Chris Redlitz
2006-07 Outbound to Brazil

Hometown: Orange Park, FL
School: Orange Park High School
Sponsor: Palatka Sunrise Rotary Club
Host: Ilheus Rotary Club
District 4550, Brazil

August 3 Journal
Hey everyone!!!
Oh my goodness. My first week in Brasil has been one of, if not, the most wonderful, eventful, and stressful weeks of my life.

I arrived into Brasil with thirty other American exchange students from all over the United States, going to many different places in Brasil. We all met in Washington Dulles Airport and all flew into São Paulo Airport. There we split up to change airports, to catch connecting flights, or to stay there in São Paulo. I think I was actually traveling for more or less 36 hours, and during all this, I think I received about 3 or 4 hours of quality sleep.

During all my flights, and waiting around in the airports, I was continuously thinking about my host family and what they would be like. I couldn't stop talking about them with my friends in the airport. I think I was getting a bit annoying, hahahahaha. As I stepped of that last plane in Ilhéus Airport, my heart was racing, and so were the butterflies in my stomach. I spoke with my sisters on MSN instant messenger, but nothing can prepare you for the feeling of actually meeting them in person. As I walk in door, I see a huge crowd of people, waiting for me. There was probably close to forty people. The first person I recognized out of all was my sister Laís, who I had talked with many times, and exchanged pictures with on the internet. It was such a nice warm feeling to see her face and to meet the person I had been talking with and anticipating my arrival with. Laís like me is going to be an exchange student. She is going to spend a year in Boise, Idaho starting August 9th. Standing with her was my other host sister Lilian, who I had also spoken with on MSN a few times, and my Mom and Dad (Leslei and Fred). I was so excited to meet them and talk with them all that I walked right past the baggage claim.

After being shooed back to the baggage claim conveyor belt, I wait quite anxiously for my baggage to come. After receiving my guitar and one bag the conveyer belt stops, and my heart drops. Where is my other bag?!?! I proceed to ask one of the employees when I feel a hand on my back. It is Marcelo, my Brasilian counselor, who I had exchanged emails with. I tell him about my bag and he tells me `tanto faz´ which basically means don't worry. He spoke with the employee, and after about ten minutes of deliberating, we learn that my bag is on its way to Salvador. Ilhéus was just one stop on the way to Salvador, and that bag had been checked all the way. I filled out a form and gave it to the manager and he said that the bag would arrive at the airport in the next day or two, which two days later it was delivered to our house which was rather convenient.

As I turn around from the counter, I am immediately inundated with kisses, hugs, and so much warm embrace, it was amazing. I met everyone there. My first, second, and third host families, their families, and all their friends from school. I probably received a good 150 kisses and hugs that night alone at the airport.

When we arrived home from the airport, I was given a grand tour of the house, and then we sat down for a wonderful dinner of lasagna. We stayed there talking for a good 2 hours. And after, I took a shower and sat in the computer room talking with my host sisters until 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. My host sister Laís speaks pretty good English, so for these two weeks that she will be staying here, she is helping and teaching me when I don't understand something in Portuguese, and in turn I help her with English.

The next morning I awake to the most loud horrendous music coming from outside my window. I walk out onto the balcony that is connected to my bedroom (which I really think is amazing) and I see a person riding a bike with two twelve inch speakers attached to it. I though what in the world is he doing at 7:30 in the morning playing that horrendous music. My sister explained to me that the music he was playing were jingles from the local supermarket, as advertisement. It turns out that this is an extremely common site here in Ilhéus. After we proceed to eat a nice family breakfast, my mother asks me if I would like to go to school or not. I said yes even though I had only received 4 hours of sleep the previous night.

At my first day of school, I met all the people my host sisters had told me about on MSN. They were all so welcoming and all wanted to be my best friend. I felt like royalty. They were firing questions at me right and left. I didn't quite understand all of it but I got the gist of what they were saying and asking me. I did a lot of smiling and nodding, and actually it worked. After we make our way into the class and sit down. The teacher begins to teach, although it really seemed like no one was listening to a word she was saying. The whole class was talking and would not settle down. I am amazed that they learn anything. At Vitoria, we have 3 classes each day. They start at 1:30 in the afternoon and end at 6:00. In total I have 9 different classes. After school that day, waiting for the bus to arrive (it is not the typical yellow school bus that you are thinking of. It is an enormous white bus that you have to pay 1,45$R every time you use it.) I was able to speak with some of the students one on one and actually have some conversations.

The next day my mother, sister and I went out to buy my school uniform, which is hideously ugly. I have to wear this uniform everyday, which isn't so bad because every one wears it.

Later that day at school, I got to play my first game of Brasilian Futesal. It is similar to American soccer, but it is played on a small enclosed concrete court, with 5 players on a team. My goodness it is fun. That game I scored my first Brasilian GGOOOOLLLL!!!! All of the other players and students watching went crazy cheering me on.

In the next couple of days I have just been going to school, and normal things. My sisters have been showing me around the town and we have been buying things. I bought my first pair of Brasilian Havaianas. I have not met a person here who does not own a pair. It is kind of like underwear here.

On Sunday my friends from school and I went to the beach. The beach was utterly beautiful. We went swimming in the ocean a little but mostly we just hung out and talked about all sorts of things. We also drank beer. Here in Brasil, the drinking age is 18. But if you are a teenager, you are expected to drink. It is really odd. Culture shock kind of hit me. At first they offered me a cup of beer, and I said no thanks. Every one looked at me oddly, including my host parents. Eventually I said ok I'll have a cup, and I drank a little with them on the beach. That day I think I saw every Brasilian I know. On Sundays everyone goes to the beach. And I mean everyone. My Rotary counselor was there. People from my school and other schools. Relatives of my family and friends.

Yesterday, the majority of the students in my class all contributed in buying a soccer ball. Here in Ilhéus, soccer balls are hard to come buy. They are quite expensive and the majority of the people are not very well off. Every student chipped in about 5$R and the ball will be kept in one person's house, but will be the whole class' ball. Saturday in the morning the students will go play because we do not have classes then. Normally on Saturdays we have classes but not this Saturday. I can't wait to learn some of their Brasilian moves and teach them some of my American, (if there is such a thing) hahahahah.

After playing soccer on Saturday, I will come home and celebrate my sister Laís and her exchange to Boise. All of her relatives are coming and going to be a ``Grande Festa´´. The next day on Sunday, all of her friends are going to throw her another party. She doesn't know that we are doing this. Then she leaves on Tuesday.

Well, I'm having an amazing time here and I love every minute of it here. Every day is a new adventure that I take in stride. There is no other place I would rather be right now than Ilhéus-Bahia-Brasil.

Tchau, Abraços

Chris

September 13 Journal & Pictures
Hey everyone. This past month has been ridiculously eventful.
Everything started off with an amazing shrimp and lobster dinner the night before my sister Laís took off for the USA. It was so delicious and amazing. The next day I woke up vomiting up a storm. It was terrible. Later that morning I kind of hid that I was sick while we went to the airport and watched Laís take off. I really did not want her knowing or worrying that I was sick the day she left. Well I made it through sending Laís off, and that’s about it. For the next 3 or 4 days I was sick and in bed home from school. I went to the doctor and he just said that I wasn’t really sick. I looked at him odd. He said that I probably ate something raw or that my body wasn’t accustomed to. On the fourth day, when I was getting better, my host family told me that I had eaten Denden, a substance in the sauce that was with the lobster and shrimp. It turns out that all gringos, when they eat this for the first time, get really sick, my sister told me. That’s good news to know after the fact. Hahaha.

That next weekend, the Interact club of Ilhéus went to the Jubiabá Praia Hotel. For two days and one night, we played soccer on the beach, swam in the ocean and in the pool. We stayed up like all night that night on the beach, around a huge bonfire. I brought my guitar to the hotel, and played on the beach around the fire. Everyone loved it when I sang and played for them. I taught them all to sing some Christian sing along songs. It was hilarious for me and the other American and Canadian exchange students there to hear these well known songs being butchered with Brazilian accents. Their favorites were Kum-bay-ahh and This Little Light of Mine. A little later that night, some friends of mine from school arrived there to hang out with us. I didn’t know this but one of them could play guitar. He started playing some Brazilian music and every one started singing, including me, much to my surprise. I guess six weeks is enough to learn some popular songs. Hahaha. He was nice enough to teach me how to play these songs. He also invited me to play with him in his band.

Fast forwarding a bit now, just three days ago I presented an idea for a song that I had written last week. I played them the guitar line and sang to the best of my abilities in Portuguese and it turns out they loved it a lot. We are going to Pumar's house next week to try to record it on his computer. I will be singing the lyrics in Portuguese. They said that the lyrics sounded a wee bit funny, but with my American accent, it evens everything out.

Rewinding now, At Jubiabá, I learned the meaning of close. Our room consisted of 2 beds and a bathroom, one double bed and one single bed. So logically we should sleep 3 to a room, right. Well it turns out we had only registered 3 rooms, and there were 17 kids in total… you do the math. Well we somehow slept 6 people into these 2 beds. It was amazing. And this isn’t even the weird part. No one organized boys and girls separate. They just all bunked into the same beds together, wherever they wanted to sleep. No one, except the exchange students, even thought it strange that boys and girls were sleeping together. That’s called Brazilian power. Hahahaha. I also learned a really important life lesson while I was in Jubiabá; how to turn on Brazilian hot water in the shower. All the showers have only one knob and a shower head. This knob turns counter clockwise to turn on the water and clockwise to turn it off. Every time I turned on the water I turned the knob about ¾ turn to get decent pressure. The water always came out ice cold. I would proceed to turn it more and it did not change. I thought it to be most peculiar that they don’t have hot water. Well in Jubiabá, the knob got stuck 1/8 turn and barely any water came out. Well I stuck my head under the trickling water, to wash my hair at least, and the water was blistering hot. What in the world. Well I finally got it unstuck and when I put it to my normal ¾ turn, it got ice cold again. It had just then hit me that the less you turn it the hotter it is. There is a fine line between hot and cold in the showers and now I’ve found it. Hahahahah I think I had been here for about 25 days without knowing this. Now I feel dumb.

That next week at school was a pain in the butt. We had tests galore all week. And often we had more than one test a day. Here in Vitória (my school) I do not do all the tests due to the fact that my Portuguese is rather limited. I do do the English, Spanish, Portuguese, Math, and Biology tests; because I have already learned these subjects and they are not hard in Portuguese. Since I don’t do all the tests here, I did a lot of sitting in on the younger kids’ lessons, more over to learn more Portuguese, because they are more or less at the same level as me. I was rather upset at my English grade. I only got a 6.2 out of 9, while in Spanish I got a 8.6 out of 9. This is because the English test is more or less in Portuguese. There is a small text in English and you have to comment about it and answer questions in Portuguese. In the Spanish test, it is all in Spanish, which I have already learned. Hahahah that’s kind of funny for an American to do bad on an English test and good on a Spanish test in a Portuguese speaking country. I get good grades on my math and bio tests because math and biology are more or less universal. You really don’t need to talk or write words to learn these.

That weekend, my friends and I went to the beach again to play soccer. That afternoon we went surfing. I am being taught by the 2 best surfers in my city. One goes to my school. I think I surprised them. The first time I went out there I was able to get up and ride the wave for a bit. I guess it helped living in Florida to try surfing once or twice. While I was at the beach, I did not use a bathing suit, or board shorts, or pants. I wore a sunga. A sunga is a Brazilian Speedo. Here in Brazil, everyone uses them. It is a much more open culture. Hahahah. And actually, I like my sunga. I feel like belong in Baywatch. That night we stayed up all night at the beach again. Dancing and singing. It was really fun. I really like these Brazilian beach parties.

The next Friday, three other exchange students and I set out from Ilhéus for Salvador for a weekend meeting/orientation. The weekend orientation in Brazil is so much different than the orientation in USA. We arrived there really early in the morning on Saturday and listened to some speakers speak for the morning and for an hour or so in the afternoon we watched some movies about Bahia (my state) and had a tiny Portuguese lesson. That afternoon we went to the beach and swam with the dolphins in the reefs of the coast of Brazil. It was just like you see in the TV and never think that you are ever going to do yourself. It was beautiful. Later that night we went to the Pizzeria and had some Brazilian pizza. At pizzerias here in Brazil, you sit and people walk around with various types of pizza, and if you want pizza with corn you call that waiter, if you want pizza with pepperoni, you call that waiter. It is really neat. That night, the exchange students split up and went to different houses to sleep. I was in Danilo's house. He is 23 years old and a friend of all the Rotarians. We were 3 exchange students there and he had a blast just talking all night. That next day we all went out to the historic district of Salvador and took a tour, seeing many huge, beautiful churches, and other religious, and government buildings (which here, religion and government aren’t much different) haha. That afternoon we watched Brazil kick the snot out of Argentina. 3x0. What fun watching a big game in Brazil with Brazilians.

The next week of school consisted of only 2 days of classes because September 7th is Brazilian Independence Day. On the 6th my friends and I went to the beach. Do you see a pattern forming? Every weekend I go to the beach. On the 7th there was a huge parade which marched through the main avenue here in Ilhéus. I was able to walk in the parade with Rotary and Interact. It was really cool. After the parade, all the members of Interact and Rotarians went to have a big party on a military base. It was pretty neat. We ate fejuada (beans). I love the fejuada and all the other Brazilian food. I’m eating so much here. I have already gained 4 kilos (8-9 lbs.).

Two days ago I went to the AABB (the local club) and played soccer with this more or less professional team. They don’t get paid but they play against professional teams so. Since I was playing on the grass and on a normal size field, I got to play at the speed I am used to in the USA. It is more controlled than the normal street ball of Brazil.

Well I’m having lots of fun here in Brazil. I hope that all of you are safe and having fun in USA. I hope that all you outbounds are having fun in your countries. Drop me a line some time.

Lots of love

Chris

October 16 Journal & Pictures
 Hey Guys. This month has been crazy. Well it’s a Brazilian youth exchange, what do you expect?
To start off, my school had a yard sale (I guess you could say) for the poor people of Ilhéus. My classmates and I brought in used clothes, food stuffs, and household appliances. We lowered all the prices by about 75 – 90%. We set up all the different rooms with the signs on the walls saying where to direct the people around, since there were many rooms of things to sell. Well it turns out that many of them couldn’t read, so some of my more outgoing classmates and I directed them around bringing them to where they wanted to go. What an eye opener. The proceeds went 50% to the school and 50% to APAE, the local school for the mentally challenged.

Well Interact is going great. I love Interact here. In the USA, it’s pretty lame, and no one does anything. They go the meetings to say they went. Well here in Brazil, if someone misses one of the meetings, everyone asks why they missed, and you have to have a good reason. It’s a big deal here. And very rarely does anyone miss the meetings. There are 28 people in the Interact club right now. And normally the majority of them go to all the projects we do. Every Tuesday morning a group of Interactors go to APAE and do some projects with some of the kids. I am the head of this project. One week we went and painted the faces of all the kids there, another week we went and made pictures with tiny rolled up balls of colored paper by gluing them onto a larger piece of paper, and last week we brought in a DVD player and a TV and served them popcorn and soda while they watched Spiderman. I really enjoy spending time with the kids there at APAE every week.

Here in Brazil, the Brazilians joke with the exchange students that they’re not here for exchanges, but they are here for a vacation, because every week there are parties to go to, shows to see, the most beautiful beaches you could dream of, and to top it all off, the most beautiful girls serving food and beer where ever you go. Well last week I went to a show of one of the most famous bands in Brazil, Armandinho. They packed in about 5000 people into the area of half a football field. What an experience. The show went from 11:00 to 1:00 and then after was a party celebrating the show that went from about 1:30 to 6:00 in the morning. When I got home the sun was already coming out. All the parties in Brazil are like this.

One weekend I went to my friend George’s house. Well this weekend was like heaven for me. I love soccer so much. Well when I got to his house and saw how crazy his family is for soccer, I was so happy. First George and I went to an indoor court to play with some of our friends and after we went home and watched the game between Brazil and Kuwait where Brazil clearly won 4x0. Then we went to play this soccer video game at the local LAN house. Walking home, we met up with some of George’s friends who were playing soccer in the road so we played with them for a while. The next morning we went to a soccer field made of sand. Yeah, it’s sweet. Well to sum things up the weekend was a blast. And to top it all off Sunday night we met up with one of George's friends who is the son of the owner of the professional team here in Ilhéus. So we got into the game for free. Well it turns out that this same team has a team for people between the ages of 18 and 20. They said they would let me enter the team even though I’m only 17. What luck.

This weekend was the annual Interact conference of District 4550 in another city called Itabuna. Oh my goodness. This was probably the most fun weekend I’ve had here yet.

Ilhéus set out by bus about 4:00 on Saturday and arrived in Itabuna about 5:30. Well it turns out the bus dropped us off nowhere near the school where we were going to stay. So 15 Interactors, each with a bag, pillow, and a cochin to sleep on, had to walk about 2 miles since no one knew what local busses went in that direction. Well we got there at about 6:30, set up our beds, and mingled with the people from the other cities for about an hour. In total it ended up being about 100 people there. At 9:00 started the completely formal Rotary party and a huge dinner. The night started with a meeting and then had a party for the Interactors with lots of dancing and music. Everyone got back to the school and watched a horror movie. Boy that was super sweet, because interact is made up of 75% women and 25% men. So during the movie there were all these scared screaming girls for all the guys. Hehehehe

Well that night some of my friends and I stayed up really late, actually about 7 people stayed up all night talking and hanging out. The next morning we all went to this huge restaurant club and had presentations from Rotary and each Interact club presented some of the projects they have been working on. After that was the most amazing lunch and then we returned to the school where all the exchange students gave presentations about their home countries and how they are liking Brazil. After this, every one came back to Ilhéus to go to the beach since Itabuna doesn’t have a beach. Some of the exchange students and I from ilhéus showed all the others around Ilhéus and after we went to the beach and swam, surfed, and played soccer.

After coming back to the school, we had a Halloween ball, were everyone used costumes. 3 guys and I dressed up as women. We were the most beautiful men women you’ve ever seen. Well the party was amazing. It was held in this haunted mansion looking building. It was from about 10:30 to about 5:30 in the morning. The whole night we were dancing, singing, and partying and what not. One song of arrocha (type of music where a girl and guy dance really close using lots of fast hip movements, it’s a rather sexual dance) ... everyone made a huge circle and one girl and I were in the middle of the circle dancing. Wow, I was kind of embarrassed, but it was fun. I didn’t know that male hips could move like that.

That next morning, after not sleeping not even one hour again, we had breakfast and after listened to this comedian present a serious subject. Hahahahah. He was amazing. I understood all the jokes he told. Right now I am fluent in Portuguese, the majority of my dreams are in Portuguese, and right now it is easier for me to converse with people in Portuguese.

This weekend I’m going to take it easy. I don’t think I will go to any parties or any shows. I need a week of relaxation. Well got to go study. I have a Chemistry test tomorrow.

Take care every one. Have fun, and be safe.

L8R

Chris

November 12 Journal & Pictures

Oi gente! Tudo bom?
Yet again, here comes another journal, describing, listing, and recounting all of my amazing experiences here in Brazil. Well duh… Brazil is nothing but amazing and wonderful.

Well first I would like to thank my sponsoring Rotary club of Palatka Sunrise, District 6970 for their contributions to my exchange. They often send me e-mails, cards, and news of what is happening in the USA. And more recently, they have given me a sum of money allowing me to go on a 5 day trip to Rio de Janeiro. I am extremely greatful for this magnificent contribution and I’m proud to represent Palatka Sunrise. Muito Obrigado.

This month has been a bit slower for me. In a way I’m pretty happy about that.

To start off this month, some of my mom’s coworkers entered in a city-wide soccer tournament. The fields were a bit smaller, and we played 7v7. Their team was lacking a keeper. One of them played with me and my friends one day and he liked how I played goalie, so he called me up. There were 10 teams in total. My team played 5 matches in the main bracket winning 3, losing 1, and tying the other. We won our semi-final game 3x1 and moved on to the Final match. In the final match, we went into overtime. The score was tied 1x1. The game seemed like it was at a standstill. Overtime expired and we went into penalty shootout. Ohh boy. Each team gets 5 shots and whoever makes the most wins the game. Me being the goalie I had all the pressure on my shoulders. That was pretty tough. Well in the end I stopped 2 of the shots and one missed the target leaving them with 2 goals. My teammates made 3 shots in total, so we won the cup. What a week end! At the end of the tournament my stats were: 25 saves, 6 goals against me (2 of which came in the last game in the penalty shootout), and one GGGOOOOOLLLLL. Yes the keeper made a goal. That was pretty funny. Well it turns out that the winners got a pat on the back and their names written down in this book. You have to remember, Brazil is not the richest country in the world, so there were no medals or trophies, or ribbons, just a handshake and congratulations.

The weekend after that, one of the exchange students from Sweden, who is in the other city, had her birthday party here in my city at a huge beach house. 50 Interact members and exchange students alike went to celebrate her birthday. We all got there at like 5 at night and began dancing arrocha until like midnight, when all of a sudden, the boy from Denmark, Mathias, switches the CD to Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody starts to play. My goodness, my heart fluttered. All the exchange students here began to dance and sing. I think that this song should be the anthem of Rotary youth exchange because every exchange student I meet knows and loves this song. We stayed the night there on the beach with a huge fire and lots of singing and dancing. Boy was I tired. Lots of people brought cochins to sleep on and pillows, but I didn’t. Actually, I was the smart one because we didn’t get back to the house until 5:30 in the morning in which the sun was coming out. Hehe Well we set back for home about 9:00 that morning all wiped out. What a weekend.

Last Wednesday until Tuesday, my family and I went to Salvador to spend time with their family. I met all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and Grandmother. The real reason my family and I went to Salvador is because my grandmother (mother of my dad) was in the hospital. She is not doing so well right now. But this didn’t stop us from having a good time. Lílian (my host sister) and I went many places with my cousins. We went to the shopping mall of Salvador. It is really big. It is about half the size of the Orange park mall, but it is 3 stories. Boy all the things there are expensive. One pair of Nike shoes that would normally cost like 50 or 60 dollars in the USA, is 1000 reais here in Brazil (450 dollars). We went to the movie theatre in Salvador. It was an experience. In the USA, the people are quiet when they are watching the movies, but here in Brazil; it is quieter in the zoo than at the movie theatre. I saw this really strange Brazilian comedy called “seus problemas acabaram” (your problems just ended). The next couple of days went by pretty slow. The last day there, Sunday, we watched Bahia play against Vitória, the two teams from my state Bahia. This is probably one of the biggest rivalries in the Brazilian Futebol league. My family roots for Bahia even though Vitória is the better of the two. I have a couple jerseys of the Bahian team because everyone that is a fan gives me one. Hehehe.

Well we got back on Monday morning, and I went to school that afternoon. Later that week (Wednesday) I got a cold and it escalated pretty fast. Until now I am fighting a pretty strong throat infection. About 5 days I have had it now. I’m getting a lot better but I have missed a bunch of school.

This upcoming week is the last week of school here in Brazil before summer break. This week is full of testing. 11 different subjects to test in 6 days. Yeah I have school on Saturdays.

This next weekend I’m going to Itacaré with my Interact club. Itacaré is the city with the most famous beach for surfing in the world. Every year, Billabong, and Quicksilver, hold their world wide surfing competitions here. It’s a huge event. I’ll fill every one in on this in my next journal.

I have so many plans for this summer break. I’m so excited.

Until later y’all
Um abraço

February 19 Journal & Pictures
Hey everyone, how’s everything been?
I know it’s been a really long time since my last journal but I’ve just been having so much fun.

My family and I went to Salvador for Christmas. We were there for about 1 week. The first couple days my sister and I went to the movies, shopping mall, park, and just hanging out in the city. When Christmas Eve came, the whole family came over to celebrate. At about 8:00 pm the party started. Everyone was talking, laughing, drinking, playing games, and dancing until about 11:30. At this time we started the Secret Santa which everyone was preparing for, for the whole week. Everyone had bought a 1 – 2 dollar item which was just for jokes. Everyone drew names from a hat and had to give a small speech about that person before giving them their present. To make a long story short, the presents were things like rolls of toilet paper without any paper, a dirty diaper, women’s size 100 panties, and I got a condom that was designed for a walrus. This was just a riot and everyone had a blast.

After that, at about 12:30, we had one normal gift exchange and it was a bit more like the normal Christmas I am used to. Filled with love and joy everything went in slow motion as I took it all in, realizing that now I actually have 2 families who love me and 2 places right where I belong.

We all came back to Ilhéus, including my whole family. We had about 13 people staying at my house for about 4 or 5 days. That was really fun. They all came for the New Years party that was taking place in Ilhéus. I stayed at my best friend Álvaro’s house for these days and went to the parties and shows with him. That was really fun to spend some days traveling and hanging out with him. On the 30th there was a really great band who played called Cidade Negra. They play a rather upbeat reggae. On the 31st we went to the New Years party and had a blast. When the clock struck 12:00, the fireworks went off over our heads and everyone gave so many hugs and kisses.

After the parties, shows, and holidays, came the summer break. I started to play soccer every day on the quadra with the local teen-agers. For about 45 – 50 hours a week for the next 3 – 4 weeks I was playing soccer, watching soccer, and just hanging out with my friends on the quadra. Here in Brazil, there are so many people who don’t have enough money for shoes so they play on the asphalt barefoot. I played with these guys barefoot so much that I ended up with so many cuts, blisters, and ingrown toenails. After so much time of playing I am now wearing “Sapatos Brasileiros” which means Brazilian shoes. They call it this because I built up another layer of skin that is like the hide of a rhino. During these days I was getting home at about 3 in the morning every day because they play at night also. Thank God the quadra is so close to my house.

About 3 weeks ago I changed my families. I am now living in the center of town with my Mother (Marta) and my sister (Sara). They have a small 3 bedroom house about 100 meters from the beach. I really like it here. I also have another sister named Luiza who is doing an exchange in Maryland.

Just the other day was my birthday and my friends more or less threw me a small party on the beach. I went with about 15 friends and my sister and mom and 2 cousins. We sat around talking, surfing, drinking, and doing everything you normally do at the beach. After, my mom took my host sister and me to Itabuna to watch a movie there. At the end of the day I was treated with a really nice talk with my whooole family back in Massachusetts.

Well I hit the 6 month mark here and I am really seeing how I am now a Brazilian, and no longer the gringo. =D 100% fluent in the language and culture. I find myself on the bus stop from time to time giving out the list of busses that some one could take to get to “Central de Abstacimento” or something like that. Even to the point that in my literature class there is a new teacher this year and she was never informed that I am American. On the first day of class we had to give little advertisement presentations to show what kind of person we were. I said that I am an English teacher and “this gringo can get you speaking fluently in just one lesson” and the teacher got upset saying that I had to write about myself and not a gringo. What a trip.

Alright well I’m going to watch the Brazilian soap opera with my mom now. I could never see myself doing this in the USA. Hehehe

L8r ya’ll