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.
At the end of my first full week of field work, one of the students I had been staying with invited me to visit her in the nearby, and slightly larger, town – Senhora de Bomfim. Aline seemed keen to get me out of her hair, so I slightly reluctantly, agreed to go. My reluctance might seem a little strange but Cleia and I had barely exchanged two words during the preceeding week, probably mostly due to the language barrier, but I felt a little awkward spending 2 full days with her. When I arrived, my concerns were initially confirmed by the uncomfortable walk back to her place and an afternoon of difficult communication which left me with the distinct impression that she was laughing with her friends, in my presence, at my lack of Portuguese.