Once the plane landed in El Salvador, Brazil, I knew that my team had finally made it to another continent. We left at noon the day before, travelling from Springdale, Arkansas, to Houston, Texas, then to Miami, Florida, and after an eight hour flight we landed in Brazil early the next morning.
My team was assembled and trained for three months prior to our departure date, March 18th. Our goal was to spread the Gospel for one week in the slums of Santa Rita. Our means of transportation was a large, yellow travel bus called the “Real” bus. We used this hard-to-miss vehicle our entire stay. Though we worked in Santa Rita, we actually stayed at the Xênius Hotel an hour away in the coastal city of Recife. Recife was a tourist town, speckled with nice restaurants and shops by its sandy beaches that banked a deep blue ocean. However, Santa Rita was an impoverished, with most of its residents living in cement-fortified homes, some having only a tarp as its roof. Several stray animals roamed its dirt streets as children played barefoot around the neighborhoods. After our first day, I recognized some of Brazil’s beauty, as well as its sad poverty.
Brazil’s climate was simply hot and humid. Positioned eight degrees below the equator, my team dressed primarily in shorts and t-shirts every day. While we were there, it rained twice. The rain showers were short, lasting only about five minutes and would leave the area with a refreshing coolness. Unfortunately, my team was informed that since it rained, the humidity in the air would only increase within ten minutes, and with the return of the bright sun overhead, was not good news. Sunscreen and water is a must if you’re travelling by foot as much as my mission team did. We walked outside around the neighborhoods, the sun beating down its harsh rays with each step. Without the hydration of our water bottles, we certainly would have problems with the weather.
The cuisine that I experienced while in Brazil reminded me somewhat of the United States. The first two nights we were provided with pizza that was from a local eatery near our hotel. What separates the pizza in Brazil from the U.S.’s is the cheese. Brazil used a thicker cheese topping on their crust, which was pretty gooey and rich. They also consider green peas to be a pizza topping. Other than pizza, I primarily ate chicken, rice, beans, and noodles with a watery tomato sauce for lunch and dinner. Now, there is a popular soda drink called Guaraná which I became absolutely obsessed with! I even bought two bottles of the stuff before we left for home. Guaraná tastes like a strong ginger ale, and comes in a green, two liter bottle. It tastes best on ice, especially since it’s so hot there.
After seven days of serving the local Brazilian people, we were allotted one “free” day before we departed for the United States. We stopped at the a local shopping area that had several small shops that sold items such as clothing, dolls, paintings, and other items that displayed the Brazilian flag proudly. Brazilian culture swam in the air as we heard many songs sung in their native Portuguese while we shopped. It was an awesome night.
Overall, Brazil was an incredible place to be. The food was great, the people were friendly, and the country was rich in beauty and culture. I would love to travel back to Brazil again in my lifetime because of the many beautiful memories I made.
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