That time we reunited with Justin’s sister from 1996

Bernardes Family

The Salisbury family hosted their first exchange student, a girl named Priscilla from Brazil, back in 1996. Knowing we would be in her neck of the woods, Justin, curious, reached out to her on Facebook, even though it was half their lives ago when they last saw each other. Justin’s mom, Jayne, was excited at the prospect of reuniting with someone from their past, so when it happened that we would be in Brazil during the week of Thanksgiving, she jumped at the opportunity to join us briefly in South America. All Minh ever knew of Priscilla was that she was caught calling home from a pay phone when she wasn’t supposed to, but when Justin and Jayne saw her at the airport for the first time in 18 years, it was as if no time had passed.

Priscilla is now married with two girls, ages 14 and 8. They live in Presidente Prudente, about an hour’s flight outside of São Paulo, where she runs a boutique clothing store and her husband manages a Shell gas station. Despite a year difference in age from Justin, Priscilla seemed vastly more mature and responsible, but as she told us, that’s what happens when you have a kid at 20 (note from Justin: almost everybody is more mature than I am!). Here are the highlights of our fun three days with her:

  • Meeting her husband and two daughters, as well as her parents, sister and brother.
  • Enjoying typical Brazilian foods, like pão de queijo (baked cheese rolls), picanha (a popular cut of beef little known in the U.S.) and açaí bowls (a puree of frozen açaí pulp and bananas, sprinkled with granola and berries).
  • Visiting and spending a night at the Bernardes family ranch in Ivinhema, which the Salisburys heard many stories about when Priscilla lived with them.
  • Getting a tour of the ranch by Priscilla’s father, Edward, who showed us you can call cattle from a kilometer away.
  • Being spoiled by Priscilla, who housed us like we were staying in a bed and breakfast, driving us everywhere and keeping us fed.
  • Being spoiled by Priscilla’s mother, who indulged us with her own line of decadent gourmet chocolates (Bethinha’s Trufas).
  • Receiving a collection of CDs and DVDs of country singer/rancher Fernando Bernardes, Priscilla’s brother.

Many thanks to the Bernardes family for their generous hospitality! We can’t wait until our next visit, but we also hope to return the favor.