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December 6, 2004


Wow, so much to tell today!  I had a great weekend with one of the girls I met at the Model UN, a real sweetheart named Tanise Piletti.  She lives in Bento Gonçalves, the wine capital of Rio Grande do Sul, so not only did I have a great time chatting with her, her mom, and her two best friends, but I got to experimentar some tasty Brazilian wine from the gorgeous wineries along the Vale dos Vinícolas.  A winding, two-lane road led us through the vineyard-covered valley, which ended in a hilly, stone street that wound past the smallest of the vineyards before returning us to the mountain-top city.  I felt like I was getting a taste of Italy driving along the verdant hills and valleys dotted with the Mediterreanean-like Brazilian buildings with their red-tile rooves. 

I literally did get a taste of Italy for lunch!  Tanise, who once wanted to be a chef and studied cooking in Italy (where her grandfather migrated from years ago), prepared a feast of home-made foccacia bread, pasta, salad, and a veggie/cheese tort she and a friend invented.  Mmm, mmm, mmm.  It was so good (and there was so much of it!) that we had the exact same thing again for dinner that night–and enjoyed it just as much!

Tanise and her mom and friends are so nice, and so enjoyed my company as well, that we all decided I should spend the night instead of taking the 19:00 bus back to Porto Alegre–and so I did!  We spent the evening chatting and relaxing and sharing chimarrão on her front porch, looking out over the grassy lot across the street where her uncle raises fish in a stone pond.  Almost her whole family lives on the street, which occupies part of the land her grandfather farmed to provide for his family after migrating from Italy, chasing the promise of prosperity and a fresh start.  Life for him wasn’t particularly prosperous, for all he had was land–but with today’s high real-estate values, Tanise’s family is healthy and happy. 

Once the sun started to set, Tanise’s friends went home to shower while Tanise did the same at her house.  I wrote in my journal for a bit before joining Tanise’s mom in the sala to watch the first Harry Potter movie, which was airing on SBT.  Eventually Tanise called us into the kitchen for dinner, after which we returned to the sala and were re-joined by her friends, who stayed until almost midnight.  After they left, Tanise and I retired for the night and I fell to sleep to the sound of crickets and other insects chirping in Tanise’s still-green corner of Bento Gonçalves.

Ah, there’s still more to tell about my adventure today, too (I spent four hours invterviewing/chatting with a delegate to the COP, one of the main bodies composed of ordinary citizens in the Participatory Budgeting process)–but Alex would like to use the computer and I’ve probably already overextended my time, so I’d better go.  If I have time, I’ll write about it tomorrow; if not, you’ll just have to come to my graduation party to hear about it




From → Brazil, Uncategorized

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