Monday, September 24, 2012

"If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.”

Monday September 24, 2012

The last thing the nurse said after she immunized me for yellow fever was, "And don't get bit by mosquitos!"  It sounded logical at the time but something got lost in the translation because feeding time starts here when the sun goes down.  I have numerous bites on my legs, arms and hands and one particularly itchy one on my left ear.  The worst of it isn't the bites... oh sure, thats where Malaria, West Nile, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever and Encepholitis come from but I'll deal with that when the time comes... its the frisken kamakaze attacks all night long that get me. I don't think there is anything that can piss me off like the annoying drone of a blood thirsty mosquito at 3 am.  My nightly routine now includes spraying bug spray around my door before bed, checking that the maid closed the window in the shower, and anhilating every mosquito in my room.  Nonetheless, about 5 minutes after I turn out the lights, the little bastards start divebombing my face, no doubt laughing when I slap myself.  I pull the sheets over my head but once I fall asleep, they bring on a full scale attack. 

Today was pretty sedentiary. I got up as planned and dressed like a tourist in preparation for a day in classes at the technical school.  Right around breakfast time, it became evident that no one had arranged for a ride for me.  And then, suddenly the plan was not to go to the school but to get on a bus and get to the plant 20 km away for training out there... and the bus was waiting for me.  A quick change into my work clothes and away I went!

We ended up, a whole busload of Portuguese labourers and I, in a delapitated building on the outskirts of the plant. It was an abandoned camp and we made use of a classroom for the day.  Unfortunately there was no running water in the foul smelling washrooms and the rest of the building had human urine and excretement in every room.

Class was taught by Miguel, who was less an instructor and more a drill sergeant. He yelled everything at the top of his lungs in Portugese with extra emphasis on the important parts.  Perhaps he had hearing problems because when he played videos, I used my docimeter to measure the sound level and he had the speakers set at 97 decibels.  In Canada, we require hearing protection after 82 - 85 decibels!  The irony of this being a safety course wasn't lost on me.

We did, after an hour and a half wait for meal tickets, have lunch inside the plant at the cafeteria, and then finished our course by 4:30 pm.

When I got home, I took a walk downtown and bought a new fruit as well as a few vegetables and a bag of Brazilian nuts. My fruit of the day are Maracuja's. 

This fruit reminded me of "Monkey Brain Fruit" which we ate in Columbia last year but the ones here are far more tart and lemon tasting.  The funny thing is you can just put your lips on the rim and suck and the whole conglomeration of seeds and juice comes out in one swallow.

When I went for a walk tonight I observed these two workers doing unsafe work.  There is such a contradiction between the lack of safety here in town and the excess of it at the plant...

Welding with no fall protection or helmet

High up on a scaffold cutting a masonry wall with a skilsaw. Not tied off properly, scaffold plank is too narrow and has no cleats and the scaffold is not secured to the building... and he has no mask to protect himself from silicosis!
Dinner cooking on main street. The guys buy the shishkabobs by the piece and cook them themselves... It sure smells good!

My next fruit of the day!

Dinner tonight
And thats about it for excitement today... I am now waiting a couple more days for a pass to the smelter at which time I can start.  We had two safety girls, hired here in Brazil, show up today in high heels, sunglasses, manicured finger nails and bling to match.  I can't imagine either of them have ever been in a furnace before so I'm curious what good they will be.  We shall see...