Our journey northwards more to the interior of Brasil brought us into the city of Londrina and on to some of the farmlands of the state of Parana. Our friend, and former "illegal" employee, Claiton picked us up at the bus station to bring us to his hometown of Sao Sebastiao do Amoreira.
Immediately upon our arrival and for the following week it was a constant introduction to more family and many of the town that might as well have been family.For that first week we ate lunch and dinner at different persons houses each day. A constant diet of Spoller (s***ty Brasilian lager) and churrasco (grilled meat) kept our bellies full and spirits high while we were treated to a virtual "premiers" visit to Amoreira.
Lives are simple here and people are friendly as well as curious about us. It is funny and a bit strange always being introduced as the American. Each time I have to wonder and see what kind of reaction will come from the label of being from the "grand 'ol USA". Regardless, after warm greetings and a bit of conversation we feel like a part of the community.
On the surface, the best comparison that can be made is to liken it to many of the rural towns in the states…everybody knows everybody, commerce is small, and a general slow pace is held through everyday life.The biggest difference seems to be that the extended family spreads all over town, literally. Family members come and go constantly through each others houses, kids and uncles alike. Food is traded between neighbors and seems to be abundant.There is only a "poverty" of "things" not of everyday needs. However, don't get me wrong here…there isn't a lot of money going around in Amoreira.
The more people we meet, the more we find that have been to the "first world" to improve lives. Some are still gone, doing their best to make a little money to have a simple house of their own for their family. Some talk of going back, but probably never will for the usual suspects…steel walls, hot deserts, plenty of Migra and the like. I met a young boy the other day, Edward.Both his parents have been gone, his mother 6 years and father 8 years, in the US while he has stayed with his aunt. Edward is all of about 9 years old and was very interested in me, being from the US, for obvious reasons.It was a difficult conversation to have, especially when he asked about all the bracelets that are on my arm purchased in my travels.I explained there was one for each country and he ended up with Peru. I have doubts if or when his parents will be coming back.
Other than some of the obvious lack of resources and difficulties for some, in being able to have an income or otherwise, Amoreira has a positive vibe. Everyone that I meet is happy where they're at and those that have been to the US mostly comment on how "fria" the people in the states are.Translation…Cold.If you could experience a week here you would immediately see how fitting that observation is, and not because it is 75 F in autumn either. There is intimacy here in how people get along and live together. This is the kind of small town that has their death announcements made by loudspeaker mounted on a truck driving around the mud covered streets.
We have been shown most all the workings around town from the surrounding farms and hospital, to the schools and community projects. Liz has gone to teach at school and I've been able to play one of the local futebol teams. I've also had the experience of killing a chicken, cleaning it, and having it cooked for lunch. I now believe there is another way to measure a society by how large their kitchen trash can is. Here, it is as large as our bathroom trash cans in the states. Liz and I had purchased a can of tomatoes to make some sauce and the "hunt" for the can opener was a small realization for what I should be eating. Now, after having killed a chicken with my own two hands, poking around under the florescent lights of the grocery store at Styrofoam and cellophane seems even more absurd.
Tonight we leave for a short trip to Rio de Janeiro for a huge playoff game between two Brasilian pro futebol teams, Flamengo and Botafogo. It was explained to me that the game is like the World Series between the Red Sox and Rockies and that around 80,000 people will be in attendance. Based on how heated the game that I played last night was, just here in Amoreira, it is scary to think about being around 80k Brasilians for a game that big. There is a "moat" around the fields here to keep the crowd at bay!
Upon our return to Amoreira on Monday, we'll be staying for the rest of next week here in Brasil before moving on in our journey. There is still a fair amount of ground to be covered and we've extended our trip until June 11th. We also have a flight booked, out of Ecuador, to Colombia for our last two weeks before we come back.Even though we're much further north than we were three weeks ago, there is still a lot of ground to cover to get back to Ecuador!