Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's a Small World After All

Today started with a big morning storm... I was in the shower when it started, so I indulged and went and stood in it for a while. Ah, so nice!

After that, I had to go to Dique Do Tororo. The lake with the giant fairies. I couldn't get it out of my mind! I knew it wouldn't look as magical during the day, but it was going to have to do. I jumped into a cab and told the driver where to take me, and then he attempted to chat me up. I sadly told him I didn't speak Portuguese. He started talking again later, and I realized he was trying to ask me something, and he was trying really hard. I kept shaking my head and he muttered, "Ah, no entiende..." Then he got all excited and picked up what I thought was a playing card, but turned out to be a prayer card, and started to repeat something. Did he want me to go to church? Then I heard it, "Orixas?" (The "x" in Portuguese shoulds like a "sh" which was throwing me.) Saints! He was saying Saints! It was a Saint card! Did I want to be dropped off at the Saints? "Si si!" And we both were happy.

I did a walk around the lake, a leisurely one, which took about an hour and included lots of pics of Orixas/Saints/Cinderella-type fairies. Also some geese. There was a gaggle of 'em that these kids chased into the water, and they emerged on the other side of the lake at the same time that I got there, bounding up to the popcorn vendor for a snack. (Wise, wise geese.) I caught a cab back to Barra, and passed a curious little street scene on the way... Guys in dresses. I wouldn't call it drag - there were no wigs, heels, or make-up. It was simply a bunch of guys in dresses, with beers in hand, making kissy faces and calling out to the cars passing by. They had wisely placed orange comes in a lane so that traffic crawled to a slow in the one remaining lane, leaving many to observe their antics. The cab driver & I started laughing and I said, "Como San Fransisco!" Then he really started laughing.

I took some last pictures at the beach, and wandered around some more. I'll have part of Monday, but I don't usually take anything to the beach but a sarong and some water, so I wanted to get early evening pictures. I thought about having my last dinner be a fancy one, at some fancy place I'd read about, and then I saw my flirty waiter friend hanging outside of Portal Do Mar. So of course, I went in.

His name was atually Laurenido. I made him spell it out for me because I knew it was pretty and fancy, but I also knew I wasn't remembering it correctly. I told him it was my last dinner in town, since I was leaving the next day. "No!" he said. "I like practicing my English with you!" I said, "Your English is very good; where did you study it?" "Oh, I am self-taught. I like English. I watch English television and have reading materials." He taught himself. And I've studied years of Spanish, grew up in a semi-Spanish speaking environment, and can hardly hold a conversation in the language. I SUCK. Laurenido was at least kind enough to tell me my Spanish was good. He was really workin' for that tip.

Later, I was approached by a man who turned out to be the owner of the place. I had been writing in my journal at the table, and he asked if I was a food critic. "No," I laughed, "This is just so I don't forget any part of my trip." "Where are you from?" he asked. My usual response was (and has been) California (I rarely say I'm from the States). He got really excited. "I've lived in Bahia and Berkeley since 1979!"

Are you kidding me? Two Berkeley people in one trip? So I had to ask him... did he know Kitaytay? "Of course, I sold her the apartment!" So, basically, I was staying in this guy's old apartment. And he also owns my favorite restaurant, and he also co-owns the property management firm that handles the apartment, meaning he is Felipe and Carlos' boss. "Well," I said, "I guess there is a reason I kept coming back to this place." "Let me show you something," he said slyly. In the back near the bar, above some wine bottles, he had a Cal Bears banner. A small one, but, as he said, "It's always Calfornia Bears in here!"

His name was Joe and he is Brazilian, but went to school at Berkeley and never really left. When I told him I used to DJ at KALX and Kitaytay & I would do shows together, he claimed to remember listening. We wound up sitting there chatting for a while - Laurenido joined us - a couple others... just sitting in the breeze, looking over the ocean, drinks and good food. I really couldn't have had a better last night.

I can't believe that it's already almost time to leave! (Big sigh.)