Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Drop-Off

One of the hallmarks of SIT's program is called the Drop-Off. It takes place during the first week or two of the program, and it involves students venturing out on their own to different locations. No phrasebooks, no translators, just a notebook, $R15 (for lunch), a phone card, a map, and an address.

It's an interesting name--the Drop-Off. I immediately think of that point in the ocean where it gets really deep, all of a sudden, no warning. Actually, being here kind of has that effect--I just got thrown in, and I had very little idea of what exactly was happening.

...So. We all bussed together with Oélito to Papicu, a big bus terminal on the east side of the city, and then we divided up to go to our assigned locations.

I was paired with one other student, Tim, and we had to make our way over to Cristo Redentor, which is all the way over on the other side of the city. We visited an NGO (here it's ONG) called Acartes, involved in film production. I must say that being here makes me realize how not-standard some standards are. This program is a government-funded social exchange, in which students from Berkeley in California participate every summer. They make both non-fiction as well as fiction films about the problems of inequality and social justice here in the Northeast of the country...They have three computers for editing and they have a camera that looks like it's been functioning since the seventies. Definitely not up-to-date by any means. I think often the folks from Berkeley supplement equipment.

Anyway, Tim and I made it to our destination with minimal troubles, and set out with our map to look for a good lunch spot. We came across a spot that looked like it was serving lunch and walked up to the counter and asked (or thought we asked) if lunch was served at this establishment. The lady straight up told us, "Não." What? Ok. So we started to walk away and I pointed out to Tim that there were two people eating lunch right there. I'm ready to keep walking, but Tim thought we should figure it out, so we go back to the counter and we asked for lunch again. And she looked at us and kind of nodded her head. We ask for a menu, to no avail. Finally she points at a wall, where we see a lot of Portuguese food names written...but no prices for anything. We decided to take our chances and just order.

At the end of the meal, when we went to pay, she charged us R$7 for everything--both our meals. That's like $5 US. We felt like it was pretty low but we paid and went our way.

And that was my deep-ocean experience!


Betsey said...

I've finally got to your blog, and will really enjoy reading your experiences!!! I can almost "feel" what you're feeling, going through such a new, exciting experience. Brings back memories of some of my "ancient" adventures!
Keep up the fabulous, open attitude and have fun!
Love, A. Bets

Donald said...

Dear Katie -- We really enjoy reading about your adventures! Keep up the newsy Blogs. by the way what's a "NGO" or "ONG"?
love, Gram & G'dad

Hemo said...

This sounds pretty awesome, if terrifying. I haven`t tried venturing off on my own too much, since I got lost the first time i tried to walk home from school (After being walked through the commute like 3 days before).

I have to say though, I`ve recently discovered how lost you can be while with people sheparding you for example. Woke up this morning early because my obaasan (grandmother) told me last night that we were eating breakfast early (she said other stuff as well...but that was about all that I got) So I was halfway through breakfast when like 10 new people show up at the house, and I have no idea what`s going on until through bits and pieces about 20 minutes later I finally realize that they`re all family members come to commemorate my host great uncle (? my host mom`s uncle, whatever that makes him)`s death. (it was his death anniversary? Kind of like Harry Potter...) YEAH. The rest of the story will be in my next email ETA morning tuesday, so monday night for you.

Hope all is well, drink some juice for me (not nearly enough fruit here, it`s sad)