Coffee, Rocks, and Bloody Toes in Brazi-U

At the park in Sao Paulo

So here I am in Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo is an enormous international city that I surely first heard mention of in some spy movie–the animated letters appearing across the bottom of the screen announcing the protagonists newest setting. It’s gorgeous, and temperate! Winter here is perfect–sweater needed but really no coats for most.

I totally love it here even taking into account that it’s a complete farce, a complete rídiculo considering the hunger and aestheticallyunpleasant conditions that most of this country’s population experiences–to put it mildly–of which I have only seen hints and heard allusions.

Hektor after 8 hours of Portañol

Learning a bit of Portuguese has been loads of fun especially because beautiful beautiful Byron takes every opportunity to publicly compliment the speed with which I’m learning the strange and beautiful nasally grunts and flourishes. At first I was convinced that the whole country was trying to speak Spanish and just doing a pretty poor job of it. Anything I have learned is due to Byron’s awesome friend Hektor who took me in during my first few days here and guided me through the language infancy stage which involves a lot of pointing, jarringly awful pronunciation and lots of repetition. He also bought me my first pão de queijo (a savory biscuity thing made from fermented manioc starch and shredded cheese) before I even knew how to say it.

Before landing in Sao Paulo, I traveled to various coffee farms with Byron–an invaluable opportunity to say the least. The way coffee farming is done here is very different from the bits I’ve seen in the rest of Latin America. Coffee is most often planted in rows and sometimes on flat land allowing for much more mechanization. Another bonus for me was experiencing the different dialects of people throughout the interior and then in Rio.

Rio de Janeiro. One day in Rio. Everything about Rio was overwhelming–the size, the smells, the architecture, the decay, the tragedy, the unlikelihood. The five hour bus ride took ten hours. We arrived late to our tiny hostel room to be greeted by a big bowel movement (as the docs politely say) in the toilet. In the morning the two lovers set out to be tourists. We took a ride to a point called pão de açucar which overlooks all of Rio. We followed a cab driver’s recommendation and ended up eating lunch in an employee cafeteria which couldn’t have pleased me more. We spent the afternoon up in the windy crests of Santa Teresa where our poor waitress shattered our coffee cups and I bloodied both my toes. I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Byron & Hektor conquer rock

Other trip highlights include staying in a BEAUTIFUL restored home in an abandoned (or bought out) old train station town; hiking up a beautiful rock with great company while Byron went straight up the side climber style; fire roasted steak, sweet yuca and chunks of tomato served on a cutting board and shared between everyone at the table; and experiencing the delicate yearning of parting ways as a certain  lover climbed into a taxi yesterday and headed for Brooklyn.

I’m headed for Buenos Aires for a surprise Lauren Stephenson with a guerrilla visit wearing a gorilla mask, update my Argentine Spanish, and look at interpretation programs.

A borrowed wish from my friend Kate: may you find ease and fulfilment in your work today.

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