From urban Rio de Janeiro to the rural areas of Salvador, Bahia
It had been raining in Rio the last two days we were there so we really didn’t do much. Though, Sunday night we did go to a dinner party with our “boss” Daniele (works at REDEH) and his wife Mila for her birthday. He’s Italian, she’s Cuban, and they had a Chilean woman with her Brazilian husband, and an Argentinian woman. We were, of course, all dancing. Monday and Tuesday we only worked only for about 3 hours in the middle of the day so that is mostly why we did nothing because it got dark there around 5pm anyway (US summer is Brazil’s winter) and as I mentioned, it was raining. Our tickets were finally booked and we flew out on Wednesday, the 5th day I was in Brazil. We got in around 11am in Salvador and it took 2.5 hours to drive to get to Pintadas.
We got to our hostel we’ll be staying at for the next 2 months and it is a super cute little town surrounded by a lot of rural areas. It reminds me of Barrichara, Colombia but with no mountains, as if it’s the “Llanos of Colombia” all around. We have internet here and it is a nice little motel/hotel/hostel called a Pousada. It has a courtyard with many beautiful plants and hammocks. There was this little 5-year-old mixed girl that spent a lot of time there because her mother works there to clean. I couldn’t figure out her name when I asked her. She would say, ‘eu sou Maletuata e Tuta’ (I thought she was saying “I am Maletuataetuta”), and I thought to myself: woah what a name! I asked her to repeat it a billion times because I couldn’t understand it enough to remember it. It took me about 5 minutes to realize she had a speech impediment. I went to her mom to ask what her name is, and she said it was ‘Maria Edwarda’ but we call her ‘Tuta’. I was so excited because my sister, Michelle use to call me Tata way back in the day so I asked her to call me Tata and I’ll call her Tuta. She said she would be my friend. I did her hair and age-appropriate make-up several times, and she always wanted to play with my work tablet computer.
Thursday we started our first real day at 8am at Adapta Sertão. I met our supervisor there who works under Daniele and REDEH, a badass small farm owner called Nereide (ne-rey-gee). She is a true mover-and-shaker in the community and knows EVERYONE in the municipality (the whole rural area outside of Slavador). We also met the younger co-workers we worked with the most while our time there, Laise (pronounced La-ee-zee) and Bêtania. They were so much fun to work with and loved taking us out (I will talk about them more in another post). Bêtania offered to take me to some sort of gym after our first day at work to sign-up so I can dance and do aerobics while I was there, it only cost me $12 a month at the time which I think was about R$25 Reais.
As for my daily work life, it was actually very slow. Even if we wake up at 6am and drive up to 2 hours to get to a cluster of different farms we would survey at, we would only survey at about 4-6 farms in one day. This is a pueblo and the rural areas, so I expected this. I usually do one of three things each day: 1) surveying at different small farm locations where we get to know the agricultural worker/ farm owner and their water storage unit or use of cactus for animal feed (this is the most fun for me and hardest at the same time because of the Portuguese); 2) entering and organizing the data from the surveys which will later be analyzed and presented to the government and for educational/ training purposes; and 3) some attending of events or trips for conferences for agricultural or farm workers, cooperatives, government workers in the department of agriculture, etc. Nereide is involved with many agricultural/farm affairs around the state and she loved to introduce us at events for different reasons. Furthermore, we networked and learned a lot at these events, and many times were able to retrieve data to add to our analysis.
About Adapta Sertão
Adapta Sertão is a network of cooperatives that identify, test, refine and disseminate climate change adaptation technologies and practices for the semi arid region.
The focus of Adapta Sertão is livestock and agricultural development with the objective of improving food security, reducing poverty and promoting the sustainability of the local biome Caatinga.
Adapta Sertão operates in the Bacia do Rio Jacuípe county, semiarid region of Bahia, in partnership with local, national and international organisations.