I think these feelings are probably pretty normal, so I just plug along and try to get things done off my "to do" list (so gringo, I know, old habits are hard to break). There have been some distractions along the way - I had to have glass removed from the bottom of my foot it was really deep in there after a month... so there I was, trying to take a shower on one foot, not getting the other one wet, huge belly in the way and limping around. Right around the same time we had a week of torrential rains that scared the pants off the people of Salvador, stopped traffic, paralyzed the city except for the mud which came rolling off steep over-developed hills stripped of trees' roots needed to hold the land still. Landslides were abundant in Eder's neighborhood and the wall that held up his backyard fell onto the neighbors' house below. It was a night I'd rather forget, but left all of us quite shaken. No one got hurt and we are so grateful, so very grateful. Eder's family is dealing with all the repercussions, I haven't been over there since, needed to create some distance. Now that sunny days are back, the rental house mom and pete have is cleaned and mold-free, and we have internet (after 2 frustrating weeks trying to install it), I have a car to drive around in, and there's even a cleaning lady who is coming once a week to get a handle on this big place and the piles of laundry we accumulate, I bless life and all we have every day... I am able to return to doing Fulbright research and preparing for the baby's journey out of the womb and into the world. Eder is still painting like CRAZY! I'll put some photos of his art here, as well as my big ol' belly. I'm so proud of him and his incredible contribution to Salvador - he spends tons of time an money on the materials to be able to paint. You can check out some of the videos he's been making about painting here:
(this one is about Eder's painting with several different artists in Salvador)
(this one is about the National Day of Graffiti and some of the other pieces he's been doing)
(more documentation of his work)
- an incredible trip to Chapada Diamantina - a national park reserve about six hours from here. Me, mom, Pete and Eder headed out of Salvador for a week. We spent time in Capao - a small alternative town, very organized guides and local residents. We ate delicious pizza with a spicy honey on top! We visited gorgeous falls (where i stubbed 3 toes really bad!) and mom, pete and eder hiked the fumaca falls. Lencois, the other town we stayed in, was a bit more developed as a tourist destination, lacked that organic feel of Capao, but had some terrific little cute places to stay tucked into the side of a forest, one of the best waterfalls and waterholes i've ever swum in, and we had this incredibly delicious meal in a cute little town park recommended in Lonely Planet. The drive there and back was a bit tough - getting lost, and stuck in traffic from an accident, but all-in-all worth it!
- setting up our Itapoa house - doesn't quite feel like a highlight since it was a ton of work, but the outcome is great, and I'm feeling so fortunate to have access to this space. The house is huge (it use to be a Condomble Terreiro, so there's a very sacred feeling here). There is an abundance of plants in the front, along the side, and back. There's a big living room with all kinds of art and objects (and mosquitoes so we don't hang there much), kitchen and dining room and little living room off of it where we spend most of our time, 2nd floor has 3 bedrooms and the 3rd floor is a cool area to do yoga, look at the dunes and the sky, and hang laundry of course. In the middle of it all is a pool area on the first floor so we've had some fun times with friends swimming and hanging there. If all goes well, our little bambino will be born here! My friend Alicia told me too that Itapoa use to be a Quilombo - an escaped slave community - back in the day. So it's really quite an incredible place to be born into.
- Construction of the apartment: it's actually moving along!! Since I moved out to live over here there has been a lot of progress on our apartment. The walls are all up, and done, just need to be painted. The floors are all done, ceramic tiled. The kitchen just needs a counter and to install water and electricity and the appliances. The bathroom is the last big project, since we're rennovating it to make it bigger. We're also opening up the front to make a separate entrance for ourselves, so that's the last step. I guess we're still a ways away, but we have a month til I move back over there so I think it will be ok... I can't wait to have our own place. It's been "interesting" for me and Eder to have to live with our parents (and separately) in the days leading up to us becoming parents ourselves. I guess it's not ideal, but you make the best of what you've been dealt.
- a visit with mom's cousin Sam and his wife Linda - they were so fun to travel with. I brought them out to Arembepe (beautiful small escape town half hour outside of Salvador) to stay at Oasis - an ocean-front house rental by a couple from Brooklyn (www.diasporaproductions.org) great place to stay!!! I highly recommend it... They joined us back in Salvador where we did some shopping in the city center, visited with Eder's family, went out to an all-you-can-eat crepes place, braved the Sao Joaquin market (wow, what a place), and went to listen to reggae music and to eat Ghanaian food (!!) in Pelorinho (Salvador's historic city center).
- Watching and feeling the baby grow - maybe this isn't a "highlight" as every now and then this big old baby is pushing down so hard I pretty much scream out in pain... but honestly, it's quite the sensation to have a human in there, my own child, and to watch the way the baby moves, reaches a hand out for me to tap or tickle, the hick ups, the stretches, the kicks. Pure joy.