around in some very amazon-esque underbrush. -- I want to thank my parents for my wonderful graduation present of my new camera because I had such a great time taking pictures of animals today!

School has been getting a little better as I am continuing to understand more and more Portuguese. Wednesday in class I read an entire book, A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. It is about how Jaycee, the author, was abducted at the age of 11 and held captive for 18 years. It was a fantastic book and and I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick but moving read. Not that my situation here is anything like Jaycee's 18 years of captivity, but it really helped me understand that I need to make the best of my year here in Brazil, even when times are hard and things aren't going exactly how I expect them to. 

My older brother got his new iPhone in the mail today, which really isn't helping me get over my withdrawal from my addiction to my old one (here I have a simple, "non-smart" Nokia phone). But honestly, it is really surprising how addicted I was to my iPhone! I can't believe I am saying this, but I am glad I didn't bring my iPhone here. I spend a lot more time reading and just sitting outside in the hammock. This is time that, if I had my iPhone, I would be spending swiping my way through FaceBook, Twitter, or Instagram. No hard feelings though Siri, I still miss you. 

Thinking about electronics makes me think about how much I adore Skype and the ability to connect with people via internet. I don't want you to think I spend all day cuddled up in my room on the computer, as I am rarely even home here. I really enjoy reading the blogs my friends write, but being able to see them face to face and hear about the experiences is something that I am really thankful for. Not to mention being able to skype my family and friends back in the US. Whether it's Mom and Sophia telling me about Mizuki, Ethan telling me about his first Varsity soccer game, or Mats telling me about how it feels to be under 24 hours away from his departure to Italy!

Today marks one month exactly since I departed from MSP on my adventure to Sinop, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Thank you to everyone who has made this year possible for me, especially Vicki, Rick, Christine, Katie, and most importantly my Mom and Dad.

Until next post!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Avery, M. Colangelo here!
    Tell Mats to start posting, can't wait to hear how things are in Siracusa. I'll bet your soccer skills are coming in handy in Brazil.