The mission of the Program for Assistive Technologies for Underprivileged (PATU) is to allow students to practice engineering skills while they develop strong communication and teamwork skills, gain global perspective, and learn social responsibility through projects for persons with disabilities that otherwise could not afford assistance.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Sister City, Ilheus, Bahia, Brazil

Today we learned more about Davenport's Sister City, Ilheus.  We started our tour at the iconic cathedral at the center of town.  Our terrific tour guide, Marcello (Professor of Communications at UESC) told us all about the 30-year renovation that occurred at the cathedral and the three priests who were involved with the process (and showed us their tombs, right inside the cathedral!).

Then we walked down the main pedestrian street as he pointed out and discussed historic building such as Jorge Amado's (famous writer) home that is now a cultural center, the Town Hall, first church, etc.  It was an extremely interesting experience because it is a holiday and there were NO people on the streets.  If anyone has ever been to Ilheus, you can imagine my disbelief!  The streets are usually packed and bustling with people shopping or going about their business, but there was none of that today.

The students also got their first experience at the Artisan market.  Many students, with the help of our new UESC engineering student friends, bargained for some great souvenirs and gifts like hammocks, purses, and casacha.

The most interesting part of the day for me, however, was when we visited the Bataclan.  The Bataclan was a Brothel in the early colonial days, and is now a beautiful restaurant with a museum.  Marcelo told us an interesting story about how the cacao farmers used to pay the priests to have long masses on Sundays.  The farmers would send their wives to mass and say they were going to take care of business at the bar.  They would then sneak through a secret passageway to the Bataclan to hang out with the girls while their wives were at the bar.  The priests would signal the mass was close to ending with the church bells, so the men would quickly sneak back to the bar to await their wives.  We also got to hear a storyteller talk about the history of cacao and cacao farmers and their involvement with the Bataclan.  Very interesting!

We ended the day by relaxing at the beach.  We have a great group of students with us and many great hosts and friends from UESC.  It's really great to see the entire group really enjoying each others' company! 

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a lot of good people and interesting adventures!