Day two in Brazil has been an absolute adventure! I intend to update later with pictures so you can see some of the things I saw today. This is the first day our team has been split up and we were turned over to our host families. And initially when the day started I was anxious to do something and a little homesick all at the same time. But then Renata walked into Guido;s home she was like a burst of sunlight! Leigh and I hopped into her red Fiat pickup and sped off to our new home for the rest of the week. Let me tell you...her home ....absolutely beautiful! Renata is a lawyer who got tired of practicing law and decided to spend her time helping people. She owns several properties that she is renovating for some of her less fortunate friends to get a step up in life. Renata is new to Rotary but the way she talks about working with poor people and giving any and everything she has makes her seem like Rotary has always been a part of her life. Leigh and I immediately fell in love with her dog and her bird, Tucano...yes he is a tucan! After lunch Renata was determined to show us where the real Brazilians lived and explained that she wanted us to visit a friend of hers that lived in the favela. Favela would be something Americans considered the ghetto, but really, Americans do not know poverty like this. The houses are multi-colored shacks that scale up, down and around the hillside. There are no roads just trails that you would need a 4wheeler to navigate. This visit was definitely not on the Rotary itinerary and probably somewhere Guido and Jim would NOT want us to be, but Renata is a strong woman and the people who live in the favela were so simpatico that we felt very comfortable the entire time. Plus, despite all forewarning, I was just as determined to see ALL of Sao Paulo. Kids were all over - boys playing dodgeball and the girls swinging on a makeshift swing. All the kids ran to us so they could play with Renata;s dog who came along. Renata;s friend invited us into her home and fussed over us offering cake and water. Renata advised us not to drink the water and we politely pretended to drink. The lady talked about how she went to see a doctor and when he asked where she lived she was embarassed because she doesnt have an address. There are no streets in the favela, no one pays rent or water or electricity. Since the people here dont pay, some days they have water and lights and other days they do not. Even while we were sitting in the house the lights would dim periodically. But this lady was a proud woman who declared that she wanted to pay for these things because she works hard and is a good person. We left thanking her for her hospitality and wishing her good luck at her new housekeeping job she was starting the next day.
Immediately after slowly trekking down the hillside and leaving the favela, Renata took us to the other extreme of Sao Paulo. After lots of chat, lots of traffic and a near side swipe from a city bus, we were gazing as the storefronts of Roberto Cavalli and Armani and Tiffany & Co. A stark contrast to the life we experienced 45 minutes earlier. Renata definitely opened our eyes to the fact that Sao Paulo has it all and everything in between.
I feel so fortunate to be living with Renata for a week, she has opened her home and heart to us and insisted that we act as if we are home as well.
YAWN!!!! Its getting late and we have to visit Guido;s Rotary club tomorrow so for now...BOA NOITE! Til next time...