Subject: Feb. 15-16, 2000: Cuiaba, BrazilDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Current Date/Location: Sunday, Feb. 27, 2000. Staying at my friend,
Giovanni´s place in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Current Itinerary: Should be here for a couple of more days. Agustin
should arrive tomorrow, we will see Ouro Prieto and other local
attractions...then we are OFF TO SALVADOR FOR CARNIVAL!!! We should be in
Salvador partying like crazy for the next week!
February 15, 2000 (Tue)-
Greeted the morning on the bus from Brasilia to Cuiaba. But, unlike many bus rides in Brazil...this morning, I had a spectacular sunrise to greet me...really incredible...anyway, the bus kept going and I couldn´t get a picture...but it was one of those sunrises that makes you sit in awe of nature and the natural beauty as the world wakes around you and the morning fog lifted off the grasslands and rolling hills as I rolled by.
Arrived into Cuiaba around 10:30am...called Ana Paula´s house to get picked up and sat down and continued to read my current book Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand (which had been highly reccomended by my friend Agustin...and seems pretty good so far, I am on page 200 out of over a thousand...it is such a huge book, that if it stinks, I am going to kill Agustin!). Shortly I saw Ana Paula and we hugged happily. History: I had met Ana Paula in the Sao
Paulo youth hostel in January, and we got along very well...and then in about the same two sentences she said that she didn´t like Americans, but she wanted to invite me to her graduation party in Cuiaba in mid-February. It was quite a way to invite someone to your party...and I couldn´t refuse...I agreed to attend immediately (one of the benefits of having no job and no responsibilities...your agenda is amazingly clear of impediments).
We picked up her aunt and cousin who were shopping and returned to the house. I was introduced to the entire family mom, dad, brother (Paulo), sister (Andrea), cousin, aunt, uncle, cousin´s boyfriend, and the family dog Richard (pronnounced in the Brazillian manner ´He-sherd´...it took me about 10 minutes to figure out that ´He-sherd´ was Richard...no kidding...the R´s in Portuguese are pronnounced like H´s ...note: Rio de Janiero is
pronnounced like ´Heo de Janiero´...really.). Now, I must admit, Richard is a pretty darned cute dog...don´t know what kind...but it looks like a white mop that moves, licks and wags...really.
The cousin, aunt, aunt´s boyfriend, Ana Paula and I all headed out to do some touristy sight-seeing...first went to the Mercado and Aquarium...it was nice...got to see the infamous Pirana fish close-up...they are in the rivers
near here and South of here in the famous Pantanal Region. We visited a mercado with artisan handicrafts...cool, but nothing I wanted to buy.
Some of the amazing things about Cuiaba (and I would later learn, it applies to many of the cities near the Pantanal) are the phones and garbage cans! The phone booths are shaped like huge birds or fish...no kidding. The birds
and fish are species from the Pantanal and are unique to this region. The garbage cans also are in the form of birds and animals from the Pantanal...I couldn't be making this stuff up! Anyway...I looked to satifsfy a childhood
dream...but couldn't find the Bat-Phone anywhere...darned-it!
Dropped the others off at the house, and Ana Paula and I went to run some errands. One of the errands was trying to rent me a suit...another graduation requires another suit rental. Visited many places...same problem, shoes...my feet are too darned large (the term, clown shoes, readily springs to mind). Anyway, one said they thought they could get me shoes...come back tomorrow.
Returned to the house...had dinner (again, more rice and beans as they have with every meal...staple of the Brazillian diet...ofcourse there are other things at dinner...not ONLY rice and beans...this isn't prison!)...then Ana Paula and I headed out to visit a local bar called Tom Choppin. It is a nice bar overlooking the city with a live band playing...it was a nice way to relax, talk, unwind and finish the evening.
February 16, 2000 (Wed):
I was awakened abruptly by the maid, who opened the door and talked to me in rapid Portuguese. Now, I am trying to be fluent, but it is a little much to ask that I be fluent within the first 2 minutes of waking up...the least she
could have done was speak English to me to wake me up, eh??? But anyway, I understood that I was late to go to Ana Paula´s graduation (well...not exactly the party...this was to be a boring ceremony where their names were
unveiled on a plaque that would be put on the wall of the school...but nevertheless, a big deal for a graduate)...anyway, I hurriedly got ready, joined her mother and grandmother in the car and we sped to the ceremony!
Arrived at the campus and kinda figured it was just too darned early...I was seeing life in monochrome. Everyone was the same color! They all looked like they were wearing white! And, infact, I discovered that they were
because it is required for all medical personnel (and in this case, students of dentistry) to wear white...it is the uniform of the profession, I guess. Well, we arrived into the room with the ceremony just as the last speech was
given...and just as everyone got up to hug and to eat pastries and drink juices...ahhhh...perfect timing!
After some socializing, I went with the family to the hospital...NO, no one was sick...just visiting Ana Paula´s father who is a doctor. He has a suite office! I learned that he and two other doctors own the hospital which is
new and just opened a year ago...guess I am in good hands here, eh? Anyway, it is a large hospital and by all appearances, very well run...much better in shape, size, atmosphere, and everything than the public hospital I had
visited in Rio de Janiero.
OK...one thing I must admit I found to be humorous and a little disconcerting...all of the medical books in his office were in English. Now, I must tell you that I have formed a high opinion of Dr. Barbosa (Ana Paula´s father) and really DO believe that he is an excellent surgeon (remember, brain surgeon), probably one of the top surgeons in all of Brazil. But I do find it a little disconcerting to find that all of his reference books are in English...and he doesn´t speak much English! Ana Paula had translated some passages from a couple of books into Portuguese...and I am sure they are good translations...but if she made a mistake...oops...brain surgery gone slightly askew...sorry! Now, as was pointed out to me, most of the terms are techincal (many in Latin for god-sake...and no one understands that stuff!), and he reads quite a bit of English (more than he speaks)...and brain surgery is not exactly something
where you simply read a manual and follow what you are told without having some skills (like a beginning chef following a cook-book recipe to make a perfect souffle...not quite that simple)...it is a highly skilled profession in which Dr. Barbosa has been practicing with great dexterity for over 30 years...but, I can´t help but think of the American expression for easy jobs, "It is not like this is brain surgery or anything, eh?"...but the difference is...his job isn't easy, and further, THIS IS BRAIN SURGERY!!!
Ana Paula and I then went and visited the suit rental place...confirmed that they DID have shoes in my size...confirmed my suit and I realized that I would be set for the party on Saturday! "Sou Rico e Solteiro!" (smile)
Returned to the house...and now I must tell you about one of the icons of Brazil at this time...Feiticeira. She is the center of attention on a huge beer bilboard near Ana Paula´s house that you can´t help but see everytime you home...and here in Brazil, there is no pretense about using Sex to sell beer or anything else...and Feiticeira is the current rage! Feiticeira is the latest installment in marketing created Sex-Symbols in Brazil. She is blonde, has a perfect body (breasts, stomach, and especially butt (here in Brazil, perfect butts are the ideal for every woman to attain...not as much emphasis on breasts (like in the USA)...here it is all butt (bunda in Portuguese)), and a lovely face that is ALWAYS covered by a veil. You see, Feiticeira´s creators (producers for a silly television program) decided to give her an Arabian aurora, so she always wears a veil and Arabian belly-dancer type clothing (read: Ultra tiny bikini´s with tassles). There are images of Feiticeira absolutely everywhere here in Brazil right
now...impossible to walk down any block in all of Brazil and not see her picture somewhere...no kidding. She is the 2nd creation, the first being Tiazinia, who was a beautiful girl who always wore a Zorro-like mask and tiny bikinis or outfits. The third creation that has just been unveiled is dressed like a South American Indian and is usually conveniently topless (they figure that Indians are topless, so why not her, eh? ...and unlike conservative USA, topless models are commonly shown on the cover of TV Guide or anything else down here.)...but still, Feiteceira is still the most popular. It is quite interesting to watch, and the type of stuff that would send the feminists in the USA into orbit...but here, in this slightly more macho-istic society, the women accept it and go on. NOTE: Tiazinia lost
her popularity by posing in Playboy...not because she was nude, but rather because she posed without her mask...after she was unmasked, no one was interested in her anymore...the mystique was gone. Luckily, Feiticeira can learn from her predecessor´s mistakes...when she posed for Playboy recently she dropped all the clothing except the veil...thank goodness there is a little modesty left in the world!!! I guess if the Indian pricess poses, she should probably not be seen without the genuine, indian face paint, eh?
At the house, I settled in and utilized the internet (ahhh...it is such a luxury to have unlimited internet access...just like at home...sniff...sniff...) while everyone else was taking the daily siesta...I figure I can sleep when I die, right?
Got dressed-up, and headed out for the evening Graduation Mass at the obligatory Catholic Church in Cuiaba. It was nice, again, all the students were wearing white...but in this instance, everyone was trying to out-do the others in the style of their garments. It was very interesting to see how many styles of clothing could be created with the overriding restriction being the color, white. It reminds me of the current song that is called "Blue-babazeda" which talks about a blue alien who lives in a blue world, has blue trees, blue friends, blue streets, blue feelings, and a blue girlfriend...imagine the horror of living in a one-color society, not very interesting, eh??? ...hmmmm...alas I digress, but it also makes me think about one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain regarding California and places that really have only one season:
"No land with an unvarying climate can be very beautiful. the tropics are not, for all the sentiment that is wasted on them. They seem beautiful at first, but sameness impairs the charm by and by. Change is the handmaiden Nature requires to do her miracles with. The land that has four well-defined seasons cannot lack beauty or pall with monotony. Each season brings a world of enjoyment and interest in the watching of its unfolding..." "...I think that to one in sympathy with nature each season, in its turn, seems the loveliest."
I like that sentiment...change is good...I kind of wanted to see someone rebel and wear a bright red outfit instead of adhering to the strict WHITE ONLY attire, but it didn't happen. We went back to Tom Choppin tonight with a bunch of the other graduates. Then everyone headed out to a club called Getulio. I worked on my Samba moves, worked on my Axé Bahiá dancing skills, and accomplished nothing...I´m still a Gringo. Anyway, had fun and got back around 3am.