Saturday, October 4, 2014


September 26 was my birthday. It also happened to be o dia dos surdos, Deaf Day, in Brazil. It also was the weekend leading into a presentation I was to give at UFMT in Cuiabá.

After flying to Campo Grande and taking a bus to Bonito, Jake and I had 1.5 days to enjoy Bonito.

We started with Bóia Cross, tubing over waterfalls.
Yes, he ran into me...
Then, as we waiting for part two, we met an emu.
Once it was dark, we head into the trees to do arvorismo. We did a high ropes course with little light, as a storm rolled in. 
We climbed over and through things. And at the end, there were two ziplines. The second went into the water. We decided to go for it as the thunder and lightning picked up. As I hit the water, I realized my fear of fish. I was thrashing in the water and my adrenaline was pumping. The guide said I should worry more about the crocodile. But, not to worry to much because it was small, only 3 meters long. Even though it was a joke, I was still too focused on those fish to think about it. The down pour hit as soon as we got back to the lodge and inside. 
After a night of hanging out with some great new Irish friends, we headed out at 7:30am to go horse back riding. Lagoa Misteriosa was closed, so we had to change to this, but it ended up being a lot of fun. Of four passeios, three were just the two of us. 
After horseback riding, we went snorkeling down Rio da Prata. It is like a giant aquarium. The river is in a private reserve that no one is allowed in without special permission. We were told we could not even touch the ground, as in stand up, during the river flotation trip.  

As soon as I got in the water, I was bit on the lip by a tiny fish. I might have contemplated leaving the tour, but the cost made me stay. My original snorkel took in water, making me sound like Darth Vader. However, I was able to switch it out, making the trip amazing. 

The fish are not scared of you. They come up to you and swim away last second. Here are some of them.
We had twenty minutes when we returned to the hostel to pack our bags, go to the bank, pay for everything, buy bus tickets, and be on the bus. Miraculously, we made it. We sat next to a Brazilian who was Deaf, and we had a great conversation in Brazilian Sign Language. Well, tried to.  But, I was able to cross off having a conversation in LIBRAS from my "Before I Leave Brazil" Bucket List. Jake and I even ended up with sign names!

When we got back to Campo Grande, we had to switch buses half way for some reason, it was about 11pm. We ended up in front of the hostel for 20+ minutes trying to get in. Because nothing that was supposed to be set up was set up, we waited there for a while will the lady tried to figure stuff out. Finally, we got to bed and had a few hours of sleep before the 5am taxi to the airport.

Getting to Cuiabá was easy. However, it was determined that we were going to wait for the bus to take us to the other ETA's house. Two hours later, we walked into the airport, took money out and took a taxi. We ended up at a basketball tournament later that day and went to the mall to get out of the heat: like 100°F weather.

The last two days of our trip consisted of attending a class that taught Deaf students at UFMT English, me working on my presentation, watching another ETA's presentation on Affirmative Action, and presenting on American Sign Language and Deaf culture in the US in Portuguese. The experience was amazing! The students were great, and a professor from Gallaudet had a skype conversation with everyone.
Some of the professors, students, and ETA's after the presentation.
The worst part was the return. Jake and I left at 11:30pm to go to the airport. We ended up being there a little early, so we went to the microbrewery in front of the airport. Then, we hopped on a two hour flight to São Paulo, a two hour flight to Porto Alegre, and then waited for four hours until our 1 hour flight to Pelotas. Jake and I might have curled up in the airport on benches that have metal, non-moving armrests, and slept for an hour, only being woken up by my phone alarm, which I did not realize was going off in my pocket. I awoke to someone checking my pockets, and then realized it was him. Somehow, we made it home and stayed awake throughout the afternoon. But, it was great to finally sleep that night!

Definitely, the best birthday weekend ever!

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