Current Date: June 7, 2003 4:00 p.m. (Sao Paulo)
Current Itinerary: Living, working, etc. Looking forward to a four day weekend in two weeks (a holiday in Brazil). I will probably travel somewhere during that time...leaning towards going on a trip with my friend Telma to Goias.
Note: Sorry it took me a week to send this journal out. It seems that when one has a job, there is not as much free time. Interesting. Anyway, the main hold up was that I wanted to get the pictures up before sending this.
Friday, April 11, 2003
We arrived in Manaus in the middle of the night so once again we slept on the boat until the next morning...Manaus is not exactly the kind of city where you go venturing out into the night. The port area is particularly shady.
When we all finally got up around 6:30, we headed for the hotel. We figured if we could store our bags, we might be able to shop around for a jungle tour and still leave that same day and not have to lose a day in Manaus. Anton and Mereike had a flight to SP to head back home on the 15th and I had one to Brasilia on the 16th so we were in sort of a hurry.
At the hotel, we were greeted by one of the guys who works for one of the smaller private companies that do jungle tours. He seemed a bit shady but we were willing to hear his schpeil. It sounded pretty good actually. They offered jungle tours to the south of Manaus, away from the normally touristy northern tours on the Rio Negro. Also, the tour was at the house of, Gerry Hardy, whom we had read about in the lonely planet book. We decided that we would check out some of the other tours before making a decision...but first on the agenda was to get some breakfast. We went to a hotel buffet suggested to us by Wilson (the seemingly shady guy who was trying to sell us the tour) and it was actually pretty good, but the cool thing was that we ran into Dot, Hat, and Matt from England there. The girls weren't going to do a jungle tour because it was too expensive and they didn't have much time left before they had to return home and they had many other things that they still wanted to do in South America. Matt was leaning towards doing the jungle tour so he hitched his wagon to us...and just like that we were seven people (him, me, Kristie, Lisa, and the three Germans).
After going to another place and listening to their pitch about going to the north, we ended up opting for the south tour. I really wanted to go north, it sounded a bit better and was cheaper, but democracy won out and I was out voted. Oh well, it was one of those things where we all knew we would love it either way.
So that was it, just 5 hours after desembarking from the boat, we were headed out to the middle of the Amazon for a four day/three night adventure. Since the folks from England had hotel rooms in Manaus (they arrived 2 days before us b/c they did not get off the boat in Santerem like we did), we were able to take one final proper shower before going out into the jungle. For anyone keeping tally, that is THREE (two in Santerem) total showers since we had left Belem a week before. We were a smelly bunch.
Getting to the site where we would be staying was not trivial. We had to take a car to the port, and then a boat across the river, crossing a pretty cool point (called the meeting of the rivers) where the Rio Negro meets the Amazon...there is literally a brown/blue border because of the water pH and the many minerals that are in solution in the two rivers. We continued to the other side where we then took a 30 minute van ride to another small river. From there we had to take a speed boat for an hour and a half to get to our site. During the ride I saw a couple of pretty big alligators...well they were actually Cayman...but until somebody explains the diffence to me, I'm just gonna keep calling them alligators. Anyway, it was probably around four by the time we got there.
Right away we met Gerry Hardy. Gerry is from British Guyana (for the geographically challenged...it's in the northern part of South America...it borders Brazil and Venezuela). His wife's family is from Amazonas (large state in Brazil that contains most of the Amazon) and owns land there where Gerry and his family have lived for many, many years. They have 3 small, floating houses and then a large house atop a hill on their land where they book tourists to stay. It was cool because we were not in one of the huge lodges like the folks on Rio Negro...we were just there in a house on this guys land. It was just an open empty place with nothing inside except hooks to sling your hammock up. I think it's better for getting a sense of how the people out here really live.
Just after we arrived, we met Gerry and some of his family, and two Canadian guys, Mike and Andrew, who were the only other tourists there at the time. We had a great dinner consisting a piranha soup, made from some piranhas that the Canadians had caught in the river that day.
After dinner, we all went out alligator hunting and it was pretty fun. I mean, we only caught little ones, the longest being only about a meter (3 feet) but it was still cool to hold a baby alligator in my hand. I took some cool pics.
Back at "camp Gerry" we all hung out in the "kitchen house" and drank/talked/sang songs for hours. It was an awesome time. I gotta say, it was nice to have the Canadians there...a fresh change to be with people who like to be a little goofy. I felt like everything had been far too serious for the past week. I really thought that was a source of friction between the others and me...I would just say all these sarcastic things all the time and everyone would take it so seriously. It was nice to be around people who were a little more light hearted. They taught us some pretty cool drinking games, we all acted pretty silly, and Gerry sang some great songs and played guitar. It was a quality evening...I almost forgot I was in the middle of the jungle.
Saturday, April 12, 2003
This morning we got up VERY early...around 5. Gerry wanted to take us out to his families "plantation" where they grow mandioca, a plant that sustains the life of the indigenous people living in the Amazon. It was pouring down rain when we first awoke (hey, it's a rain forest) so we had to wait out the rain. In the meantime, we had a great breakfast. One thing was for sure, it was almost worth coming to camp Gerry, if for nothing then for the food. When the rain stopped, we were on our way...I had know idea about how much I was about to learn. It was a great lesson in the true story behind slashing/burning, how it's done, and why the indians who inhabit the Amazon are able to do it without causing any harm to the forest.
Each family of about 10 people who live in the Amazon requires about a 100mX100m. square of land to maintain themselves and survive. This land is used to produce mandioca both to eat and to sell. Mandioca is a legume, sort of like a potato, but closer to juca for those who know what that is.
The first thing we learned was a surprising one...the Amazon does not contain ANY fertile soil. There is only a small layer of about 6in. of sediment rich in minerals fit for growth that is produced by the dead leaves, roots, of the very trees that grow in them. This layer has built up over time and gives us a sense of the circle of plant life in the jungle. The layer never gets much thicker because during the rainy season, most of it is washed away into the river. Only that which is held by the tree roots remains. For this reason, the large, wide spread roots of the the hardwood trees that grow in the jungle are critical to it's survival. Many of these trees are well over 500 years old and their roots spread in all directions for about half a mile. Due to the huge amounts of nutrients required by these gigantic trees and the surface area their roots take up, you rarely find two that grow within a half square mile of each other. It is these trees that are precious to loggers and the ones that are highly sought after in the forest, and NOT the softwood trees. So the problem is inherent...in order for the logging companies to get ONE tree they need, they are forced to mow down a considerable amount of forest. The problem is further compounded because if you cut down all the small trees and the hardwoods, then there are no roots to hold the rich sediment in place...you then get erosion and THAT is how logging is destroying the rainforests. So one might wonder, what about all this slashing and burning I hear about...isn't that also a huge problem? Well, here is how it works.
As I was saying, each family has their own 100m. by 100m. plot of land that they refer to as their "plantation". At the beginning of the dry season, the family goes out and spends days cutting down and killing all the trees within a certain area...being careful to leave all the stumps, so that the roots can still hold the topsoil in place. After cutting everything down, they wait for a month while it dries out. See the rainforest is SO wet, that nothing living can burn. That's why you never have wild fires in the Amazon like you do in the other large forests of the world. Because of that, the only way that large trees are killed is by vines wrapping them or by termites...both critical to the balance of the ecosystem in the Amazon. Anyway, it takes a full month for the jungle which has be "slashed" to be dry enough to burn. They then set a fire, which burns itself out in a day or so...leaving the surrounding jungle unscathed due to it's moisture.
After a few days, they plant the mandioca...but there is a method to it. There are two types of roots...one, which is poisonous and one which isn't. In order to keep the animals away from the non-poisonous root (NPR) they plant a large circle...poisonous plants on the outside, NPR in the middle. I tell you, these indians are pretty sharp.
Anyway, they use the root both for food for themselves but also a lot of it is processed and sold. We went into the middle of the plantation, and picked some root for us to take back to camp.
It takes a year for the plants to grow to a sufficient size so the roots can be harvested...so each family has two plantations. After they harvest everything, they slash it and burn again, but they only use each plot of land for two cycles, so that the jungle gets a chance to regrow and to avoid erosion of the fertile layer. If they kept farming in the same place, eventually erosion would win and nothing would grow. The indians know this, and that is how they have been able to live off the forest without destroying it for so many years.
The rate of growth of the forest was amazing to me. In the pictures you see of us from harvesting the roots, the surrounding growth is what occurs only after a year. It takes only 2 years for the forest to regrow to the height of the surrounding jungle and few more years to fill in, but it takes 20 years before it is considered untouched jungle again.
So off we went, mandioca root in hand, back to camp Gerry to learn how the poison root is processed to become edible (this will be easier to visualize if you look at the pictures). Things like that always amaze me...indians with no technology or knowledge of science were able to devise a way to extract cyanide from a root. I always wonder how many indians died in order for them to figure stuff like that out.
Anyway, first, the root is peeled and then the mandioca is ground into a pulp. Then that is washed with water to extract about 70% of the poison. Incidentally, the starch produced from the wash is used for making bread...nothing goes to waste. They then use this old fashioned press to dry the madioca and extract all but 1% of the rest of the poison. Finally, the last bit is extracted by baking the madioca in a huge pan for about 30 min. with constant mixing. The result is "farenhia", a crunchy, cornmeal-like food that is WIDELY used in Brazil. Often it is mixed with other dried herbs and seasonings and is called "farofa". In Brazil it is commonly served with almost anymeal that has rice with it...which is just about every meal.
Note: Some of you long time subscribers may recall an incident I had when I first arrived in Sao Paulo when I ate the "plate of fat" (dobradenia) and the guy gave me the container of powder to put on the meat...well, that was farofa...something I am MORE than familiar with these days and NOW, I even know where it comes from:) Chalk up another point for education.
It was after 3 by the time we did all that so now we have a couple hours to kill. We were presently surprised when we returned to our cabin, Dot and Hat/England had both decided to come out to camp Gerry after all!! We were one big happy family!!
I just took my first swim in piranha infested waters. I guess they don't really bother people. Hmmmm...that is somewhat disappointing. I was secretly hoping to see someone get completely skeletonized in seconds:)
We are now about to go out and catch some piranhas so it should be cool...although I never considered myself much the fisherman. Anyway, already today has been GREAT and I am really glad we decided to do this trip instead of going north. Gerry is a fountain of knowledge and since he lives here, I don't get too much of a sense that he is just a tour guide spewing facts at us...it is more like he is sharing how he and his family live and he is excited about that. On a personal note, it was worth coming on this particular trip just because the guy's name is Gerry...the Seinfeld quotes are rolling out left and right...even if nobody else gets them:)
Piranha fishing turned out to be tougher than I thought. We spent most of our time just sitting there waiting...which was not bad since we had a cool group, but it WAS a bit frustrating. Dot was a superstar...she must have caught 4 or 5. All the girls caught fish but I was the only guy who got one...with the very LAST piece of bait we had. Pretty lucky...but the girls showed us up BIG time.
Back at camp Gerry it was time for piranha soup from the fish we had just caught. We also had our farenhia we had made along with fries made out of the non-poisonous root we got from the plantation. Another quality Gerry meal. It was cool that we spent the day doing activities that later allowed us to eat. We spent another great night drinking/singing talking. One big party in the Amazon! Rock on.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Woke up and had another great breakfast. You would think that with limited resources that the meals would be a little on the shabby side out here...NOT the case at all! I keep mentioning it because it is a true highlight out here...perhaps part of it is that we ate basically the same meal for a week on the boat. Who knows. After breakfast was a serious trip highlight. We went out for a 3 hour jungle walk with Gerry. We learned so much about the forest! I say again, that guy is just so full of great information...he should make videos and sell them.
We hiked into the jungle and Gerry taught us a lot about the history of the Amazon and told us the history behind some the trees out in the forest. I realize that it was something that was only interesting if you were there and that this journal is starting to seem more like a social studies lesson...so I will spare you all the details. Besides, it is impossible to remember them all to tell the story right at this point...so just a few highlights to serve as mental notes for myself and give you a vague idea.
Basically, the Amazon was unchartered terrain until the 1830's when rubber was invented by a man called Charles Goodyear (hmmm...sounds familiar) and the rubber tree crop in the Amazon was discovered. Many indians were inslaved to farm wood...mainly rubber trees but then the hardwood trees also become popular. There was a huge rubber boom until the late 1800's...this is when many of the cities that exist in the Amazon today, such as Belem and Manaus, were built. About 10% of the Amazon was destroyed during this time.
Things settled until WWII era, when rubber came back in huge demand and the rubber tree fields in the east were under Japanese control and there was another short boom that stayed constant through the 40's and died off in the 50's. In the 60's the Brazilian capital of Brasilia was constructed at the southern border of the Amazon forest. In the 60's and 70's the Brazilian government funded huge products to build trans-Amazon highways. In order to fund this, the government borrowed HUGE sums of money, which it could not pay back sending the Brazilian economy in a downward spiral from which it never recovered. Throughout this time, a HUGE portion ( I think 20%) of the Amazon was destroyed by construction workers and attempts to build cattle ranches. So most of the destruction of the Amazon has occured over the last 30 years. Today, the destruction continues at a slower rate, but still continues. When told correctly, the Amazon history was a fascinating story that Gerry spent quite some time sharing with us...I promise it is worth learning a bit about even though what is presented here does not make it seem that way.
Anyway, some of the interesting things we saw (besides HUGE, beautiful trees that were OVER 1200 years old) were the bubble gum tree (sap was sticky and bubble gum flavor...quite tasty), the Brazil wood tree (tree that gave Brazil it's name and VERY rare in the Amazon today), the contraceptive tree (sap contains something that is 100% effective in causing miscarraiges), an enormous fire ant nest, some spectacular 1000 year old vines, a tree used to make rope (Gerry made the girls some bracelets), the rubber tree, and many many other things. Our time in the forest with Gerry was a good lesson that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING the Indians need is right there for them. We did not see too much in the way of animals during our forest walk as the point was to learn a bit about the Amazon and we were making a considerable amount of noise. Still the sounds of the forest were also fascinating...particularly a bird called Joao Bobo.
After our jungle walk, we returned to back to camp for another quality lunch. We decided that we wanted to go out into the jungle that night to sleep since it was our last night. We had a couple hours to relax but we had to set out early because the site where we wanted to go was an hour away...and we had build a shelter when we got there. Yep, read it again if you want...build a shelter.
So we headed out with two of Gerry's family members to spend a night in the middle of the jungle. After getting there, the first order of business was to clear an area to build our shelter. It was pretty amazing to see the whole process. Of course, they did most of the work...we helped when we could. In one hour's time we had built a pretty impressive place where we could hang our hammocks and sleep for the night. We sort of cheated a bit and hung a large tarp over our shelter to protect us from rain instead of usiing the traditional palm leaves.
It was getting close to dark by then so we headed out to do some fishing to catch dinner. There was not much biting buy we caught a couple fish which I got some pics of. Luckily, the guys had brought with them some chicken as back up. They cooked up a good dinner for all of us and we all hung out talking through most of the evening. For Anton and Merieke, it was the end of a 3 month journey for them. The next night they had to begin the trek back home.
After dinner, we went alligator hunting again...this time for large, full grown gators, but sadly we were not able to catch any. However, watchiing the guys do the calls to try to get the aligators to come was a solid 92 on the unintentional comedy scale.
It was a great time out in the jungle that night. For me, another stage of my quest was drawing to a close and it was a little sad. The sights and sounds of the Amazon, and especially in beautiful areas surrounding camp Gerry were going to be sorely missed. When they say "get away from it all" THIS is the place they had in mind. So peaceful. I layed awake in my hammock for a long time that night. I sure was a LONG way from my cushy bed back in 213 of Scotland Yard in Houston. It was a powerful moment for me...being so far from the world that I know. It's weird, but I was somehow MORE comfortable, even though I was lying in a hammock in the middle of the jungle. I guess it just seemed right somehow...it's really hard to explain what I was feeling but it is sort of like knowing you belong somewhere at a specific moment in time. That was where I was supposed to be and I just knew it for some reason...and when you realize it, you just smile to yourself...and then you sort of start laughing, but not at anything in particular. I thought of Luis (guy I met in Florianapolis last year) that night and what he said to me that I think describes how one feels at moments like those...and really, there isn't anything else you can say but:
"And look at me now"
Monday, April 14, 2003
We awoke hoping to go on a boat ride and do some animal watching. Unfortunately, it was an absolute downpour so we were forced to have to wait out the rain...which lasted for hours. We had a decent breakfast but our time ran out...we had to get back to camp Gerry so we could begin our trek back to Manaus. We cleaned up and headed back in the rain...a cold tough ride. The Amazon was telling us it was time for us to go.
Back at camp Gerry we had a good lunch, took some pictures of our group and we headed back to civilization.
When we finally got back to the hotel we planned to stay in in Manaus, we learned that it was full. We were forced to stay in a place next door which was shady to say the least...as this little story will prove.
The hotel is small...just one floor, a long hallway with about 15 rooms. We checked in and I was rooming with Matt/England...Dot and Hat were across the hall from us. Lisa and Kristie were down the hall, the Canadians had a room in the hotel next door and Andy, Mereike and Anton did not need rooms because their flight out of Manaus was at 3 a.m. that same night. Lisa and Kristie had to change rooms immediately because the shower was broken in their room (it wouldn't stop running). Well, me and the folks from England hung and talked for awhile, then they all went to the internet place. I was going to take a quick shower because we were all going to go out as a group that night for the Germans' last night. When I went for a shower, I made an unwitting discovery...it didn't work. No water came out. When I went to the reception to complain, he asked if I wanted to switch rooms. I said okay, and he tried to put me into the EXACT same room that Lisa and Kristie had just vacated. Hmmmm. Bad sign number one. I explained that my friends had just left that room b/c the shower was broke so he said that another room had just opened. It was true, I had noticed a couple coming out of it not long before that so I took a look. The shower worked, which is all I cared about so I said okay. The problem was was that I needed to go and get Matt to tell him, and also we had unpacked a lot of stuff so we had things everywhere. Plus I wanted to do internet so I told the guy I would be back in a half hour so we could change rooms. He sort of wanted me to do it right then, but he said okay.
About 20 minutes later, when I returned to the hotel to switch rooms, the guy happily informed me that the room I had seen was occupied for now, but in another hour I could switch to it! It was right about then that I realized that when I had gone into that room that there were mirrors on the ceiling. Anyway, I gave the guy a thanks but no thanks and was immediately certain I would be sleeping in my hammock that night! (note: in north Brazil, every hostel/hotel/pousada has hooks in the room where you can hang a hammock). What a fine establishment!
By the time all that transpired everybody else was ready to head out for dinner. We went to a nearby area, in search of a restaurant that Mereike had read about in the lonely planet. Let's just say that when I travel, my idea of fun is not exactly searching out a specific place to eat that was picked out of lonely planet. Hey, I think travel books are great...they give you decent guidance and some great history about some places you visit. They can also help immensly with directions, local customs, areas to stay in, etc...but if I want to eat a meal, I don't need a book to tell me where to go when I have infinite choices when walking down the street. I would like to requote something that Athena/Australia said back in Santerem that I thought was hilarious but nobody else really did...but it really sums up the point I'm trying to make here: "Picky eaters piss me off!" Amen.
Anyway, after an inordinate amount of searching, we found the place and did have a damn good meal. We stayed in that place for a few hours talking. We even ran into Chris/Switzerland and Emmanuel/Canada who had been in our hotel back in Belem and on the boat with us from Belem to Santerem. I have failed to mention it EVERY time it has happened but I have said a few times...since everyone is going the same direction, it is cool how many times you see the same people. Even some of the stories become spread through the hostels/pousadas. I forgot to mention before that I have run into three random people since Fortaleza who had heard some version of the Kenneth/Norway knocking over the table incident. Pretty funny since I was actually part of that story...also interesting to hear how the facts got a bit screwed up as the story went from person to person. Anyway, I only bring up the "small world travelling circuit" thing because that night, I thought to myself that it was probably the last time it would happen to me for awhile. The next day I would board a plane for Brasilia, breaking off from the "up the coast and then down the Amazon" trail and go on a new path...one that is a bit off the gringo trail. Yep, things were about to change considerably.
After dinner, it was time to walk the Germans back to the hotel to get their things and then to the bus stop so they could head for the airport. It was a pretty sad moment for Kristie and I especially. We had been with Andy, Anton and Mereike since WAY back in Sao Luis. We had all been a team and gone through one of our life's most memorable experiences together. Of course, I will never forget them or the times we spent together. I have had to say goodbye to people many times on this trip and I STILL haven't gotten use to it. Best of luck to all of you!
After that we went in search of a bar...found one and had a couple beers. Somehow, the Canadians got on the subject of shotgunning beers (you poke a hole near the bottom of the can, pop the top and then down the whole can in about 3 sec.), something which Matt had never done. Talk about your unintentional comedy. Anyway, I figured the night had deterioted far enough at that point (I was getting flashbacks of highschool) so I left the group and headed back to our brothel...er...hotel. I was a bit sad...it was going to be my last night to sleep in my trusty hammock...which had been my bed for the past two weeks. I had really grown accustomed to it.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Got up early around 8:30 as there were MANY things I needed to get done that day...specifically, the laundry situation had reached a critical juncture. If you are backpacking and you say that, you KNOW it is time to wash your clothes. The last time I had done laundry was way back around March 20th...and I now had the funk of the Amazon on most of my things. I was sure that any second a bunch of guys in radiation suits were going to bust in my room like in that movie "Outbreak" and cart off my clothes in biohazard bags.
Dot and Hat were nice enough to let Matt and I use their shower (at seperate times...shame on you!) so I got in my first proper shower since before camp Gerry. The girls and I trekked to the laundry place and dropped off our clothes which would be done at 5 the same day. Next we got some money...then I headed off to the theater.
In Manaus, they have what is considered the most beautiful theater/Opera house in Brazil, the "Teatro Amazonas". It was constructed back in the late 1800's during the rubber boom and is designed in an Italian Rennasaince (sp?) style. I did a quick half hour tour and it really was spectacular. Probably the most astounding thing about the place is that it is quite large and there is NO sound system installed. It is built so that the acoustics spread evenly through the entire theatre. When I was there, there was an Orchestra practicing and it I could NOT believe there was no sound system. Unfortunately we were there in the off season so we could not see a show...but seeing the theatre was worth it.
After the theatre we all met up again so we could switch hotels:) I, of course, had a flight out at 3:00 a.m. that night so I just needed a place to store my bags. I headed off to do some serious internet for the first time in a couple weeks and put a dent into the mountain of e-mail that was waiting for me. I spent a few hours there, went to pick up my laundry (EUREKA!!!!) and then went back to the hotel to pack up all my stuff. I would no longer need my hammock so I went and searched out Wilson (the guy who booked us on the "Gerry" tour) and donated my hammock to camp Gerry...I figure I atleast owed them that much. Hopefully it will be used by many travelers in the coming months.
I met up with the Canadians at the bar on the corner near where we were staying. Mike/Canada and I had a pretty interesting talk about the war. We all went for a fancy dinner in a revolving restaurant (a first for me) for Matt's birthday. It was cool, you could see all of Manaus from up there...not that there is much to see besides the theatre, but it was still cool. We tried to get them to crank up the RPMs but it did not appeal to the sense of adventure of the workers there.
Finally it was time for me to go on my way. I ran back to the hotel to grab my stuff and the Kristie and Lisa went to the bus stop with me. Another sad goodbye. We were all going VERY different directions...Lisa was continuing down the Amazon to Peru, Kristie was going north to Venezuela, and I was heading for Brasilia to meet up with Juliano, a friend of Doug McLean's. Finally the Amazon crew was being completely dissolved. I find it all so interesting, thinking about how the 6 of us had come from all different directions...had done so much and traveled so many different paths that ultimately put us together in the north of Brazil to be together for 3 weeks...and now, we all continue on our way, seperated by the very same thing that brought us all together...the passion to travel. That drive to keep going and doing seeing more. Maybe some of us will see each other again, maybe not...but what we all shared together will never be forgotten.
And that is it folks...the conclusion of phase 2 of what is proving to be a life experience that is far exceeding my expectations. The last month and a half has been full of so many new things, great people, and learning experiences. It was very different from that first month I was down here...less hurry, different focus, and a different mentality. I have learned a lot about myself and hope that I can continue to do that. I have also been just completely overwhelmed by the beauty and the vast differences in terrain and people in this country. It is more amazing here than I ever imagined. As I mentioned before, I have altered my original plan (hey, that is why we make plans...so we can change them) and I will now stay in Brazil for atleast the next 3.5 months. It is going to be a tough country to leave and I am seriously beginning to question if I will ever be able to.
Anyway, a huge shout out goes to all those who I met during this phase of my journey...you have all had a piece in making this even more special for me.
Now, I move on to the third phase...and I am just as excited about it as I have been since the beginning of the trip. The next few weeks will be different...I will be staying with people instead of hostels and that always gives a different perspective of a country and it's culture. I also will be finding a place to live for awhile (probably SP but who knows) and looking for work. I will get a chance to really get to know a place and really get a sense of what it's like to actually LIVE in Brazil...atleast for a little while. With this will come a whole new set of challenges and I can't wait to see what will come my way.
To the next step...
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