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October 17, 2004


I was just spying on the neighbors in the apartment buildings that I can see from the back window of the Santos’ living room.  When Sra. Santos is home, she always leaves the white metal window blinds down, but I love to leave them open so that I can see the world outside.  The sky is clear tonight, with a crisp, crescent moon and faint stars–more than I’ve seen yet since being in the city.  When I opened the window and leaned out to take a closer look, I noticed a father chasing his toddler around the room in an apartment on the other side of the block.  Candles flickered in the windows of an apartment in the building to the left of the father’s, and lights illuminated an awesome-looking kitchen in another (crandberry-colored walls decorated with all kinds of old-fashioned pots and spice racks).  To the right I could hear the sound of silverware and dishes clanking inside another apartment.  I like these sights and sounds.  They endear me to the city, reminding me that there’s life inside all of these tall, modern buildings.

This afternoon turned out to be gorgeous despite midday cloud cover.  I spent it in the park reading, writing, and listening to the music always being played around the park for Sunday visitors.  Thousands of people were enjoying the day with me, scattered on blankets around the various lawns under the huge California palms that line the main walkway through the park (they really are California palms, too–imported).  Street kids played in the several fountains around the park, and families and couples strolled up and down the mall and the craft fair along José Bonifácio, the street along the south-east side of the park.  Watching the street kids splash around in the fountains made me feel okay about enjoying the park myself–even the most unfortunate residents of Porto Alegre are free to delight in what the park has to offer without reprimand.

I got to listen to my favorite Bluegrass band, Trem 27, which plays every Sunday under the bus stop cover on José Bonifácio.  They played “Rocky Top” today, making me smile as I thought of FISH kids singing the song from the FISH songbook back in Westminster Hall.  One of the band members spent some time in the U.S. South and fell in love with Bluegrass, so he started up a band with his friends in Porto Alegre.  It’s neat that something from U.S. culture other than Hollywood and Pop music is being shared with Brazilians.  The band is such a delight to watch:  they play with the greatest expressions on their faces, and the guitar player always wears blue-jean overalls and a big, floppy cowboy hat.  I bought their CD, Bluegrass for Breakfast (the idea is that by purchasing their CD, you’re helping them buy breakfast), so you can all listen to it when I’m home if you’d like.  Imagine that:  one of my five musical purchases from Brazil is Bluegrass music!

Well, that’s all for now, gente.  I’m going to check my email and then do some reading… and maybe peek out the window one more time to see what the neighbors are up to



From → Brazil, Uncategorized

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