Saturday, 11 July 2015



15/06 -  18/06

As Marcus and the rest of the volunteers still had some last minute shopping to do,  we agreed to meet them at the airport at 3pm. We therefore used the morning to finish updating the blog and researching our Bolivian section of the trip. After lunch we checked out of the hostel (Felipe was still missing) and Rafa escorted us on the bus to the airport. While waiting for Marcus to arrive, we sat together and reflected on how indispensable Rafa had been to our survival in Brazil. We thanked him profusely and it was hard to say goodbye to this lifelong friend. 

Promptly at 3pm (German time), our lift arrived and once our backpacks were thrown onto the back of the truck we were off on our 3hr journey to Caceres. 

When we arrived, Marcus insisted that we stay at the mission with them. His wife, Easar, already had dinner on the table and our room prepared for us. We felt truly blessed to have met such generous people. 

We woke up early for breakfast where Marcus insisted that we stay with them a few days until he could contact his friend in Santa Cruz (Bolivia) to collect us from the bus stop and make sure that we arrived safely in the country. We were touched by his father like concern and happily agreed to this plan. 
We were very curious to see how the mission worked, especially the workings of the kindergarten. As such,  Anna and Sophia eagerly offered to show us around the little school. 

Joy and Anna at the kindergarten -  Creche Evangelica

The school had about 60 children from ages 3-6 years old, and each classroom had a qualified teacher with volunteer assistants. Anna and Sophia would help out wherever hands were needed. Today help was needed in the kitchen... So it was Sophia to the rescue! 

Sophia kitted out in a hairnet and gloves ready for kitchen duty. 

As we walked around the little little ones were on a much needed break to get rid of some energy on the merry-go-round. 

One of them couldn't contain their  affection for Anna and came sprinting into her arms for a big hug! Too adorable! 

Anna showed us around the grounds which revealed that the kindergarten boasted a swimming pool, sand pit,  soccer field, hall, veggie garden, playground, nap room, media centre,  kitchen and dining hall on top of the usual school and classroom facilities. 

Rox 'testing' out the playground equipment. 

After we had been given the grand tour,  we were allowed to sit in on one of the older children's classes. As we walked around the busy class,  we were deafened by shouts of 'Tia, Tia' (Aunty,  Aunty) from the children wanting to show us their good work. 

Some of the children found Rox's hat interesting and of course everyone had to try it on! 

The teacher then called all the children to the mat where they sang the Portuguese version of 'The wheels on the bus go round and round' - With actions of course! After that it was a lesson on colours and shapes before the teacher gave them their next task,  which we were to help with.

Our role was  to cut out different colour squares,  which the children then pasted onto their worksheets. 

Needless to say there were plenty of sticky fingers from glue,  glitter and paint after the task had been completed. 

After all this hard work it was off to the playground for some much deserved fun. 

Girls on the swings... 

Boys with their toy trucks. 

Two little girls broke the mould and decided to join the boys for fun with their trucks in the sun!

Joy lifting a small child to a high swing... What she forgot was that what do for one,  you must do for all. And soon enough there was a line of children waiting for their turn. 

Inevitably a soccer game broke out which we were more than happy to partake in. It was a bit chaotic,  no one quite knew whose team they were in or which position that they were  playing. All that mattered is that you  followed the ball,  with all the other players,  around the field. Classic bunching at the grass-roots level of any team sport.

Some thought Anna was a tree... Funny little monkeys! 

Some of the principles upon which the school is built and other polite phrases. 

Lunch time for the children. On the menu today: Rice,  beans, salad and banana farofa.

We then went back to enjoy a spectacular home-cooked meal. Easar really spoilt us with her delicious traditional Brazilian cooking.
The plan for the afternoon was to head to Markus' farm.  He told us that a lamb had been born just a few days earlier and we were dying to meet it.

The farm was just a short 15min walk from the house.  Markus' son runs the farm and lives there with his wife.  They have dairy cows which need to be milked every morning.  Anna and Sophia help out with the milking a few times a week.
The polka-dot lamb suckling from its mom

Wait for me... 

Anna explaining the milking process to us. They used to milk the cows by hand but now they recently acquired this new modern milking equipment. 

The cows being herded in for an afternoon feed

Sticking close

After the excitement of the farm, Marcus picked us up and we headed to his second farm. We jumped onto the back of the bakkie and we were off.
The wind in our hair! 

On this farm they grow veggies to sell and use in the kindergarten. 

'Jesus loves you' paved into the bricks

They also happened to have amazing coconuts which we were happy to sample. 

We felt like we were at a five star hotel - receiving the royal treatment! 

The main  draw card was a crystal clear pool which we had been dreaming about throughout the whole of Brazil! 

We spent the majority of the afternoon in the pool,  swimming and playing pool volleyball. We were significantly wrinkled by the end of it! 

Joy and Roxy with Markus and farm manager, Leonardo,  who generously provided us with the coconuts! 

Sunset from the back of the bakkie as we headed to the river for ice cream!

Looking over the River Paraguay which had just,  the week before,  played host to the biggest fishing festival in the world.

After some delicious ice-cream with everything you can imagine on top,  we headed to a birthday party that we had been invited to by one of the teachers at the kindergarten.
We arrived a fashionable half an hour late but in the spirit of true Brazilian time,  the birthday girl was still in the shower and only presented herself half an hour later.
Girls enjoying the party

Before everyone ate,  we sang happy birthday in amongst other religious songs, some of which we recognised the tune but of course all the words were in Portuguese so we merrily just hummed along. 

It was our last day and we wanted to get some supplies for the bus ride to Santa Cruz,  some gifts to say thank you for the hospitality and a birthday gift for Sophia,  whose birthday it was the next day.

Stumbled upon a tea named after Roxy's sister. 

Later that day we offered to help water the banana trees; what we didn't realise was that we would have many little helping hands joining us and that the banana trees were not going to be the only things getting wet! 

Our little team of waterers 

Anna getting her revenge 

Not a dry little body in sight

Rox getting completely drenched

What strange-looking bananas are growing under the trees

First the little boy was against her, but when he realised Joy had all the water power....

...then he was with her 

But even Joy eventually got soaked by the persistent little munchkins. 

After we had dried off it was time for supper.  As it was our last evening,  Markus had organised a farewell braai for us.  He had been slow cooking a piece of gammon the whole afternoon and we couldn't wait to dig in. 

On the back of the bakkie again. We are going to miss this reminder of our childhood adventures on our family farm in South Africa. 

Rox and Anna holding down the gammon along the bumpy dirt road to the farm. 

We had chosen to gift our hosts with a bottle of good ol' South African Mrs Ball's Chutney. We had been lucky enough to uncover this gem in the supermarket. It would go perfectly with this piece of meat. 
Everyone was a little apprehensive to try the Chutney at first, because they didn't have anything to compare it to but once they had a taste, there was no holding them back.  The bottle was soon polished! 
The rest of the evening was spent drinking coconut water,  joking around and enjoying each others company. It was going to be hard to say goodbye to this special group of people. 

We awoke early in the morning for our final breakfast with the group.   After that we went with Manuel, Natalie and little Mika to get our exit stamps from the police office in Caceres. From there it was a 2hr drive to the border town of San Matias. 

Crossing the border into Bolivia.  (Notice the change from tar to gravel roads - we were to be intimately acquainted with gravel roads in the near future...)

You can see how rural and isolated this border post was. 

At the immigration office,  the officials were stunned into confusion upon looking at our passports.  They had never seen South African passports before and weren't quite sure what to do with us.  After about an hour of waiting,  phone calls to superiors and smiling for photos and paying $53 each,  we were eventually presented with our 30day visas and we were officially welcomed into Bolivia. 

Once we had been cleared by immigration, the family walked us to the bus stop and made sure that we got the correct bus tickets to Santa Cruz. To our surprise and disbelief,  these beautiful people showered us with even more love and presented us with a packet favourite German sweets (Haribo) and a book on a German martyr to keep us entertained during our travels! How spoilt were we? 

We said our goodbyes and after a little wait at the bus stop,  we boarded our bus to Santa Cruz.  We left Brazil with our hearts full of love and with some wonderful memories! 


  1. Just now I came around to read more of your posts. We were blessed to meet you and you are in our thoughts and prayers. Greetings from Manuel and Nathalie

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.