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Day by day, my Portuguese is improving, and conjugations are coming more rapidly to mind as I'm speaking. However, one thing that depresses me is when I say complete sentences to someone in Portuguese that sounds just about right to me, only to find that they had no idea of what I said at all. When I repeat and slow it down, and the person reiterates what I said correctly, I usually find that I'd placed emphasis on the wrong syllable or constructed a phrase in a weird way. This gets me down, and I start to feel like I haven't made any progress at all.
On the other hand, I'm definitely starting to think in Portuguese. I probably started thinking in Portuguese even earlier, but I did't notice it. I only started to notice when I was on my Rio de Janeiro trip with all the other exchange students. All the exchange students there had varying levels of English and Portuguese so I used both to communicate. Sometimes I got confused and started using both languages in one sentence. At times when I was speaking in English about something in Brazil, especially if the words were in Portuguese, I finished the rest of my comment in Portuguese. it's a strangely wonderful feeling to be able to think in two languages. It's like having fudge stuck in your teeth. It's deliciously uncomfortable.
The highlight of Month 6 was my trip to Rio de Janeiro. Rio is truly a phenomenal city. My ONLY regret is that the trip was too short. I learned quite a few interesting things about Rio during my trip. For example, on a tour at the Fort of Copacabana I learned about the Revolt of the Eighteen. (Afterwards, I researched a bit more to make sure I understood the guide correctly. ) Apparently, on the 5th of July in 1922, young officers within the military, tired of the oligarhcy's monopoly of power and its corrupt electoral practices, tried to remove the oligarchy. However, since the government found out about these plans, only the Fort and a military school were able to rebel. It was bombed all day, and the majority of the soldiers surrendered 301 soldiers surrendered . A brave group of 29 marched on the Catete Palace, the seat of power at the time, carrying pieces of a Brazilian flag with them. On the way, a portion of these soldiers gave up, so only 17 were left. Later joined by a civilian, they began a deadly march to the Palace. Only two survived. They didn't accomplish their goals of reforming th e electoral system and protecting democracy, but their resistance inspired future movements against the corruption of the Old Republic
The following are pictures of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Canelária, or the Candelária Church, whose origin is a bit of a legend. In the early 17th century, a Spanish couple suffering in a terrible storm swore that they would make a church in the name of Our Lady of Candelária if their ship made it to shore safely.
On the third day of our trip, we visited Dona Marta Favela. It is a pacified favela that does tours to support the residents. Pacification is a part of a government effort to eliminate drug dealing, violence, and organized crime from the favelas. Of this effort, Dona Marta was the first to be pacified.
Shortly after arriving, and being advised to buy some large water bottles, we were lead to the base of the favela. Before really starting into the climb, I spotted an elderly resident who had calves of steel. I had never seen calves so developed on a woman that age before. I soon found out why. There were so many stairs (788 steps )! I definitely hit my exercise goals for the next few months....😧 (There is a tram, but it is frequently out of order). It was probably a better experience to climb anyway. I got more of a view of what a favela actually looked like. The residences were small, but tidy. There was a distinct smell from the pieces of trash and waste that dotted our path. Children and adults gathered in the stoops of the houses. At the top we saw a spot where children were playing under the sprinkle of a water spout, as well as a enclosed futsal (soccer on concrete) field.
This is the same favela where Michael Jackson filmed "They Don't Care About Us". He collaborated with Olodum, the two-hundred member Afro-Brazilian drum band from Salvador in the making of the music video. Originally, officials tried to ban the filming. They were resistant to showing an unfavorable view Rio de Janeiro because they were hoping to host the 2004 Olympics. However, that ban was overturned by a judge and the music video was made. Not only does the song talk about social justice and criticizes apathetic government, but it also has a really catchy beat as well.
And with that, more than half of my exchange is over.
Posted on Tue, March 28, 2017
by Terri Wescott