Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Last Little Bit of Uganda

One of the reasons I've been so delayed in writing this post is that the rainy season started early this year in Uganda.. we had thunderstorms all weekend and just got sunshine for the first time on Tuesday! This fog is no joke- the network has been down and it's been hard to get work done (also because all I want to do is curl up with a good book!). However, the Ugandans see it as the opposite- rainy season means it's time to start planting, so they've been out and about in their gardens in the early morning.
Finally, some sunshine- the only thing missing from this picture is the sound of the generator that has to power the entire hospital and its offices on days that the power is out. We are located between the sewing room and the laundry room, so there are always people milling about when we are in the office (hard at work, of course). Also, notice the three phone numbers on the sign- I have yet to meet a Ugandan with only one cell phone number. Even I have two phones and three numbers!
Moreen, the woman who takes care of the guest houses on the hospital campus, has convinced herself that I am going to starve in Uganda. Not for lack of food, of course, but because in these last weeks I've gotten tired of beans, cabbage, and rice. So sometimes she feeds me avocados the size of my face to make sure I'm getting enough nutrition.
Here we are visiting our friend Happy's home in a village about an hour off of the highway and two hours from Ishaka. It was a long day, filled with lots of milk and potatoes, but it was so nice to be welcomed into her home and to see their farm and way of life. This warm hospitality is something I will really miss about being in Uganda!
Here I am with Susan, the Ishaka Health Plan secretary, finance officer, liaisons officer- she does pretty much everything! Susan has been so so helpful to me and Alex during our time in the office. She keeps us up on all of the gossip and also lets us know what's happening as far as office finances and relationships with groups enrolled in the health plan. Not so obvious in the picture is Muhango Daryl- the baby that Susan is carrying (and will deliver very very soon!!). Since we like to joke that her baby will be named after me, and since I told her today that I was very fat as a baby, then we decided an appropriate name would be Muhango Daryl- Fat Daryl. 

I will miss Susan, Muhango Daryl, and Uganda so so much- we are leaving Ishaka in five days, and I will be back home in Memphis in one week (after over 24 hours of traveling- blech). It's crazy! I've had such a fabulous experience here and am so fortunate that I got to spend my summer in such a sweet town in a wonderful country. The people here are among the friendliest I have ever met, and I hope to come back and visit them and eat large avocados with them sometime soon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Josh and I eat feijoada every Wednesday and Saturday. Our favorite place to go is downtown near the old FanFest stadium.

Josh's favorite place to eat is Amazonas, a small restaurant close to our hostel. We eat there almost every day.

In Rio de Janeiro, Adriana and I went to a samba party in Lapa with some of the people we met at our hostel.

We also took the tram up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. It was gorgeous.

Josh bought a soccer ball in Rio de Janeiro and carried it everywhere.

Here I am on the beach with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Eu visitei Museu Paraense Emilío Goeldi!

Welcome to Museu Paraense Emilío Goeldi! What a wonderful experience for me! Here are some of my favorite photos!

Saturday, July 26, 2014


It's hard to believe we have been in Sao Paulo for 8 weeks now.  Things have calmed down recently since the World Cup is over. I've been able to get into a daily routine that stays pretty constant which is nice for me. The university is still on strike and from what I understand it will continue to be for a while. The strike does cause some bumps in the road that are sometimes difficult to traverse but most of the time we can work around it. 

I have found my Portuguese vocabulary is growing tremendously.  I recently joined a CrossFit gym and have been forced to learn to speak Portuguese as only a handful of the members can speak English.  I have met some awesome people here and they have all been very welcoming and make it lots of fun.  Its nice to have a group of native Brazilians to hang around and also get some competition.  

Today after I left the gym I jumped on a bus to go to the lab. I overheard a person speaking English to the transit employees so I decided to strike up a conversation with him.  His name was Stephen and was from Memphis.  It turns out he was a MHIRT student in 2012 and was visiting Sao Paulo.  How crazy for us to be on the same bus in a city of 20 million people? I couldn't believe it.  

Last weekend I visited Rio de Janeiro.  Like Adriana said the views from the mountain tops and from Sugarloaf were amazing but the people weren't as friendly as they are here in Sao Paulo.  After I had visited all the touristy destinations I found myself ready to get back to Sao Paulo where I am more comfortable and the food isn't so expensive (50 reais on average for a meal, no thanks!)

No Frango to talk about this time

What do you mean we only have 2 weeks left in São Paulo? I'm just starting to get used to living here though!

Well, even though I cannot believe it, we have been in this giant city for 8 weeks now, but I can finally report that I have gotten out to explore other cities a bit. About 2 weekends ago, I decided I needed to go somewhere else, so I decided to take a nice 6 hour bus ride to visit Curitiba. It was a good experience, and I'm glad I did it. As soon as I arrived there, I met a guy at the hostel where I was staying that spoke Spanish, and he volunteered to go exploring with me and to help me document my journey. We had such a great time and covered so many sites! 

The next weekend Victoria and I decided to finally take a trip to Rio de Janeiro to see what all the hype was about. What we learned from our trip is that within the actual city, the people were generally more rude and the atmosphere was not as nice as within São Paulo; however, when we went to visit Cristo Redentor and Pão de Açúcar, we discovered that the views from outside the city were incredible and made the trip extremely worth it. We did encounter one creepy thing while we were in Rio, but it would be difficult to explain the situation on here. All you have to know is that when you realize that there is a whole beach to sit on and a person picks a spot very obviously near you, you may be wrong to excuse the actions of this person as innocent, and you may find yourself running across a large avenue to board a random bus with an unknown destination. But we are finer than fine now! 

I've not only been traveling around these past weeks that you haven't heard from me. During these weeks, I've also been hard at work in the lab still to try and make good progress on my project before I return home. I, however, had to learn a hard lesson about science. This lesson is: if little mistakes are made during your experiment, you may find yourself having wasted 7 weeks and having to start everything over. I am sad to say that it is not likely that I return with any actual experimental results after this trip, but I will be working hard to get as much done as possible before I depart. I also don't think the 7 weeks have really been wasted. It's been an amazing opportunity working with brilliant people who have helped me improve my lab skills a great deal! I would never ever take back any of the time I have spent here. I'm hoping the next two weeks will be just as amazing as the first eight!

Ate logo!

Friday, July 25, 2014

E Quase Tempo para Embora

I can`t believe that it is almost time to leave this country. It has been a great time and I have met so many people that I will be sad to leave. I am fortunate that I will be able to communicate with them from Whatsapp and Facebook. We have also come to the end of our research and it appears that we are going to have good results from this as well. I have made so many memories here that will last a lifetime! And I will miss Belem dearly.

Recently, I tried a cake of amendoim (peanut)! It was very good!

They have many desserts here. What I found very interesting is that they have a bolo de milho that is very similar to southern cornbread.

On Wednesday, I went to the Estacao das docas to listen to music. They played music for the children which was suprisingly very good. Then, there was a hip hop band called Chronistas da rua. I thought their music was very catchy. The last type of music that they had was Carimbo. Carimbo is the music that I heard for the first time at the arraial de pavulagem. The party at the estacao was very fun! There were so many people and everyone was dancing! There was an added bonus because it was my friend's birthday. We surprised her with a cake!

Well, I believe I have come to the end of this post as we are about to embark on a journey to Algodoal. Algodoal is an island which is a part of the state of Para. It is about 2 hours from Belem by car. I expect it to be a great time!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Imagens da Viagem

The trip has been truly monumental, to say the least. I am truly living. Here are a few snapshots of the journey.  Beautiful shops lining the backstreets of Florianopolis.

 Enjoying a coco gelado at Jurere International Beach.

 Remnant architecture in Floripa´s Centro District.

 Incredible views from a cliff´s edge in Chapada dos Guimaraes. I´m definitely facing fears head-on here, and loving it! This adventure took place during my trip to Mato Grosso state to attend the World Cup. 

 Living it up! With another avid torcidor preparing to enter Arena Pantanal to cheer on the Nigerian football team in their World Cup Match against Bosnia-Herzegovina. We won 1-0. The parade that followed was amazing and good enough cause to miss my flight.

Like many things that do not quite go to plan while traveling, it was a welcome plot twist. More to come!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Students and Soccer Galore!

Part of our work is to go into the field and visit groups that are affiliated with the Ishaka Health Plan we are working with/conducting research on. Today we went to Busy Bee Junior School and talked to the Director and Health Coordinator of the school. We also got to visit the classrooms and see what the course material they were learning.
As we were leaving the school. the Director of the school wanted a picture of us with the students. From one classroom, they all ran out and surrounded us and immediately piled up in front of us smiling at the camera. It was great to see the students before we left!
We went to Kampala, the biggest city in Uganda, for a weekend and were able to go to a Uganda Cranes soccer game! The game was held in Nelson Mandela stadium and was against Mauritania. We sat at the very top in order to see the whole field. The fans were crazy with excitement and pump up music was blasted from the speakers all around the stadium.
We went to the game with a friend of Daryl's, who was from the states, and the group her friend was working with in another part of Uganda. Some of the people in the group were Ugandans and were able to buy the tickets for the rest of us. We danced with the other fans before the game started and took lots of pictures with crazy, excited fans and the rest of the group.
The final score for the soccer game was 2 - 0 and both goals were scored during the second half! It was truly an awesome experience seeing all the fans riled up for their team against Mauritania and of course seeing the Ugandan national team win!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bom dia from Rio de Janeiro! Adriana and I took a bus from São Paulo last night and made it to our hostel by midnight. We were greeted warmly and just about everyone here is in our age group. They invited us to a "samba performance" and it was far from what I expected. As we entered the theater, I saw about a thousand people dancing with a drum line on stage. We were taught how to samba and had a marvelous time.

Our hostel is very quirky and we are already making great friends. Adriana and I are staying in a co-ed room with 9 beds. The beds are bunked and stacked 3 high. It is very spacious and so the climb up to the 3rd bunk is a long one. It is very clean here and the area that we are staying in is lively because we are downtown. Today, we plan on visiting Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana beach. The weather forecast showed rain all weekend but we got lucky because it's warm with sunny skies. In two weeks, we will go to Foz do Iguacu!

I was talking to my lab group yesterday about what foods Brazilians eat most. They said that it depends on economic status. Lower class citizens eat mostly rice, beans, some meat, and lettuce because it is very inexpensive. Only the wealthier people can afford to eat at restaurants like McDonalds.  I found this very interesting because it is seems somewhat opposite in the United States. Anyways, I'm off to the beach!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Pictures will soon follow, but for now just some thoughts about my time in Floripa:

I'm feeling a little disappointed that I only have a few weeks left here. Although I still plan on visiting Rio, it really feels like I need more time.. more time to explore other states, to meet more people, and to see Brasil as it goes through its seasons. The beaches are beautiful now, but I can only imagine them in the summer! Two of my close friends have already left the Island and while their goodbyes were hard, I know it will be even more painful when I say my own. For now though, I'll try to focus on the awesome parts :)

This past weekend, I went to Santo Amaro da Imperatriz. This is beautiful city in the continent--the kind of place I could spend a large chunk of life in. Maybe it's because I've never lived close to the ocean, but there is something about mountains and water together that captures me; the rain/mist of the day just added to the allure. There were banana, tangerine, and kumquat trees...all beside waterfalls and forests. My friends from the Island and I went rafting first and all I can do is thank God for allowing someone to invent wetsuits! Our rafting adventure is one I hope to never forget: we got stuck (quite a few times), lost a paddle (and got it back at the end), climbed into a waterfall "cave," and swam around like happy ducklings. Charlotte and Amaka really impressed everyone with their ability to go out of their comfort zones! When we finished up and were a little chilled to the bone, we went walking to the hot springs. Unfortunately, these turned out to be baths filled with water from the hot springs, and not a swimming hole--still nice, but definitely not what I expected. Anyway, the "healing waters" were a welcomed temperature change and public baths a new experience.

In my lab, I'm becoming quite acquainted with the challenges of research! The data isn't always what I plan for, or what I'd like to see, but I'm improving my techniques and the rats never cease to amuse me (the chubby ones are my favorite...and oh how they love to plan an escape). Even better than my little pets are the people I work with-- they show me so much patience and guidance! I would have a lot more trouble on my hands without their help...

And now a part a little harder to put into words (read carefully or my mind-jabber might not make sense).
  One of my favorite things about Lagoa (a borough of sorts for Floripa) is that just walking around or sitting on a bench, I run into almost everyone I've met here- like a little incentive to go and enjoy the day outside. The other people, the ones I don't know, are so diverse in this international city of mine that they could all be someone I'd see walking around in the US. Here is my challenge: the part of me constantly searching for familiarity while abroad sees these strangers as a comfort-- not in a way that makes me long for home, but in a way that makes it easier to be away (Don't hate me Auntie). What I hate is knowing that the same thing will happen when I return to the US. I will see faces that remind me of Brazil; our American diversity will mirror that of the Brazilians, but this time not in a way that keeps me content with my surroundings. Instead, I'll be reminded then of what I'm learning now: I've been a Brasileira at heart all along. I guess I'll just have to come back :)
Now time for bed before hikes and sandboarding! Boa noite- Elizabete

Thursday, July 17, 2014

World Cup Final: Com bateria do carnaval e argentinos

I go back to what was my home not too long ago. The environment of the World Cup final weekend seem liked carnaval to me. Except it was full of Argentinians. The Copacabana beach was overrun by many people from all nationalities but the Argentinian cumbia, flags and Messi shirts dominated the streets. They camped in their cars, in the roads, in front of hotels. The Brazilians trying to evade a possible historical loss with their biggest rival. I had the chance of attending a historical event in football . However, the thing I loved the most of coming back to Rio de Janeiro was reliving the moments of the  Carnaval. The bateria, or the drums, that so typically fill the streets during carnaval, and the samba. Samba is one of my favorite musical genres of Brazil. I was able to dance the weekend away in the Copacabana shore at the beat of the baterias... It was definitely an emotional trip, and remind me, personally, why I keep coming back to this piece of paradise in South America.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Cidade de Pinhão

This past week I was invited by my lab mate Gabi to take some samples to the Federal University of Parana. We ran the tests and analyzed them. It was great to learn a new lab technique and get to see another university and lab. Furthermore, it was so wonderful to meet Gabi's grandma, aunts, and cousin. They were so hospitable and warm. I really felt at home staying at their place. I am very thankful to Gabi and her family. Since we were in Curitiba for one of Brazil's World Cup games we went to the FIFA Fan Fest. It was very fun and a good time. Back in Florianopolis Dr. Fitzgerald visited the city and the labs. It was great to see her.

Gabi and me at the FIFA Fan Fest.

I found the Mexican crew at the FIFA Fan Fest.

My trip to Curitiba was great. This was taken at the Municipal Market.

All of the Florianopolis mentors, students, and Dr. Fitzgerald after our dinner.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dancas daqui

We are nearing the end of this journey and I am still seeing and experiencing new things! One thing that I have learned that I will apply next time is to bring better shoes. I have two pairs of shoes that I have abused since I've been here. Well, you live, you learn, right?

In other news, I have enjoyed learning about the regional dances from here. One of my favorites that I talked about previously is Samba. I also like carimbo, quadrilhas, and forro.

For the last day of festa junina, I went with a friend to watch the quadrilhas and see some other performances. Additionally, there were rides set up and I rode a few. There was so much food and so many people. It was a great time!
This video gives you an idea of the festa junina and the quadrilhas dancing. 

The outfits for quadrilhas are so festive!

One of the foods I tried during festa junina and really enjoyed was the bolo de tapioca (tapioca cake). This cake had a very light consistency and flavor. It wasn't as sweet as pudim de leite (milk pudding, pictured below) but it was very good. 
Tapioca cake
Pudim de leite

Additionally, I have been trying juices from here. They are so delicious. My favorite is acerola (cherry). Goiaba (guava) is also a favorite. My favorite soda is guarana.

As far as other foods, today I tried some really delicious feijoada at a restaurant here called Cia Paulista.
A picture of feijoada

Feijoada is a stew with beans and different kinds of meat and seasonings. I had it at another restaurant and it had cilantro in it which was also very delicious. 

Well, that is all for now. 

Ate logo, 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vida em Rua

I slept on the streets of Rio and met someone that I thought was awesome. His name is Paulo. He gave me a bed sheet to use and made room in his corner for me. We got up at the crack of dawn and started our day because he views it as inconsiderate to others. We shared some good laughs and he thought me how to make the necklaces he sold around the Copacabana beach area. He bought me breakfast and we began selling our goods.
My room in Sao Paulo (SP) has a bunked bed and so I offered to pay a ticket back to SP for him where he could live with me. I just wanted to give him an opportunity to have a place to live and clean up so he can get a job and begin to sustain himself again. He said no. I was confused. So I asked someone to translate to makes sure he understood, to not look like a dumb ass he said yes that time. So when it was time to leave, I told him let's go. He then said no, that he'd prefer a little less than half of the cash that a bus ticket would have cost. I understood that he understood, and so I gave him 30 Reais ($13) and left.
Although, I'm quite baffled, I am thankful for that experience and it really helps me understand that people just think differently in our society. While some are put into situations by the luck of the draw, some chose to be there. This is true regarding being at both the top and bottom ends of the spectrum. I needed to realize this. I hope to reflect more and come to a better understanding of this.

That's not Paulo. Paragliding and hang gliding cost about $350 US a piece. I went the alternative route of making some friends first. Then a little bargaining, I got to experience both for less than $50 US. 

From weddings to the safari!

One of the most exciting things on the trip was to be able to attend a Ugandan wedding ceremony. We met an American family while attending a church service and baptism and the mother was the aunt of the groom. So we found ourselves invited and we were able to partake in the ceremony, which had probably around 200 or more guests. It was very exciting and we got a slice of cake out of it to top it off!
As part of a side trip, Daryl and I along with our mentor, Susie, and two workers from the Ishaka Health Plan visited Lake Bunyonyi. It's the deepest lake in Uganda and has 29 islands. We took a tour of a few of the islands through a boat ride and passed the tiniest one, which was known as Punishment Island. Apparently back in the day, if women in the village were found pregnant before their wedding they would bring the girls here and leave them. Terrible, but this tradition wasn't stopped until the mid 1900's.
On one Saturday afternoon, we were invited to attend a lunch at one of our friend's houses who works with Ishaka Health Plan, the same health plan we are doing research at. As a means of entertainment all of the children gathered sang many songs to us that they learned from school. They were so excited they sang for at least an hour before they were told to go sit down in the back of the house by the adults.

On our way to our safari tour, we drove through the bridge that goes over the two lakes in Uganda. On the side we saw a small village that had many boats lined near the bank where villagers would take across. Besides catching fish, one of the extreme dangers villagers had to look out for were the hippos. They could territorial and pretty aggressive.

We went to Queen Elizabeth Park and took a safari tour. Our guide was a man named Matthew, who had worked previously at the park for 10 years. He took us to a spot where lions were known to sun bathe in the early morning hours. When we got there, there was at least three other cars. We stood at least 50 feet away and were taking photos through the sun roof of the car. It was pretty cool to see the great jungle cats chilling in the sun getting their tan on.
After touring the open land where most of lions and other animals were in Queen Elizabeth Park, we made a reservation for a boat ride in Mweya. While we waited our tour guide, Matthew, led us through some villages where we got the awesome chance to see an elephant leave the enclosure behind a house. Apparently the villagers name him John, because he left his herd and became domesticated by wandering through the nearby villages sometimes even knocking things down.
Part of the last stop in our retreat was a boat ride on the Kizinga Chanel. It was a two hour boat ride but we were able to see lots of animals, from birds like the African Eagle to the water buffalo. As we moved along the shore we spotted some hippos lying down near the shoreline. Most of the time when spotted they were in the water only showing their heads or their backs, so seeing them on land and how huge they were was pretty amazing. That concluded our tour in Queen Elizabeth Park and now we head back to work on Monday working in the office.