Week 5 - Farroupilha - Brazil
A day by day account of the first week in our 2022 travels through South America, Mexico, USA and Canada.
Thursday 3rd March 2022
Today we had conversation classes at 'Talkers' language school in the morning and then went back to our apartment in the afternoon/evening to complete our online conversation classes, where we were linked with people from the Rio branch of talkers. We finished this at 8pm and got picked up by the manager of the company Patricia and her husband Alan to go out for food and drinks.
Firstly we went to 'Mercado de Cerrveja' for the finest hand pulled ales that Farroupilha has to offer and indulged in a couple of pints of Pilsen and IPA, pronounced 'eepa'. Alan was keen to show us this place and introduce us to his friends who owned and ran the bar. We received a very warm welcome. The bar had a wine cellar aesthetic downstairs and a snug upstairs, with beanbags and an original Nintendo to play Mario Kart while drinking. We ordered takeaway burgers and nuggets from a place called 'Farra' next door and stayed until the place was closing at about eleven.
It was tonight we experienced the legend that is 'Shmitao', a German style pub, that allows you to load your cad with funds when you first go in and then pull your own pints from the wall at your own leisure, choosing from around 8 beers with a digital screen that counts down your credit as you pull. For reference, Heineken coming out at about £2 a pint. I say 'the legend that is' because there is not a big drinking culture here in Farroupilha and especially a late one but this is where Shimtao comes into its own. If you want a proper pub in Farroupilha, this is your spot. If you mention this to any locals, their face lights up in a way that says 'oh you got steaming then...'. And we did. As soon as the manager realized we were English and liked a drink, he was back and forth with free large shots of Cachaça until the point where singing Fleetwood Mac on the car journey had to be relayed to us the next day via tags in videos, we did not remember any of it. Great night, great company and a great couple of bars.
Friday 4th March 2022
Talkers has a huge online presence, they are always making YouTube and Instagram videos to both give extra help to their students and anyone else online who might be trying to learn English. They always try to get the volunteers involved in some way while they are here. So on Friday, after a nice lie-in to cure our sensitive heads, we headed to the school. We spent the afternoon recording short videos for Instagram. The first being 'famous British artists', where we introduced five artists and sampled one of their most popular songs. Second, we explained some classic Yorkshire sayings. Then, we did one with Anna, our college, where she taught us Brazilian phrases . Our favourite one being 'Ta Na Disney?' - Meaning 'Are you crazy?'. We've been using it often since. The third video was with Nelissa, where she had us guess what the Brazilian gestures meant. And finally, the thing that people seem to be most curious about here, how do Brazilian people compare to people back home.
One of the things that we love to do is introduce people from around the world to things that we love, that they have never tried. On Friday night we (Megan) cooked Marcela her first curry. Here, we have only come across one Indian restaurant and with it being my favourite food, we were missing it a lot. Pickings are slim in the supermarkets here on Indian spices as it is a very unpopular food, many people here haven't even heard of it. Which is bizzare to us, coming from where we do. We experimented with a standard chicken curry, spiced up with cayenne pepper. Marcela really enjoyed it and so did we, an all-round success.
Saturday 5th March 2022
With Saturday at Talkers being another working day because many people attend out of hours classes, we were scheduled a pretty class-heavy day. With a class every hour from 8-3. Luckily for us, we are more like guests in the classes as apposed to teachers. This means that most of our time is spent answering doing the same presentation about our lives and our travels, followed by a ton of questions from very curious students. The students at the school range from total beginners to very experienced English learners. On Saturday, we spent most of the day with the latter. It was really nice to properly get to know some of the students and learn about why they wanted to learn English and what they planned to do with it in the future.
As 3pm rolled around, we experienced our first Farroupila thunderstorm. Jesse, one of the teachers at talkers was due to pick us up. He has spent the last 2 years as an Au Pair in the USA, where he lived with a family and took care of the children throughout the day. Jesse messaged Megan before we even arrived at the school and gave us the comfort of someone who was not a complete stranger on our first day. Although we had originally planned to go for a picnic in the park, that was spoiled by the rain. But as it turns out, it was a blessing in disguise. Instead, Jesse took us back to his house where we met both his brothers, his mum and his crazy dog. The whole family were so welcoming, telling us to make ourselves at home. His mum had baked an amazing chocolate cake and a warm batch of Pão de queijo (cheese bread). We spent the evening playing the board game 'Catan' and jamming in the garage. They are a very musical family with Jesse singing and playing guitar, and his brothers Daniel and Davi playing the ukulele and cajon. We had a great moment where we all played and sang together and I think we were all shocked with how nice it sounded.
When the rain cleared up, we headed to the park for sunset, wandering around the lake and trying Açaí for the first time. The day ended up being really nice and again, we felt so lucky to be treated so kindly by the people here.
In the evening, we found a little pizza place with our favorite cocktails, Whiskey Sour and couldn't resist passing on up. After that, we met with the new volunteer at Talkers, an 18 year old, Canadian boy named Ethan. He told us about all of his travels and we did the same. We tried out Buratti Lanches, a burger bar that had been recommended to us. The burgers were huge and the meat was so tasty. Just what we needed after a long day. We definitely spelt well that night.
Sunday 6th March 2022
Another Sunday in this part of the world, and that only means one thing.... CHURRASCO! The absolute best thing about weekends here, hands down. Mariana, another of the teachers from talkers, picked us up at 11am. Her family are members of Santa Rita, a club in the countryside where they often go to cook Churrasco or to relax on the weekends. The club has small, house like buildings which you can rent out for the day, each one has their own huge grill and plenty of seating space. There are also people outside on the grass, grilling up their own food to share with their families. Santa Rita is a great place with football pitches, a pool, tennis courts and plenty of space to explore. On the drive there, Mariana told us that her uncle and other members of her family had been there since 6am because something that is really common here is to let the meat cook for a really long time, which is probably why it tastes so good.
We spent the day with Mariana's family, who were all really nice and seemed happy to have us around. Her Uncle had spent some time living in Australia so we had some good conversations with him, including a lot about football and formula one, which he is is big fan of. For appetizers, we had chicken wings, sausage, pork wrapped in bacon before feasting on a huge rack of ribs. And of course, we dank a lot of beer and Caipirinhas as usual.
Ethan came along too and we also managed to play some football with the kids there who all tried their best to practice their English so that they could talk to us. Mariana's little brother, Arthur had been leaning English for a long time so he knew a lot for his age, along with some of his friends.
All in all, it was a really relaxing and fun day spent with great people. We are looking forward to spending more time with them.
Monday 7th March 2022
Another social media morning. We went live on Instagram for an hour which was a was to ease in the day. By this point, we had grown pretty used to talking about ourselves due to all the 'about us' presentations we had delivered and had naturally developed a kind of script for this scenario. We talked about the time we spent in china, the things we love to do, the places we have visited so far and where we plan to go on the rest of our trip this year. We were worried about how we would manage to fill an hour but the time was soon up before we knew it.
The rest of the day was nothing particularly different, we went to our classes, met some new faces and sang some songs with students. The evening was spent again with Marcela, watching another episode of Black Mirror and enjoying the food she cooked for us.
Tuesday 8th March 2022
Today we had our first presentation in an external place, 'Soprano'. After walking there in the baking heat, we were soon shown to the small education building on what looked like a manufacturing site. It seemed kind of out of place but we were welcomed with big smiles as usual. The kids were older than most of the classes we had spoken to before, most of them being around 17. They had lots of questions and were keen to introduce us to some Brazilian music when they learned that we are musicians. They also taught us a 'two-step' dance which is traditionally done to folk music here, although hesitant, we gave it our best go. We left with warm hearts (and new water bottles and pin badges).
After more classes in the afternoon, our last one was a conversation with a guy who planned to do some work in China next year. Naturally, we had lots of answers to his curiosities. To finish the day, we headed back to Animal World for another healthy portion of loaded fries with Stroganoff.
Wednesday 9th March 2022
We spent the morning at Estadual School in Farroupilha doing presentations for classes, promoting 'Talkers Idiomas' our current language school and WorkAway. The school was a five minute walk from Talkers and is the same school in which Marcela works. It was nice for us to see her in her work environment and we immediately noticed how the children really appreciated having her as a teacher. For her, it was probably interesting too, to see us in work mode too. Us, Ethan and Patricia has the job of delivering the presentations. Patricia had the job of doing all the translating and leading the presentation. Because we had not experienced much like this on our travels before, it was a different experience for us and we had really gotten used to it by the fourth group. A lot of the students were really fascinated by what we have been doing and it did put it into perspective for us how lucky we are. It was also nice to hopefully pass on some kind of inspiration and encouragement for those who are also interested in travel.
When we had finished the morning, we were lucky enough to have the rest of the day off so we grabbed some lunch at Pips with the Talkers team and headed home. With us having lots of personal projects and things we need to keep up to, these times are a blessing.
In the evening, we headed out to the city closest to us, Caxias do Sul to go to the Cinema with Ethan, Patricia and Allan. We love going to the cinema and had been looking forward to it since it was first mentioned. We had heard good things about the new Batman film so were excited to see how it lived up to the expectations people had given us,