Monday, December 22, 2008

Tchau, Brasil...

One last trip to the beach. One last bit of shopping. One last piece of delicious roasted cheese on a stick.

Okay, so I got a couple questions about that last one. It's pretty simple, really. On the beach, there are vendors wandering around selling food & trinkets & blankets and stuff. One beach delicacy is a chunk of mozzarella cheese, on a stick, rolled in your choice of herb (my choices were usually oregano or pepper flakes), and roasted over a small tin of hot coals till it gets kinda crispy on the outside. This is indeed a fine art, as if you cook it too much and it'll fall off the stick, too little and it's still hard on the inside. Then some sort of sweet-ish sauce is sprinkled on, and you eat the whole thing in about a second. Dee-lish!

I went into a beach front shop to grab a silly magnet. I don't know, lately I've been grabbing silly magnets for myself on my foreign travels. An old man came in and was chatting up the lady behind the counter. He started taking off his clothes and handing them to her, so I guess they knew each other and he was leaving his stuff there so he could go enjoy the beach. He asked me if I was from Chile or Argentina. I said, "No, California. But my mother was from Colombia." "Oh!" he said, "I knew you had some South American in you. I could see it in your face." (I honestly could not tell you if he was speaking Spanish or Portuguese to me, but I understood him perfectly.) He continued, "There are many beautiful women from Colombia - that is why they keep winning Miss Universe!" I started laughing and said, "No, no, no... Venezuela always wins Miss Universe!" This made him and the shop lady laugh, and she said, "True true!"

So on that note - back to Kitaytay's place to type this final farewell to Brasil. After a little clean-up and the final packing, meeting with Felipe to hand over the keys, and then hopping in the taxi to go... I can say that I leave with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes. And a million and one mosquito bites.

This is a special place - difficult and beautiful, friendly and frightening. There is a vibrancy here, a love of life despite the hardships. I know there are many places like this in the world. Being here just reminds me to remain grateful for what I have, for my wonderful friends, my job, my family. The economy of the US is in the crapper - but just look at so many other nations and see the spirit of the people who live there who actually have much less than we have... Now I sound like I'm preaching, but it's true. We're a bunch of whiny babies. Get over it and be thankful, really, for what you have. We'll get through it.

And I'm thankful, very thankful, that I got to come here and meet these wonderful people and eat the fantastic food and tan on the gorgeous beaches... Saudades, Brasil! Tchau!