Monday, July 26, 2010

Article #110 Life in Brazil

Then an opportunity came for us to live for a year in Brazil. Away from the radical influences rampant in America, it seemed like a chance to begin anew as a family. With a post-doctoral grant to support us, we flew to Rio de Janeiro and north to Bahia for a year of study and filming capoeira (a defensive dance form) in the country where my husband had been a missionary earlier.

Heading off to South America with our three young sons ages five, two and one was certainly an adventure, a gamble to strengthen our relationship. Marriage counseling had not resolved our conflicts with differing lifestyles. Now we were to start over in a new country. My husband spoke Portuguese fluently and I spoke some Spanish.

To say we experienced “culture shock” in Brazil is to put it mildly. Nothing was the same as our life at home. It was like a journey back in time. First, we lived in a hotel room until we could find an apartment to rent. One day while waiting for my husband to locate an apartment, I decided to take the boys to the beach. A fun activity, but I was soon warned by local Brazilians to be careful as raw sewage was running across the sand. Despite our many immunizations before leaving America, we all became sick. With two toddlers in cloth diapers, that was not fun. (Photo of our youngest son Brook with a local Brazilian boy.)

After a few weeks, our family moved into a one bedroom unfurnished apartment in downtown Bahia with our few suitcases. My husband bought a two burner camp stove, and a small frig to setup housekeeping. Our furniture was primitive: mats to sleep on, crates to stack in the bedroom for a closet, inner tubes to sit on and a large wooden box with a round top for a table. Drinking water couldn’t be used straight out of the tap but was boiled, then filtered. We purchased an attachable electric heater for our shower head to warm the water in our small bathroom. Buying some linens and dishes, we were soon settled.

Our grant paid for our transportation to Brazil and a stipend of $330/month for living expenses, but that barely paid our rent. We needed to find outside employment. My husband taught dance classes at a nearby university, and I tutored ESL (English as a Second Language) to business executives. We were to live here for a year!

6 comments:

Kay said...

I marvel at your bravery, Lin. What an adventure this was. I wonder how much of it the boys remember.

Anonymous said...

Haha!! mom this reminds me my first year in USA.. I have been soo culture shocked, got robbed in subway beaten in a park in Brooklyn and did not know why since I did not speak a word of english.. got sick with the food. oh it was not fun at all.. watching a wall in a basement of this building not having a bed to sleep on. after having my own room for 21 years this was the hardest LOL.. we did not have to boil the water but roaches were such a new filth that aded in to our life.. yuck!!....going in to another country to live is never the easiest thing to do.. till you get used to their ways... :)

Jean said...

What an adventure, Lin, and a big challenge with small children. You must have learned a great deal during that year, some of which you didn't want to learn. I'm eager to read more.

SandyCarlson said...

What an adventure, Lin. You sure are brave. No doubt about it.

Rambling Woods said...

Oh my goodness...I can't imagine doing this.. I agree..you are brave and what an adventure that must have been especially with small children..

Mare said...

I don't think I could have hung in there the way you did. God bless you. Whew!