Monday, June 4, 2012

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Today (Saturday June 2nd) the whole family and our group piled into the Cacique’s truck and visited “Nossa Senhora das Graças/Santuário de Cimbres”, or the Shrine of Cimbres. I attempted to keep with five-year-old Marcos Paulo who was bound and determined to beat us all to the our destination at the end of a 300-step climb that is preceded by a set of ramps. Marcos Paulo beat us to the top, where the view was astounding. We were able to see long down on the valley and the little houses nestled into the adjacent hillside. There was a shrine built to the Virgin Mary at the top of even more steps. We took pictures of our group and of the family and all shared a little smile about how out of breath all of us were before we started our descent. On the descent I decided that I would not race after Marcos Paulo this time, but hang back and stay close to his grandmother, Dona Helena. Helena is one of the sweetest women that I have ever met and has a rare gem of a personality. On our way down, she attempted to go off of the steps to smell the flowers… on the edge of a steep mountain slope. Her adventurous whim had me very nervous because even I wouldn’t have dared scale that rock just to smell a pretty flower. After smelling her flower, she safely dismounted the rock and we continued our journey down the mountainside. She insisted that we stop so that she could take a picture of me, and after a short tutorial (in which we had the camera facing her or upside down) we got a few pictures in. I am sad that I will be leaving Brazil and this wonderful grandmotherly woman soon. I will miss her so much and all that she does for me and the rest of our group. All day she prepares meals for us and when she’s not doing that she’s offering us “dulces” or sweets. She is truly a sweet and caring woman, and it is safe to say that all of us will miss her dearly. - Beth

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