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Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Volunteering in NE Brazil - Page 4

Written by Jon Bones
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This year I made my fourth pilgrimage to the Nordeste, Brasil’s northeastern coast. Although my travels in Brazil have taken me into both the rough interior state of Goiás and the urban sprawl of southeastern cities Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the state of Ceará on the northeastern coast has been my first and faithful love. It is the Brazil that I know best and that has had the greatest impact on me; it is the land of red dirt, brown skin, and white smiles. I am drawn not just to the foreign terrain, or the luau of exotic fruits, or the sweet sway of the samba. I am called to the children. I need to go back and see how Wellison is doing. Has Dalmo been taking care of his sister? I wonder what Tayane thinks about the pictures that I sent her.


a longa jornada para casa – the long journey home


A remarkable feature of the Northeastern landscape is the sand that covers the ground as far as 10 miles inland. Most of the roads that diverge into the countryside are composed of compact sand and smoothed over stones. This leaves skateboarding off the list for recreational transportation. One day when the rec center was closed, I had the urge to get some exercise and so commandeered one of the missionary’s bicycles. I rode slowly and peacefully down the sand path, enjoying the silence and fertility of my surroundings. About two miles down the road, I stopped to take a picture of a crude ditch filled with dark water and when I hopped back on my bicycle was dismayed to realize that the back tire was locked up and unable to be fixed on the spot. I was forced to inch my way back home, balancing the bicycle on its front tire because the back one would not so much as budge. I soaked in the beauty of the trail as I progressed further, but was reluctant to make my way back on the long journey home.

Brazilians have a special word for homesickness. They call it saudade. It is a word that is intrinsically tied to the land and it communicates more than the English word for “missing”, as in to “miss home”. Whenever I leave Brazil, I always have my trip back planned.

brazilThe people and places of Brazil have penetrated me to the core. When I close my eyes I can keenly see the faces and landscapes of my second home. As I learned in the post-travel awkwardness that arose between my girlfriend Karen and me when I returned last summer, it is impossible to convey the depth of one’s journey. Brazil has changed me. I find myself speaking, eating, laughing, dancing, playing, and, Heaven forbid, driving like a Brazilian. Every time I cross the equator I am stripped of the excesses of North America and left to refine and define myself.

© Jon Bones

(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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