Greetings and Happy One Year Anniversary to Why Did I Eat That? :)
Due to lack of internet service, I am more than one week behind with blogging. I spent my first week in Chapada Diamantina at the WWOOF-affiliated farm in Seabra but then had flee for a few reasons. Many of you already know this. Below is my account of my first few hours in the town where the farm is located. It’s sort of long so read it on the subway or something … I have been trying to upload photos for a couple of days now…the internet is too slow. I’ll add them next week I swear.
I’m currently staying in Vale do Capão doing work exchange at a Health Center called Lothlorien. A huge improvement indeed. More Work. Happy People. Healthy Eats. I’ll share more in the coming days. This is the only photo from my current location that uploaded:
I hear that the weather has been splendid in New York City. Having been in gypsy mode for seven weeks now, I’m beginning to miss sleeping in my own bed and being close to the people I love. Sending kisses your way!
Eat something RED today. Red foods are typically high in Vitamin C and great for the purifying the blood. Beets, peppers, tomatoes, oh yes!
Fazenda Prato, Seabra, Bahia; Brasil
Day 1 – Domingo, 4 Março 2012
“Is this where I get off for Seabra?” me asking the bus driver in my best cave woman Portuguese.
Delirious from the 7-hour bus ride, I dragged the largest of my 3 backpacks towards the waiting area to see if Joaõ was there. He wasn’t so I called his home number then his mobile phone hoping that he hadn’t forgotten that today was the day. He answered on the third or fourth ring, Hola (Ha-low). Quick KalaLea, speak Portuguese before he hangs up.
K-Portuguese: Ahh, e KalaLea…Posso eu falar com Joaõ (Ju-wan)? Eu estou aqui na rodoviaria.
K-English: (Ah, this is KalaLea…Can I speak to Joaõ? I’m here at the bus station.)
Still operating on a 60/40 comprehension level, I believed he said he was on the way. My Portuguese is good enough to get around and hold basic conversations but I can rarely understand anything when communicating via telephone.
I had to pee something awful. I didn’t know how much longer until we made it to the farm, I asked the only European-looking couple to watch my bags while I used the bathroom. They didn’t speak Portuguese but their English was pretty good. As I exited the bathroom, Joaõ was there speaking to one of the station workers. He looks more like a salesman than a farmer. Medium-built, dark black hair, clean fingernails. He stretched out his right hand, then grabbed me close to kiss me on the cheek and hug me tight. Hhhmm, nice and friendly. What a relief. I can’t wait to put these bags down for good.
Before I traveled to Brazil, I joined an organization called WWOOF. I believe I shared this information in an earlier post. Joaõ is my WWOOF host and farmer. Generally, the WWOOF volunteer (that’s me) works part-time on an organic farm for both food and lodging but not in my case. I’ll be working on Joaõ’s farm in exchange for accommodation but not food. I chose his farm because he only speaks Portuguese and it is located in the state of Chapada Diamantina, home of a gorgeous national park with many waterfalls and nature trails. Kinda like living near the Grand Canyon.
After grumbling over how heavy my bags were, Joaõ threw them in the back seat and we drove off. In my own defense, I explained that one bag was mostly food. Joaõ parked sideways next to the mercado (grocery store) and said that I should buy what I need for the weekend. In hindsight, I now know he said “for the week”. He then informed me that I would be staying at the farm sozinha (alone). As we walked around the tiny market, he pointed out various items assuming that my shopping list matched his … rice, beans, cheese, eggs, sandwich meat, macaroni, biscuits … Typical market. Lots of processed foods … As I passed by each item, he raised his brow and inquired in a the typical Brazilian sing-song manner, “What do you eat?
“Where are the fruits and vegetables?” me trying not to seem frustrated.
“…the other store, we will go there next” him speaking quickly as if he had somewhere to be.
When we got back into the car, I couldn’t hold it in. I needed to know why I was buying and preparing my own food. Por que?
He took a deep breath and said, “because most people who live in other places like North America, Europe, and other countries like this, eat very different food from what we eat here … plus there is very little work on the farm right now.” I suspected it was more of the latter. Good enough response for me. I just hope his idea of very little work jives with mine. I decided I liked Joaõ immediately; a friendly, outgoing, and straightforward guy.
We drove another 20 minutes until we reached what appeared to be a cul-de-sac. Before arriving, he told me he has three son but there was no mention of a woman. Please don’t be a nutball. I’m not ready to die. Trying my best not to sound worried, I asked if his wife lives with him. The answer was yes but she was with her mother who is sick with Alzheimer’s. She is ninety-three years old. The mother; not his wife. Upon arrival, I believe I met all three of his sons but I’m not certain. Either the two oldest boys look alike or I met one of them twice.
I could instantly see that Joaõ is definitely not poor. He has two cars and two homes — most likely another somewhere closer to a beach but I’m speculating. The exotic plants and garden landscape is pleasant to the eyes but not overly orchestrated. The house where I’m staying is decent by rural Bahia standards. Lots of old wooden furniture on top clay flooring. Before he and the boys jetted off to the city for the weekend, I asked the question I already knew the answer to: “Is there internet here?”
And it hits me.
This is where I’ll be here for the rest of the week. It would be me in the desert-like heat with the trees, the monkeys, frogs, lizards, birds, and insects of all kinds and colors for the next seven days. Sozinha. Alone.
Why must I do everything the hard way?
Thanks for reading and commenting. You are loved and appreciated. It feels good to know that you are present and part of my life. Many well wishes to you and yours. Happy Days!