So on Monday I started back to school. It was nice to see all my friends again, but as I expected, the day was long and boring. Fortunately, my friend Vitória invited me over to her house in Cumari after school to spend the night. After school we took the bus back to her house and then had lunch with her family. We watched The Vampire Diaries, até brigadeiro, hung out with our other friend and went to a farm very briefly. At night we went out and ate pastel and açaí. The next day we had to get up at 5:30 to catch the bus back to Catalão for school. I was really tired that day at school. Me and my host brothers went to the club after school on Tuesday. It was really fun. There are pools there, places to lay out and a little water park area for the boys to play. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon and if I closed my eyes it was almost like I was back at the beach. The next 3 days after school I hung out with Anika because she is moving cities on Saturday.
On Wednesday we walked around the lake and then hung out at her house. On Thursday we met with some of her friends from school and went out for pizza and açaí, and on Friday I went out for dinner with her family as a goodbye.
That weekend my host family took me to a birthday party. It was the girls 15th birthday, so it was pretty nice. The people there were really nice and friendly, although they were quite a bit younger than me. There was a pool so that was pretty fun to play volleyball in and hang out in. They were all pretty interested in me and Canada, and now that my Portuguese is better I was able to have conversations with them. On Sunday we went for lunch at my host dads parents farm. Later we had church, and then another prayer group by I had gotten a really bad headache earlier so I thought I was going to die by the end of it. (Seriously, it was so bad I thought I was going to be sick). So I went home and slept. My host mom let me stay home Monday because I needed to rest. Thank goodness! I had a Rotary meeting on Monday, it was long and boring because there was this presentation about 'What Rotary is' Rotary and recruit new members.
The rest of that week was pretty uneventful. I had school, which was boring. On Friday the school had a 'Carnaval Party' where everyone came dressed up, an each class danced around in front of everyone else. It was embarrassing but kind of funny too.
Then it was Carnaval. Because my plans to visit my friend in another city fell through, my host mom decided to sign me up for camping with the church. There's not much to say about it, so I'll keep it short.
It was with a bunch of other people my age, and I met a lot of new friends and got to practice my Portuguese a lot. Most of the four days we had Mass and group prayer sessions. It was difficult for me to understand. We did have a bit of free time, which was nice.
On Tuesday I went home, then that night went out for açaí with a couple friends I met at the camping.
The next day I slept a lot because I didn't have school. That night we went to church for Ash Wednesday. After all the people that were at the camping went out for ice cream.
On Thursday my friend Carla came over and we went into town to buy tickets for a party she invited me to, happening in a couple weeks.
I went to a party with my friends from school on Friday. It was at this place that is designed for throwing parties. It had a stage, a bar, tables, a place where everyone was dancing and an area outside area too. It had a lot of security people and I had to be felt up before going in which is not something I had experienced before, but my friends assured me it was normal here. The party was really fun and I spent a lot of the time dancing with my friends.
Sunday, Carla invited me to go with a group of her friend to a waterfall outside of Araguari. We bought lunch and drove their. We had to walk down and then we got to this gorgeous area where we could swim. It was really cool and such a fun day. The water was pretty cold, it reminded me of Canada. There were about 10 of us there. Then I had dinner at Carla's house and we went for açaí with her boyfriend after (yay for third wheeling) before they dropped me off at home.
Monday, Vitória came over after school and we made brigadeiro. It was so good and I ate so much of it. I had Rotary that night, and it was a meeting dedicated to the 'Celebration of Women', which was cool. I got a flower, just for being born with two X chromosomes. I had to get all dressed up, which was fun. I got to wear a new dress I brought a couple months back. Yay for being a girl.
The trip to the airport wasn't all that eventful, there was just three of us and we were very tired. Anika and I found out our flight was delayed so we had to wait in the airport in Rio for two hours before finally catching our flight. Then we at least didn't have to wait as long in the next airport. We just had time to grab some lunch and go. My host mom picked us up in Uberlandia, and me and her talked the whole way home. We stopped at the bakery and dropped Anika off before finally going home. Pretty much right away I showered and took a nap. I hadn't slept for about 36 hours at that point. The next two days I spent unpacking and catching up on sleep mostly. Friday night I went for a bike ride with my host dad and brother, and got açaí. On Saturday we visited the new baby that a member of my host family had while I was away. That night we went to a birthday party at the farm for a host relative. It was fun, dancing and talking about my trip mostly. On Sunday I went horseback riding with Anika, who let me know she would be moving to Uberlandia, as Catalão wasn't working out for her. That was really fun, except that we got rained on at the end. After we went back to her house and talked about life and the trip and she let me try some candies from Germany. It was a nice way to end the week as I would be starting back to school on Monday, something I'm not particularly excited about. Although there are lots of holidays coming up to look forward to, and hopefully visiting my friends from the trip too.
The second day in Itacaré was surfing day! We had to take the surfboards from the top area down to the beach, which was actually pretty far. The beach was so amazing. It was basically just for surfing and had so many waves. We split into three groups for our lessons. When you weren't surfing you could swim and explore a bit. My friend made me into a mermaid, not really that I had a choice. And the surfing was great! We did a quick lesson on shore and then go into the water. There were so many waves that we got so many chances to try. I got up and did pretty well a few times, I also had a few falls. It went a lot better than the last time, and I really liked it. After we got home from the beach we all piled into the pool. That night we had dinner at the hotel and there was a band playing so after dinner a lot of people started dancing Forro, the dance we learned earlier in the trip. It was so fun to see what we remembered and do our own dances too, as well as learn new ones. I danced pretty much the whole night, until we had to leave and then we went back to hang out at the hotel until it was time to go to bed. That night I got very sick.
The next morning I woke up still feeling very ill, I had to pack up everything which was very difficult. Once I got down to the lobby my friends Ane and Thea helped me, as I couldn't do anything without throwing up. When Belo tried to give me medicine, I couldn't keep it down. The beginning of the bus ride was awful, but I eventually stop throwing up and fell asleep. Once we got to the hotel in Porto Seguro I was sick once more, then stayed in bed for the rest the day so I could better for the next day.
Fortunately it worked, and the next morning after eating almost nothing for the past 24 hours, I was able to eat. That day we had a city tour to see Porto Seguro. I just took it really easy and make sure to keep out of the sun and sit down when possible and by the afternoon I felt a lot better. We went to the beach and swam for a bit then watched this dance party thing they had there. It was really fun and a bunch of us were dancing along. After that we took a boat to our hotel, as it was on the outskirts of Porto Seguro. We went for dinner and had some time in the little city we were staying in. I stayed with my guy friends because we weren't really feeling like shopping. We ended up going to a bar to see if we could just sit and to listen to a band that was playing. We couldn't, so we order a water. We ended up talking to two men, one from Canada and the other from the UK, who had been living in Brazil for longer than I've been alive. It was really cool to talk to them and the guy from Canada knew Muskoka! Then we had to say goodbye and head back to the hotel. That night everyone hung out around the pool and in the hammocks.
On the second day, both Ane and Thea woke up feeling sick. So I went to the beach with the boys. The beach was not good for swimming. It had some coral reef you could swim out too, but it was mostly dead, although we did see some crabs, a sea cucumber, sea urchins and some fish. There also wasn't much to explore, so everybody spent most of their time just relaxing on the beach. I think everyone needed it. In the afternoon we played in the pool, before having dinner at the hotel. After dinner we had a dance class, the same kind of dancing we had seen the day before. It's like a work out dance, but it's also pretty ridiculous. It was really fun, and after we had our own dance party, which was very fun. Luckily, my friends were feeling better by then.
The next two days were fairly uneventful. The first was a travel day to Vítoria, but we just stayed for one day, and the next one was from Vitória to Rio! In Vítoria we just went to the mall for dinner and then headed to the hotel. Once we got to Rio, we went to the hotel, then went to the rooftop pool! It was pretty amazing. Then we went to dinner and then went to this market and real with lots of cool Rio merchandise. We stayed at the market pretty late so when we got back to the hotel we just had to go to sleep.
Our first full day in Rio was a city tour. We walked in saw an old church, old buildings and these really cool stairs with tiles from all around the world. We saw the worlds biggest street art, it was so huge. Then we went to where they hold carnaval in Rio. There we could pay a small price and dress up in carnival costumes to take pictures and see what they're like. My friends and I decided to do this, and it was so fun! Other tourist even asked if they could take pictures with us. I was surprised how big and heavy the costumes were. It would be really difficult to dance with them all the way on the street. We had lunch at the mall, and they had a Starbucks so that made me very happy. After lunch we went to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) Mountain. It is these two mountains in Rio that you take a giant chairlift type thing up to. We went up with the group to the highest one, which had the most beautiful view. You could see all of Rio. It really was incredible. Then we have free time to wander around and meet down at the first mountain. Me and my friends, as always, took so many pictures. Rio looked so small from up there! We were really lucky that we had a really clear day and could see everything really well. My friend from Rio said it could be really cloudy there sometimes. After that we went back to the hotel and then out to dinner. After dinner we could go back to the market, but I chose not to, as did most people, and we went back to the hotel to go in the pool. We swam and played odds until the pool closed, them went in the sauna and hung out on the pool roof until we had to go to bed.
On her second day in Rio we went to one of the regions where a lot of really poor people live. It was interesting to see but I personally didn't really enjoy it because I felt very weird about going in with the big group to a place where people actually live. It just didn't feel right to be taking touristy pictures of this place. After that we went to this military base in Rio. It was kind of interesting and there was a very nice view as well there. We went back to the mall for lunch and then in the afternoon we went to Copacabana Beach. The waves there were crazy! And the water was cooler than the rest of the beaches we have been to so far. It was a really great beach. Until I saw that there was a jellyfish and I got kind of scared. I really don't like jellyfish. One of my friends knows a girl from Rio and she came to the beach with us and she said that it was very strange that there was jellyfish and she had never seen them here before. Maybe I was just unlucky. Straight after the beach, we went to dinner, so when we got back to the hotel we had lots of time again to hang out in the pool, sauna and on the rooftop.
On our final day, we went to see the Christ the Redeemer statue. We had to take this train like thing up the mountain, then walk up a couple flights of stairs and then we were there! The statue was so huge! I couldn't believe it! Again, we had amazing view of Rio. And it was a very nice day this day as well. We had a bit of time there then we had to return back down. We took a bunch of pictures and explored a bit. We had lunch at the mall once again and then went to the beach, this time to Ipanema beach, which was even better than the one from the day before. The waves were so fun to play in, although I got tossed up pretty bad a couple of times. It was a really nice last day, but of course we still had the night. That night during dinner me and my 5 closest friends sat together and talked about the trip, and just enjoyed our last dinner as a group. After dinner we went to a dance studio where we learned how to dance funk. If you haven't heard of this style of dance, Wikipedia describes it as a "Brazilian booty dance". I'd say that's pretty accurate. It's a lot of Twerking and moving your butt. So we had that and it was so much fun to see everyone dancing especially the boys and everyone actually got pretty into it. And of course, us girls were pretty good. (We been practising all month for this.) After we also had a samba class, which was really cool as well. We learn the basic step then had to keep going faster and faster! All in all, the dance classes were really fun. Once we got back to the hotel we all grab our flags so people could write in the and pins so we could trade them. Belo let us stay up really late as it was our last night. We had a little closing ceremony type thing and everyone said goodbye. Since it was our last night Belo kind of let us get away with sneaking out, they didn't even do a room check. Me and a couple of my friends went up to the very top roof and hung out there. Since I had to leave for the airport at 5:30, I stayed up there all night until I had to go. Saying goodbye was so difficult. I became so close with these people, they felt like my family, I may never see some of them again, which makes me so sad. Fortunately, me and my five closest friends are already planning to see each other again soon.
So this will be part two of my trip in the northeast of Brazil.
The next day we left Fortaleza to go to our next city Pipa, which actually was a small village. It was just a bit bigger than Jerri. The hotel we stayed at there was really amazing. There was a huge, amazing pool, as well as so much area outside for us to hang out.
Our first day I Pipa we went to the "Praia de Amor" (beach of love). The waves there were amazing, I spent so much time swimming in them with my friends. We also went to explore this awesome rock structure and took a bunch of cool pictures, unfortunately most of them turned out pretty bad. (By we I mean me and the five other people that had become like a group. The two girls I've been with since the beginning, and three boys. Jan from Germany, Maxime from Belgium and Benjamin from France.) On the way back from the beach I met two of the girls from my district that we're on the 25 day trip. It was really cool to see them even though it was only for a couple minutes. That night after dinner we went into the city to shop and explore. It was a pretty cool little town. After we got back we had permission to make a party, but it didn't last long and we ended up moving out to the seating area near the pool and hanging out there. We also attempted to climb and get coconuts from the palm trees. It didn't work that well. This was a really nice night, I remember all of us laying on each other in a puzzle like way and just talking until we were forced to go to sleep.
Our second day we got on the bus and went to Natal, a big city close to Pipa and had a city tour there. Our first stop was the space station place which was pretty cool and interesting. There was a tv station there and they did interviews of a couple people in our group. Then we had a bus tour in the city and got out a couple places to take some pictures and look around. We also went to this market place to go shopping for a little bit. I wasn't so into shopping so me and my friends wanted out to go look at the ocean and we're lucky enough to be able to see some dolphins swimming in the ocean. That night we all hung out by the pool again, and again it was really nice.
The last half day in Pipa we spent mostly in the pool. We played 'what are the odds'. We play that a lot during the trip, it proved to always be quite entertaining. My two girl friends went into town so I was left with the boys. We went to two pools that we weren't sure if we were allowed to go in, and the boys had a pool noodle war which I refused to join in on, so they pushed me into the water. Then we all had to pack up and go on the bus once again, this time on our way to Recife. When we got there we went into a hotel and unpacked and then went on the bus again to go to McDonald's for dinner. They didn't have anything for me either since McDonald's has a different menu in Brazil so I had this really bad salad. Then we went to the mall to go shopping for Carnaval costumes.
On our first full day in Recife we went to a beach called "Porto de Galinhas" (Harbor of Chicken). It was a really nice beach. We started by just going in the water, but then we went out to a fishing boat thing. We climbed on it and jumped off and hung out there. We probably weren't supposed to, but no one said not to. Then we went scuba diving! It wasn't that cool, there wasn't any coral reef to see, just some fish and shells, but we got some cool pictures from it. I went with Thea and our guide let us go on our own a bit, which made it a little bit more fun. That night at the hotel we met some other exchange students who live in Recife. There was a boy and a girl from the USA, and a boy from Canada! It was good to finally meet another Canadian in Brazil.
The next day we had a city tour. We went to a little neighbouring city called Olinda, which was very beautiful. We went shopping there, got to see a cool umbrella dance from the city and see some really beautiful areas. It was a super hot day and we had to walk a lot but it was worth it since it was such a beautiful city. That night we went out for dinner, came back to the hotel and got all ready and dressed up in our costumes that we had bought the last couple days for our very own Carnaval that Belo put on for us. Ane and I dressed up as Minnie Mouse, Jan was a funny, hippie tourist and Thea dressed up as a hippie too. The other two boys along with another boy from Belgium dressed as native peoples. Everyone had amazing costumes and the Carnaval was legit! Everyone from the city came to see, there were dancers, people in these big costumes and even a band. It was really incredible, one of the best nights for sure. And we had an after party at the bottom of the bus. We hung out by the pool again with the other exchange students because we invite them to be part of our Carnaval. This hotel had a really cool rooftop that me and Ane and Thea went up to earlier to do paint our nails and hang out at. Unfortunately, it became off-limits Thea night because the night before people snuck up there in the middle of the night (Not me, don't worry, I'm a good kid. And I wouldn't want to risk losing a day of the trip).
The next day we headed for Salvador, it was a really long bus ride. And we didn't get to the hotel really until really late.
Our first day in Salvador was incredible, one of the best of the trip. We went to this boat that took us to this incredible island. The boat ride was about 1 1/2 hours and was incredible in itself. Me and my friends took a bunch of pictures and laid out in the sun on the boat. Once we go to the island we could jump off the boat swim to the island and explore it. So that's what we did. It was really incredible, there was hardly any people there and it was just really perfect. We spent most of the day there, but then had to head back to soon in my opinion. I spent the afternoon in the pool and sauna. After dinner we hung out with another fellow group that was also at the hotel. They were a 25 day trip.
The next day we had a city tour of Salvador. First we went to this turtle rescue place, the baby turtles were so cute! After we did a city tour. We went to market, to a famous church where you buy these bracelets really populate in Brazil. They are just simple, but you can tie them to your friends wrist, your wrist or onto this fence cover with them at the church, you tie them three times and make three wishes. Salvador was an amazing city, there were some really beautiful old buildings. It had a lot of history. That night after dinner we went to this dance show. It was really different, but interesting. That we hung out with the other group again by the pool at night.
The day after we left Salvador and the beach to go to Lençois, where we would be doing some hiking, seeing waterfalls and seeing an area in the Northeast off the coast. Once again, the bus could not go all the way to the hotel, this time because of very thin roads, and we had to take a shuttle to the hotel. This hotel was so cool, each group of people rooming together had their own little house with a hammock out front. The pool was kind of small, but there was so much area for us to hang out around the pool and we were practically the only people staying there, so it was perfect. The first half day we went in the pool once we got there before having dinner and then spending the night hanging out by the pool.
Our first full day there we did three walks. The first was to this natural slide. It looked really painful, but it actually didn't hurt at all. We also could jump into the water off a jumping rock, and explore the pool of water and surrounding area. Me and two of my friends from the USA made some zen rocks in inukshuk while we were there. The walk there and back was about 8km, and was very beautiful. The next hike was to another waterfall and pool of water that had mud that you could cover yourself in and create cool designs and such. It was pretty funny to cover each other, but was actually pretty difficult to get off and left a bit of a stain on your skin. After returning we went in the pool, then had dinner and got ready to go into the town. It was a little ways from my hotel, but was really really neat little town to explore. There was lots of little shops and places to eat. That night I sat in a hammock with my friend, Ane, and we talked about everything (Life, boys, you name it).
The next morning we went to the bus to this small mountain. Then we all walked up to the most amazing view, it was so beautiful. The guides said it was the "Green Grand Canyon of Brazil". After that we went back down, a couple of my friends and I decided to run down, no one got hurt and it was fun, OK? Then we went to get lunch and then headed to this place where we got to go explore a cave. It was so nice and cool in the cave, I never wanted to go back up to the heat. We saw a bunch of really cool caves structures and things. We even got to sit in complete darkness and silence for a couple minutes, which was so weird but really cool. Then we had to go back up all the stairs where it was really hot. Luckily there was a place that sold popsicles at the top, very conveniently placed. After that we went on another hike to another waterfall. This one had a really amazing place to jump, so of course I did that like 100 times. I was actually the first one to jump, pretty brave right. We had to leave their way to soon, it was so nice! And there was a bunch of little monkeys in one of the trees there that were so cute. We spent the night at the hotel again. A few of my friends were trying to shoot water bottles with a slingshot, so I tried, but unfortunately was very bad at it. By the end of the night a few other people and I were sitting by the pool talking and listening to music.
The next day we had to wake up early to head to my next location, Itacaré. We got lost and we got there very late and had to order pizza for dinner. And pretty much right after everyone went to bed.
We had a beach day at this amazing beach in Itacaré. It was such a long beach and had so much space to explore, and there was hardly any people there. My one friend, Ben, didn't want to spend any money so he built his own area for shade and collected coconuts to drink and eat. It was funny because he was acting like a man in a cast away movie we had seen the day before on the bus. And it caught on, by the end of the day, lots of people eating and drinking coconuts they had collected themselves. Me and three of my friends Begüm, Nora and Thea, went and walked over 30 minutes to get to this really cool palm tree and took some amazing pictures with it. The waves were also so much fun at this beach. It was definitely one of the coolest beaches we went to. Then we all went to the pool. After that we hung out by the pool for the night.
So this post will be about the one month I spent travelling the north east of Brazil. It's hard to start writing about the best months of my life. There's no way to describe how amazing every single part of this trip was, the lifelong friendships I formed, and how difficult it is to go back from a month in paradise, to 'real life'. But of course, I will do my best to capture the magic that was my Northeastern Dream Trip.
It all started on the 9th of January. I spent the whole day and night before getting ready and packed. That morning I woke up early, Anika's host mom picked me up, and we were off to Uberlandia. We did some shopping first, then headed to the airport and said our goodbyes and then we were off on our own. We were on different flights, which meant I had to wait in the airport for two hours alone after she left. I felt like I was dying with anticipation the entire time. Then I finally took my short, but suspenseful, one hour flight from Uberlandia to São Paulo. Immediately after I landed I met back up with Anika and another boy from my district. We took an Uber to the hotel we would be spending the night in. Anika and I shared a room. After we checked in we went to the rooftop pool. Then we had to meet downstairs with all the other exchange students who had also arrived already to go to dinner at Subway. Even though it wasn't everyone yet, it was so overwhelming to meet so many people from all around the world, but of course, equally amazing. After dinner, where I started talking to people, and one of the girls invited me to hang out with her and a bunch of other girls in one room. So there I was, already meeting a dozen new people, laughing with them and sharing exchange stories. I learned most of them were from the same district, which is how they already knew each other. Later that night we had to go downstairs to the lobby because a big group of other exchange students arrived from the south part of Brazil. Again, it was so many new people. The rest of the night was spent talking about our host countries, where we were living in Brazil and how our exchange was going.
The next morning we were off to the airport. There we went even more people, almost completing the group of about 50 exchange students. The time in the airport surprisingly wasn't too bad considering the size of our group. And next thing I knew we were headed to Fortaleza. After landing, we were given time to eat lunch, then all got on a bus for the six hour trip to our first stop, Jericoacoara. Once we were nearly there, we had to stop at a gas station and pack ourselves and all our bags onto trucks because the roads were not suitable for the bus. Every truck at about eight exchange students, all playing our own music with portable speaks, screaming, laughing and singing along. We drew drove on bumpy roads, and then in sand dunes until we arrived at the hotel were we would be spending the next three nights. We ate pizza, found our rooms and then went swimming in the pool at the hotel. After the day filled with meeting new people, we all happily went to sleep, excited for our first day in Jericoacoara.
Unfortunately, it was rainy and cloudy the next day. As the crazy exchange students we are, this hardly phased us and we didn't let it hinder our first beach day too much. The beach we were at was amazing. There was a sand dune to the left and so much beach to explore. I really went swimming right away with three girls from the US, two from Germany and one from Denmark. We took pictures and swam and eventually met up with some boys who we attempted to make human pyramids with, chicken wars and flips, most of which ended in us falling in the water and laughing our asses off. Then we went to the sand dune and found it particularly fun to jump down in the sand. 1 million pictures later and lots of washing our now sand cover bodies in the ocean, we had to head back to the hotel because the rain got fairly heavy and everything was wet, and it was kind of cold. So we went back to the hotel, and straight into the pool. Later that day we had a capoeira dance class, which is like a fighting dance. And we got the most fashionable pants ever! We all looked ridiculous, but at least we looked ridiculous together. The class was really cool, and the teacher and student did a really cool demonstration at the end. They were really good. After we went over to the sand dune by the beach to watch the sunset, and decided to jump down into sand again. And then me, the girl from Denmark and the girl from Germany decided to go in the water with two boys, one from France and one from Belgium, not knowing we had to go to dinner like that straight after. I think this is where the friendship between me and the two girls really started. And also the boys who I became really close with shortly after as well. It was really funny, and I have no regrets. So we got to attend dinner in a highly fashionable pants which were now wet with sea water. That night we had time at the hotel to swim and just hang out for a bit.
The next day we woke up nice and early for morning yoga on the beach. It was pretty fun. We then had breakfast and then got to go on an all day buggy adventure. It was definitely one of the coolest days. we went in buggies through these amazing sand dunes, took lots pictures and videos and then stop at this freshwater lake where we went swimming and laid in these water hammocks. A few other girls and I wrote Brasil in one sand dune. I went on the buggy with the two girls from the night before, Ane from Denmark and Thea from Germany. After the lake we headed back in the buggies and then went into the pool. That afternoon we could do an optional walk. Of course we did it, and it ended up being such a nice walk. The was a giant rock that had naturally formed a hole in the middle due to the water eroding it. My friends and I climbed a rock and got to watch the sun start to set. That night after dinner we had more dance lesson. This time it was Forro, which is a partner dance. It ended up being so much fun even though it was kind of awkward at the beginning. We all got to try to dance in pairs and some people were really good! For the most part people figured out the dance and then a few of us spent the whole night dancing and teaching each other dances me know from our countries. It was a really good way for us all to bond and it was super fun.
The next morning we had the option to wake up REAL early (4AM) to see the sunrise. I did it because Yolo. (And we would just be travelling by bus back to Fortaleza for six hours later that day so I thought I would sleep then. Spoiler alert, I didn't.) It wasn't until almost 6:30AM that the sun actually rose, but it was pretty beautiful, so I consider it worth it. Everyone who went to see the sunrise crashed in the hammocks in the hotel for a couple hours before we had to get up for breakfast. We spent a few hours at the beach that morning swimming and enjoying the sand dune for the last time before packing up in the trucks and heading back to the bus. This time on the bus I sat on the bottom floor (it was a double layer bus and the bottom section is smaller with only about 12 seats) with my new friends and some other people who I would soon become very close with as well. We spent almost the whole bus ride talking about everything from our home countries, to our hobbies, to what we had been doing on exchange so far. We also all realize we weren't feeling the bus music, so use my portable speaker (later referred to as 'The Music Box') to 'make' our own (better) music. That night once we got to the hotel we all hung out in a sitting area and played games like "never have I ever", "would you rather" and "have you ever" to get to know each other better.
The first day and Fortaleza was a beach day where we did some activities. When we first got there we went on another buggy ride. This one was shorter, but still so fun. I went with Ane and Thea again, as well as a boy from my district. We went to this place and had sandhills that we got to slide down on sand boards. As the professional sledder I am, I was fairly successful. Unfortunately, some people were not and ended up rolling down a lot of the hill. On the way back to the beach out buggy broke down, luckily our guy friends buggy was there and knew to come back for us after dropping them off. It gave us a good chance for funny pictures though. Our buggy driver thought that we were ridiculous and couldn't help but laugh at us. So eventually we made it back with the group and back to the beach. We went swimming there, and then later got to go horseback riding on the beach, which was also really fun. After dinner that night we went to a market to go shopping. The only thing I bought was açaí, but it was still cool to look around and hang out with everyone there.
The secondary day in Fortaleza we had the option to go back to the beach, or go to an overpriced waterpark. We ended up going to the waterpark. It was actually really, really, really fun. I was with six other people, all as crazy as me, and we didn't stop all day. Not for food, not for water, not for anything. We spend every second going on the waterslides. They had some cool ones, like this huge, tall one that I thought I might die on but it ended up being so fun, we went on that one like five times. There was also this rainbow one that you went with four people and that one was ridiculously fun, and even ones where the floor dropped out from under you. I was terrified, but it was so much fun. We were all really tired after spending all day there, but we wanted to make it worth it.
So I've decided that I'm going to split this trip into three blog entries because of how long it was and how much stuff we did. This is the first part and I'm going to put it up right away, and hopefully get the next two parts up as soon as possible.
Just a couple days after Christmas I headed to the beach with Lauro, his mom and my house brother, José Gabriel. We had to take two buses to get there. Went to São Paulo, which was 10 hours, and then another to Maresias, which was supposed to be six hours, but was more like eight because of the traffic. The first night we went in the pool. We spent the next two days at the beach swimming and exploring. I got a pretty bad sunburn the first day (sorry mom). It became pretty routine for us to spend the day at the beach and then the night going into town or at the pool. The food at the hotel was amazing, and they also had a game room that we would go to sometimes. The one day I decided to do a surfing lesson. A guy on the beach came up and asked if I'd like to learn how to surf and I decided to. I was not very good but it was really fun anyways. On New Year's Eve we had a special dinner at the hotel, it was almost entirely fruit! We also had to wear all (or mostly) wait, which means you want peace for the new year. After dinner we walk to the beach for the changing of the year. At 12 o'clock we had to jump over seven waves and make wishes, and then jump seven waves for other people and wish for things for them to. There were fireworks and music and hundreds of people at the beach. It was really cool and so different from what I am used to. We spent the last two days at the beach again, taking so many pictures (I felt kind of bad for making Lauro take so many pictures of me) and enjoying the amazing waves at the beach. Then we had to return. We took the bus from Maresias to São Paulo and then stay the night at a family members house São Paulo. She was very kind. Then we headed back to Catalão. I had to unpack quickly so my stuff could be washed and then repacked for my next trip.
In the days between my birthday and Christmas I spent a lot of time with Lauro hanging out. The one day Lauro and I and my host family went to the farm. It was really fun and I got to taste a bunch cool different fruits such as a pomegranate, guava and these neat little berries that they only have in Brazil, strait from the trees they were growing on. The one night we also went on this train that goes through Catalão. It's more for younger kids but I still enjoyed it and it was pretty cool to see all the lights in the city.
Christmas here was very strange. There was no snow, it was 30°C and I wasn't surrounded by my family. Of course it was very difficult, but it's all part of the experience. On Christmas Eve we have a party at my house, it wasn't too big, but it was fun. I was allowed to drink a bit and the food was good. We spent the whole day before making food and getting ready for the party. I made chocolate chip cookies, and they traded a bit weird because the brown sugar here is really different, but everyone said that they were still delicious. Christmas Eve was fun, I stayed up late with Lauro and everyone else just hanging out. Christmas day wasn't that exciting. I feel kind of lonely and miss my family a lot and our Christmas traditions. I got my host family a photo of us from my birthday in a nice picture frame, as well as giving them the maple syrup and Christmas decoration I brought from Canada. They told me they were going to pay for a trip for me to Maresias, a beach city in São Paulo state for a week over New Year's. I was so excited and amazed at how kind it was for them to do this for me. Over the next couple days we went shopping for new bikinis and other things I would need for the beach. Although Christmas here was very strange and not at all what I was used to it was still cool to see the kind of things that they do here.
After getting home from Araxá and Araguari, the next few days were pretty chill. Things went back to normal, I went to Rotary, hung out with my host family a lot and started planning my birthday party, which was on the coming Saturday night. My host mom suggested I have a county themed party, and I agreed, she seemed pretty excited about the idea, and we were having my party on her birthday. (And technically it was also a surprise party for her.) On Friday my friend Vitória came over and we made the treats for my party. We made Brigadeiros and Beijinhos, which are little candies, brigadeiro is a chocolate candy, and beijinhos are coconut candies. They are so good and I don't know what I'm going to do with out them next year. The my host mom took me to get my nails done. The next day we started setting up for my party. We got flowers and decorations and lots of tables because there was a lot of people going. Then my aunt here took me to get my hair done, which I loved. Then I came home, did my makeup and got changed into my country cloths and people started arriving. I invited a lot of people from my class, but a lot could not make it because they were away because of the holidays. But quite a few people were able to make it, which I was really happy about. Plus most of my host family was there as well, they all came in with a second cake singing happy birthday to Reila. The party was fun, everyone brought be gifts, which I was kind of surprised about. And I had to take a million pictures, which was annoying at the time but I'm sure I'll be happy about later. It was nice to see all my friends and catch up with them since I hadn't seen a lot of them since school ended. Eventually everyone went home, and just my host family was left, but most of them were drunk so I decided to go to sleep. The next day we had everyone over again for lunch. Later my first host family came over for coffee and gave me a present as well, a pair of havaianas, which is a very popular flip flop brand here. That night my host brother, Lauro, my "cousin" from Goiânia who speaks English, went for a bike ride and went for açaí. It was really cool to experience a birthday here and see how differently they do things.
(I don't have many pictures from party yet, I will post them when I do.)
On Friday December 9th, I woke up nice and early to go to the second exchange student gathering in Araxá. My host mom first had to drive me to a city about an hour away called Araguari. I met up with the four exchange students living in Araguari and we all got on a bus together headed to Uberlândia, where we would pick up a few other exchange students. After picking up them we began the long drive to Araxá. (It was only about 3 or 4 hours, but it felt like forever) We all talked and caught up with each other, we talked about what we had been doing and how learning Portuguese was going. Once we finally arrived, we chose who we wanted to stay in a room with for the weekend. My friend Shay for the US and I decided to share a room. We dropped all our stuff off there and headed down to meet the rest of the exchange students and have lunch. After lunch we all met in a room and had to introduce ourselves (in Portuguese) to some people high up in our host rotary district. Then we played a bunch of team building games, as well as some games to practice our Portuguese. It was really fun and helped break the ice a little more. After that we had a bunch of free time to hang out and swim in the pools. It was nice to talk to everyone and hear about all their crazy exchange stories. Thatn ight after we went to a Christmas Music Festival in downtown Araxá. The first act was in Portuguese, so we all danced because we didn't know the songs. The second act was in English though, so we could sing along and dance. It was so much fun. That night Shay and I, as well as a girl from Brazil, Amanda, (she went on exchange to the USA last year) that was staying in our room with us and our two other friends, Kish from India and Eli from Germany all stayed up late and talked and watched tv and ended up jumping in the pool really late at night. (They told us the only rule was no boys in girls rooms and vise versa, so we were pretty sure we weren't going to get in trouble) It was really fun and I think we all felt a lot closer after that. The next day we played some boring games o practice Portuguese, and then did our secret friend gift exchange where we had to describe the person in Portuguese and everyone else had to guess who it was. Then we had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted again, so we tanned and went swimming and jammed out because a few people knew how to play guitar. That night after dinner everyone got together and we played music and sang and had another little jam session. It was really nice. After that we were free to do what we wanted for the rest of the night, so a bunch of us hung out until pretty late, and then Kish, Eli, Shay, Amanda and I, saw there was a graduation party going on at the hotel, and wanted to investigate. So we went over and met this funny old man. We tried to talk Portuguese with him, but he kept saying "Só inglês", which means "just English". He wanted to try to speak English with us! So we talked with him for a bit and asked if he could get us into the party. Then his son and a couple of his sons friends came out so we talked to them as well, asking if they could get us into te party. Eventually they convinced the guy at the door o let us in for a few minutes, so we went in and danced like crazy, until we got complaints that we weren't dressed appropriately to be there from some of the mothers. So we left, and with us came a couple of the boys from the party because they wanted to talk to us because a bunch of international students is kind of cool. So we got to know them a bit and told them about our exchanges. Then we went swimming again, until we decides it was time to go to sleep. It was then we remember we had ordered a pizza earlier, so after quickly devouring it, we all went to sleep. The next day was pretty chill, we went for a walk around this really pretty lake and took lots of pictures, and then it was time to say goodbye to everyone and head back to our cities. I talked with Shay the entire bus ride until Uberlândia, and then slept the rest of the way to Araguari, where I found out I was spending the night at Ann's house, another exchange student living Araguari. One of te other exchange students from Araguari decided to also spend the night, so we had a sleepover, which was really fun. Then next day I was supposed to catch a bus at 12, but it was full, so I went over to a Rotarians house for a few hours and watched tv and napped until 4 when I finally caught my bus to go home. It was such a crazy, fun weekend, I really can't wait until the next inbound weekend.
So after my crazy first weekend with my host family, my host mom let me and my host brothers stay home from school to rest on Wednesday. It was nice because I was really tired from all the excitement. I went to school as usual on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday my host mom took me to drop off my youngest host brother iand pick up their daughter, who is my age. We hung out the rest of the day and played x-box. Then that night we went to a farm for a surprise party for my host mothers nephew. It was really fun, there was lots of good and music and dancing (and drinking, not for me though). We went back to te house that night and returned to the farm the next day for lunch with everyone who had stayed the night at the farm (including my older host brother).
The next week I had school, which was pretty boring, but we mostly were just doing review for the final test coming up. On Thursday I had a secret santa exchange with the class I was originally in, and I got a cute travel mug from one of my friends. Also that day all te people who were graduating from elementary school or high school that year had to dress as the opposite gender. It was really funny, although I was so confused at first. My host brother had to dress as a girl because he was graduating elementary school this year. That Friday was Black Friday and we went to this store and got a bunch of stuff, but had to stand in line for an hour and a half which was not fun! On Saturday I spent the day cleaning the house and getting ready for a party with my host fathers side of the family. They were nice, but a lot more uptight than my mothers half of the family. (It was okay because there was a cute boy that spoke English so we talked about politics and other stuff for a lot of the night) They were also a lot more religious, we played this gift game where when your name is picked you chose a wrapped gift, open it, and if you don't like it you can trade with someone who has already opened their gift. Most of the gifts had something to do with religion, but I ended up with a pair of flip flops. The next day my host brother had a test in another city and we had a birthday party in another city. The birthday party was for a 1 year old and it was te fanciest birthday party I have ever been to! I was slightly underdressed, but I didn't know that people here throw extravagant parties for their 1 year olds. But man, the food was good. And the kid was cute, I got to hold him. And apparently it is normal to have big parties for you child's first birthday here, I was never given an explanation as to why, so I'm assuming to show off you can afford to. After that we went home and then went to church, then to my host parents friends house so they could pray.
The next week we only had school on Monday and Tuesday and then a test on Wednesday! On Monday I had two friends over after school. It was so fun, we talked and laughed and sang at took so many pictures. We also went for açaí, which is always good. I hope that I will get to see my friends a lot more, especially outside of school. After the test on Wednesday my class had a party at the person who owns the schools house. It is a really nice house. And the party was so fun! It was so good to hang out with everyone, we played volleyball, danced, ate food, drank water, explored the awesome property that had pomegranate trees on it! They weren't ripe unfortunately, but that's still so cool.
The rest of the week I slept in and enjoyed not having school. On Thursday night we had a bunch of people over to make pamonha, which is like this corn thing they eat here. It's really weird, but actually not too bad. On Saturday my host moms sister invited me to go to a birthday party with her and her daughter. The girl was turning 15, which is a really big deal here, so the party was going to be pretty fancy. My host mom took me and bought be a dress for the party because she is too nice. Then I met up with her sister and gore my nails done and my hair done. It was really fun, things like that aren't as expensive as in Canada. Then we went to the party, which was pretty big and fancy, but still not as fancy as the 1 year olds party. It was really nice, and the food was really yummy. Sunday we had another party at out house, this time it was a Christmas party for my moms side of the family. (Can you tell my host parents love to host parties?) It was really fun. There are two little girls around 4 on that side of the family that are really cute and like me. We also played the gift game at this Christmas party, and this time I got a bottle of alcohol! My host parents said I could keep it to take home to my parents, and I'm sure they'll really like it. (My host parents let me try a bit before and it is nasty, tastes like rubbing alcohol).
Monday I went to a rotary meeting and then on Wednesday we did an event at one of the preschools where we had the kids all presents and food and treats, it was really cute and sweet.
Today (Thursday), we woke up really early to go to Goiânia because my host brother had a doctors appointment. After his appointment we went to the police department and got my Temporary Brazilian ID card. After that we visited my host mothers cousin, the one with the son who speaks really good English, but he wasn't there. Then we went shopping! The mall was all decorated for Christmas and it was so beautiful. My host brothers also convinced me to go on this bumper car ride with them, even though I felt too old, it was still fun. Then we came home.