As the details of our and homestays had yet to be finalized, I and theother six remaining Fellows moved into a hostel-style apartment just outside the Pelourinho area of Salvador. As harsh as it sounds the main point of this was really just to give time. We were still having trouble wrapping our
American minds around the fact that other countries operate on their own unique cultural clock. I think we were all a bit nervous at the thought of not only entertaining ourselves this week but actually being productive with this nice chunk of unexpected time. We had some sponsored activities like sight-seeing the nearby city of Cachoeira and shopping for goods we would need for our apprenticeships and homestays.
Most of the time was unstructured however and it was up to us to actually make some decisions and put order to it. In the unlikeliest of ways we became proactive through cooking. Because we had this interim period without host-family’s, eating became an everyday task and also a source of pleasure…most times. Without really discussing the matter we formed a process. Together we talked and agreed about what we wanted to eat. Some people went to the market and bought the food, some cooked it, some cleaned up, and often these roles overlapped. It became a natural process. And although we had little spats (some of us swore carrots were a good buy…others were skeptical) we worked within this process well.
Our day was structured not by language class and quasi-uncomfortable family events but by our interactions with each other. I’m not a good cook, and this week I got to learn from some of my friends that were quite talented in the wretchedly hot 8’x8’ kitchen. I liked it because it was a helping of what college life might be like, with just a little pinch of independence on the side.
I got a lesson in teamwork this week. A lesson I never thought I would have encountered nor would have embraced just a month ago. By the end of the week we had made tortillas, French toast, garlic bread, pancakes, bruschetta, sausage and pepper sandwiches, and even splurged on ingredients for chocolate chip cookies. As a whole it might not seem like a very eventful week. But it was. For one of the first times we were entertained not by watching Brazil but by interacting with it. We were the main event. Oh yea and we ate incredible food all week long.