Brazil Trip - Days 5 & 6

May 30, 2005


By Ashley Michaels, 2004 Jayhawk Senior

Photo gallery

May 28, 2005 — Day 5

Sadly our Brazilian expedition is winding down. We are now in Sao Paulo and I can say these last couple of days have been the best yet. This morning we got to sleep in. We don’t have alarm clocks in the rooms, so I set my cell phone alarm clock for 8:30 a.m. … Kansas time. Needless to say I didn’t get breakfast, which on this trip has consisted solely of ham and cheese on a roll. Not the typical breakfast, but I’m not picky.

At around 10 a.m. everyone boarded the bus. We headed to the “rich” mall, I believe is how Jana put it. If there was an item under $500 I didn’t see it. We are talking Burberry and Tiffany and Co. People were strolling around with dogs on leashes in one hand and cigarettes in the other. Inside the mall!

With the help of mall security we safely removed Jill Dorsey and Ashley Bechard from the Louis Vitton store window, exchanged our money and went straight to the “American” store. Later that day we were heading to an orphanage, so at the “American” store, we were given sandal sizes for 33 kids and we were each told to get a small toy and a box of crackers. Everyone used their own money and chose whatever they wanted to get for their child. One thing led to another and lets just say we all left with a little more than sandals and crackers.

After lunch at an Italian restaurant, we began our “20-minute drive” to the orphanage. By the way, if you ask Cristiano or Fabio (our tour guides), everything in Sao Paulo is 20 minutes away. Close to an hour and several narrow, bumpy, winding roads later, we pulled our big tour bus up in front of the small housing complex. Looking out the windows, you could see the children approach the gate and stare out at us.

We all piled out of the bus in our matching red, white and blue outfits and began to mingle among the children. Some of the children hung back, some sat on the curb looking up at us and others just kind of clumped together staring. The language barrier prevented us from talking to them aside from “Oi!”(hello) and “Cual es el nome?”(What is your name?), but as soon as we handed them the gifts, cameras came out of bags and there were hugs and smiles all around.

I don’t know that I have ever seen a child’s face light up as much as when I approached a teenage boy standing in the back by himself. We couldn’t speak to each other but I didn’t need to hear anything from him, I could tell from the look on his face how appreciative he was of his new $3-sandals, hand-held electronic video game and box of crackers. He hugged me and his smile said it all.

When all the gifts, candy and extra goodies were handed out they invited us to stick around for festivities. We all formed a half-circle around them and watched while they played instruments, sang and danced. We started out just clapping along but then it became interactive. I couldn’t help but notice that all inhibitions were lost and innocence stepped in. Regardless of age or status, everyone was having genuine fun. No one was worried about being judged by others if they messed up because clearly none of us were born with the Samba gene.

Since communication through language was not possible, our small group interacted through music and dance and I think I can speak for the group when I say it was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. Leaving was hard, tears were shed and conversation on the bus was no longer about the $1500 purses at the “rich” mall.

We left the orphanage and went straight to practice. Practice lasted about an hour and a half. We were a little sluggish, but glad to work off some of that Brazilian candy. We went back to the hotel, got all fancied up and went to dinner at a Brazilian barbeque restaurant, again. It was good, the best of the 12 we’ve eaten at. I ate too much, but I won’t go into my life story. It was a long, but wonderful day….

May 29, 2005 — Day 6

We got up early this morning to go to the Market. We were all excited because we wanted cheap, authentic Brazilian goods. We left the hotel ready for our “20-minute” ride to the Market. An hour and forty-five minutes later, we arrived. We only had a couple hours to shop, so everyone was in a frenzy to get as much as they could for as little as they could as fast as they could.

I thought I would be a good daughter and try to buy my mom and dad a gift. I found this really cool thing, I won’t say what it is in case my mom reads this before she gets it, and I asked the man selling it, “Cuanto?” He replied, “Triente reis,” which is 30 reis. So I turned to Jill, my wingman, and we deliberated, in English, and decided that it was a good buy. I nodded at the man and handed him a 50… reis… bill…er whatever. By this time he had figured out that I was a stupid American and he started shaking his head at me saying, “No, no…,”and a bunch of other stuff in Portuguese. When he realized I was American he had changed his price to 75 reis, but I had already given him my money. I was standing there yelling at him in English while he yelled at me in Portuguese, accomplishing absolutely nothing, when all of a sudden there was divine intervention.

This angel, a woman speaking perfect English, walked up to me and asked if she could help me. I stepped aside, let her work her magic and walked away with a gift for mi madre, and it only cost me 45 reis. Moral of the story: Don’t deliberate in English with your wingman in a foreign country.

On the bus after the Market, everyone showed off their new purchases. Our next stop was Fabio’s parents’ country home, which was “20 minutes” away. About an hour later we arrived at our destination and in the words of Andi Rozum, “It was the first time I really felt like I was in Brazil.” It was absolutely beautiful.

We all laid around the pool, ate great food and enjoyed the Brazilian weather. We were away from the big city, the noise and the pollution. It was paradise, no matter how short-lived. We spent the entire day at the house taking pictures, swimming, eating and visiting. When we left we headed to Pinheiros to watch the Brazilian national team practice and then we went to a small bakery to eat dinner. (I was really craving Brazilian barbeque!) Afterwards we retired for the evening at the hotel for some rest and relaxation. Wish you all could be here with us. Ciao!