No, this is not some uplifting, inspiring post about identity as a North American living in Latin America. This is actually just a post about where in the world I am. I figured this is obligatory, because I’ve been in Brazil since September and haven’t even mentioned my whereabouts. And that’s just inconsiderate.
So, let me answer some questions for you.
First, where in the world am I?
I’m living in a medium-sized city in the state of Bahia, about an hour and a half inland from Salvador. Feira de Santana is an industrial city. It’s often referred to as place to pass through. This is because Feira was originally a market town. Due to the market and trading culture, Feira is full of independent shop owners and surrounded by farmland that has been tilled for centuries. If you Google map Feira de Santana you’ll see that it’s shaped like a circle. They’ve built a loop around the entire city that connects important highways from all over the state. City planners are actually making it easier for you to pass through thanks to the loop, because now you can hop on the loop and enter the city (or not) from whichever direction you please. It mostly just confuses me though.
I live in the neighborhood Jardim Cruzeiro, in the northwest corner of the city. It’s a pretty quiet neighborhood with a disproportionate ratio of bakeries to people. My house is surrounded by a large concrete wall and closed with a ridged (and rigid) metal garage door. Almost every house here has a gate structure in front. In fact, because of these barricades, you can’t see most front doors from the street. If you’re interested in Google mapping my house (or sending me something, which is really what I’m asking for, because Google mapping my house would actually be quite fruitless considering the aforementioned garage door) my address is:
Rua Paulo Afonso 716
Barrio Jardim Cruzeiro
Feira de Santana, Brazil
Next, what in the world am I doing here?
I’m interning at O Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais de Feira de Santana. Or more simply, and in English, a labor union. The Syndicate has a large outreach and strong presence in the city. As I said before, farmland is prevalent and it’s possible to drive from urban to rural in a matter of minutes. With the help of the syndicate, I have been visiting farms, vendors, and artisans. The idea is that from now until Christmas I will be going around learning as many different trades as possible. For example, I’ve been to a juice making factory and a shoe maker’s warehouse and farms that vary in size and production. My next site visit is to a floriculture center. Then, in January, I’m expected to pick one or two places that I found particularly interesting and I will have a permanent apprenticeship there for the rest of the year.
Who in the world am I living with?
I live in a family of six. My host mom and host dad have six kids, but only two still live at home. Also living in my house are two of my host parents’ grandkids. The family is made up of three girls and three boys, but I tip the scale to make it four girls living in the house, thus the girls run the show. I share a room with one of the grandkids, who is a year older than me. Fun fact! Six out of the seven people living in my house have a birthday in January. We decided that we’re just going to throw one gigantic party to celebrate. I personally would prefer six, because who wouldn’t like to go to six Brazilian blow out birthday parties in a row? But I guess that’s just me.
I hope this gives you a basic idea of my life here, and I promise next time I’ll have something entertaining and anomalous and enchanting to write about.