-Located in the state of Minas Gerais, 70 km north of the capital city of nearly 3 million people, Belo Horizonte (about an hour drive).
-Sete Lagoas has around 250,000 people, which its inhabitants consider to be small. Some people I have met call it a farm. I beg to differ.
-In a recent issue of Veja, the Brazilian version of Newsweek magazine, Sete Lagoas was named one of the "20 metropoles brasileiras do futuro," or one of the future metropolitan areas of Brazil. Called "O balneario industrial," (the industrial bath) Sete Lagoas has an annual economic growth rate of 13%--one of the highest in Brazil. The city is a big producer of automobiles (or
parts of), milk products, beer, and even some clothing.
-Speaking of dairy products, cheese is very popular. Apparently it's a regional thing. "Queijo, queijo, e mais queijo," says my host dad (translated as "cheese, cheese, and more cheese"). The favorite is "Pao de queijo", which are these little bread rolls with a hint of cheese. At first I hated them, but they have started to grow on me! The other dairy product that I was surprised to find I really enjoy is fermented milk. It's sweet and apparently good for the digestive system.
-There are so many bars in this city it is ridiculous. There are anywhere between one and five on any given street. Most tend to be small little buildings on the corners with a couple of plastic tables and chairs, however, even these small ones are full by about 8 pm.
[Pictured on the left: View of Sete Lagoas from my bathroom window, and below, "Centro", the center of the city]
Now, a day in the life of me:
On a typical weekday I wake up at about 6:20 am (my host dad knocks on my door) and am dressed and eating breakfast by 6:50. My breakfast is basically the same every day--chocolate milk, a little cafe com leite (coffee with milk), and a delicious cheese and ham panini sandwich called a "misto." My host dad, sister Isabela and I are in the care by a little past 7 and drive about eight minutes to school, which is located in the central district of the city. My school is called "Regina Pacis" and is one, if not the, best school in the city [pictured below]. My host dad drops us off and we go to our classrooms after saying "bom dia" to the door guards.
We are usually late for class (I don't actually know the exact time class is supposed to start...)
and when I get in the teacher has usually started teaching. But, this is Brazil, so it's not a big deal. No tardies here! Each class is an hour and a half long and varies day to day. Today, for example, I had math first, but yesterday it was biology. We get a ten minute break after the first class and people usually hang out in the classroom looking at magazines or listening to music. Our second class starts (today it was half philosophy and half Portuguese), and at the end of that,
around 10:20, we get a longer break. A group of us go out to the open gym area and sit in the sun and talk. The school sells food at this time too, so we all have a snack. (Note: food is incredibly cheap here! It's great.) After break it's our last class. Today it as biology again. By the end of the day everyone starts getting more and more loud. The last half an hour of class today was ridiculous. Everyone was just yelling across the classroom, and the teacher kept on lecturing, occasionally joining in on the yelling. I played games on my iPod. It was a little too much for me to handle.
At noon class is over. My sister and I walk across the street to my host dad's business, Felt (kind of like the Home Depot of Sete Lagoas) [picture on the left]. We hang out for a couple of minutes, then he comes down from his office and we drive home for lunch.
Lunch is the largest meal of the day. We have a cook (which is normal for most Brazilian households) and the meal is always prepared by the time we arrive. The entire family eats together. The meal consists of these three things ever single day--rice, beans, and some kind of meat. There is always other supplemental foods of course, but those three items are the same. Every. Single. Day. Surprisingly, I have yet to get sick of it!
After lunch, if I don't have class in the afternoon (which I do on Tuesday and Wednesday that I occasionally go to), I will take a nap, read, watch a movie, or go on the computer. My host parents have to go back to work between 1 and 2, and they come home around 6 in the evening.
Evenings are pretty laid back. Sometimes we will have a larger meal, or other times it will just be some bread and ham and cheese. I try to get to bed around 10 (which is ridiculously early for Brazil).
Weekends are more exciting! Last weekend we went to Belo Horizonte [pictured below], and parties and Churrascos are always popular as well.
Tchau e beijos de Sete Lagoas :)