Thursday, March 15, 2012
My blog is in Portuguese!
I logged on to make a blog entry and everything is in Portuguese! I've had to fumble my way through the various pages to get to the "new post" page so I can make an entry. It's pretty fitting, though, as I've been fumbling my way through life these past few days since arriving in Brazil to speak at a marriage retreat. I speak a little bit of French and a little less of Spanish, but absolutely no Portuguese, which is the language spoken in Brazil (not Brazilian, in case you were wondering!). I didn't even know how to say "Hi" or "God bless you" or "Where's the bathroom?" But in a few short days I know Portuguese so well that I can actually make people laugh! Okay, so they're laughing at my attempts to speak Portuguese! But Brazilians really are fun-loving and joyful people. I've noticed they also really enjoy playing charades. It seems everyone wants to play the game with me. They're also great kissers. Usually at a marriage retreat the husband and wife are encouraged to do a little kissing, but I must have been translated incorrectly because they are kissing each other and us! I'll have to check my Portuguese dictationary again and see what I said wrong!
All jokes aside, we are having a wonderful trip. What a beautiful place Brazil is. The scenery is stunning, the weather is hot and sunny, the food is great, and again, the people are friendly and warm. We arrived after an all-night flight at what would be 5:30 a.m. our time. I packed up my Cabin Cuddler blanket, memory foam eye mask and TravelRest pillow and opened my window shade to wake myself up with sunlight. I looked down at miles and miles of green and red...lush green foliage and deep red soil. We walked off the plane and were hit by a blast of warm, humid air...even at that early morning hour. We spent a very long time in customs and finally were released into the Brazilian world. We had to catch a shuttle bus to another airport and by the time we got there we were feeling a bit hungry. I told Jeff we should watch what the locals were eating and then eat the same thing, since we couldn't read the menu. Everyone was coming to the seating area with a tray holding a tiny cup of dark espresso and a little round bun. So we pointed to the items we wanted and handed over our money and then sat down for our snack. The espresso was rich and delicious and the little bun was baked with cheese...slightly crisp on the outside and slightly gooey on the inside. They were great!
We hopped on our last plane (3 in all) and arrived at our friends' city just in time for dinner...a most interesting (and delicious) experience! It's called "barbeque" by the Brazilians, and it is an all-you-can-eat meat buffet. The waiters arrive at your table one after another, all carrying long skewers of roasted meat....beef, chicken, pork, ostrich, buffalo, lamb...all different cuts, different marinades, and different flavors. Amazing...especially for my meat-lover husband!
Then we drove "home" and carried in our luggage and tucked ourselves into bed after 30 hours of travel. The air conditioner slowly cooled us and soothed us into a very restful sleep. And then bright and early, the exotic birds began their morning chorus. I opened the shutters and let the warm sunshine spill into our room, then grabbed my camera and took pictures of the lush subtropical bushes and trees and flowers. I looked for the birds that sounded like little squeaky-toys, but they were tucked away in the lush foliage, probably watching me! I changed into shorts and running shoes and took off on my usual morning run, mentally marking landmarks so I wouldn't get lost in the twisty roads of the neighborhood. There are some great hills here, and roads and sidewalks that are cobbled and rough...charming to look at but dangerous to run on. Many times I had to slow down to a walk, but that was fine with me because I was able to enjoy the details of all the pretty yards and houses along the way. Such beautiful gardening and such clean, tidy houses! Freshly washed laundry drying in the warm breeze, ladies sweeping their sidewalks, kids walking to school, dogs barking furiously but wagging their tails at me, good smells of breakfast wafting to the street through the open kitchen windows.
After I'd worked up a pretty good sweat (not very difficult in the summer subtropical climate), I made my way back to our friends' house where we had a typical Brazilian breakfast of fresh fruit, like guava, papaya, mango, oranges, bananas and avocados, served with an assortment of breads and pastries from the local bakery and topped off with coffee. Then we showered and dressed in light summer clothes and left for a nearby city for our first night of ministry. We left early so we would have time to shop and have coffee. Prices in Brazil are quite high. Gas is $8 a gallon. A small TV was going for $5,000. A cute white cotton dress was $200. I didn't buy anything, but it was fun to browse. And dessert and coffee were a real treat...an airy chocolate cake rolled around sweet cream and strawberries and a light, creamy lemon pie that was silky smooth, sweet and refreshing. Then we visited friends of our friends, who served us a beautiful fruit platter and cold drinks. They spoke very good English, so conversation came quite easily. We prayed with them before leaving for the church, and then got just a little bit lost and arrived just a little bit late. No problem. We were greeted enthusiastically with hugs and kisses and led to our seats. We had a great night of ministry, speaking and praying for the people, then enjoyed a time of fellowship afterwards. They served hot dogs, but not the way we do. They dice their hot dogs and mix them into a savory sauce with other vegetables like corn and onion, then they spoon the mixture into hot dog buns and top it with crunchy shoestring potatoes. Interesting! Then it was an hour-and-a-half drive home and off to bed. I made sure to open my bedroom window a bit so I would hear the birds better in the morning. There is nothing like the sound of exotic bird calls to wake you up...best alarm ever!
Next morning I took my camera with me on my run and snapped pictures all along the way, hoping no one would see me and think me rude or even trespassing. Taking pictures was a compliment...I thought their homes and neighborhood were stunning...but I had no way to express that, so I was discreet in my picture taking. We had another yummy breakfast and lingered over coffee on our friends' airy patio, enjoying the breeze, the sun and the sound of water from the beautiful pond and waterfall our friend built, talking and laughing together. Then we packed up our suitcases and hit the road to the beach where the marriage retreat was going to take place.
The beach town was cute...just like an American beach town only with a tropical twist. We met up with our friends' group of leaders helping them with the retreat. We found a fun little restaurant that served "pastels," which were pastry pockets stuffed with all kinds of good things both sweet and savory and then fried crisp. I had a chicken and cheese pastel, topped with a zingy sauce, and then shared a dessert pastel...one melted chocolate with fresh strawberries (too sweet for me) and another was a mild, slightly creamy/slightly stringy white cheese melted together with sweet guava jam. It was called "Romeo and Juliette" and it was delicious. We ate on the patio, which was strung with lights to brighten the dark summer night. So much laughter and fun! Then we all trooped down to the moonlit beach and admired the full moon spilling silver light across the dark sea, making the white caps glow as they washed up on the shimmering sand. Then we went back to the hotel and settled in for the night.
I'm looking forward to the weekend. I've so enjoyed all we've done and all we've seen and the people we've met, and I'm sure it's going to be a wonderful time at the retreat. So, comfy in our little beach hotel room with its cool tile floors and blue and white walls, I'm settling in for the night under the light sheets, with a little bit of sand on my feet and the sent of fresh ocean air in my hair!