Festival de Folklore
The night we arrived back in Formosa, Mauricio (my future host brother) had a performance at the amphitheater in town. Not knowing anything else, but convinced it would be adorable, I tagged along with Carmen (future host mom) and Jim (other American). As we found our way to our seats, we were surrounded by little boys dressed as gauchos and girls in bright colored dresses running around in every direction. The south may have been stunning, but there was nothing like three-hours of traditional dancing and singing to make me appreciate how unique and rich Formosa's culture really is.
Back in October, I started taking these art classes at the theatre downtown. For 10 pesos a month (virtually nothing), you can take as many classes and subjects as you want. Besides the buck fifty double-scoop-chocolate-dipped-crunch-topped ice cream cone downtown, it's the best deal around. So naturally, I was just itching to start classes back up in December. Once I walked in the art institute, however, I realized they were taking everything down- and was told by Roque (the incredibly nice man that works there) that unfortunately there aren't classes until February because the air conditioning is too expensive during the summer! I was bummed but fine with this knowing how busy December was going to be and the fact that I'll be in Brazil all of January, but Roque wouldn't let me leave without being able to offer me something to do. So I am currently on a team of artists working to construct and paint a mural for a nature reserve here in Formosa! Can't believe my luck on landing that one.
Asados, Poker, Mechanical Bulls and Flood Football
The days here in Formosa can get hot. And I mean really hot. There have been a number of days where weather.com has showed an 80 or even 90-degree temperature difference between here and Northfield. It feels absolutely nothing like December, and naturally- I'm loving it. My favorite pastime has become laying out in the sun in my backyard, listening to music and eating the fresh fruit I bought from the corner. (side note: the fruit itself should deserve it's own highlight bullet point- I am pretty sure I eat my body weight in papaya, pineapple, mango, watermelon, kiwi and strawberry every week here). Add in some cool tereré and talks about life with Graciela and it becomes a truly perfect day. The sun is stronger down here, though, which meant that I got my first non-snow induced December sunburn, but it was well worth the red, and since my goal is to become more tan by February than I ever have been in August, the strong summer sun with work in my favor by the end.
It took me two tries, but I am officially done graduating from high school! I walked out the doors of Colegio Nacional for the last time this morning after the ceremony and couldn't help but to think back to my real graduation back at NHS. The two ceremonies were almost nothing alike. Of course there were the inevitable similarities between every graduation: the principal or superintendent that gives the long welcome, the parents that patiently wait through the list of students until their child's name is called so they can cheer loudly and snap a dozen photos, and
the student speaker that begins their speech with "Well, class of (insert year), we did it." Here, however, there was neither the graduation song nor caps thrown in the air at the end. Instead, the ceremony went something like this: at 8:15, students began to gather in the courtyard of our school. The 'patio' (or big open area with a stage on one end) was covered in plastic chairs and had been decorated by sheets of fabric strung overhead. Of course millions of pictures were taken as people gathered around the classmates they would soon part with, and the excitement in the air was mixed with that all too familiar feeling of nostalgia. About 15 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to actually begin, the sky opened up and everyone climbed over each other to escape the pouring rain. The students then took full advantage of the extra 45 minutes without power to take more pictures, chant more songs, and clap and dance all over the patio. Finally, the lights came back on and the ceremony began (see long welcome/waiting through list of students/sentimental speech, above, for info on that) but instead of patiently sitting through all of this- there were chanting and clapping, constant cheering, and 'the wave' was even pulled out a few times as student after student went up to receive their certificate. It was nice to see Colegio Nacional was as much of a chaotic fiesta the my last time there as it was my first, and while I can't deny that I'm happy to be on summer vacation for a number of reasons, I think I might actually miss that crazy place.
Although it seems impossible to believe this is December, and that X-mas is just (check the countdown) 15 days away- I love that I am finally able to blast Christmas carols and hang lights in the middle of summer without getting the usual eye-roll from Sam! And though it seems bizarre to see the decoration-section snowman-free, the fact that there are palm trees hung with ornaments completely makes up for it. I think that if Christmas weren't completely new and different this year, the homesickness would kick in a lot more- but I won't EVER have a Christmas anything like this one again, so I'm going to make the most of it.
|Sam and his ginger beard, a christmas tree, and santa ornaments... ah the holidays|