Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Blessed are the flexible for the shall not break"


“Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break” a saying that all of us in Uganda have come to personally identify with.Trying to make our way to Sipi Falls this weekend proved to be harder than we thought it would be. Before we got far into our journey we encountered a huge mud hole that a matatu (taxi van), truck and boda (taxi motorcycle) were already stuck in. Through the help of a stranger who was willing to drive our car across the hole we were able to continue onward to Sipi Falls.
Mechanics trying to figure out what was wrong with the car.
Having the car break down, waiting for it to be fixed for 6+ hours, and the mechanics not knowing exactly what was wrong with it summarized the following day.While waiting for the car to be fixed it started raining, then the whole town lost electricity. Looking at one another, we couldn't believe that all of this had to happen in one day. Exhausted, hungry and frustrated we set out to find a place to stay for the night. Loaded with our backpacks we each got on a boda (taxi motorcycle) and headed back to the hotel where we had stayed the night before. A hot shower and food was all that we wanted. Upon our arrival at the hotel we discovered they were no rooms available. Not only had we risked our lives riding on a boda in the rain through pot hole filled roads we now didnt have a place to stay. Utterly hopeless, all was not lost because we were able to find rooms at another hotel close by. Trying as this day was, we were still very fortunate to have the means to get around this beautiful country and like all of us realized "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break!"  

Muzungus at Mount Elgon


Our mini-vacation at Mt. Elgon was heavenly. We were in the clouds both physically and mentally, staying in bamboo bungalows overlooking a valley at Sipi Fall #1. We ate well, with a two-course lunch and four-crouse dinner. The food was catered to tourists but I can't say our group complained about that. We had more veggies in those two days than we’ve had in the last month combined. Without electricity, nighttime was aglow with kerosene lanterns and a communal campfire. We got know some of the staff around the campfire and learned a little about their tribe, the Sabieny. Because of the high elevation we did not sleep under mosquito nets, and our skin appreciated a much-needed break from bug spray. Some of us had our first warm/hot showers since our arrival in Pallisa. On Tuesday we climbed 14km of the mountain with our guide, Julius, to see the three Sipi Waterfalls.  At two of them we were able to stand in the mist created when the water hit the pool at its bottom. It was a refreshing and emotional experience for many of us.  Some even commented that they felt cleaner in this water than normally after taking a shower. We also went on a coffee tour where we were able to see the entire process behind local coffee production. We finished the day with a walk to a peak of Mt. Elgon where we watched the sunset. Although this trip revitalized our group in ways words can’t explain, we sadly recognize that many Ugandans will probably never get the chance to visit this magical part of their country.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Sao Paulo Pics!


Here are just a few pictures from my album throughout June! 

One of the alternative pathways to my lab! Just beautiful in the morning!

We went to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant!



This one of my rabbits! His name is Max..he says hi!

Ellen and I were stars for the night at a karaoke bar in Liberdade!



Changing the bedding for the rabbits! Gets pretty smelly in there!

Because Everyone Needs a Break ... Not a Breakdown

Greetings from Uganda and yoga or "hello" in Ateso spoken by the Iteso of Uganda! This post is meant to be short, but reflective of the experience we had during our two day stay in Sipi Falls. Sipi Falls is located in Eastern Uganda very near to the Kenyan border. There are three major waterfalls, all situated in various points on Mount Elgon. The pictures below are just a snapshot of our stay in which we received 2 course lunches and 4 course dinners overlooking perhaps the most beautiful view in all of Uganda. We also hiked to the different falls and took a "coffee tour,"learning how to grow and make coffee from scratch! While most of our trip has been characterized by research training and project implementation (with more than a healthy dose of unfortunate events and just plain bad-luck), this little treasure was both rejuvenating and inspiring. Because "everyone needs a break" is why we took this trip. In fact, we almost did not make it to Sipi Falls due to (another) car breakdown in which I believe we all reached our point where we were going to make this "break" happen or just physically breakdown! I've been exposed and have witnessed the lived experience of people caught at the intersection of health, structural violence and politics in rural Uganda. It's been a growing and insightful experience, but Sipi helped me to see that beauty and serenity can exist too as backdrops to extreme hardship. And this contradiction is one that is symbolic of our trip where we've had complex and competing experiences that have brought challenges as well as unforgettable moments. *** photos courtesy of Madeline who is featured by herself ***

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June Party!


The colorful hats they sell for the Sunday parades
Hmm, what to start with? Well, I guess so far it comes down to that I think I will cry when June is over. You may say, umm that's weird, you do know that you have a whole six weeks after June ends, right? Yes, I understand that, and I don't know what July will bring, but so far, June in Belem is simply wonderful because of June Party! This is literally a month long celebration they have in Belem to honor their saints that includes weekly parades, food, dancing, and plenty of parties! It may rain here almost every day but everything is decorated in bright ribbons, banners, and balloons in honor of June Festival, even in lab and at the bank! There is a parade every Sunday where people, wearing their straw hats with colorful ribbons, walk from the river docks to the square where there is music, dancing, and plenty of food. Last Sunday, Caroline and I were invited by some friends to walk with the parade to the square and we had great fun traveling with the crowds of the people, dancing to the music the whole way! And they have constant events all month! One night, Caroline and I planned on going to the movies, but our bus passed by this huge collection of people watching the square dancing competitions with food stalls and music bands. We hopped off the bus and had a great time watching the dancers in their elaborate costumes and the different bands playing music. The girls in the lab say that June is their favorite month of the year in Belem and I agree! With such a wonderful start to this journey, I don't know how July can compete but with prospects of weekends at the beach and fun outings, I believe July can have a chance!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Living the good life...on the boat on my way to the beach

At the lab about to put electrodes on Eliza (our professor)

A June Festival attire

This clown was having a good time dancing to Mexican music...oh yeah and the lady with the beer can 
Monique and I eating Acai (a typical Brazilian dish here in Belem)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's Brasil, not Brazil


Well... Where do I begin? Whatever I write down I feel will not do justice to my experience over the past several weeks. It has already been 3 weeks here in Sao Paulo, and it seems time is flying. Brazil is a very interesting place, to say the least, and the first week certainly took some adjusting. I think I finally have my feet back under me. We are blessed to be surrounded by so many awesome people, who constantly go out of their way to help and provide us with anything we need. Without them I don't know if I would survive haha. The fact that most everyone in USP, including our lab, speaks at least some English is an added bonus. Wish we spoke Portuguese better; however, eu estou tentando apprender. Our neighborhood has everything we need and is very close to campus. We have some great neighbors; the first night here they cooked dinner in the community kitchen and invited us to eat with them. The food was great! Already in our brief stint here we have done so much. Immediate cultural immersion is the best way to put it; with our list of activities so far including: salsa dancing at Club Azucar with Dr. Russ and friends, USP college parties, museums at Butantan with Dr. Chris, traditional restaurants, beautiful parks, a night in a hotel suite (at a huge discount thankfully), great malls, one of the largest gay pride parades in the world on Paulista Avenue, and last but not least, some great times at some local bars. The work has been great; techniques I am familiar with from my research at St. Jude. My research focuses mainly on the identification of genetic markers, SNPs, and their role in diabetic retinopathy.  The food is right up my alley, a whole lot of bread, cheese, and meat. I have quickly fallen in love with Pao de Queijo and tapiocas, the latter resembling crêpes. For the past 2 weeks, Justin and I (Hopefully Ellen can too soon!!) have been able to eat on campus at the student restaurant. We pay less than $1 American for lunch and dinner at this place, which is a great way to be frugal in a city that is very expensive! We get a lot of food. My mentor, Daniella Bonci, is a great teacher/mentor and is an even better person. She is so smart and I am so glad I have the opportunity to work with her. Thankfully, we are also now permitted to use the athletic facilities at CEPEUSP. It's awesome to be able to play pickup basketball again on a regular basis, feels like home. Sometimes we walk to work, which takes around 30 minutes; when it rains we take the bus. The campus is enormous but pretty, so it’s a nice walk. A quick side note: people drive crazy here and I'm convinced the bus drivers try to knock people down by slamming on their brakes and gunning the accelerator haha. This makes for a tough time when standing in the bus. Last weekend I went with Flavio, Daniella, and Daniella’s mother to a Festa Junina party at a local elementary school. The children from the school did some traditional dances and later we all danced. Justin’s friend Diego and his girlfriend Tati have showed us many parts of the city as well and taken us to some great places to eat. Next week I will be going to Campinas with a long time friend, who I went to elementary and high school with, to visit his family and stay at their house for the weekend. Anyways, more to come with pictures in the near future as this adventure continues.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sao Paulo: food, festivities, and furthering of knowledge!

Awesome graffiti, these works of art are everywhere!

Performing perfusions in Dr. Britto's lab

The view from Paulista Ave.

Some lovely ladies at SP's Gay Pride Parade

Delicious fish bites!

A salsa club, where the employees will teach you a few moves!

(A)typical Day


Yoga (Hello) from Uganda! Here, in the small, rural town of Pallisa, a typical day is anything but typical. Therefore, I figured it would be amusing to try to describe a typical…well, more accurately, an atypical, day in the life for our research team. For example…
Today, following breakfast and our daily team meeting in which we outline our goals and objectives for the day, we set out for the Agule Community Health Clinic with which we partner for our community health research.  However, quickly after leaving the parking area of our hotel, a Ugandan friend phoned to inform us that one of our car tires was low. We then traveled to various fuel stations around town in search of an air pump. While the men worked on the car, the rest of us ladies walked to the nearby bank in order to exchange some of our US money for Ugandan shillings. We spent about an hour there due to some challenges with having crisp, properly dated money to exchange. This was actually a minor setback, as usually the bank’s system is down and/or the ATM does not have money to dispense. Afterwards, we walked to the local store to buy water and air time for our mobile phones.
Finally, about 2 hours after our intended departure, we were able to leave for the clinic. During our 45 minute drive we travel along a red clay road through various sub counties, while our driver and fearless leader, Dustin, usually successfully maneuvers around the numerous potholes, bicyclists, boda bodas (motorcycle taxis), pedestrians, and animals (mostly cattle, goats, and chickens) with which we share the roads daily. Today was an exciting day at the clinic for us students as it was our first opportunity to formally interview patients. With the help of 2 members of our team, Madeline, another student, and Michael, our translator, I had the pleasure of interviewing a woman waiting to be seen who had traveled 2 hours by bicycle for treatment.  During an hour long interview we conducted a patient intake survey in which we collected information regarding her demographics, reasons for clinic use, and perceptions with respect to her specific illness, its symptoms, causes, and the various ways that it can effectively be treated.  This was truly a fascinating experience and undoubtedly among my favorite thus far.  After completing our interviews for the day, we planned to return home for a late lunch in order to eat the delicious spaghetti that we made ourselves the night before in the hotel’s outdoor kitchen and then return to Agule to observe a community outreach session being conducted by clinic staff and volunteers at a local primary school. However, little did we know that we were in for yet another daily surprise in addition to our morning delays…
About 15 to 20 minutes into our drive we had the perceived misfortune of getting a flat tire. Luckily we had a spare in the trunk of the car that we rent from a local Ugandan family. Not so luckily, we soon realized that we did not have the tools necessary to remove and change the tire. We then attempted to call for help, but our mobile phones did not have reception in the area. We were fortunate enough to have Michael, our translator, who had nearby family. While he went for help, the rest of our team found creative ways to pass the time. We have a portable speaker that we use to play music while we do informal work, which we pulled out to entertain ourselves. We very quickly became a spectacle and attracted a crowd of school aged children who looked on with a mixture of expressions ranging from amusement to bewilderment to fright as we sang and danced on the side of the road to distract ourselves from our predicament, as well as, the uncomfortable sting of the intense afternoon heat. I am quite certain that many children made fun of our impromptu karaoke session, but some sang and danced along with us to the songs that they knew. We communicated with the gathering children using a mixture of what we know so far of the local language, Ateso, and the English that they have learned in school. We successfully exchanged greetings and pleasantries and, probably not so successfully, attempted to explain our portable speaker and ipod gadget. Below you will find a video of our roadside exchange/performance. Trust me, you will not want to miss this. :-)
video

In closing, one of the first quotes that we learned upon our arrival states, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.” This is more than a catchy or arbitrary saying; it reminds us to approach each day not only with an open schedule, but also with an open heart and mind. Although we sometimes do not meet our daily goals and objectives, we gain just as much from the surprises and setbacks that we face each day.  Often we view a flat tire as an obstacle, but as you can now see, here in Pallisa it is an opportunity for a cultural exchange on the side of the road. Over the next few weeks, I look forward to many more typically atypical days, the varied possibilities and experiences that they bring, and the chance to share them with you all back home. Asodober (good bye) for now!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Date: June 17th, 2012


Event: O arrastão do Pavulagem
 (A June festival that celebrates the saints) 


Location: Belem-Para, Brazil

Nature Invigorates The Soul


It has been approximately two and half weeks since I landed by plane in Curitiba, Brasil. I have found Curitiba to be a bustling city full of tall buildings, parks, and malls that remind me somewhat of Chicago, Illinois. Curitiba is actually the eight largest city in Brasil.  
The City Of Curitiba
After the first day of being in Brasil, my roommate, Chloe and I decided to take a mini-tour of the city. Chloe has already visited Curitiba before, so it was exciting to have my very own personal tour guide (lol!) that speaks really good Portuguese. Anyways, what I discovered was that on Sunday, every one stays at home, for the most part. Hardly any businesses were open. The only place that seemed to be open for business was the mall.  We decided to end our brief tour of the city by eating dinner at the mall and catch the movie, "Branca de Neve eo Caçador" or should I say “Snow White and the Huntsman”.  The movie was amazing. And if you were wondering, the movie was in English and had Portuguese subtitles. At the mall, I had a variety of food to choose from. I found it interesting to see that almost every meal comes with a side of fries….or may I say fritas! A typical Brasilian dish includes a meat, rice, beans, and fritas!  I was really looking to have some fish so my first meal in Brasil was tilapia, mixed vegetables, and rice. It was really good!


My first meal in Brasil. Yummy!

When the work week began, it was then that I had to readjust my by body to the cold weather. Right now in the US there are ripples of heat waves, however during my first week in Curitiba there was nothing else but frigid cold and rain. After the first week, the damper of the rain prompted Chloe and I to pursue a trip to a much warmer climate for the weekend. We decided on taking a bus to visit Sam and Liz in Florianopolis. Once on the bus ride to Florianopolis, I was able to witness the lushness of the Brazilian landscape. An array of dense green trees and plants gave way to mounds of protruding hills that seem to penetrate the sky. Have you ever seen hills touch the clouds? I have! For me it was such a phenomenal moment. 


View of the landscape on the way to Florianopolis
 Our weekend in Florianopolis was filled with adventure. Chloe, Sam, Liz, and I experienced a rough and treacherous hike up a hill that gave way to an absolutely beautiful and breath taking scenery once at the top as well as the rising and variable hills of sand when we took on the physical activity of dune surfing! 
Chloe and I enjoying the beautiful scenery after  hiking
Dune Surfing
The weekend in Florianopolis was just what we needed. Nature surely does invigorate the soul. I can only imagine what the next 7 weeks will be like for me in Brasil. I am sure that I will be challenged further and my own perspective on life will be re-created. I look forward to fully embracing the change within. 



Until next time, Tchao folks!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Internet woes and portuguese flows...

After expounding a theory on the typical images associated with Brazilian hip-hop and the social/cultural currents shaping the kind of hip-hop we witnessed in Florianopolis (an atypical image for the Hip-Hop culture associated with Sao Paolo/Rio)...the internet stopped. It stopped for twelve hours. In the most fitting way possible, it gave up. After I had downloaded the google+ app to my phone so I could upload the video I recorded that night in Florianopolis, and written a mini-ethnography on the blog site, it was gone! Our internet is very much a luck of the draw situation here in Curitiba and last night was a reminder of the night at Heifer. We had to tune out, and after talking for a little while, just went to sleep. Soon, I will upload the video of our night experiencing Hip-Hop from Florianopolis as it relates to the construction of urban identity, resistance, and social consciousness for a group not included in the typical imagery of urban culture in Brazil.

Beijão,
Chloe

Semana dos!

Week 2! Qué legal! (Cool!) So this week has been LOADED with lots of new knowledge, new techniques, lab protocols, meeting new people everyday, etc etc and just having fun! I'm adjusting extremely well in my lab and everyone is so happy that I'm there; which in return makes ME happy and it's just a cycle of happiness! My level of understanding Portuguese increases a bit each day but I guess I have it easier than most of my fellow MHIRT Brasil companions because my first language in Spanish. My days basically consist of in-between lessons of Portuguese words in exchange for the equivalent in Spanish AND in English, it's hilarious! This week I prepared my first set of solutions: buffers TBE 1x and TBE 10x that I will be using for my future DNA extractions and agarose gel electrophoresis. I'm now familiar with how to use the centrifuges, the Nanodrop spectrophotometer, how to properly use the pipettes and store them; WEAR gloves almost all the time and if in doubt: just wear them!; and I learn a bit each day about what they do in LABCAI and why! (I think that if I keep enjoying my time here I might apply again next year to come and work here again!!!)

woot woot! I ran my first electrophoresis!

I truly love being in another country; there's just so much to see and learn and experience and these are the experiences that change your life. You may not see them because you're too busy living them, but I assure you, that when all of us come back we WILL be different people. We will have a greater understanding of worldwide issues and lifestyles, and how other societies interact.

So I'll basically share something that amazes me and my roommate: hitchhiking! Known in Brasil as "caronas", it is EXTREMELY common and normal to stand close to the highway and stick out your thumb to hitch a ride with someone! I doubt we will ever experience this but it's definitely fun to watch!

Well, that's all for this week! Tchau! Beijos!!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Brasilian Experience thus far!


Bem-VINDO to my blog as I bring you into my world of São Paulo.  It has been officially two weeks now and I am still adjusting to everything.  Within these two weeks, I feel as if I have seen a pretty decent amount of such a huge city.  Hmmm, let’s see, where should I begin?  I do not want to boast, but if you must know, I have gone to the Instituto de Butantan (museum), Paulista Ave., many restaurants, 2 malls (Paulista Shopping Center and Eldorado), gosh just too many to name!  The food is different from what I am accustomed to, yet most of it is really tasty! My Portuguese is definitely improving because now  I can say hello and goodbye! Honestly, I am slowly beginning to understand and converse with people for more than ten seconds. It’s like mutualism: I help with English and help is given in return with Portuguese. Oh yeah, let’s not forget about the lab. I work under the supervision of Dr. Christina Joselevitch at the University of Sao Paulo. We are examining the effects on the retina after injection with the anti-viral drug, acyclovir!  After my first session with my mentor, I felt like Anne Hathaway from The Devil Wears Prada!   I have been learning many lab techniques that I have never encountered before and also I get to work with Butterfly Rabbits…don’t be jealous!!! There are really amazing people in my lab and I am not sure if the blog allows enough characters to name them all! Everyone is very helpful and most importantly very patient when it comes to speaking Portuguese. Meanwhile, the weather here varies: first its hot then it’s cold, it rains, but never snows, the sun it comes out, when its humid, you start to pout! Also, in regards to transportation, I have passed passenger school.  It consists of quickly jumping on the bus and grabbing the first person or thing that you see to keep your balance and avoid the floor.  Ellen and Stephen have endured these adventures with me.  There are pictures to accompany my journey, but until now that is all, Tá bom!

Tchau Tchau

Monday, June 11, 2012

Floripa! Week 1

All righty! I flew to Brazil June 1 and arrived June 2 in the Sao Paulo International Airport. However, my destination was Florianopolis, aka Floripa. Sam and I came into this excited and ready to go from the time the airplane landed. So that means that a lot of stuff happened this first week, and in order to give a good, concise idea, I am breaking it into sections.

1. Clothing

I don't know about the Sao Paulo, Belem, or Curitiba crew, but I was surprised as anything to get into Floripa and see shorts and flip-flops EVERYWHERE. We were told over and over and over again that these two items were a big no-no. But as soon as we asked Professor Riso, our advisor, she laughed. Hard. There is nothing wrong with wearing shorts and flip-flops in Floripa. In fact, I would have been thrilled to have a pair because the first day was so hot. I know it is winter here, but the weather has fluctuated from 30 degrees to 80 with rain in between, so preparation is key.

2. Food

It's just ridiculously amazing. I have never had such fresh, flavorful, and delicious food before. Brazilians love cheese and coffee, which are two of the greatest things in the world in my opinion. We went to a feijoada this past Sunday with out professors, their friends, and their families. This is a great Brazilian tradition involving good food (beans, rice, sausage, wine, desserts, etc.) and great company. Not to mention, the grocery store has so many items here that are cheaper than in the U.S. This includes fresh tomatoes, meat, mangoes, juices, etc. Samantha and I are in heaven! We have saved a lot of money by grocery shopping and cooking, which I love to do. I adore our little kitchen, which leads me to the next point.

3. Pousada

It is so gorgeous, and we are lucky to be here. It is extremely spacious with a kitchen, bathroom, two beds downstairs, and a loft upstairs. It even has a television with cable. I have been watching Criminal Minds in Portuguese from time to time and loving it. We even have a maid service once a week, all I can say to that is Meu Deus! I was not expecting anything this amazing. And the view is so spectacular. We are in Lagoa near a lagoon and basically the heavy nightlife of Floripa. It is just breathtaking and exciting.

4. Activities

In one weekend, I went on one of the most difficult hikes here and viewed the ocean from atop a mountain. I sand boarded the dunes of Joaquina Beach, and I went to a capoeira class, a traditional Brazilian martial arts. In between the adventures, we went to local clubs and bars, making friends and enjoying the music. They have a lot of American songs tossed in with Brazilian hits that make everything lively and exciting. The bulk of this amazing first weekend is all thanks to the wonderful Chloe and Nadia, two MHIRT students in Curitiba. Chloe came to Brazil last year and knows the ins and outs of some of the coolest places. Her Portuguese is tudo bem as well. I only hope to have half of her charisma with the language and the adventures while I am here!

5. The Lab

Of course I can't finish this post without mentioning the reason I'm here! I love the biochemistry lab at UFSC, the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. Professor Carlos and my lab mates are so welcoming and full of knowledge. I got to dissect beetle larvae on my first day, which was something I have never done. I am just excited to learn these intricate skills, such as dissection under a microscope. I plan to have steady hands by the end of this! I have grown close to Mychelle, one of the masters students in the lab. She even came over for dinner one evening. I made burgers of course, so she could try something American. She has shown me around the local mall, Iguatemi, and given me a lot of genuine advice that I will always keep with me.

Overall, this is a lot for a first week, but I wouldn't want to miss any of itl! There will be more to come, so tchau for now and beijos!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Our first week in country, we stayed in the capital city of Kampala. Below are some pictures of the week!

Uganda gained its independence from Britain in 1962.
Dustin on the back of a boda boda, our favorite form of transportation.

A taxi park in the middle of the city.

Mural lining a sidewalk.

Storks!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pictures

Pinhão

Quindim

Lagoa da Conceição (view from the Mirante)

Brasil 2012...we MADE it!

Oi! Tudo bem?! 


It's currently our 5th full day here and sometimes when I wake up in the morning I still have to tell myself we're in BRASIL (the correct way for brasileiros/as)! So far we've had lunch at a little cafe in Lagoa with Dr. Riso and her son and I had some traditional Brazilian dessert: quindim; did a quick stop at a viewer (or "mirante" in Portuguese) that overlooked all of Lagoa; took a walk around the neighborhood and stopped a couple of times at the grocery store to buy food to cook at home.

The day before yesterday was my first time visiting the lab where I'll be working for the next 9 weeks and a half, known as the Laboratório de Biomarcadores de Contaminação Aquática e Imunoquímica. EVERYONE was SO welcoming and nice; I liked how they just kept smiling and staring at me and wondering amongst themselves who I could be. When Dr. Riso introduced me (in Portuguese of course) she mentioned how I spoke Spanish...they didn't even let her finish! They would just constantly interrupt her and say: "Que bom! Que bom!" ("How great! How great!"). Yesterday was my first official day at the lab, but I was just shown where everything was and all the different rooms; and Ana, a Brazilian girl that is working there, took her time and explained some things to me: DNA Extraction Protocols, how the electrophoresis room and equipment worked and how to prepare solutions in the lab. She is SO nice and sweet and happy that she can speak in Portuguese and that I can understand; and so am I! 

I also had lunch with my lab mates for the first time and they showed me how Brazilian buffets work here; so you basically put as much food as you want on your plate and you weigh it and according to how much it weighs, is how much you end up paying for food. My food was worth about 8 Reais! One of the oldest guys working at the lab bought a big bottle of beer to share with everyone and he poured some for me so I could try it; they really made me feel part of their group and they made a toast in my honor! I can't wait to spend my days working with them :)

I look forward to my next 9 weeks and a half here and I am SO SURE that I will be learning a lot!

Tchau! ;)