Week 4 - Our first week teaching at 'Talkers' in Farroupilha - Brazil
A day by day account of the first week in our 2022 travels through South America, Mexico, USA and Canada.
Thursday 24th February 2022
We were up and out 7:15, which is the earliest we have been up on the whole trip. It was our first full day at our new language school and our first commute, walking the very steep, cobbled streets of Faroupilha. The walk to school is only about twenty minutes but with the inclines at every turn here, it seems a very good workout. Our role at the school is not to necessarily to teach, it is more that the schools philosophy is that it is good for the students' development to meet a variety of young travelers from different cultures. This way they can have a broader outlook on life and constant exposure to a variety of languages, therefore our role is more around general conversation with the students and to clarify pronunciations. It also seems as though we are going to be doing a lot of work with their social media team.
The school gives us an allowance of R$50 (£7.20) each per week in the school's cafe, where we can buy, snacks and drinks as well as R$ 20 (£3) each per day for lunch. For breakfast we get chocolate pastries for R$3 and as much free coffee as we can drink. At lunch there is a local buffet place at which you pay for the food by the weight that you consume. The range and quality of the food is brilliant; a massive selection of meats, pasta, rice, salad and snacks are all on offer. We can both eat very well and very healthily from our allowance.
Following work, we looked at two local gym's for me to be able to continue my training while based here. We found one that as well as general training, had specific boxing classes in the evenings, which is exactly what I was hoping for. It is R$159 (£23) for one month, which is the length of our stay here in Faroupilha, which I feel is quite a small price to pay for the benefits I get physically and more so psychologically. The eveing was spent again with our very accommodating host Marcella, who made us pasta for dinner. We talked for most of the evening before we introduced her to one of our favourite shows, Black Mirror, which she loved. Things are feeling very positive for the next month.
Friday 25th February 2022
Our schedule meant that we had been given the morning off at the language school today, although Megan had an online class scheduled with one of her Chinese students at 9am our time (8pm in China). Bruno, the husband in our host couple works nights, therefore we had to make our way into the school anyway to have somewhere appropriate to deliver the lesson. While Megan was teaching, I picked up the schools guitar and started to play some of my songs, as I felt a little detached and inactive in my own music since leaving home. I had championed traveling light over bringing my guitar away with me but a couple of chords on this guitar and I knew that I had to go out and buy one. As soon as Megan's class had finished, that's what we did. Luckily for us, there was a large music shop two blocks from the school.
The music shop was called 'Acoustika' and the owner of the shop was really helpful. The thing about a lot of Brazilian people is that they are so humble and really want to help out. So with him using the little English he knew and us using the little Portuguese we know, we found the perfect guitar for what we wanted. Small, inexpensive and with a great sound. We paid around £100 for it, along with the case. We've paid much more for much less and the feeling playing gives us makes it worth it a hundred times over. When we got back to the school, we spent some time singing and playing our favourites in the garden.
Patricia, one of the managers at Talkers (the school) had organised for us to make a video trying a handful of traditional Brazillian treats. We tried:
Prestigio - A coconut bar covered in chocolate, a little like a bounty.
Torrone - Layers of wafer filled with marshmallow and peanuts.
Sonho - Very similar to a vanilla custard cream bun but with more custard than bun.
Alfajor - A small circular cake-like treat with a layer of caramel throughout and then covered in chocolate.
Grostoli - A twisted, doughy pastry coated with sugar and cinnamon.
In the evening, I chose one of the local gym's and signed up.
Saturday 26th February 2022
Today, the owner of our school, Diego, told us that he wanted to pick us up and show us a beautiful side to Faroupilha, to which we agreed. After a very busy week and limited sleep due to sunburn, we got up at about 11am for coffee. Marcella was making minced beef risotto for lunch and following a generous helping of that Diego picked us up at 13:30 and told us that he was taking us to a local, but not well known series of waterfall's. The waterfall's are only accessible by a large hike through a forest, so we had to prepare for both hiking and swimming. On the drive, Diego told us all about 'Vale dos Vinhedos', the most famous place here for their wine making. He told that over the last 10 years, it has become known internationally in the world of wines and is now on the list of most visited places for wine lovers. Not that we are connoisseurs or anything but we were really interested in family businesses and are really hoping to get to visit one before we leave.
Luca, a french collegue of ours was also on board to explore the local area. We drove about 25 minutes North-West of the city centre until we were free of building and in the mountains. We then left the car and descended into the forest. The walk was, in true Farroupilia fashion, a lot of steep inclines and unsteady declines but now with much more of an unsteady terrain. After about an hour, we arrived at 'Catorze' waterfalls, meaning fourteen. We guessed that it had this name because of how many waterfalls were there. It was absolutely breathtaking and we had no idea that our day this day would be one to remember forever. We soon learned that the best way to travel and experience the true essence of where you are is through the people who have spent their lives there and we felt so lucky to see just a part of that.
We spent the day jumping off the waterfalls and swimming the pools below, the whole time feeling really appreciative of the life we have chosen. When we were relaxing in the water, an old Italian man called us over from the banking asking for help. With it being in Portuguese, all we got was a quick translation from Diego saying 'someone is unwell'. The man and his friend had come fishing for the day and his friend had been stung by a bee. Unfortunately this triggered an allergic reaction and he became faint. As they tried to walk, he had fallen in the woods and cut his arm. Diego and I had to help carry the man out of the valley and up to the nearest road, where they had a pick up truck to take him to hospital. The climb took around 45 minutes and unluckily for us, we didn't have any shoes on.
After a long and tiring day, we head out in the evening for a few drinks. Marcella took us to 'Animal World' where we ate the biggest portion of loaded fries we have ever seen. We chose the ones topped with Stroganoff and it was so delicious. Just what we needed after an exhausting and adventurous day.
Sunday 27th February 2022
Today was another of those types of day that define traveling for us. At the school, the staff have been more than welcoming and everyone wants us to experience what life is like in Farroupilia. So we have been overwhelmed with invites, which has been amazing. Patricia, one of the managers at the school, wanted us to visit her family home in the countryside. She had explained to us that her parents have their own farm with stunning views. They grow all of their own fruits and vegetables as well as brewing their own alcohol. Her husband, Allan picked us up at 11am and luckily for us, he also spoke English. We were already wowed by the views on the drive over and as soon as we arrived, we were shown immediate kindness. Patricia's mother, Elizete has been studying English at Talkers and she made us feel so welcome in their home, we could tell how proud she was of their land and all the things they were growing as she lead the tour around the fields. Patricia's father, Louereno, grilled up the best 'Churrasco' (BBQ) we have had since we have been here and let us try all of his home-brewed Cachaça, the same liquor used in Caipirinha's. The food we had was delicious and we couldn't believe the amount of meat he cooked up. We ate the beef along with salad and two Pasta dishes, one with with pecan nuts and another with sun-dried tomatoes.
Due to our location in Brazil, there is a massive Italian influence here, from the famous Pizzerias, to the addition of Italian staples into the meals and Italian drinks. Patricia's parents are of Italian decadency with their grandparents coming here at the end of the 1880's. The surname Peroni is also a giveaway. Being here at their house in the countryside feels a lot like being in Italy. Passing around the amazingly flavorsome yet simple food, walking through the grapevines and sipping aperitifs and digestifs.
After we had eaten more food than you can imagine, we felt like we could take a nap but instead, the Peroni family showed us around the rest of their land. We started in the grape fields, which had just been harvested and out back they had a truck filled with millions of grapes, ready to be sent off to the factories. We couldn't imagine what it would be like working hard in that heat all day. They showed us the viewing platform they had built, their pond and trees filled with figs, bananas, pecan nuts, kiwis and so many more. The time and hard-work that has gone into making this place what is was couldn't go unnoticed. It was beautiful. We were introduced to Patricia's grandparents who also joined us for part of the tour including the wine cellar. All throughout the day we imagined what it would be like to live or work here, it seemed like a dream.
We cannot thank Patricia and her family enough for letting us into their home and treating us like family. Before we left, we played a few songs for them on the guitar, with it being the only gift we could give in thanks. They invited us to come back and we jumped at the chance. We made a small promise to Loureno to learn his favorite song on the gutair so we can all sing it together next time. On the way back we ................INSERT
In the evening, we had the absolute pleasure of showing Marcella Forest Gump for the first time. Imagine being able to watch that for the first time again.
Monday 28th February and Tuesday 1st March 2022
Monday and Tuesday were both days off this week due to this being technically carnival weekend, although official celebrations were cancelled this year due to 'you know what'. Brazilians get the Monday and Tuesday following this weekend off work and it is then a general understanding that it's back into full work mode and the year starts here! We are in a very small town in the South of Brazil so we did not see any carnival parties. It seems that celebrations dissipate the further out you get from Rio and we are currently 900 miles away from there, closer to Uruguay, which is only around 300 miles from us. This meant that Monday and Tuesday here were very quiet.
Our host Marcella was also off work and due to us all having a lot of tasks to do, we set up an office in the kitchen. Marcella is an English and Portuguese teacher here, therefore she had a lot of planning to do, Megan concentrated on her art and wrote most of this weekly digest and I spent quite a lot of time on the phone to the bank trying to get a block on my card lifted. We also did work on our youtube channel videos, my music social media and my website. In between this we took breaks and watched Netflix.
Marcella also went out to a local bakery to get a Brazilian dessert called Cuca. This particular one was made from made from Nutella and white chocolate. I also went to the gym and boxing class to burn this off and keep up with my training. When I am not in the boxing class, I try to do some CV exercise and weight training, although because of my build and apperance, when I weight train, I have tanned, muscular, Brazilian personal trainers coming to refine my technique which makes me massively aware and self-conscious as it looks more like they are making sure I do not kill myself. I constantly say obrigado in the hope that it will trigger them to think I am OK and leave me, but they just stand back and watch. I suppose It is good that they are being so helpful but I think they are presuming that I want to bulk up, which is not the case. All said, it is a great gym, with great people and a really good boxing class which I have immediately settled into and am now assisting others with their technique.
Wednesday 2nd March 2022
Today was a very relaxed day. We woke up late, had coffee and toasties, got to work for our afternoon classes and generally mooched about. We returned to the music shop to buy a Capo for the guitar, got a hot-dog for lunch and had Risotto for tea. We then watched an episode of Black Mirror with Marcella and tried to get an early night as, due to our spaced out classes tomorrow, we will be at work 8am-8pm tomorrow. We gave also agreed to drinks tomorrow night, so best limit the amount of Wordle's we do and get some good rest.