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.
The weekend after my post ordeal I had planned to spend a little time relaxing, and the rest of the time preparing my equipment to being work when my student, Natalia, returned on Monday. However, the rain that began on Friday continued all weekend, which confined me to the house almost entirely, and I started to discover a rather worrying number of places where the roof leaked. On top of this, when I finally got around to doing some work and trying to assemble all my equipment which had finally arrived, I realised that one vital piece was missing – my supervisor had accidentally forgotten to include the power cable for the laptop, which would be necessary to download my data. The laptop is so old that it won’t even turn on without the power cable. This discovery pushed me to a point of total disbelief. How can so many things go wrong in such short succession? I quickly began devising a new work plan, knowing it would be at least a week, probably two, before the cable could be posted here – assuming it ever arrived!