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September 4, 2004

4/9/4 Sabado


Portuguese word of the day:  pesadelo.  (I make it a point to commit at least one new word a day to my vocabulary.)  It means ‘nightmare’, as in Ralph Nader is the nightmare of the Democratic Party according to an article I read in Epoca, a Brazilian magazine.  The two-page spread also had a blurb about the Swift Boat ads that began attacking Kerry last week; I was happy to see that the blurb didn’t neglect to mention that Bush avoided his own service duties!


I went to a huge ag expo today that featured sheep, cows, horses, food, and crafts from all around Latin America.  Brian and I spent four hours wandering the craft booths; admiring the criolo, Arab, Quarterhorse, and miniature horses; watching a cow get milked with a God-awful metal contraption that couldn’t have been comfortable; briefly watching a roping contest and a sheepdog trial; and eating a waffle on a stick with a melted chocolate bar in the middle (Brian) and a meat patty sandwich with cheese, tomatoes, peas, corn, and shredded carrots followed by soft-serve vanilla/chocolate swirl ice-cream (Me–I know, not my usual healthy diet.  But hey, I walked around for four hours straight and it was HOT, so I needed the ice-cream to cool me down).  It was fun to do something akin to the Grange Fair for a day, which is wrapping up in Centre Hall this weekend–it makes me feel not so far away from home


When Brian and I returned to Porto Alegre, I was in one of my wandering, exploratory moods, so instead of taking the bus right back to the apartment I walked up to the Plaza de Matriz to take a look at the municipal cathedral, which I’d only seen quickly in passing one afternoon.  It supposedly has the second-widest dome in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica having the widest.  The inside is fairly simple for such a huge cathedral, but very beautiful–not like the gawdy, gold-encrusted alters characteristic of Mexican cathedrals.  The facade of the cathedral has gorgeous, colorful tile mosaics depicting scenes from the Bible.


On my way back towards Avenida Oswaldo Aranha to catch the bus back home, I happened past a small bar/lanchonete open to the sidewalk from which lively, German influenced (I think) music was drifting.  I stopped to watch and listen while poorly dressed but richly spirited men played tambourines and two couples danced between the plastic tables and chairs.  One of the men watching and listening from a table inside the lanchonete waved me in when he saw me standing outside, so I stepped in until the song ended.  After clapping along with the five or so customers enjoying the fun, I continued on my way, regretting that it was getting dark; I would have liked to stay and listen, chat, and perhaps even dance a jig or two, but I know it’s not a good idea to be out alone in the city at night.  The faces of everyone there were so full of joy and merriment; the scene made me think of Tiny Tim’s home in A Christmas Carol, where poverty isn’t an obstacle to smiles and laughter.  These are the people that I want to get to know in Porto Alegre–the people whose lives are driven by different factors than my own, and are affected so much more by the politics of the city than those of the middle class majority, whose lives will continue more or less the same regardless of the distribution decisions made by the municipal government. 


I ended up taking the wrong bus home, as I discovered after it turned off the main avenue about 3/4 mile before Petropolis.  At least a half dozen of the lines go past my neighborhood, but I’ve only discovered four of them as of yet, so I hedged a losing bet on a fifth tonight.  I yanked the stop requested rope as soon as it turned off of the main avenue and got off at the next stop and proceeded to walk the rest of the way home, thinking the whole time about how I could meet people who are part of Porto Alegre’s underclass.  I couldn’t come up with any solid ideas because for safety reasons I can’t just take a bus to the neighborhoods I know are poor and start walking around and talking to people.  One thing I can do is continue to chat with the woman who cleans the Santos’ apartment on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  She, too, has a friendly, zippy spirit.  Sra. Santos told me that when her (the woman who cleans their apartment) daughter was a child she had polio.  The doctors told her that her daughter would never be able to walk again, but she wouldn’t accept the doctors’ prognosis and helped her daughter to do exercises at home until she gained near-perfect mobility back in her legs.  Amazing. 


Well, it’s 22:00 now and I have some work I’d like to get done before I go to bed, so até logo, meus amigos.

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From → Brazil, Uncategorized

4 Comments
  1. Hey Cori!
    Sounds like you are having an amazing time in Brazil!  We certainly miss you here, but I can’t wait to read and hear about more of your experiences! 
    While I know the challenges of getting to know a new place in a 1st world industrial nation, you are definitely going a step beyond by doing that in Brazil!  I really admire you for that  We’re truely blessed to have you as part of the FISH family.
    God bless, and keep me posted!
    Peace,
    nate

  2. bungus!!!  what’s up!  it’s cool to hear about what you’ve been doin’…we miss you here in PA :O(  i just went to the first home football game today with kelly and her brother patrick…annnnd a bunch of my friends…it was awesome!  italy was a blast and i’ll have to show you pictures whenever you show me yours from brazil.  la lingua italiano e’ molto similare a espanol.  ma, italiano e mi favorito!  ciao!  bueno notte~
    matt

  3. buenas noches chica!  (hey, what’s the time difference between seattle and your part of brasil?)  nice log you have going on here!  it would be great if you put your portuguese ‘word of the day’ up all the time — i’d love to learn a few words!  cheers, Kendra

  4. Ah, now I understand “Blogging.”  Here’s a deep question:  What is the difference between a blog and a chat room?  Is there any difference?
    Why am I so late to this blog thing?  This is a much better way to communicate with you! 
    Hun, I hope you are getting excited for Argentina.  Please scope out the mountains so that we may return there someday to do some trekking.  Or climb in the Fitzroy Range (Patagonia)–which ever you choose.
    Someone in Baltimore loves you.
    Paul

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