Out of the Mata Concreta

Holli Sullivan - Brazil

October 3, 2011

My Global Citizen Year has officially begun. We’ve all been having a magical time, haven’t we fellows? One month is sooo much longer than we’ve ever imagined. Stanford, hostel, more hostel…It’s been great. But for me personally, it hasn’t felt so much like a life changing experience just yet. While in the past month I’ve seen thousands of amazing things, 10 other people have seen, heard, photographed, and blogged about exactly the same thing. But here in São Francisco do Conde, I feel it is finally my time to see and experience some things of my own. Sure, I might be tag-teamin’ it with my irmã Annie (Or Ana, I think that’s what we’re going to call her?), but maybe we’ll create a barter system to decide who’s going to blog about the exciting happenings. We’ll see 😉

Don’t get me wrong, Salvador is a great city. For real. But I have to say that 1 month away from a starry sky is an unbelievable amount for a desert rat like me. The first sign of nature on the bus to Sao Fran gave me the jiggly-wigglies (Please pretend I didn’t just use that phrase). However, the mata concreta (concrete jungle, love it) just doesn’t compete with the lush green, blue sky, and my favorite, a little patch of reddish-orange rock in the middle of everything, just to let me know that I really was headed home. 🙂

In the streets of São Francisco, I had a little bit of a flashback. I had seen so many homes back in Salvador that appeared to be just teeny single rooms attached to huge buildings and remember wondering how on earth an entire family could fit and live in there. Well we all remember what they said about judging a book by its cover. Turns out these houses go way deep into the building, each room a little warmer than the one before, filled with love and making me feel right at home.

We walked into Lenny and Eliana’s house to be greeted by both of them and invited in for suco (juice…everyone drinks unbelievable amounts of juice here). About 3 sips into my glass of suco de maracujá, I hear a crash, a bang, a pound, a rip, a roar, a snap, a squeal, and a boom all at once, with a simultaneous power outage. My initial reaction was that this was just the uzh, but Eliana’s expression and quick beckoning for her granddaughter, Adriele, scared the hell out of me and so we all ran for the front of the house. Turns out a roof of a house had been ripped off and thrown into the church building directly attached to our new house. Welcome Holli and Annie. Welcome.

Past about 3 minutes and in came 2 small girls with tear-stained faces. The roof had collapsed into their house as well, and thankfully no one was hurt, but they were pretty shook up. Eliana and Rebecca brought them in to drink some suco and calm down. All the while Annie and I sat there, not really knowing what to do. For some reason though, it didn’t feel awkward at all. (For me anyway…Annie?)

I was pretty sure I was skipping the “honeymoon phase of the process,” because we seemed to jump right into a normal every day schedule. (I am going to miss capoeira training at Jorge’s way too much..hoping I can find a school here!) BUT, I was sort of wrong. I might not know exactly how to flush the toilet yet, and I have yet to find out what a bucket shower is like, but I do know one thing- This place completely enchants me.


Holli Sullivan