Friday, July 9, 2010

Itai, Brazil

Left Rio on Sunday to fly to Sao Paulo to meet Chicago people for the following week. 6 people from Rotaract were coming down to complete a year-long project (which I was involved with for 6 months), to raise money to buy equipment to help create an emergency room in the hospital in a city of 25,000 people called Itai, about 4 hours outside of Sao Paulo. The project was initiated because for emergency services, many patients in Itai must be sent to the neighboring city, which is obviously a problem in a situation requiring immediate medical attention.

But it was good to see everyone again. We were picked up by a van and drove out to Itai, a scenery of many rolling hills/mountains and red dirt.

The Rotary club we were working with had planned all these different things for us to do while we were there. The hospitality was great. The 7 of us stayed amongst 3 different houses. The first full day there, we went to an orphanage to give some toys to some kids there. Mr. Potato’s, inflatable balls, things like that. It seemed like the kids actually really enjoyed playing with the toys, though. I think there were probably 5 or 6 girls there between about 6 & 11, one toddler, and a boy. So, to my surprise, it was fun, and while there wasn’t much talking going on because of the language, they seemed to show they enjoyed it with their smiles and enthusiasm.

Jorge poses in the Orphanage with his favorite character, haha:

The courtyard of the orphanage:

That afternoon was another Brasil world cup game. One of the families prepared a massive outdoor meal, full of different barbecued meats, some salads, and beverages. About 20 or so people watched the game (well….a few non soccer enthusiasts from Chicago snoozed through it, ha), and predictably Brazil won. After the game, many people of the town took to the streets. People driving around the main street honking horns and waving flags while blasting world cup music. We stood on a corner for about 45 minutes just to watch the festivities as more people & cars made their way to the main street of Itai. I almost went deaf after some knuckleheads behind us decided to occassionaly throw a massive M-80 (or something like that) firework into the street near us only 10 0r 15 feet away. Anyways, it was a festive atmosphere.

The party/lunch before the Brazil soccer game:

People celebrating and waving the flag in the street:

People celebrating in the street:

Cars driving around after the game with people and speakers blasting the world cup song:

The next day, we drove out to an ethanol plant, which they use sugar cane as opposed to corn to produce. It was pretty interesting. The problem was, the tour guide spoke Portuguese (rather, my problem was I didn’t speak Portuguese), so it was really difficult to learn much during the tour. We went up onto one of the catwalk platforms where they process the sugar cane. Then, we walked up to a tower in the plant that had an incredible view of the plant and surrounding area. We also then got a tour of the hospital of Itai. It was larger than I expected and in very good condition, but they have been working the past few years with some funding to improve it. They showed us the empty rooms in the hospital where our medical equipment was to go, so that was great to see that it was something they really needed, and know exactly where the money was going.

Following this, we went to the radio station. Itai has only 2 radio stations. One is Rotary radio, which was created only 3 or 4 years ago. The DJs were a few younger guys. They talked about the project we were doing in Itai. Then, we each introduced ourselves, and Rocio said a few words on our behalf. The told Jorge he had a good radio voice, so they asked him to speak for a minute, in English. The thing about this radio station, they told us, is people do listen to it, since there are only two radio stations. So we’re famous. Random note on radio in Brazil. In the major cities, like Brasilia, Rio, Sao Paulo, between 6 & 7 pm, every station plays a government run new program. So if you want to listen to the radio between this time, forget about it. It is a product of the Kublichek government in the 50s, which was quite communist. After they created it, they just left it, so today everyone gets the same news on every radio station between 6 & 7 pm.

The radio station:

Dinner for the last night was a small little party they had for us, in which they made fejoida. Me being a fejoida expert (just kidding), I knew what to expect. Any time you throw black beans, rice, and a bunch of juicy types of meat together, it’s probably going to taste good. And it did.

So it was an eventful 3 days, in which we saw many different things in Itai and were jammed full of food. No complaints.

This was a first. The guy was towing speakers. But the speakers had turn signals and brake lights on them!

A hill you can see from Itai with 2 tall trees on it:

lazy, empty Itai street at sunset:

PS. There is a giant Monsanto plant towering over Itai. It added alot of jobs. So they really love it.

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