Brazil 2014 Week 7: Bees, Rio and Lost Dignity

It’s my last post from Brazil before I head off home and leave you in the hands of the others- I can only wish you luck from here….

Busy bees

This week we went on an adventure into the Brazilian Countryside! After a nail biting hour long drive down the motorway, we arrived at the company that treats the wooden piles TETO uses as foundations. Before 2012, TETO didn’t treat the piles at all, which led to the wood rotting quite quickly. The treatment they now use has pretty much solved this problem, but some studies suggest possible health risks. Doing a little research and ringing up various wood treatment companies, we found that it’s the main method of wood treatment used throughout Brazil. We visited the factory to understand the scope for changing to a different treatment, and found that there are a number of practical and financial hurdles- but we’ll continue talking to TETO to find the best solution.

About twenty minutes drive down the road, we met up with one of the founders of “Intactu Institute”, a group who work on sustainability projects- they’re currently planning research into “green roofs”. Last year’s Brazil team built a prototype of the new house design on Intactu’s land, so we went to talk to them about using their land for future projects. We visited the terrain in order to know what’s achievable there and to pay last year’s house a visit. As we stumbled down the steep hill, I enjoyed the stunning views of the rolling green hills, but couldn’t help feeling sorry for last year’s lot having to lug the panels down there! At the bottom of the hill, we had expected to see just an empty prototype, so were surprised to find it teeming with life…

Left; the prototype at Intactu. Right; a bee hive living inside the house.

Left; the prototype at Intactu. Right; a bee hive inside the house.


Meanwhile, Karolina visited the Indigenous community of Tekoa, where TETO have constructed 123 houses! We were all very jealous that she’d got to try archery, and even saw a monkey! She made some video interviews, including one with a community leader, which I can’t wait to see once they’re translated!

Rio De Janeiro!

We found some time for Rio tourism!

We found some time for Rio tourism!

We headed off to Rio, where the team constructed with TETO in 3 communities this weekend! We planned to fit in some tourism before the construction, but inevitably we found ourselves back in a favela again- this time watching Capoeira! Capoeira was a martial art, originally developed by slaves working in Brazil who needed a way of defending themselves. However, the slaves had to disguise the martial art as something else in order to be able to practice it openly, and so it became the mixture of music, dancing and martial art that it is today!

Before I knew it, I had been challenged to “play” capoeira- I thoroughly embarrassed myself, trying out the very few moves I’d picked up against a young woman half my height- she was clearly thrashing me in this virtual fight! I wasn’t sure of the correct way to “surrender” in Capoeira, so I simply ran away while I was still in one piece (though I can’t say the same about my dignity)!

Sadly, I’m jetting off back the UK so couldn’t do the construction weekend in Rio. But I dropped off the others at the meeting place, and like a proud mother, I embarrassed them by making them pose for photos! Say cheese!

Pre-construction- they're all so clean!

Pre-construction- clean now, but not for long!


So that’s it from me, I’ll leave you in the hands of the others for the BIG FINISH! Watch this space for the final blog post from Brazil! A huge shout out to all the TETO volunteers and directors for being completely amazing over the past two months! Over and out.


“Week 7” refers to the week beginning 15/09/2014