11.04.2010 - 11.10.2010
It’s always nice to come to Brazil. It’s one of those places where you get off the plane and you are engulfed in a feeling of warmth, a kinda tropical, very relaxed, and extremely friendly kind of warmth. I guess for me, Brazil is like a second home, where as for Flavia, it is a time for her to see her friends and family and catch up on what she’s missed. Even though it is very relaxed here, we certainly don’t get to spend too much time relaxing. Too many aunts, uncles, and cousins prevent us from really sitting down and relaxing, especially Flavia’s uncle Osni. Everyone has a crazy uncle but Tio Osni takes the cake. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t take no for an answer and always has to be sure that you are happy. Therefore there’s too much beer all the time, a light snack turns into a full on raid of the fridge, and the fact that I have to try a bit of everything. Every time we stay in Curitiba we always base ourselves at he and Tia Delize’s house. After a heavy lunch of Feijoada, Brazil’s national dish of a black bean chili with all sorts of pork, I managed to get a quick nap, then Osni woke me up by jumping on the bed and whistling to indicate that it was time to go to see his local soccer team, Atletico Paranaense, play. We headed to the stadium with another uncle and Osni’s daughter’s boyfriend and had a few beers, a Carne do Onça (raw beef on toast with onions, green onions, soy sauce, mustard and hot sauce on top(does wonders for your breath)) and of course a few shots of Cachaça to warm us up. The game was as exciting and intense as I expected, with 10 teams currently within a shot of winning the title, every game is important, and we sang and whistled and jumped and cursed and screamed and jumped while whistling, and cursed while screaming, until Atletico scored with only 5 minutes left and everyone simultaneously jumped, whistled, screamed, cheered, ran, stopped, and went insane.
A late night led into an early morning and I prepared lunch for the family, fish and shrimp and some other goodies. After a nice meal Flavia and I headed to our friend’s house. Gregory and Carol visited us last year and Flavia was best friends with Carol in college, and they always have us and all the rest of the ol’ college gang over whenever we come. This always means lots of good meat, and of course beer. I spent the night with the guys playing Playstation 3 while the girls went through photos and caught up on old times. We woke up early again the next day, still a bit jet lagged and now very tired and headed back to the house and waited for Flavia’s parents to arrive. We celebrated their arrival with Tio Osni forcing a few beers into our hands, then headed out to meet some of the family at a local Churrascaria. For anyone who hasn’t been to a Brazilian BBQ restaurant, I’m sorry, you haven’t lived. Brazilian BBQ is an all you can eat feast of meat, or as I’ve heard it called “Meatapalooza”! Here, you fill up your plate at the salad bar, then sit and wait, as server after server comes by with all different typed of meat, and they slice you off a little piece of everything you want, until you are about to explode. From there, the whole lot of 15 headed down to a local club where another cousin, Felipe, was in the semifinals of a big time “Battle of the Bands” competition. We heard about 10 bands, and theirs was certainly in the top 3, and were likewise rewarded with a trip to the finals. What was most interesting for me was the fact that everyone, cousins, uncles, aunts, my in laws all headed to the VIP section at this bar, and most stayed until 4 or 5 am, only in Brazil!
Finally, after yet another BBQ on Sunday at Tio Newton and Tia Lucy’s house we got in the car to head to Flavia’s hometown Itapejara d’Oeste. Coming here is always nice. This is as small town as it gets, a few roads, about 15000 people, rolling green hills, and peace and quiet. I was impressed as we pulled in to see some of the improvements in the town and immediately scheduled a meeting with the mayor to let him know how much the town has changed since just one year ago. Since Flavia’s dad is the mayor, organizing this meeting was no trouble! I will say though that it’s nice to see politicians doing actual work, as he heads to Brasilia each month to lobby for funds to improve infrastructure. The hospital has been renovated, I toured a school today that Flavia’s brother is building for the city (he is a structural engineer), the uneven brick roads have been pulled up and paved, there is a city park being put in, and nearly 250 new houses are being built for lower class families, all the terrible things you would expect from there dreaded socialist government!
Once we arrive here, it is a bit tricky to find things to do, in between relaxing at Flavia’s grandma’s house, or seeing a few more aunts and uncles. Right now I’m kind of stuck in resume hell. It’s time for me start thinking about work, so I’m really using this time to start applying for jobs and trying to figure out what we’re going to do. To be honest, I am really ready to get back to work, I’m eager to see what kind of jobs are out there for me, and I think that coming back with a clear head and being motivated will hopefully allow someone to take a chance on me. The only thing is, I haven’t really put a resume together for about seven years, but fortunately my friend in Germany is playing email ping pong with me to get it together. One thing that is a true constant here at Flavia’s house is that there will always be food. Lunch is a serious affair here, and there is never a shortage of main courses on the table, like today with lasagna, roasted pork, a big chunk of grilled lamb, salad, beets, rice, and then a few desserts! I love to eat here, everything is a family recipe and the precision of these family meals is amazing, Flavia’s mom never let’s anything be short changed. They work a lot though, with her dad busy all day and night, and Flavia’s mom doing more work for the city than you would expect with such a small population, although a recent city poll did show her with a higher approval rating that Flavia’s dad!
So now here we are, trying to get a job, reading, hanging out with family, finishing up our trip. This is my fifth time in Brazil and my third time in Itapejara d’Oeste and each time we are asked when we are we going to return. It would be an interesting life here, don’t worry, we wouldn’t expect too many of you to come all the way down here to visit us, but really, rural Brazil in the south is something so different than what you may expect.