My days in Foz do Iguaçu are almost at an end, the day after tomorrow I will heading to Rio de Janeiro to spend a few days taking in the main sights before the long flight back to Europe and then onwards to home. It is a strange feeling to leave a place that has become your home. After three months here I have become used to living out of my backpack, to seeing the friendly faces of the staff each day and to watching television with an intense look of concentration (and often confusion) on my face. But each stage has to come to an end in order to let the next one begin so I will pack my bags tomorrow a little tearful but also full of excitement as I anticipate the sights of Rio.
So after 82 days in Foz do Iguaçu (I only know this because I have been sorting out my bill at the Hostel not because I have been scoring them into the wall, this is Brazil not prison!), you would think that I am running out of things to do and see. And honestly for the most part you would be right, I
have ticked off all of the tourist spots and the important landmarks in the area however, the people of Foz are often surprising and in the last week or so I have been lucky enough to attend a few charity fairs in the area.
It seems that there is always a cause to promote in Brazil and more than that, there are always people who are willing to put work and effort into highlighting the causes. The other day in the main square in town the issue being brought into the spotlight was the exploitation of and cruelty towards children and young adults. This is a delicate issue which can easily upset or cause discomfort, but here in Brazil it is managed in such a way that laughter and the party spirit do not take away from the important messages, but somehow instead they add to them. It is incredibly difficult for me to explain but somehow in the midst of the party atmosphere the message is heard and understood.
Much work goes into preparing for these fêtes, this is evident all around the site. At this particular event there were dances put on by local schools, a
band playing, two singers who could have been no older than 8 or 9 and numerous speeches. Of the speeches, the most moving was read by a teenager. He was reading the words of a girl who had suffered from exploitation and cruelty throughout the years and had now begun the process of rebuilding her life with the help of the organisations involved in the day. It always amazes me how quickly quiet can be brought to a raucous crowd but that happens here whenever the need arises. It is very touching to see how the people of Brazil wear their hearts on their sleeves.
After the speeches and formal entertainment there was still much more to see and do. For the children there were trampolines and games and even more importantly than this a few local businesses had turned out to offer free hair cuts for children whose parents cannot afford to pay for them. What was really nice about this was that the offer was taken up. There was no shame attached to the free haircut, no embarrassment or teasing. Those in need were honest and open about their needs and everybody looked on this for what
it was rather than attaching any judgement. It is rare to see this and I admit it brought a tear or two to my eye, (yes, again!)
So now the goodbyes really begin. This is the hardest part of any journey. I will miss the friends that I have made here and I hope to keep in touch with many of them in the future. They have taught me so many lessons and I hope that I can take this learning onwards into my ´real life´ as it were.
Just a few days left of my South American adventure but before heading home to see you all, I have the legendary Rio de Janeiro to embrace. It has long been a dream of mine to see the sights of Rio and I can hardly wait. So I bid Foz do Iguaçu a fond farewell and I prepare myself for the excitment of Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana, I challenge you not to sing...
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