August is a month of special anniversaries for CAIJ. In fact it was a double celebration, the anniversary of Dom Bosco and CAIJ’s 5th year of operation in Corumba, Brazil. Follow this link to see how the young people honoured their patron saint celebrated his legacy – CAIJ continues to meet the needs of children and young people in a community where families are easily marginalised and live in poverty. https://picasaweb.google.com/111166451295496640324/24DeAgostoDe201302?authuser=0&feat=directlink
In Brazil, the Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday with a mass and public procession when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. On this public holiday, it is customary to decorate the procession route with tapetes or salt carpets honouring Christ and illustrating symbols of the Catholic church. Unlike the flower and petal displays you would find in street processions in Europe, in Brazil, salt, sawdust, coffee and sand are used.
- CNBNEWS Letter to the Editor: Join Us for the Feast of Corpus Christi (gloucestercitynews.net)
- Feast of Corpus Christi 2013 and Global Event Eucharistic Adoration With The Pope (blueeyedennis-siempre.blogspot.com)
Finally, it was my turn to go to the Pantanal. I had missed two opportunities earlier in the year due primarily to my fractured tibia and ankle bone which rendered the journey unsafe and impractical. So wait I did, patiently while other volunteers ventured out to see the largest wetlands in the world. Yes, my time had come and I was ready to see if the Pantanal lived up to its reputation. And it did, offering so much more. I must confess that it is not for the tame at heart or those who go green at long. boat journeys.
But then you may consider that to be a small price to pay when compared to spotting an alligator or two, catching a piranha for dinner, discovering birds so large you may think of Pterodactylus, and if you are lucky enough you might even get to see an anaconda. In a nutshell, that is the Pantanal´s wild side.
But there is more, the human element. I was so blessed to have spent two nights with a local farming family whose pace and quality of life inspired me anew and resonated with my contemplative side which longs for a slower pace of life, simplicity and periods of solitude. On arriving, I had joked about sleeping in a ´hede´ and to my surprised at bedtime, our hosts produced a hammock so I could sleep under the most magnificent starry sky I have ever seen. While I consider myself to be a huge fan of nature, without doubt, the highlight, actually that should be pluralised, the highlights of my experience in the Pantanal was the time spent with the farming community – playing guitar late into the night accompanying the host on the concertina, while throwing back rounds of local pinga and capirinhas: sitting around the fire at 5.30 next morning sharing in the communal cup of hot herbal mate tea; joining in and providing music at the baptismal mass celebration of six babies; receiving the sacrament of reconciliation in this Garden of Eden; being in fellowship with several other farming families who traveled for hours to join us in the mass celebration and festa.
For three weeks in April, every student at CAIJ had the exciting opportunity to visit (some more than once) the local natural history museum, Estação Natureza Pantanal in downtown Corumbá. I made the trip five times to accompany different groups of students and came away more knowledgeable and appreciative of what this region has to offer. We learned about the Pantanal’s flora and fauna, the history of the Pantanal region, its main sources of water and how its conservation of water, plants and wildlife are integral to this region’s future. Of course the wildlife was a big hit with everyone, especially the birds which to my surprise students were able to identify and name with ease. And why not, sighting of these beautiful creatures can be a daily occurrence. This is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in Corumbá or visiting the Pantanal. I look forward with excitement to my trip into this wetland in the next couple of months…more to come on this blog.
- Pantanal, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil-Photograph by Michel Roggo (dranilj1.wordpress.com)
- Apple Snail: Unlikely Hero of the Pantanal (naturebox.org.uk)
- The Pantanal (flightofthecondors.wordpress.com)
- Fighting Crocodiles for Piranha in The Pantanal (inspiringadventures.co.uk)
- Sushi for peccaries? (sciencedaily.com)
- An Exhibition Worth Your Time – Sebastiao Salgado at the NHM (aliceincarnaval.com)
First day in Campo Grande, in the province of Mato Grosso do Sul and I hit the ground running. As planned, I joined the Salesian community for morning prayer and mass at 7am, a bit jet-lagged and tired from having no sleep for 24hrs, but determined to get my first full immersion in Brazilian portuguese. What a wake-up call or better yet “baptism of fire”. Newsflash: my knowledge of portuguese is nil, nunca, ninguem. Thank God I recognised a few words like Deus (God), Jesus and Amen. It was a full on experience of being lost in translation but on the brighter side is a warm, friendly and understanding community of people who have extended an incredible welcome so that I feel at home. Let the journey begin Lord.