Monday, August 6, 2012

Iwanyun Bobo! (Until we meet again...)

 Our last days in Pallisa have been just as eventful as our first! Below are a few pics documenting our last weekend.
 Transportation breakdown #4 
Went to see our friend John in a wedding!
 Said goodbye to some of our friends in Pallisa
Iwanyun Bobo, MHIRT Uganda 2012!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Last Days in Floripa (It's a Long One!)

      I cannot start this post without saying how amazing of a roommate Samantha Ordaz is! Thanks to my crappy immune system, I have spent quite a few days sick this past July. The last bout of illness was the worst: a flu that left me in bed for ten days. Let me say that I suffered from cabin fever after one day of this, as well as a regular fever of 103 that left me shivering in the already cold weather. To get anywhere, we have to walk about six blocks or so, leaving me helpless and at the mercy of Sam since I got dizzy and fell walking five feet to the bathroom. She brought me my favorite foods, made sure that I was okay, and fretted over me so much that I thought she might get sick from worry. But have no fear--I made sure that I didn't hinder her outings, because someone had to have fun!
       Aside from the being sick thing, I have had some good times. Another fun weekend with Chloe ensued the weekend before I got the flu. We met up with some old friends acquired the second week here, and I love the fact that I actually talked to them. At the beginning, I could barely say my name in Portuguese, and now we laughed and had whole conversations. It felt great! I was also surprised to learn from a girl working at a pizza shop we went to that she thought we were both Brasileiras by how we spoke. I can expect that for Chloe, but not for me. We also discovered a wonderful buffet just around the corner from the pousada. I think we both scarfed down about five pounds of desserts alone. There was also a great afternoon of strolling around the lagoon in the beautiful weather, which was nice since about eleven straight days of rain was around the bend.
        Once Chloe left, I was back to work in the lab. Unfortunately, things have moved slowly, because we are still creating the protocols for the actual research. I won't be around to see the progression of it, but we are finally getting close to a set gel protocol for detecting enzyme activity. The lesson learned here is that not everything moves quickly in science. I arrived in the midst of just setting the procedures, and it has been painfully boring at times. It is also   frustrating to myself and my lab mates, because every one of our experiments has yielded poor results over the last seven weeks. Mychelle is especially stressed, because she is pressed for time to get results due to her December thesis deadline. This last year, I worked in a neuro lab that was well-funded, never lacking in resources, and already set in terms of methodology. Being in a lab with very little money or equipment that is just at the beginning of its research is very eye-opening. It is the first time that I could see something really starting from scratch. I only hope that everything continues smoothly for the students here!
         I also sat in on Mychelle's English class two weeks ago, and that was cool. They have three sections including grammar, conversation, and culture. I did not think that English could be so difficult. Portuguese may be hard for me to speak, but it's fairly simply to learn to read and write. The rules are so simple, and English is complex. Where Portuguese uses "qui," English has "that, which, who, and whom." It is apparent how hard this must be for people learning English as a second language. But the culture part was the most interesting. They talked about hippies and watched a video where motorcyclists rode across the western countryside in what looked like stereotypical "Hell's Angels" get-ups. Their concepts of American culture are just as weird to us as our ideas about Brazilian culture probably are to them. In the conversation class, the topic was world records, and I am appalled that not one person in that room knew who Adriana Lima, the Brazilian Victoria's Secret Model, is. The record was the youngest, richest Brazilian model, and when I pulled up a picture for them to see her, everyone kind of shrugged and said she was "all right." Crazy! Then I learned that the record for a woman having sex with the most men in one day was 916, and I'm pretty sure that I could have gone my whole life not knowing that. Needless to say, class was not boring!
        And I will end this very, very long post talking about Maria, who is new to Sam's lab and lives just downstairs from us! She is from Portugal and speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, Russian (I found someone, Ellen!), and Chinese. Lord! She is AWESOME! We have now made it a routine to all get together and have dinner or hang out, and hearing about all of her work and travels is just amazing. I only wish that she was here sooner, because she has turned my and Samantha's ordinary workdays into fun times. We no longer live for the weekend! She is a great companion when Sam and I are both too stressed to console each other, and having a neighbor like her is so nice.
      Now, pictures summing up my time here!

Some great friends from the first couple of weeks in Brazil

I tried to learn to dance during a Festa Junina party. I'm not used to dancing with a partner!

The dunes that Nadia, Sam, Chloe, and I sandboarded. They don't seem so big now.

Mychelle's English class reading about American hippie culture. 

Myself, Nadia, Chloe, and Sam after a long, beautiful hike

The view from the lagoon near our pousada

Chloe and I strolling along the lagoon during a final weekend hanging out in Brazil

Sam and I out having drinks and pizza with her lab mates

One of many attempts at creating a proper protocol 

This is Ramsey, a random moo cow that I found next to our pousada. I named him, and he was my pet, but I haven't seen him for days. (He might be a burger now.)

The wonderful Sam, flaunting her ridiculous collection of 2 reais bills. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

Last Days in Pallisa

In the past few weeks we have managed to collect interviews from six sub counties in the Pallisa District. Unbeknownst at the time, we spoke to a bubbly witch doctor and watched her treat a child with seizures. We have learned the species of trees that provide roots and leaves for herbal remedies. However, one can argue that traditional medicine is a dying art in this region. As Western religion gains momentum, traditional healing seems to fade away; or at least the community's willingness to openly discuss these practices has diminished.

Our time is winding down with only three days left in country. Even in the midst of the recent Ebola outbreak, bitter sweet seems too bland a description for our emotions as we near departure. As we prepare to pack up, give away, and say goodbye we acknowledge that as our time here comes to an end, so does summertime. Given that many of us will most likely never make it back to this hidden corner of the world, it is difficult to pinpoint how to spend our last hours. Soon we will be back in school half a world away, surrounded by those who have never heard of Pallisa, Uganda.

Lessons learned from my time here are endless, and I can only expect more to follow in the upcoming months as I readapt to life at home. If nothing else, I have gained an entirely new insight into the complexity of international aid and globalization. A few weeks ago I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and one particular excerpt seems to capture a very important take-home message: “You can’t just sashay into the jungle aiming to change it all over to the Christian style, without expecting the jungle to change you right back... If it was as easy as they thought it would be, why, they’d be done by now, and Africa would look just like America with more palm trees.”  So many good intentions but no easy answers.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


 The girls from the lab (minus Caro) and us! And it´s such a pretty place too, you´d think it'd be a nice restaurant or a museum.  Nope.  It´s a meat market! Still cracks me up!
 Giant lilypads at the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, they were so pretty!
 Caroline at our favorite sorveteria, Cairu! We´re already concerned that  we will have withdrawals when we get back to the States.
Me at the top of the tower at the Mangal das Garcas, you could see so much of Bélem from up there!