Last Post from Brazil

March 29, 2010

This is the last post from Brazil.  I can’t believe that it’s time for me to go.  I felt like we were going to be here for forever, and it was even more reinforced when Scott left two weeks ago and I was still here.  Now it’s really time for me to go, too.  I’m trying to console myself by just saying over and over again that it’s just for now.  It’s time to go back to New York and get more training, to learn, and work hard.  Brazil will always be a part of our lives, I’m sure of it.  Paulo and Edite and Karen, Andre, Mark and Gi, Elen, Ricardo and Alan, Marjory and Eduardo and Rafa and Izabella are close family now, and it’s so important to me to keep the relationship going.

Lindsay and I had a few perfect days in Rio–it was a strong ending. Yesterday we moved hotels to a place over in Ipanema, and then took the bonde up to Santa Teresa.  We had lunch in the cool shade of Aprazivel, and then walked through the Centro a bit.  We took the subway back to the new station at Praca General Osorio, which I can’t believe is actually done and open(!) and hung out for a bit.  We had dinner at Zuka last night, my favorite restaurant probably in all of Brazil and I got to have my favorite things there one last time.  This morning we got up and went for a run, then had an acai and walked through the feira at the western edge of Ipanema.  After a couple of hours on the beach I realized that I had to deal with paying our last phone bill and suspending our accounts with Claro.  Entirely in Portuguese I explained all of this–it was a seamless interaction.  After paying the bills at the bank, Lindsay and I grabbed Koni for lunch, had some Mil Frutas, and then I was on my way to Galeao.

My taxi driver couldn’t believe that one person could have such heavy bags (although I’m happy to report I’m going home in the same two bags that I arrived in, just more books, which made them heavier) and we had a nice conversation (in Portuguese) about how I was living here and this was all my stuff for a year.  She asked how I liked Brazil and we talked about how these days everyone eats and drinks and texts and talks on the phone when they’re driving and that it’s very dangerous.  It was nice to chat with her.

Now I’ve made it through the airport, where the American Airlines people spoke unaccented English, and through immigration, which I’ll write more about from New York (just in case), and sitting at my gate, ridiculously early, just in case anything went wrong and I had to visit the Federal Police.

Brazil, I will miss you, but I’ll be back.

We’re Famous!

March 21, 2010

The Thursday before last I went with Edite to the feira at the Praca Charles Miller.  I wrote about it that day–talking about how she was the queen, which she is.  I also mentioned at the end of the post that we were interviewed by Folha de Sao Paulo and they took our pictures and everything.  Well here we are!

And we were quoted.

My quote says something like, “I love the diversity of the products, the colors, etc., the happiness of the vendors.  We don’t have this in the U.S.”

Queen of the Feira

March 11, 2010

I went with Edite today to the feira in the Praca Charles Miller.  She’s gone every Thursday for the last forty years to buy all of her fruits and vegetables, meat, and eggs.  I’ve written about the feira before, when we went with Elen, and other feiras in Brazil that we’ve been to. They’re uniformly gorgeous, with tables of fresh, leafy lettuces, deep purple eggplants, wooden crates of tomatoes and grapes, guavas sliced open like geodes to reveal their fleshy pink insides.  There are tables of eggs, brown and white ones, piles of young coconuts, glistening meats and fishes and bins of olives.  At one end of the market there were flowers, but no too many, since there’s been so much rain here lately.

Edite knows everyone.  Every vendor, the guy that helps park and watch the cars.  She likes the Japanese women who sell the vegetables and they go through each kind, a dialogue about what’s fresh and what’s not.  Edite gives her list, studies a few glistening lettuce leaves and then walks away to the tomato guy while the Japanese woman rounds up her order.  The tomato guy hands me a perfectly ripe plum tomato to check for sweetness.  It’s the most tomato-y tasting tomato I’ve had in some time, and it makes me sad that I’m going back to New York soon to the world of tasteless, mealy winter tomatoes.  She gives her order there, too.  The fruit man has us try different types of grapes, mostly Brasileiro grapes, but some Chilean ones, and Edite orders there as well–papayas for breakfast in the morning, a pineapple, grapes, a kilo of small, jewel-like plums, deep purple and juicy.  The egg guy puts together a flat of thirty eggs, tying them up with twine, and the banana guy, in his raspy voice, remembers me from when I came with Elen and hands me a bunch of small bananas, each the size of my thumb.  Edite chats with all of them, and we work our way back up the feira to pay each vendor, make sure everything is there.  When I try to help carry the packages, it’s clear my help isn’t necessary, the blue-vested man who watches the cars is on the case, collecting everything.

As we were paying at one stall, we ran into the chef of a very good French restaurant down the street on Rua Bahia who was getting interviewed for the Sunday magazine of Folha de Sao Paulo, the city’s biggest newspaper.  Edite chatted with him and talked about how much she loved his restaurant.  The reporter interviewed us and took down our information, in a mixture of Portuguese and English and we talked about journalism.  The photographer took our picture, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to wind up in the newspaper.