Sunday, November 11, 2007

First Impressions

Internet is finally up! Here's a look at our last two days.


After a long, ten hour trip, we arrived in an overcast, balmy Sao Paulo, Brazil. Over a dozen big screen TV’s greeted us, ensuring no one in the passport control line, security, or those waiting for passengers missed a minute of the live soccer broadcast.

Our ride arrived in a 16 passenger van, plenty room for the five of us and our ten suitcases. This is my first time in South America, and I have to say, I had no idea what to expect. One of the first things we passed, surprisingly enough, was a Sam’s Club and Walmart. But beyond that, the poverty surrounding us surprised me. As we sped down the freeway, it reminded me more of the South African squatter camps than your local Walmart neighborhood. Dozens and dozens of shacks lay stacked on top of each other on the hillsides, the population, dense. Beyond that laid contrasting beautiful areas of vast green forests with mist suspended in the valleys.

We stopped for dinner at a fast food restaurant, which only continued to remind me how little I know here. Everything is a new experience, leaving me feeling like an uneducated toddler who has to be taken from place to place. From buying things with an electronic card they hand you at the door, to ordering dinner--each step becomes a monumental task. I know how to say good-day and thank you. Beyond that, it’s a helpless feeling that leaves me in a panic when anyone addresses me.

The kids have done incredibly well today, and we arrived at our new home happy, but exhausted. The wife of the director of the school we are to attend met us with the key to the house, a pot of flowers, and food for breakfast in the fridge. That’s a real blessing considering my kids are going to wake up hungry and I don’t know where the closest store is. Quickly dragging the few essentials from the suitcases, we crash around ten o’clock--two in the morning South Africa--to the sound of cars zooming by, dogs barking, and the fan buzzing as it blew away the heat.


With our body clocks off, we were all up by five-thirty, but with ten suitcases to unpack, and a village (as they call it here) to explore, there’s plenty to do. The house is large and breezy, three bedrooms upstairs, two living areas downstairs. Knowing we were going to home school, I brought the kids books, hoping we’d have a place for them to work. God is amazing. There’s not a lot of furniture in this house, but there are five desks. Yes, five! I’d call that a miracle.

So this morning we unpacked the suitcases, then began rearranging the furniture. We moved four of the desks into the small living area, along with a wooden shelf from the kitchen and we have a school room! I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. And the kids are already begging for school to start. Let’s hope that continues.

With our things pretty much unpacked, we head out to explore the neighborhood. The director of the school had already graciously stopped by to give us a map as well as pointed out a number of places. The first place we head to is lunch--Pizza Hut. We were all excited as this isn’t something we have in South Africa. Next we walked down the street to a supermarket (our only transport is our feet from now on!) and went down the aisle, one by one, to see what’s available.

My impressions today:

1. The people here are incredibly friendly. We have been so blessed with both the school and the owner of our rental house going out of their way to help us as we get set up here.

2. We discovered that food is very expensive. Surprisingly, meat isn’t bad, but most other things are.

Small jar of Jelly: $4
Cereal: $5
Maple Syrup: $24 (Thankfully, I make my own syrup!)
Milk: $4 gallon
8 tortillas: $8

I thought packaging was small in South Africa compared to the states, but things are even smaller here. The cereal boxes are probably a third of what you’d buy in the states, and I don’t think there are more than a dozen to choose from.

No peanut butter on the shelves. No macaroni and cheese. I’m struggling to figure out what to cook. I went through my recipe book and came up with nothing. I feel as if they have much less available here than South Africa which surprises me, but it’s all a matter of figuring out what is available, something that will take time. They do have wonderful bakeries (still need to go to one) and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We went to one fruit and vegetable store I really liked with a wonderful selection that isn’t too far from our house. Tomorrow we will go to a weekly vegetable and fruit market that’s held on one of the streets to see what we can get.

3. One of the biggest things for me to get used to is the fact that you can’t put the toilet paper in the toilet. Instead you use a small trash can. Scott says that at least people won't go through our trash here like they do in Africa.

4. No hot water in the house except for the shower that uses a heater to heat the water as you run it. This means water to wash dishes must be boiled on the gas stove first.

Tomorrow. . .photos of our new house and more on adjusting to Brazil.



1 comment:

  1. I admire you so much -- being willing to go through the whole culture shock thing AGAIN and knowing that there is still another transition ahead. And praise God about your kids' decision to follow Jesus. That must be an awesome feeling.