I know it has been a few weeks since you guys have heard from me. Don’t worry, I’m safe and having a great time but a lot has happened. This post might be kinda long but I hope you find it a good read.
I’ll start with the trip to the Amazon jungle. When we landed in Manaus, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew that the weekend was going to be one to remember. After a thirty minute bus ride through the city, we got to the dock where we loaded onto a boat that was going to take us to our hotel which was floating in the Rio Negro (Black River). The hotel had a pool, great food, and even set up karaoke for us throughout the weekend. The first morning in the amazon we got back on the boat to go see the meeting of the waters, where the Amazon and Black Rivers meet. Then we went to a small flea market that had this bridge leading into the jungle. This bridge was something you would see on the show Planet Earth or something. Further down the bridge was a man holding a sloth and another man holding a three foot boa, so of course I had to hold them. Later that evening, we got onto smaller boats to go fishing for piranha. Although the only thing I caught was a catfish, I was pretty happy that I was able to catch something using a bamboo stick and some fishing line. The second part to that fishing trip was when our guide was going to catch a caiman (alligator). Yeah, the dude was ready to jump into the river to catch it just to show us. We all thought he was crazy but that is just a normal day in the Amazon for those people.
The next day we were taken down the river to go swimming with pink dolphins. The dolphins were not as pink as i thought they were going to be but it was pretty cool to be swimming in that river with those animals among many others. The same day, we were able to visit an indigenous tribe in the jungle. Although it was a popular tourist site, it was interesting to see how that tribe still upkeeps with their culture and religious practices. The morning of our last day in the Amazon, I woke up with a few others EARLY, to watch the sunrise over the Black River. After the eventful morning of waking up early, our group went on a jungle hike through the dense trees to learn about some plants and animals. It was quite breathtaking and a great way to end the trip in the Amazon. The Amazon truly blew my mind and I still can’t believe that I had the chance to travel there. I could talk about the Amazon for a while so I guess you’ll have to ask me about it in person. I definitely plan on visiting the amazon jungle again someday.
After the weekend in the Amazon, we heard that the Olympic Torch was going to be traveling through Fortaleza outside of our school. We were all excited and willing to wait to see the Torch be passed along as it had been traveling all the way from Greece. With the excitement of the torch, there was also commotion caused by rioters. To say the least, it was quite a scene and I am very lucky that I was able to see the Olympic Torch from ten feet away.
For our service day, we were taken to an Elementary School that was located next to a Favela neighborhood. The morning started off pretty rough as we went out the night before and were asked to paint the playground equipment as well as other things around their school. After some of us got done painting, I was able to go into a classroom and spend time with a class full of students and their teacher. All of the kids and their teacher were so welcoming and very happy that we wanted to hang out in their classroom. We were able to teach them some English and they were able to teach us some Portuguese. It was good to know that we made a difference for those kids that day. At the end of the day, it was harder to leave than I thought it was going to be but I’m glad I got to experience that.
The following week of school was a tough one. With having our Marketing final and Case competition within days of each other, none of us got much sleep that week. All teams in the case competition presented really well and I couldn’t stop thinking about how cool the project actually was, after all the work was done. In groups, we all presented our business ideas to judges (our professors) for bringing a company to Fortaleza. Case comp taught all of us a lot on what exactly goes into opening up and running a business. The project only gave us a taste of what many of us plan to be doing in the future.
As soon as we finished our tough week at school, we were rewarded with an unforgettable trip to Jericoacoara. Jeri is a small beach village that was about a four hour bus ride from Fortaleza. Then, another hour ride on the back of pickup trucks to drive through the dunes to this beach village. This beach is one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world. As soon as we got there, I made my way to the beach (50 feet from my room) and rented a paddle board. The water there was clear as can be and I could see the bottom of the ocean a couple feet down. Before I knew it, my time with the board was up and I had already fallen in love with the town. I couldn’t wait to see more of it and finally relax after a busy first month here. As a group, we hiked up to the top of a huge sand dune and watched the sunset drinking Brazil’s staple drink, the Caipirinha.
In Jeri, most people sleep on hammocks and never wear shoes! To adapt to the culture and lifestyle there, I slept on a hammock outside and walked around barefoot all weekend. We spent the first full day there riding through the sand and beach on dune buggies. We were taken to see a few landmarks and then we were taken to Paradise lagoon, which is the definition of paradise. It turns out that this lagoon is a common background photo that Apple uses in it’s products. Riding on the buggies was a great time and is definitely the thing to do when in Jeri. Later that night, our directors set up a bonfire on the beach for us and then we eventually migrated over to the beach parties that the locals held on the weekends. I had a great time and I can’t wait to revisit that piece of paradise.
The night after we returned from Jeri, most of us attended a soccer game that took place in a World Cup stadium. Although the stadium was mostly empty, I could still feel the excitement in the atmosphere. It was crazy to think about the amount of people that stadium held at some of the World Cup games.
The stadium was located in the middle of a Favela neighborhood. To me, the stadium felt a bit out of place as the beautiful stadium was only built a few summers ago in that neighborhood, just for the World Cup. I can’t even imagine how the people living in that neighborhood felt when that stadium was coming up.
Since we had an amazing time last weekend, it has been hard to get back into the rhythm of school. Since I last posted, I have completed both the marketing and business communication classes. Now, we are already back on the school grind. Whoo! For the remainder of the trip, I will be taking a management course and a management information systems course (MIS). In addition, our Brazil econ class will carry over into this session for another week. So far, I have really enjoyed learning this material as it is finally stuff that I want to learn, not just stuff that I have to learn.
With less than four weeks left on my program, I can truly say that I made the right choice taking this opportunity .I’ve grown to love this city, state, and country more and more every day. In the next few weeks, I’m excited to see more of this country and enjoy the remaining time I have here.
Well, that’s it for now!
Thanks for reading,