Friday, March 20, 2015

Brazil, Day 5: Sacramento!

We decided that Wednesday morning we were going to get out and walk around town. It had been raining a little bit most afternoons, and it sounded like our afternoon was going to be busy.  So we enjoyed a lovely breakfast with Maria Licia and headed out after that.  One of Caroline's favorite things she understood in Portuguese was when a customer of Maria Licia's stopped by during breakfast.  The conversation went like this:

Customer: Who is this?
Maria Licia:  This is my son!
Customer gives a dubious look.
Maria Licia: He's my American son!

It was really sweet!

Sacramento isn't very big, and we quickly found our way from Maria Licia and Alvair's house to the center. We wandered down to the church. I think it's full name is Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Patrocínio do Santíssimo Sacramento, but everyone calls it the Igreja Matriz. It's currently under renovations in preparation to become a basilica. There's a big plaza next to the chuch where events are sometimes held.

We also stopped by Kenia's clothing store, and a grocery store and just wandered around for a while.

After a bit we made it to the CNA English school Kenia had taught at when I was an exchange student and we dropped in to see Maria Luiza who runs it. It was really nice to see her again! I used to go to the CNA school to use the dial-up internet and talk with people when I first came to Brazil. The CNA schools are doing something pretty cool these days. They've started a partnership with some retirement communities in the US where the Brazilian students video chat with the people in the retirement homes. You can check out their video here.

After lunch we headed to the potato machine! Juninho is Gustavo and Carla's friend, and he works at (owns part of?) this potato place. They have some of their own farms, but also clean potatoes for others. Semis pull up and dump potatoes in a bin where they get a first wash with water to get the big chunks of dirt off, then they go through several washings, two automatic sortings to separate them by size, and to get rid of mushy ones.

Then there's a final manual sort line where any with small defects are picked out and then they're put into these big bags and shipped off to the market!

They end up in markets in São Paulo and other places the very next day. The potato machine was really cool and we are really grateful to Juninho and Gustavo for taking the time to show it to us!

Across the street from the potato processing was a small stable Gustavo, Juninho and some other people keep some horses. Gustavo said they go ride them sometimes, riding all day and then meeting the women at a rancho for a BBQ or something at night. The horses are Mangalarga Marchador horses which are known for their smooth gait.

The horses were beautiful and were the only thing that gave us any problem at customs on the way home! There were two separate questions on the immigration form: if we had been to a farm and if we had been in close proximity to livestock, such as touching or handling.

Saying yes to that made us go through two extra lines on the way back into the US, but in the end they just wanted to spray disinfectant on our shoes in case there were microorganisms lurking there. They didn't even open our bags.

After the potato machine and horses we headed back to Maria Licia's where we made cookies for Carla's birthday. Chocolate chip cookies aren't really a thing there, so they were a hit! After they were made everyone kept snitching them, but there were plenty so Carla got a plateful when she came by later on.

After cookies we took a nap to the sound of the afternoon rain storm. After a while we got up to get ready for a newspaper interview. I was the first exchange student to come to Sacramento and at the time it was kind of a big deal. I'm pretty easy going and made lots of friends, including with the head of the school I attended. He also worked at the newspaper and still does. He interviewed me when I was going home back in 1999, and so when he heard I was in town he wanted to interview me again. It was nice to see him again and it was fun to hear some of the answers I had given 15 years ago.

Caroline wants to interject here:)

Hi, it's Caroline!  I just have to tell part of the interview in my own words.  So we're sitting around Maria Licia's house and this booming voice from outside heading inside says. "MICHAEL RICHARD MOORE!" in a very Brazillian accent but like a radio announcer voice.  And it was like this guy had known Michael forever!  After asking Michael a few questions, he asked me, "So what's it like living with this crazy guy we all know and love???"  I just laughed the whole time, it was just so delightful!  I never knew that the official Michael Moore Fan Club all lived in a teeny tiny town in Brazil!  Okay, back to Michael!

After the interview it was time to get ready for the Churrasco! Churrasco is a Brazilian institution. It's a barbecue, but it's not burgers and brats. It's real meat. Usually steak. Often pork sausages, chicken (including hearts, mmmm) and sometimes lamb.

Alvair has a dairy farm with almost 200 cows on it, and he had slaughtered one not too long before we came, so all the freezers at his and Kenia's house were packed tight with beef. They also killed a sheep for the occasion.

(Okay, Caroline interjecting one more time.  Guys, it was like the prodigal son returning home.  That it exactly what it was like!  They killed the fatted calf AND a bonus sheep and invited their friends to make merry and celebrate his return!  It was so sweet and so amazing to see how much they all loved and missed him, even after 15 years!!) (Michael again: I'm really pretty sure they didn't kill the cow just for me. I'm pretty sure they just kill cows sometimes because meat is yummy.)

Alvair had invited the entire rotary club to come, and I got to see many familiar faces and old friends that night and to introduce them to Caroline.

And now I get to introduce them to you!

First off, here me, Dr. Pedro and Ana Edina.

I lived at Ana Edina's house when I first came to Brazil. My first host dad, her husband, José Carlos, passed away a few years ago and my first host siblings both work in other cities. They all put up with me while I figured out Portuguese and while I figured out how to fit in in Brazil.

Dr. Pedro was my second host dad. He and I always had a great time talking about all sorts of things, including politics, religion and whatever else we found interesting.

Gustavo manned the grill all night long. Here I think he's working on the lamb marinade. The fire is usually eucalyptus charcoal. It makes a delicious smelling smoke. We had picanha (top sirloin), delicious sausages (calabresa, I think), and the lamb. The lamb was delicious.  

Caroline thought it was extremely funny when Gustavo was trying to let her know that he was now slicing up the lamb.  He didn't know the English word, so he just started saying "BAAAAAA!!!!! BAAAAAAA!!!!" as he slliced :)

Here's Caroline and I with all my host parents who were there that night. Ana Edina, Dr. Pedro, Me, Caroline, Maria Licia and Alvair.

Another of Dr. Pedro and I.

Gustavo cutting up meat while chatting with Carla and Juninho.

My host sisters Kenia and Carla with Caroline in the middle.

My host sisters and I with our spouses. Kenia+Jonas, Caroline+I, Carla+Gustavo.

Gustavo and Carla gave us this nice knife set...

... so we got a photo of all the men in the family holding knives.

Maria Julia really liked Caroline (and vice versa)!

Most of Maria Licia and Alvair's family. We're missing Enzo who was sleeping. Can't blame the guy, this photo was at 12:30 or so at night as the party was wrapping up.

Kenia and Jonas' family along with Caroline.

There were a bunch of people I wanted to see and visit in Sacramento, but I just didn't have enough time. I think the only thing to do is to go back again soon.

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