Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Weekend Part II - Sunday

Sunday we did something we unfortunately very rarely do- we got out of the city.

I was raised in the country, but I feel very comfortable in the city as well- maybe too comfortable. I would love to have a second place for us to go, a place with at least a back yard and a tree, but back when I had money and it was worth something I blew it and didn't 'invest.' Now that dream has pretty well receded over the horizon.

However, Evani's friend Sylvia did invest in a piece of land, in a small city about an hour from here called Amelia Rodriguez. 'Amelia,' as we call it, is a cute town with a nice little square and some pretty houses. And lots of trees and fields and such. If you start to drive out of town, there's a side road in horrible condition, so as to be almost impassable in my little car. This road is lined on both sides with tiny, decrepit houses- poverty worse than most of the favelas in Salvador. Many of these houses are made of taipa, which is a kind of mud and lath construction which has been replaced by brick and cement houses wherever anyone can afford it. Evani and her family used to live in a house made of taipa, with no electricity or running water.

That's where Sylvia bought her land.

You don't have to get very far out of the city for the countryside to start to remind me of home- rolling hills, fields, cows... but instead of oaks, maples and birches you get palms, bamboo, and almonds. The main highway out of the city is a mess- a mosaic of asphalt patches, deep grooves, and lots of traffic. It's actually in pretty good shape compared to a lot of roads here in Brazil.

Sylvia is building a barracão for the boiadeiro - a Candomblé church for the spirit of the caboclo that frequently takes Sylvia and provides us with advice, gives us ritual cleansings and folk medicines. It's almost finished. Everyone went out there because the same windstorm that I wrote about in a previous post ripped some of the roofing off and they went to shore it up.

I love the country- especially the peace and quiet. Of course, it's often hard to find peace and quiet in Brazil, even in the country. Sylvia's son Bira now lives out in Amelia and is what they call a pagodeiro, ie a fan of pagode. I am not a fan of pagode. I especially wasn't a fan of the pagode of the day, featuring all of the current mindless hits in a live mix with the singer constantly riling the crowd with "Va, va, va, va, va!!" which means "go, go, go!!" but the way he was saying it it sounded more like he was herding cows or goats or something.

The first thing I enjoyed in Amelia was some fresh acerola straight from the bush. Here they have a funny custom of calling a fruit bearing tree or bush a pe, which means 'foot.' So an acerola bush is a 'foot of acerola.' Best foot I've ever tasted.

The best thing about Amelia is the waterfall that lies at the end of her road. They tell me that tourists come through that little favela to check it out. After the houses peter out and you start to walk downhill, you enter bamboo forests with bromiliads as big as I am. It's so easy to forget that I live in the tropics and I can see these wonderful things outside, not in some botanical garden hothouse. Both Lucas and I have had the closest thing to a baptism for either of us in this same waterfall- Nelson called me into the water and put his hands on my head and I don't know what he did, but afterwards he told me that now I am his filhado, which is like a godson. The last time we were there, the boiadeiro took Sylvia at the falls (ie she went into trance) and he baptized Lucas.

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