cww trip journal: days 1-2

Each year, Graded organizes a trip for all of our students to experience learning beyond the confine of desks, chairs and computers: CWW, aka Classroom Without Walls. I am fortunate enough to be on the 11th grade trip to Belem, Brazil.

Our arrival to Belem took a four hour plan ride. Taking the bus through town I saw: barefoot, sun-browned skin kiddos playing soccer in a field of dirt, wild dogs scratching fleas, countless pairs of people chatting on their “porches” in plastic chairs, shanty towns adorned with graffiti, more bare chests than I see at a typical beach, Bible thumpers carrying their “sword” while walking the streets, trash burning and trash piling, sidewalks ready to swallow any unsuspected flip-flop wearing pedestrian, clotheslines strung creatively on all kinds of makeshift hooks, thin-leaved acai trees, locals sitting on their roofs glued to their smartphones, more barefoot sun-browned skin kiddos playing futsal on sandy concrete, countless churches full with futile fans (of the circulation variety, I think) and relentless reverends, and a tiny local boy’s hand waving back at me from a neighboring bus.

Today we left the hotel at 6am to take a bus to take a boat to take a bus to take a ferry to the islands of Marajo (2000 of them). Let me tell you that my doTERRA peppermint oil and deep breathing exercises have never come in so handy as they did on that boat. The water was choppy and at one point the people next to me were above me :/ Luckily, only a few kiddos upchucked. We arrived to the land of pineapple trees, toured a buffalo tannery, ate at a local restaurant (local fish and buffalo all around; I tried the fish: filhote but not the buffalo), then finished off at a buffalo dairy farm where I ate buffalo cheese, rode a horse (#dailydoseofsouljoy), AND I rode a water buffalo. And by rode I mean I sat on it and petted it. As you can tell, the buffalo are critical to the economy here. After all, the population of people is around 300000 but the water buffalo number around 500000. Today I saw the most beautiful flowers (viuvinha) and felt the best kind of buffalo leather (the ball sack, in case you’re wondering), and saw an actual cashew fruit from the tree (it looks like a pepper)! And, everyone here rides motorcycles without helmets but with flip flops. Safety first!

I sit on Marajo island as I type this. My hair blows in the salt-wind coming from the Amazon-Atlantic-Para hybrid water. Earlier today, I floated in the mouth of the Amazon River beneath a crescent moon rising during sunset.

What is this world I am living in?!

Included is a picture of the mouth of the Amazon; I’ll do more later when I can upload them.