The drive was a nice opportunity to see the Brazilian countryside- Goias is an agricultural state, known as the breadbasket of Brazil. We also passed through Abadiania, a small town which has grown dramatically with the rising fame of "John of God", a self-proclaimed psychic surgeon. Apparently, he gives his patients two options: an invisible or visible operation, where for the first option, people just mediate in a room and often are prescribed a concoction of passionfruit herbs. Supposedly, this guy is really well-known (he was on Opera, case in point!) for curing everything from Lou Gehrig's disease to paraplegia to a brain tumor and people come from all over the world to see him. Gilberto actually said that he met someone through couchsurfing was hired as a nurse to someone who traveled from the US to Brazil to see this man. Apparently the nurse decided the free trip wasn't worth stick with her sick friend, did some sightseeing around Brazil (when she met Gilberto) then went home. So that was interesting...
|It was hard to get a good picture of the countryside but here's a general idea|
|Delicious Brazilian lunch with University of Goia faculty and employees|
I learned more about shall I say "ineffective" policies of the government. Not only do students get free education, but supposedly many of these educational funds go to supplementing food and housing costs and therefore the funds run out before improving quality of teaching or the facilities/equipment. The students aren't competitive and high career aspirations typically aim to being a civil servant, which you can qualify for by doing well on an exam. Supposedly, they are paid an annual salary of $100,000 (more than a college professor) to sit in Congress and do nothing and they can't be fired. I was talking to a pharmacy professor about how I was surprised at the quantity of students studying pharmacy. He said a degree in that here doesn't hold the same prestige as in American because Brazilian companies don't innovate- they just copy medications from elsewhere. Near this campus was a Hyundai and Pfizer factory so graduates have opportunities to be employed but they aren't usually given opportunities to innovate or research. Health care is also basically free but most of the hospitals are contained in big cities so the government reimburses distant ambulance rides to these centers but even these hospitals are too full to meet demand.... Generally, ineffective and unsustainable policies.
On the way home, we stopped at a rest stop/road side restaurant where we had "sugar cane juice" where they literally stuffed sugar cane into a machine and some sweet juice came out, freshly made. I guess in India, they add ginger and lemon which sounds delicious. The other professor ordered this mushed corn drink which we made he made me try. It tasted like liquified corn muffin. Interesting but I didn't want a glass of my own.
So I don't like to get into politics but it's all very different. Just one weekend and one weekday left in Brasilia! I've gotten settled in a nice routine- fruits, nuts and coffee for breakfast, learn Portuguese, work on my blog, delicious lunch (recently she's made naan, samosas, a couple pumpkin dishes, popular Brazilian cheese balls, this tomato, homemade mango juice and soybean stew... everything always from scratch), research, update blog, teatime with occasional meetings/interviews at the University throughout the day, followed by some sort of afternoon/evening adventure... but I'm also excited for a change of scenery. I don't know how much I'm going to like the big city of Sao Paulo but I've got some people excited to show me around so that'll make it better!