The last two weeks of my Brazilian adventure began much like the previous two – work, work and more work, with the additional strain of trying to organise a trip out to the field. It seemed everything was against me – in order to get out there I needed one professor, one technician and transport. However, the professor was on holiday, the technicians were on strike and the university refused to rent a car to me. In the end, it only took 1 full day, 2 native English speakers, 1 Brazilian student who speaks English and two Brazilian professors, to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction. The only slight problem, for me at least, was that we had agreed to meet at the university at 7am. Given the previous reliability of the buses (or lack thereof) this meant I had to wake up at 4.30am to be certain I would arrive on time.
After my absurdly long bus journey out of Campo Formoso, I arrived in Aracaju, set my ants up in their new laboratory, and headed to the house where I would be staying for the next 4 weeks, with a lady called Nice. As soon as the usual formalities were over; “this is where the bathroom is” … “this is the kitchen”… etc, I collapsed on the bed and slept for a few hours. When I awoke that evening I felt considerably more human. The evening meal proved to be only slightly traumatic, with the usual level of communication issues and no more than the expected level of showing off the exciting gringa, who had just arrived, to friends and family. Still feeling tired from my bus ordeal the night before, I escaped from the living room as early as possible and went to bed.
After my wonderful 16 days of holiday, I headed up to Aracaju in the north east of Brazil to begin my fieldwork. I had a rather interesting journey up, as I took a flight from Rio but had to change in Salvador. I was expecting to have to pay excess baggage since I have such a ridiculous amount of luggage, but at Rio they didn’t charge me. I thought myself rather lucky, and didn’t question it too much. But when I arrived at Salvador they made me collect my bags and check them in again (*sigh*) and when I got to the counter the man told me than one of my bags would need to be retagged because it had increased in weight by 20kg since Rio! I told him I hadn’t touched the bag other than to carry it from the baggage claim, and so I couldn’t see it had gained all this weight?! Clearly the woman in Rio had cheated the system for me so that she didn’t have to charge me excess, but I was surprised at how unperturbed the man at the check-in desk was about this miraculous increase in weight! It wasn’t too expensive though so I paid the fee and got on my final flight.