So my friends,
I find myself halfway through my winter holiday adventure, tucked away in my friend Daniela´s house in São Paulo with lots to fill you in on!
The end of term was particularly manic, not least because on top of all my usual activities, there were lots of farewell celebrations for some dear friends moving on from CEM... and I had to give an assessed sermon for the final module, Éxposição Bíblica. Thankfully I was allowed to preach in English, and I got put in a group with all my Advanced English students who also had the opportunity to preach in English if they wanted to. On the day I was absolutely terrified, convinced that my students would take this oppotunity for revenge against all the horrible grammar exercises I had set them throughout the semester, and I spent many hours preaching to the banana trees... I´m sure I converted many of them at least! When the moment finally came I can´t explain what a buzz I got... it was like I was completely taken over and it wasn´t me talking at all. I gave it everything I had, and I think I left everyone pretty dumbfounded... in a good way! I went from teacher to preacher in 27 minutes, and Jan said that it was a great opportunity for my friends and students to get a glimpse of ´the real Heather of Cambridge´, someone who doesn´t make much of an appearance thanks to all the linguistic and cultural barriers. Definitely an experience I won´t forget.
As I continue to battle my clown phobia, I find myself becoming more clown-like every day. Watching my clown friends practise their acrobatic stunts and tightrope walking in full clown gear, my catchprase has quickly become "Mas porqueeeeeeeeeee?" (but whyyyyyyyyyy?) and has been adopted by all as an expression to use when Brazilian´s are being particularly crazy and Brazilian and I am feeling particularly British and normal... or vice versa.
Teaching "left and right" and "left hand, right hand side" etc. in English made me realise how much difficulty I have in distinguishing between the two, to particularly humorous consequences when attempting to participate in Dudu´s (one of my favourite students and a seriously cool guy) yoga classes out beneath the palm trees...
On another particular escapade, I was out with some friends after having spent the afternoon working with children in a poor community where a Christian Fellowship has just been planted by CEM´s caretaker, when we decided to stop in a forest to take some silly pictures. Everyone thought it would be a great idea for me to climb a tree, which, being an obedient and humble servant, I kindly agreed to. Unfortunately what looked like a solid platform covered with leaves halfway up turned out to be the opening to one of Brazil´s largest ants´ nests, and, yes, my entire leg disappeared into it. At this point I would like to point out that Brazilian ants are not of the cute disney "A Bug´s life" kind, but more of the vicious "what the heck do you think you´re doing putting your foot in my home" kind. 15 minutes later in the car home, when I thought I´d finally shaken the last of them off, I felt a sharp jab in my ankle and screamed out, and Bruno nearly led us into a fatal "voltinha"...
Meanwhile, in other news, my samba skills and forró technique are coming along nicely thanks to an evening out at a music concert put on to celebrate 30 years of Rebusca. Also, far more importantly... some of you might remember my student Dantas who is a vet from the rice-murder-dream episode. Well, ever since I translated a particularly complicated and graphic text about varying levels of constipation in horses, and refused payment, he has been feeling forever in my debt. So he decided to take us out for an end of term treat... a milkshake followed by a VIP tour of the University Veterinary Hospital and ... (drum roll please)... I FINALLY, after 5 months, saw my FIRST EVER Brazilian Sheep! Fair enough it was on a drip and not looking much up to frolicking about in a field, but it was a historic moment nonetheless.
Anyway, after a very busy week full of frantic packing and knitting and sermoning and teaching and some more knitting... I finally said some tearful goodbyes and got on a night bus to Brasilia. 14 uncomfortable hours later I arrived bleary eyed to meet my friend Daniela, and went straight to Church with her MPC (Youth For Christ) friends and got swept up into a windstop tour of the city. Brasilia is very wide, white and... shiny! Everything is glimmering, and at 30 degrees centigrade most days, I found myself dehydrated for the very first time in the middle of winter!
Dudu is in Brasilia for the holidays and so I had the privilege of being given a personalised tour of everything... and as he used to be head of a branch of the military police, he even got is into restricted access areas of the National Congress, where I met "Tiririca"... Brazil´s most famous and most ridiculous politician, kind of like a Boris Johnson equivalent. I also got swept up in a massive televised riot, went to a traditional winter party (´festa junina´), bizarrely in a gym run by Dudu´s mother-in-law, where I dressed up, ate lots of strange peanutty things and danced the conga with a scary bride in drag, saw "Cars 2" at the cinema and hardly understood anything because it was dubbed... and polished it all off with açai overlooking the sunset on one of Brasilia´s beautiful lakes. Phew! Amidst all that, Daniela and I helped out at an MPC project called "School of Life", where various people give lectures in schools to teach youngsters about ethical issues such as the environment, behavioural issues and sexuality etc. Excellent stuff!
Anyway now I am in São Paulo to take a deep breath, do some shopping and washing, do a couple of evangelizing visits and see some more friends... more adventures to follow I am sure!
Wish you were here,