When Ants Attack:
As I had indicated in my last few posts…my temporary truce with the resident formiginhas looks to have finally come to an abrupt and unfortunate end. Their presence in the house is becoming increasingly noticeable and their occasional attacks are both more frequent and…intense. Hence, I’ve known for some time that the “big one” might be coming…but I definitely didn’t anticipate its poor timing and sheer magnitude. What happened to me this past Wednesday was a MAJOR escalation between the ants and myself and indicates to me that peaceful coexistence is out of the question.
Long story short, Wednesday morning was arguably the most frustrating few hours I’ve spent in Santarém. Donovan and I spent well over four hours trolling around the city in the blazing sun trying…fruitlessly…to get our new debit cards for our Brazilian bank accounts so the people in charge of PARFOR (more on that in a few paragraphs) can pay us. Anyways, after walking nearly 10 miles (and being sent to a number of banks and post offices…only to be told the cards were somewhere else) we returned home in the early afternoon tired, hungry, and grimy from walking and sweating for four straight hours in the middle of an oven.
Obviously I needed a shower to both cool off physically and psychologically (the disfunction of the country is really a marvel at times) and I quickly made my way to our ice cold shower to do just that. After a quick scrub-a-dub I hopped out (feeling much better mind you) and began to towel off. It was at this point that I began to feel my skin…from head to toe…BURN. If small ants have ever bitten you, you’d recognize what’s happening instantly…it starts as a small, unmistakable itchy feeling and slowly but surely hurts more and more. Needless to say, I quickly realized my situation, looked down, saw about 50 ants crawling all over my front side, and gave out one…giant…huge YELP!!!!! (and then proceeded to whimper for the next 30 seconds after jumping back in the shower) Turns out that my towel, which had been hanging on my door as usual since Tuesday, was full of tiny formiguinhas that were busy mining it for building material. I know, I know…shame on me for not inspecting my towel for flesh-eating ants before using it…how stupid of me!
Never in my life has such discomfort been so poorly timed. It was as if I was being forced to watch David Tyree Super Bowl 42 highlights …and somebody just decided to come over and kick me in the man region. A totally, utterly, and completely uncalled for low blow by the ants…
…and yes I did flip the formiguinhas the bird as I watched them go down the shower drain…
Powerless in the ‘Rém:
It would seem that the folks at the Curúa-Una Dam aren’t doing something right…because the story of the week (for this Gringo at least) has been the almost daily citywide power outages that have cut the lights and brought life to a standstill. My favorite part of the whole situation: every time the outages happen I seem to find myself at UFOPA…which has a generator that has apparently been broken for some time…but never fixed of course (it’s not like the electricity cuts out every two seconds here or anything). On a positive note, I really have gotten better and better at stopping whatever I’m doing at the time of the outage, shrugging my shoulders, and finding something else to do (Kindling in the Amazon…unless of course it’s nighttime…like right now). I guess I’ve learned one important lesson from all this: you really do take those seemingly minor comforts, like consistent electricity, for granted until you don’t have them anymore. Here is a picture of the lovely coke bottle-candlelight dinner Donovan, the Fishguy, and myself enjoyed a few nights ago at our favorite 5 Reais spot…
…“Kindling in the Amazon”…heh I chuckled to myself as I wrote that…
…come on people…Amazon Kindle…Kindling in the Amazon…that’s hilarious.
…seriously…you’d find it funny too if you were writing a blog post in the dark…
At 8:00 A.M this morning PARFOR started (I was informed about this last night) here in Santarém. What I’ll be doing exactly? I couldn’t really tell you at this point (Specifics? Plans? It wouldn’t be Santarém if I had them). Nonetheless, I know I will be assisting Jose Luis (yes the Jose Luis that graciously received us four months ago) in some capacity and we’ll be teaching English to rural teachers for two four-hour long classes per day (one from 8-12 and another from 2-6). My understanding of PARFOR is that it is basically a jam-packed four-week program put together by UFOPA that offers all matter of enrichment classes to local teachers from the region. They run programs in a number of different cities in Western Pará and thus next week I will be flying 45 minutes up the Tapajós River to Itaituba (located southwest of Santarém…near the border between Pará and Amazonas) to work there. It should be both a busy two weeks (prior to my big trip!) and a welcome change of pace. My only reservation: two…four-hour long classes per day? Given the fact that most of my students phase out after one hour of instruction, I find it hard to imagine that that much class time will be remotely productive.
- An obituary for Euro 2012: Wasn’t that one of the worst major international football tournaments in recent memory? Boring games. Racism. Anti-climatic final. The only moment I will remember from Euro 2012 will be Mario Balotelli overcoming the horrific racism that he had to endure from the Spanish and Croatian fans by scoring a brace against Germany in the semi-final and downing the tournament co-favorites. That was a truly inspiring moment of personal vindication. Otherwise, the tournament was a real snoozefest as Spain passed its way to another title in a very watered down field of competitors. As a fan…I feel cheated. Boring football and racist fans…good riddance Euro 2012. Let’s just hope international football is back to its best when it heads down here for the World Cup in two short years.
- Quick thought on healthcare: This past Friday was definitely a proud day to be an American. Comprehensive healthcare reform, in the words of our silver fox VP Joe Biden, is a “BIG F****** DEAL!” While not perfect, I have to commend Obama for sticking his neck out on the line politically and bringing some sanity to our healthcare system (and doing something that presidents since FDR have been trying in vain to do). My worry: Roberts endorsed the broccoli = healthcare argument in his opinion. By accepting this asinine reasoning (and consequently agreeing with the four conservative justices), Roberts effectively gutted the Commerce Clause and offered a major victory to Libertarians and proponents of limited government everywhere. HEALTHCARE AND BROCCOLI ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS!!!!!!!!!!! Two thumbs up for the result…but two BIG thumbs down for the reasoning.
- Donovan and I had a wonderful time with Val and his family eating churrasco and pudding out in the Santarém countryside on Saturday. Top sirloin…wrapped in bacon, flank steak, sugar/cinnamon roasted pineapple for digestion….yum yum yum…YUM! Brazilians know how to do their BBQ.
- It turns out…appppppparently…that the movie theater in the Paraíso Shopping Center only offers movies DUBBED over in Portuguese. GAH! Nothing worse than that. So much for seeing the Dark Knight Rises here…good thing I’ll be traveling for a month.
That’s all I have for now…hope you have an awesome Fourth of July! Have a good week!
P.S A piece of advice: When the internet stops working…or the power cuts out…or ants attack…or mold envelops your room…just turn on the song “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley…trust me…it works.