Brazil ’14 Week 8: Good bye, Good luck, and Good food

So Roberta left me with the task of writing the Brazil team’s last blog post. Not wanting to let her down, I began working on it immediately: by which I mean it was forgotten about until I got back to England. Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, the Rio construction…

Rio construction

After being dropped off by mother Roberta at the meeting point, the team was split into two; Jonny and Becky were building in Parque das Missões, whereas myself, Karolina and Chico went to Vila Beira Mar; ideally located right next to a McDonalds. I decided getting a good night’s sleep was vital and so settled into my sleeping bag at 11, ready for the hard work to come the next day. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for the bar across the street, which was seemingly competing with a rival bar to see who could play the loudest funk music. I’m not sure who won, but I can definitely say that I lost.

A few restless hours later, the troops were awoken by the smell of buttered bread and coffee, and construction began. Again, each of us were split into different houses; I was working on Iara’s house, complete with a concrete floor and a leftover door frame to deal with. Several hours of digging and measuring later, I was so ready for lunch. But then our leader told everyone to get their plates and cutlery from their bags… Apparently there was a memo, and none of the EcoHouse team got it! Happily though the other volunteers came to our aid and sorted everything out.

At the end of the day’s work we stumbled back to the school, where after the group discussion everyone was informed that wake up time had been changed to 4am, since everyone was so far behind (our house had only put up 4 out of 15 piles!).  After another night with the dreaded speakers we were up and ready to crack on with the houses, having been motivated by the smell of strong coffee, the energetic warm up exercises, and the ritualistic jumping and shouting of “Comecou, nao para!” (“Once we start, we don’t stop”).

Our house powered through the rest of the piles, and by the time lunch came we had got to putting the panels up. However, the real challenge came after lunch. Due to an administrative error, we were using a completely new roof. This ultimately proved to be too much to handle, and as dusk approached we had to halt construction, with only the roof left to complete. This was to be done the next day, although the EcoHouse team would unfortunately not be there to help.

Selfie Kings 2014: Ellen DeGeneres eat your heart out.

The usual goodbyes were made, with pictures and Facebook requests flying left, right and  centre. Despite the fact that most of the houses hadn’t been finished, there was still a sense  of achievement and pride on everyone’s faces, as we realised how big an impact the work  we had done would have on the lives of the families. We decided to take the late bus back  to Sao Paulo; this decision somehow led to us, once again, sprinting through the bus  terminal to catch our bus with seconds to spare. A fitting end perhaps to a lively and rather  hurried tour of Rio.

the last supper(s)

So began our last week in Brazil, and after two long months it was finally time to get cracking on the placement report. We set ourselves up on the comfy sofas of the hostel (complete with snacks of course) and set about on our task, much to the bemusement of the staff. Clearly not many of their guests decide to spend glorious days of sunshine inside working on laptops!

We did take some breaks though. On Wednesday morning, we were given the task of taking down the roof of the TETO house that lives on the office grounds, and then putting up a different one afterwards. Once everyone had been suitably armed with two hammers, we set off taking out all the roof nails whilst precariously balancing on the rafters. Surprisingly, this took no time at all (probably because we are now veterans of construction) and soon the roof was lying on the floor. Getting off the roof itself was tricky, but nearly all of us managed it with relative ease (I may have chosen a more direct route of disembarkment…). The new roof arrived along with two sales representatives, and Becky and I spent the afternoon sitting on the roof hammering in nails; everyone’s idea of an afternoon well spent!

And on our very last night in Brazil, some of the directors took us out to a forró club. For those not familiar with forró, its the name of a particular genre of music in Brazil often accompanied by a particular style of dancing, which some would consider to be a bit on the intimate side. We were basically set up to make complete fools of ourselves! However after spending much time on the sidelines ‘studying’ the dance moves I ventured onto the dance floor, and under the tutelage of Jessie (a fellow TETO volunteer), I began my brief flirtation with forró dancing. By the time we left the club, all of us had managed to make an attempt at dancing with various levels of success!


Left: Becky and I feeling less than safe on the roof; Right: Team GB in training for Rio 2016 with some local help


Our exit from the office was not nearly as graceful as we would have liked; apparently saying goodbye and ordering a large enough taxi are beyond our capabilities! However we managed to get to the airport on time, where we all said our goodbyes and got on our respective flights; although not before embarking on what could only be described as a round the world food experience, including Brazilian cheese bread, sushi, and quite possibly the greatest ice cream this side of the Atlantic!

So that was us in Brazil. Hopefully our work and experiences from our time here will help EcoHouse progress even further in the upcoming year. I hope that you have enjoyed reading Roberta’s superb blog posts; I most certainly have! This is Izhan signing off for the last time.