As my mosquito bites grow in number, so does my inept ability to sit through an entire conversation acting as if I understand. As my first month of being immersed comes to an end, I realize all of the subtle, yet different changes I have made in my life with the Bento family. We always have on our "house shoes" which come in various forms, flip flops, socks, and in my case a pair of Nike sliders. On Sunday's we don't do the dishes because it is a day of rest. (A much needed day of rest after our often times sleepless week.) We always have the television on, whether someone is sitting and watching or if the only occupant in the house is our dog, Mel. Lunch, or almoço is one of the largest meals we eat.
Its decked out with potato salad, three different types of meats, rice, beans, salad with tomatoes, and often times a type of juice or soda. Not only is lunch the time of gathering, but we also eat four times a day. Cafe de mañana, almoço, café in the afternoon and jantar at night. We stay up late together watching movies, as during the week it's the only time we are all together and not busy. The shops won't open until well after twelve, and I enjoy the slow way we meander through town. Women wear heels to casual lunch dates, something I learned when I showed up in jeans and trainers to a "casual" festa, only to see tight fitted pants, stilletos, and lipstick painted smiles all around me. People take pride in how they look and how their houses look.
Here it is well known and accepted that women do the dishes, and cook the food. While this is tough for me as a feminist, I am embracing the challenge of learning why. Why is the meat only cooked by men? The strongest women I have met work alongside me in the fields of Morro De Fortunado, we pull "mato" or weeds for hours, we plant baby plants, our backs hunched and aching, we harvest hundreds of vegetables for the schools, and then they go home to cook dinner and clean. My arched feminist brow is offset by the large communities made up of family and friends. I am a part of a women's crochet club that takes place every Tuesday's. It's a gossip, coffee, and art filled afternoon where we get together and socialize. It's exhausting and exciting hearing the conversations between so many different ladies. The men in the community are great, don't get me wrong. They are tough, they work hard jobs. But the real backbone to my community are these beautiful women. They make me want to be better, and make me understand just how capable each of us are to impact other people's lives. From the small to the large differences I am constantly adapting to my new culture. Here's to my new life modo, "Vivendo e Apprendendo," or living and learning.