Summer is a-Comin’ to the Lower Amazon

Gettin Toasty:

Over the past two weeks the weather in Santarém has taken a distinct turn for the toasty.  For months people had been teasing me, “You think it’s hot now?…wait until summer!” Well, it would seem that summer (although we’re in the southern hemisphere…the dry season is considered summer) has finally come to the lower Amazon.

Each night there’s less rain and each day there’s more blazing sunshine. The result? One tired Andy. It’s hard to express just how sapped of energy I’ve been recently…but I’d liken it to my initial Amazon weather adjustment phase some four months ago (although I promise not to complain about it as much).  The problem is that if you move around the city at all between the hours of 10 A.M and 6 P.M you end up dehydrated and physically exhausted from being beaten down by the rays of the equatorial sun.  Not a good time.

What’s the biggest difference between summer and winter you ask? While the decreased cloudiness (and thus increased sunshine) during the day certainly contributes, it seems that the lack of nightly one-hour DELUGES is what makes summer so bleeping hot here.  Since I arriving on March 1st, I’ve learned to love waking up at 4 A.M to the sound of cracking thunder, howling winds, and torrential rain. The storms bring the nighttime temperature down and assure that morning starts off cool (by Amazon standards).  Now? Morning is hot, afternoon is hotter, and Andy has a tired, frowny face on most of the day. Wamp.

I suppose the good news is that the floodwaters finally appear to be receding.  Lake Michigan out on the ORLA completely dried up this past week and life on the riverfront is getting back to normal.  It also means beach season is near.  I’ve been told that in a few short weeks beautiful white sand beaches will pop up throughout our region and stretch as far as the eye can see.  As always with the weather here…you gotta try to look at the positives…

End of the Semester:

Yup that happened. Given the fact that the strike continues, my assessment earlier in June regarding the efficacy of English teaching at UFOPA still holds (crossing my fingers that PARFOR isn’t a disaster).  Also, although not much learning actually went on this semester, I have to say…it’s been “fascinating” watching the drama unfold.  Apparently there are now whispers that the strike will continue until September and consequently the comedic tragedy (or tragic comedy?) that the Brazilian higher education system has become will continue as thus until late-September or early-October. Wouldn’t that just be a cracking start to the second semester? The silver lining: a few short weeks until trip extravaganza time.

…here’s a photo of one of our last English classes of the semester…

Happy 351st Birthday Santarém?

This past Friday was the much-ballyhooed 351st birthday of the lovely city of Santarém, Pará, Brasil and in commemoration of the big day…nobody went to work, students stayed home, and a giant, expensive party (with a jazz band from…Manaus?) was held out on the ORLA that night. Ohhhh how Santarenos like their feriados…

Of all the holidays for which life annually shuts down in Santarém (a solid 2-3 times a month that is), I have to admit that Santarém’s birthday celebration really takes the cake (no pun intended…alright pun intended) as the most thinly veiled excuse to skip work and school…that I’ve seen here to date.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m all for the idea of taking holidays off from work now in order to celebrate something significant and more importantly spend time with family and friends (the number of people who work on major holidays back home is…sad actually).  However, life COMPLETELY shutting down citywide almost weekly (it really feels like that at this point) to celebrate each and every holiday on the calendar…is getting kind of ridiculous. At some point, if this city is to develop and become the place many Santarenos apparently wish it to be (including a future state capital), life can’t shut down every two seconds for barbeque and beer…people need to work, kids need to be in school, things need to happen. Work and play don’t have to be mutually exclusive!

I would also be fascinated to know the justification for spending well over half a million Reais to bring in musical talent (from outside the region no less) to celebrate the city’s birthday in style.  Just imagine how many books or computers or projectors that half a million Reais could have bought for the municipality’s horrifyingly underfunded public school system…

Other happenings:

  • Controversy stirring at UFOPA: Val is getting blamed by a lot of teachers and students for “failing” all but four of his letras students (out of 40).  He told them before they boycotted, “If you don’t come to 75% of the classes (literally UFOPA’s rule)…you’re going to fail. I’m not striking…that’s my legal right.” The students seem to think that you can just boycott class for a month and a half without any negative repercussions and moreover should be credited for their work until May 17th…u.n.b.e.l.i.e.v.a.b.l.e.
  • The ants have officially returned to my room in full force.  Ceasefire broken. Funny thing is…I literally have never eaten a scrap of food in my room…never.
  • My new favorite Brazilian singer: Seu Jorge. Check out his stuff…he’s brilliant.
  • All of my hostel bookings are finally set for the big trip.  Really nothing else to do at this point other than get through the next few weeks and jet off! Little more than three weeks to go…but seriously…who’s counting?
  • Am I the only one who’s been rather underwhelmed by the excitement factor of the Euros? Already at the semi-finals and I haven’t watched one crazy game yet.  Never thought I’d say it…but Ze Germans are the only team that’s keeping me awake. As great as the Spanish are…I literally pulled a George Dallos by nodding off during the game this weekend…one team having 75% ball possession in the middle third of the field…brutal.
  • Last recording session for “English by Music” (my most important contribution English contribution thus far?) earlier today for a couple of months.  Val has been trying to churn out 4-5 programs every time we record so we’ll have fresh programs throughout the break. He’s planning on taking Donovan and I out for a lot of barbeque and pudding as a thank you later this week…should be delectably delicious.

That’s all I have for now. The end. Have a good week!



P.S Next time I post I predict that Germany will be European champions. Bamb.

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