Monday, May 16, 2011
Off to Mineiros --
However, the pao de
quei (cheese bread), refreshing drinks, and a chance to stretch one's legs are always worth the stop. The only other stop on our trip will be to fill the tank with gas a little further down the road. Like in the United States, fuel prices seem to just continue upward, but that is an observation for later or maybe even another day. It is a nice ride and I continue to doze off from time to time. The second half of the trip down the two lane highway is a little bit more treacherous as the road is filled with potholes and overall condition of the road gets worse. There are a lot of trucks who have a hard time traversing the somewhat hilly terrain. It also seems to me that in the middle of corn, beans, and sugar cane fields, the law of the road disappears. Vehicles pass us on the right shoulder and the no passing zone as mere suggestions and don't mean much as drivers continue to pass, taking their chances that there is nothing coming over the hill crest ahead.
So, why did I share this experience at this time you may ask? Well, as we are traveling, at a couple of moments when we are passing there is a motor cycle coming and they are forced to move to the shoulder of the road on the opposite side. Often they are treated as 2nd class vehicles, condemned to the shoulder of the road. I think this is a an example of the lack of respect being transferred back to them. But the truth of the matter is -- motor cycles are everywhere and you really have to be on the look out for them when driving in Brazil.
shift shacks along the roadside on government owned land. This group continues to protest the current system asking the government to give them farmland. I wonder how this is supposed to work? Take someones personal land and split is up or is this all government land? I also think of land ownership in the Midwest United States where the current trend is that the farms are getting larger and larger. The distribution of farms and landownership is definitely changing there. It seems pretty Marxist ideology to me and I wonder if they actually gave these people land... Would they be happy? Would they want more? It is hard to say.
Now, back to our travels. I am reminded of growing up and the fields of Iowa as we travel. Corn followed by beans, followed by corn. This is the areas second harvest of the year as their growing season is much longer then in Iowa. There are also sugar cane fields which are currently being harvested, which adds trucks and dust to our route. We arrive in Mineiros and are greeted by his family. His parent's home is a welcoming place, with a well landscaped front yard behind the wall with an electric fence along the top. The extra large kitchen and dining area are always full of family and friends, often having coffee or lunch. As many homes in Brazil, there is an open floor plan with lots of windows and lots of outdoor living space. It is nice to be done traveling for the day and enjoying his families company. (I keep my ears open for Portuguese words I know and continue to focus on learning the language -- every once and a while I will have an epiphany about the language and add it to the process) Lunch is served consisting of the staples of Brazilian food: rice, beans, meat loaf, and chicken stroganoff. Today we are treated to a local fruit call pequi (pee key) in the rice. (a local wild fruit that people from this area say you either are from here and like it or are not from here and do not like it) His mom apologizes that she has put it in the rice and forgot about me but I actually give it another try and it is OK in rice. (FYI - I had tried it in Atlanta once before)
We spend the afternoon around the table and soon his cousin Renato stops by. Luiz and I decided to take a ride around the community and head out the door. Mineiros is a typical Brazilian community with its Catholic
churches and streets lined with walls hiding the front yards and homes behind them. When driving around the narrow streets there is a lot of concrete and little greenery until you arrive at the numerous squares in town. We head towards the mall that is currently under construction and scheduled to open later this year. Rumors of a cinema and subway are circling around the town. As we drive by the construction site and view the progress, Renato asks if we want to head to his farm. Of course the answer is yes as I am always up for an adventure. What will we find? How will it compare to the farm we visited in December or the farms of Iowa? We travel about 15 minutes and soon begin down the dirt path to his farm. He shows us the eucalyptus trees he has planted on the left and right. Now it is just a matter of waiting for the trees to grow and be harvested. As we travel down the path, there is an old man working with the few cows and horses on the farm. Renato calls out to him and he responds. We soon arrive at the house and are excited to take some photos as some of the trees are in bloom and it is a sunny day (again wishing the sun would have come out last week in Rio - but so goes life) The house is a simple house with tiles floors and a lot of outside living area. We are treated to some tangerines we pick from the tree and Luiz is given some harvested Brazilian peppers to take home. We enjoy our time on the farm and the current residents seem to enjoy showing us. It is a lovely and relaxing afternoon, very similar to many afternoons on the farm growing up.
(Read "Day 2 in Mineiros")