Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Day in the Country

I wake up early this morning as Renato and Marinete are picking me up and allowing me to tag along with them to an appointment in the country. While they are at their appointment I am going to walk through the countryside, which sure beats being penned up in the house like a dog, waiting for his owner to come let him out. Well the truth is maybe this statement is a little exaggerated as I can leave the apartment anytime I want, but with my limited Portuguese and no car to drive, I feel a little like that dog once and a while. I do have plenty of projects to keep me busy as I wait and am happy to head to the park to walk. (Sounding like that dog once again – lol). Well, let’s just say this is a welcome adventure compared to my regular days.

Renato picks me up and we head to their apartment in the city. (remember we had dinner at their home in Mineiros in a  previous post) It is a beautiful second home on the 8th floor of a high rise apartment building. When we arrive the housekeeper has breakfast set up on the patio for us. Renato sits with me for a while as he eats his breakfast of bread, juice, and cheese, but he excuses himself to finish getting ready. As I sit on the balcony overlooking the city, I begin to wonder what life would have been had my family lived in Brazil and not in Rembrandt, Iowa during my childhood. It surely would have been different with a maid and a nanny more then likely. You see, with some many people living in poverty in the country, to hire a maid and nanny to help with the daily household chores is surely affordable. I have not been in too many homes where there is not one. My mom’s life would have surely been different with cleaning and cooking done by hired help. She would not have relied on us kids doing our chores every Saturday. Dusting, vacuuming, and general pick up, but who am I kidding, she probably didn’t really rely on us anyway and went behind us making sure it all got done right. I just remember it took a large part of my Saturday morning and she spent a lot of time cooking for our family of six. It sure would be interesting to travel in a time machine, make a few changes and see how things turn out. Unfortunately that is not reality and it can only be done in our thoughts and our day dreams.

Marinete finishes getting ready and we all load into the pick up and are off. Past Flamboyant Mall, Walmart, the Modern Museum of Art we head into the country. The sahada terrain is different then the terrain on the way to Mineiros. Obviously dry and the trees shorter, it seems like a cross between a desert and forest environment. We turn down a country road full of dust, speed bumps, and bordered by cattle on the other side of barbed wire fence. The trek takes us for a little over a kilometer and we stop at a security station at the entrance of a walled community. The gentleman Renato and Marinete are meeting is at the front gate so follow him through the gated neighborhood. The man’s home has an open floor plan with lots of outdoor living space, like most Brazilian homes. Surrounded by a lush yard full of flowers, fruit bearing trees, and a swimming pool it is very welcoming and beautiful place. The man they are meeting with (I don’t ask many questions about their visit as neither Renato nor Marinete speak much English) greets us and shows us around. (he speaks none either) All the modern luxuries I have back home with the addition of a couple and a pool of course. They begin their meeting and Renato decides to take a walk. We journey down the street we just drove in and passed where we turned to arrive at the man’s home. A little further there is a turn in the road and around the corner lies a lovely pond. This day with its crystal blue skies and wonderful surroundings is perfect for pictures.
As we walk I take the opportunity ask Renato for a lesson in Portuguese to increase my vocabulary. I reach down and ask touch the grass and motion for a word. We continue this course of learning as we walk and I am introduced to new words like: grass (grama), sidewalk (calcada) palm tree (palmeira) and I am able to reinforce some of the learning I have learned previously like: tree (arvore) road (rua) below (abaixo).  I also put in my repertoire of understanding the Brazilian language the difference between street (rua) and road (estrada) and the differenced between palm tree (palmeira) and coco tree (coqueiro), even though I still do not understand what the difference is between the two trees. They all seem like palm trees to me.

We continue this lesson as we walked. The stroll down the country road was amazing with the sun beating down on us and blue skies all around. I snapped many photos on our journey and the cool breeze was welcome company. I vividly remember turning a corner on the dirt country road and as we rounded the corner a bright yellow canary was singing its beautiful song. Proud and boastful at the top of its tiny little lungs it sang perched on the high wire. A dog begins to bark a short distance down the road at the next residence and the breeze picks up. I noticed our steps on the road, driven by our silence and lack of ability to communicate. How picturesque this setting was. At this point I realized that I was having a wonderful learning experience with Renato who speaks English like I speak Portuguese (very little). Our struggle to exchange a few words forced us to use what little vocabulary we had to express what we wanted to communicate. I think there was only one time when we decided to suspend a conversation for assistance from one of our bilingual friends. I guess we will never know if we communicated one hundred percent correct, but we did ask those bi lingual friends and are pretty sure we got it right.

There was a second inspirational point on the walk when we came upon a wonderful old tree with a gigantic canopy. It was simply amazing as a lot of trees in Brazil are (or in the U.S for that matter). I stopped and looked up into the tree and thought: I could lie under this tree and relax for hours. With the cool breeze blowing over my face and sun slightly penetrating the foliage above, it would truly be a wonderful afternoon. I wonder to myself: where did these days of relaxing go? I used to have them but in the bustle of getting ahead I have lost them somewhere. My experience in taking time off to have an extended stay here has truly brought back some of those care free ideologies. I hope I find time to relax and snuggle up under a big old tree in the near future. Our stay under the grand tree today is shorter then I want, but the time to move on has come.

We head back to the house and on the way I snap a ton more photos. The neighborhood is simply spectacular and a treat for one’s eyes. I see a couple of
lots with their “vendo” (for sale) signs out front and make a mental note. Would I like a home here? How peaceful and tranquil it would be. It would be like most of the homes here with their open floor plan and lots of outdoor living space. They are modest homes and I feel at home here. Who knows, maybe I am foreshadowing my own life?

Shortly we arrive back at gentleman’s home and soon it is time to head back to the city. We jump in the pick up and off we go. When we arrive at their apartment (to my surprise as I thought they would take me home) a traditional Brazilian lunch was prepared by the maid. Renato, Marinete, and myself just needed to walk across the street to get something to drink with our lunch and we are set.

After lunch there is a brief conversation about the afternoon and I once again wish I had brought my little translation dictionary along. I thought they were taking me home but as we passed the Flamboyant Mall, Walmart, and the Modern Museum of Art, I realized they had to make a return visit to the house in the country. I really did not care, as there were a couple more streets for me to explore. We arrived and I left to take a walk on my own. I cherished the time to myself and I soon felt like a young boy walking down the roads in Iowa. The sun was bright and hot and the breeze still cool.

Around the neighborhood I walked, enjoying the many photo opportunities and beautiful treasures to be found. I soon began to day dreaming of walking in our grove back in Iowa as a child. Searching to find hidden treasures and making up stories about life. What a wonderful time childhood was and how wonderful nature is.

Soon it was time to turn around and as I began walking back I was met by Marinete. She had come to keep me company on my journey. It was a welcome gesture as there were a few kilometers to walk. The conversation was a little easier as her English is a little better then Renato and we have a couple of discussions. On our return we stop to visit with a man tending his garden. We learn he is a professor and his life long dream is to have a home with a beautiful garden. So upon retiring he purchased this lot, built a modest home, and started to tend his garden. I had noticed him this morning on my walk, tending to his plants. Wondering what his story was and now pleased to learn what it was. Marinete and I say tchau and soon our walk is over. After a quick tour of the man’s home it is time once again to head back to Goiania.

We travel the twenty kilometers (or so?) back into Goiania and soon we are at the entrance of a gated community. Obviously this is a wealthier community with its security guards and well groomed curb sides.  I am not sure why we have stopped but always welcome another peek into a community and way of life I have not seen before.  I soon understand we are stopping to visit some friends of Renato and Marinete. We clear security and after a brief discussion on directions, head down the well manicured street. It is much different then other communities I have visited in Goiania. The house are large, modern, and don’t have fences around them. We drive a couple blocks and take a right and turn into the first driveway. The friend of theirs

greets us in the parking lot (in English) and it is soon shared that she has spent some time in the United States. Her home is beautiful (as you would expect as she is an interior designer) with white textured wall paper and a glass chandeler.  We are immediately offered a tour and I surely do not refuse taking a look.  As she shows us her open living area, she is happy to share that the floor plans for the home are from the Internet. There is actually a home somewhere in the U.S. with the same floor plan. We get a quick tour of the home and back yard. I am reminded of Iowa again as she showcases her flowers: Petunias, alyssum, hydrangeas. These are all flowers I planted many years growing up in Iowa. I remember spending time tending to the flower beds around the house. Watering, weeding, and there were plenty of petunias that’s for sure. She is proud of her flowers (and should be) as they are rare in this subdivision or this part of the country for that matter. She offers a story that her gardener is tired of her neighbors always asking
questions about her flowers and what they are. It is truly one of a kind in her neighborhood. After pasteis and coffee, we hop back in to the pick up for the trip home. She invites me to her son’s birthday party but I don’t think I will be in Brazil at that time, but I sure hope we get to visit her again sometime in the future. Her energy is good and finding someone who speaks English is always a welcome treat.

We meet Luiz for dinner where I share my thoughts about my walk with Renato and how good that is for me. How I need to focus on broadening my vocabulary in the Portuguese language. We end our day by driving to an ice cream shop for a cold frozen treat. I deserve it after all the walking this afternoon. Since arriving in Brazil over a month and a half ago I have not stopped to enjoy one of my favorite treats.  Ice cream is definitely a great exclamation point to this day.
(Read - "Off to Mineiros")

No comments: