domingo, novembro 26, 2006

I can almost feel the year ending, already! All I want to do is put up Xmas decorations. No snow or wood smoke smell to put me in the mood - I wish this stuff wasn't so damn expensive here!

quinta-feira, novembro 23, 2006

Thanks to Nads for sending me this - this is as Thanksgiving as I can get today.

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air,
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows,
it totally coated the floor,
there was turkey attached to the ceiling,
where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,
it smeared every saucer and bowl,
there wasn't a way I could stop it,
that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped!

It is with regret that I inform my readers that it seems the bat bicho has passed on. Actually, we don't know the real fate, but I suspect as much. One of the 7th graders adopted it as a pet for the weekend. She said it was eating and moving around, but then suddenly stopped moving and so she "let it go" - which is why, I guess, you can't always trust students to know what to do.

quinta-feira, novembro 16, 2006

Oh yeah, I forgot to add, today Ju said "tattoo."
Today there were many creatures at school. Just before lunch, I found an enormouse grasshopper with a bright red read end haning out on the front steps of school. Being the ever loving to share nature person, I decided it would be a good idea to coax it up onto my hand and take it to show the first grade. The kids were totally enthralled when I brought it in, and it started climbing around on my hand, sensing the interest. Suddenly, it thought it would be a good idea to fly, but it apparently was so big, it wasn't very good at it. What it ended up doing was flapping into some poor girl's face who was squished up to the front of the crowd around me. The class erupted into screams and kids ran everywhere, crawling under tables, hiding under pillows... It couldn't quite clear her head, so it gave up and went to the floor, and eventually to someone's back pack, where I was able to rescue it. This girl must be so traumatized, she was sitting in the reading area, panting and fanning herself when I left to put the offending insect back outside. I am sure this was the talk of the dinner table of all involved.

And if that wasn't enough, I am just walking casually through the courtyard by the canteen just a little over an hour later, and BLOOP, a black thing comes plopping down beside me. Not that I would pay it much heed, with all the rain and leaks and what not, but it occured to me that rain isn't black, so I took a closer look and see the black thing is now crawling across the ground towards me - a baby bat! The hallway was totally empty, but I didn't want to let him out of my site for a moment, for fear someone would step on him, so I got a plastic cup from the classroom beside me and stuck it on the ground in front of me. He aimlessly crawled into the cup. Okay, mission accomplished, now what? In Michigan, I am sure I could take care of this bat, no problem, but this is a Brasilian bat so some how I am culturally inept. Next best thing - take it to the science teacher! So I walked it down to Alanna's classroom, where the students are instantly enthralled and volunteer to go get fruit to feed it from the canteen. So now the middle school science class has a pet. I hope it makes it through the night.

Let's see what kind of bicho arrives tomorow!

segunda-feira, novembro 13, 2006

1. No power = no running water = no flushing toilets = smelly unsanitary bathrooms = no handwashing = all children using one or two working bathrooms in other parts of the school = many young children with accidents on the long walk to said bathrooms SHOULD = school closes

2. No power = no refrigerator = no cold juice or preserved snacks = no food for kids to eat at snack time = cafeteria has no power to cook or refrigerate either (but luckily has gas), nor water to wash dishes = hungry kids SHOULD = school closes

3. Rain pouring down on the streets = chaotic lakes and rivers = areas with knee deep pools of water over the entire road and sidewalk = broken down cars = traffic jams = kids can't get to school unless then spend 2 hours in the car or more SHOULD = school closes

4. Rain pouring down in favelas = mud slide = hundreds of people left homeless or killed = protests on one of the two main roads through Salvador = traffic jams = kids don't make it to school or parents can't pick them up SHOULD = school closes

Now, I arrived at school at 7:20ish. The power went out before 8 AM. We were only in the first set of logical paths (number 1). Then some kids arrive, then some more. We have to combine the two sections of the class because one room is so dark that you can't see your hand in front of you. The kids are fascinated at the open door (open so we don't roast in the classroom with no AC), watching and waiting for the ankle deep lake forming outside to creep into the classroom. The high and mighty director comes in, says if there is no power by 9 AM, we can call it a "snow day" and send the kids home. Various parents are in the room, we pass on this information, so they stick around, having no way to leave anyway because rain is causing traffic jams all over. Frustrated with the noise level, I take the kids on a tour to see the disaster of water around the school including a huge water fall out the front gate. The parents follow. We see utter chaos all over because of the water flow.

Now 9 AM, the parents waiting around take their kids and leave. We are left with about half with both our classes combined. We visit the caf to make sure snack is available. A small group goes in search of the director, who is no where to be found. The principal tells us we are to wait until 9:30, when the situation will be reevaluated. So we wait some more. Eventually the director is found. Director says "I never said if there was no power by 9 AM that the kids would be dismissed." Teachers argue "yes, you did say that" while some stand dumb founded at the blatant lie. Could the director actually be lieing to our faces? Yes (although for most, this is not news).

Parents who tried to leave but got stuck and have come back to wander around the school waiting for some kind of decision. I tell a few that there is no water, no refrigeration, and the caf can't really cook like this, so it would make sense for them to take their kids home. Teachers are unable to get students to focus because parents are there asking questions, it is unbelievably hot in the classrooms, and water threatening to flood your class is just too exciting to ignore. We eat snack with the kids and I spend some time building a large city out of blocks with them.

Finally, word comes down that school will official be dismissed at 11:30 due to black out and rain. It is 10:30 at the time. We have now been without power for almost 3 hours. We are told they don't know when it will be back on, but that we can stay for lunch and take the vans home after. Now we have to call all the parents to inform them that school is dismissed. But, oh, yeah, did I forget to mention that the phones don't work when there is no power here? After we exhaust all the cell phone batteries, we have reached all the parents, and finally it seems we can leave.

But, oh, did you hear? There was a huge mud slide in a favela next to Parallela. Hundreds lost their homes. Huge protests on the road, fires, rocks, the works! So, Parallela is closed. So all the traffic (all 5 lanes in each direction) is now on Orla (the only other street one can take to get anywhere in this city), so traffic is not moving there either. Well, after all, it would have been a normal work day otherwise... Not that I can get any work done without a computer to type, look things up, or lights to read. But that's beside the point really. Because it all comes down to who the boss is that can make or not make a decision (usually the latter).

I pity the next school who takes this director on.

Oh, and did I mention, maybe we still won't have power tomorow? So I assume, when we show up, if we don't, it will probably be until at least 10 AM before they make the decision to send everyone home again. Don't you just love school politics?

domingo, novembro 12, 2006

domingo, novembro 05, 2006

So often now the crime here seems to be hitting closer to home for me. More and more of my friends have been held up in places I pass daily, doing things they do daily, in broad daylight with witnesses. In terms of psychological well-being, I think a feeling of safety is like the second thing on the pyramid. No wonder it has such an affect on people day to day.

There is an artistan fair that happens twice a month here, one I go to nearly every time it occurs, talking to the same vendors, looking at the same things. O Maridão isn't all that fond of it, but it has become sort of a social event for me, so he goes with just to humor me it seems. There are some sisters who make and sell dresses, and their origial classic style was a simpletiee dyed rayon sun dress - the kind you find in nearly all Latin American countries, popular as a keep-sake of the tropical memories for nearly every girl who hastraveledd through them. I have one from Mexico with a fish on it, and I have passed by them many times here thinking "I live here, so why bother." For some reason, these appealed to me at the time and so I have bought several over the course of the fairs, in various colors and styles - skirts and dresses, all with thistiee-dye pattern that seems to have died in popularity for everyone but me.

Having bought so many things from them, I decided to bring a few skirts to them to see if they could be copied so I could have more of them. Every fair I tell these women - Oh, yes, I forgot again. Fatefully, I remembered yesterday, and took two of them with me to leave on loan so they could make a pattern. The the midst of my explaining the merits of the designs, a loud screaming erupts and I turn to see ascragglyy looking woman being man-handled by two guys in security shirts who arewrestlingg a bag out of her hands, while trying to keep a hold on her arm. She is jumping and screaming and struggling and I am sort of reminded of agazellel, with all the air she is catching in her fight. Turns out she had just stolen two dresses from the table (one I was looking at seconds ago and am currently wearing), and these guys had been following her through the whole fair, knowing what was on her mind, waiting to catch her in the act.

Now, besides the fact that I was the one who had distracted these poor women who were almost stolen from with my unnecessarily lengthy explanation about the skirts, this whole disruption was literally in front of my feet, and Ju's feet, being that he was strapped in the stroller. Instead of backing up, or doing something, I just stand there dumb founded. No reaction. I seem to remain separated, unaware, unable to do anything useful.

After the fact, again, I feel thatweirdd sort of dirty feeling that I had after my cellphone was stolen. I couldn't sleep well and woke up at 3 AM to check that all the windows were locked and doors were shut and that nothing was amiss. Seeing that this happens all the time here, I know I should just get used to it, right? Brasilians live with this their whole lives and still want to return here if they happen to move to another country, despite this psychological pyramid safety thing. What is the secret? I wish I could figure it out.