Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2000 3:57 PM
Subject: April 13-21, 2000: Recife VI - Paixao Play
Current Date and Location:
Thursday, May 4, 2000 in Belem, Brazil (on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Amazon River)
I should leave Belem tomorrow (Friday) by boat for Manus. It will be a 5 day boat trip...followed with visits to Manus and I hope to arrange some sort of a tour into the Amazon.
PERSONAL NOTE: I have had many notes from friends wishing me well as I go off and marry my new found love, Luciana. Hmmmm...I think many of ya'll are jumping the gun...wasn't it just a few months back that all my friends had me listed under the CONFIRMED BACHELOR title???!! I'll certainly never be accused of rushing headlong into marriage...why don't I just start with her as my girlfriend for now, OK??? Any ideas of marriage are somewhat
premature and would be foolhardy at this juncture. I love Luciana and she knows it...but everything happens in it's own good time. I must continue travelling for now, as my journey is not complete yet...just the same as her
residency and studies are not yet complete for her to become a doctor. If it was meant to work out...it will...it time...if not...c'est la vie...for now, she is simply my wonderful girlfriend...and for now, let's just leave it at that.
April 13, 2000 (Thur):
Arrived in Recife off bus from Fortaleza. The bus dropped me off about 2 blocks from Luciana´s hospital...so I shouldered my backpack and headed back to therapy...smile.
I walked into the hospital in full backpacker regalia...needless to say, I was stopped by the security guard...I spoke to him in very broken Portuguese and English (neither of which is up to optimal form these days)...assured him that I was a friend of Dra. Luciana...and then headed up the elevator to the 7th floor...hmmmm...does anyone know that 7 is my lucky number??? Not sure I would exactly term this hospital ward as being 7th Heaven...but nevertheless, Luciana works here, so it is pretty OK with me!
I slipped into the doctor's lounge area (the other doctors know me...so this was not a problem)...and motioned to a couple of them that me being here was a secret. Well, in typical Brazilian fashion, the secret didn't take long to spread...and Luciana burst into the room in about 3 minutes...smile. She was surprised, but happy to see me...and I was pretty glad to see her as well! We chatted briefly, but I knew she had to work...so I told her I was going to go to one of the other waiting areas and go read one of my books so she could work.
Luciana had to work until noon today...then at 7pm tonight until 7pm tomorrow night...24 hours straight...ugh. So after she got off work at noon, I was starving...she knew a great place that specialized in Fish and Chicken cuisine...I had Frango Cubana (Cuban Chicken) and she had Frango Parmigana at Cafe Eros! We had a long luxurious lunch...had lots of catching-up to do...and spent 2-3 hours chatting. Then she dropped me off at the Albergue while she headed back to work.
At the Albergue, I ended up meeting several folks. Went out that night with Brazilian guy(Name?), Aussie(Name?), and Karianne/Norway. We went to Recife Antiguo...hung out and talked at a street corner bar (until it started to
rain...then we took refuge inside...then when the rain stopped, we migrated like everyoneelse back outside...this is commonplace in Brazil...rains being strong, but lasting only a few minutes).
I ended up talking with Karianne almost all night. She is travelling with a group of 4 Norwegian guys who are travelling around the world, but never go out to enjoy the nightlife...go figure. Anyway, rather than being a
stereotypical Scandanavian...ie. tall, blonde...she is a short, non-blonde (according to her she is non-blonde...I actually think she is a dirty blonde...but this translates poorly to most folks...somehow implying that her standards of personal hygiene are not up to par...rather than simply a description of her hair color). Anyway, she had been to the Far East and really enjoyed Thailand (another vote for going there next...) and is travelling before entering University...as a law student...shudder. But, she assured me that she doesn't want to be a lawyer...rather a
lawmaker...not sure that is much better...but I wished her well. Ended up crashing back at the Albergue around 4am.
April 14, 2000 (Fri):
Woke late. I had acquired a copy of Arthur C. Clarke's book, 3001-The Final Oddessy at the Albergue (someone had left it there)...and I was intent on reading it today. I went to Shopping Recife, not really to shop, but simply sat and read most of the day. The Final Oddessy was pretty good...not earth moving for me...but entertaining. Some interesting ideas, like fixed-orbit satellites (not ones fixed in a particular position...but literally, fixed to the earth, extending up into space. Basically a space station that is connected to the earth via elevators...thus maintaining rotation and partial gravity...cool idea, eh? My description is probably pretty poor on this subject...read the book.).
When Luciana finally got off work (after 24 hours straight through) we wanted a tranquil evening. We had Pizza Hut deliver a pizza to the Albergue, and we just ate, relaxed and caught-up with eachother. We had plans with friends to go dancing at Downtown Club, but the combination of Luciana being very tired, her having to work tomorrow (for a few hours), and it raining very hard convinced us to bag the dance plans...sorry to those we
were supposed to meet.
April 15, 2000 (Sat)
Luciana had to work this morning from 7am-10am ish...and I went to the Shopping Center. I have learned that I can sit in the Siciliano Bookstore and read their English magazines...without buying them!!! So, being Scottish and poor, I spent the morning reading the newest editions of National Geographic and Scientific American.
One of Luciana's dearest friends (who is also a doctor in residency at the hospital), Renatta, was having a birthday party. So we went to her family's weekend house (yes, weekend houses are VERY common among folks who can afford them) to attend the festivities. It was a nice affair held pool-side with food, drinks, waiters serving us, and karaoke music (also popular in Brazil...no, we didn't participate). Needless to say, the rest of the corps of doctors in residence showed up, along with some of the staff/teachers...Brazil is very much like this...you work and socialize with the same people. This happens to small extent in the USA, but more often your work and soical groups consist of different people.
Before we went to the party, Luciana had mentioned that I may get thrown in the pool...her friends have a tendency to do that. Hmmmm...I assured her that I was much too big to be easily tossed in the pool...but, true to her word, late in the party, Eduardo got the notion in his head to throw someone in the pool...and me being a foreigner who wants to assist in upholding the traditions of Brazil...I assisted him...in throwing Luciana in the pool! We also jumped in the pool in the process. This was quickly followed with strong invitations to both his girlfriend and Renatta to join us in the pool ("strong invitation" meaning we threw them in the pool as well!).
All in all it was a very good day...including a lovely sunset. Stayed there until late.
April 16, 2000 (Sun):
Trying to regain some of my touristic composure, I insisted that we go somewhere exotic and act like tourists. So, Luciana and I went to Itamaracá.
Itamaracá is a small beach located North of Recife (about 1 hour) which has two major attractions...an old fort that rests on the beach literally extending into the surf, and a small island just off the coast that is roughly the size of 5 football fields but is a lovely tranquil place to spend the day.
First, we visited the fort, Forte Orange. As I mentioned, it is immediately on the beach...overlooking everything it is very nice, with people literally swimming in the surf and playing in the sand just below it's high walls. I don't know who built it...Portuguese, Dutch, etc...but it is a worthwhile excursion if you are in or near Recife.
After the fort we took a boat to the Island Coroa do Avião (this after me getting really annoyed at a particular boat driver who kept following us wanting us to utilize his boat and services...hmmmm...this did not work...we
used another). On the island, we walked along the beach...went swimming...watched the seagulls...drank a coconut...and basically had a nice day in a tropical location...no more explanation needed, eh?
Funny how you get to know a person, eh? We were driving back to Luciana's apartment and I saw Rui Barbosa on the side of a bus as the company name. Now, my friends in Fortaleza live on Rui Barbosa Street...so I asked, who was this Rui Barbosa guy??? Next thing I know, Luciana is quoting me poetry that was written by Rui Barbosa from memory...and not just a line or two...but paragraph after paragraph (all I could quote back to her was the opening remarks of Mark Anthony's speech in Caesar...somehow "Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your ears..." did not matchup to her poetry quotations). I actually don't remember much about Rui Barbosa (politician, poet, statesman at the turn of the century...1800s-1900s)...but rather, how amazed I was at Luciana...she like a diamond...every time I see her in a new light, the different facets of her sparkle a little brighter. Smile.
Had dinner with her mother at their apartment...I took a much needed shower, and then we headed out to see a new Brazilian movie...Bossa Nova. It was an ideal movie for us to go watch because it is about an English lady living
(and teaching English) in Rio de Janiero...so about half the movie is in Portuguese, and the other half is in English with Portuguese sub-titles...so I could follow most of it without problem. It was a very good movie, and if
it is available in the USA, I recommend it.
April 17, 2000 (Mon):
Woke early (around 11am)...Luciana was back at work, so I went to Shopping Recife...I found a copy of Jorge Amado's book, Dona Flor and her two Husbands!!! Needless to say, I bought it immediately and began to read it. I have been amazed at the shortage of books in English by Brazilian authors. When I find books in English, they are inevietably of Danielle Steele, John Grisham, and Tom Clancy...and there is a place for these...but as an
American in Brazil, I crave reading books by Brazilian authors! My new Jorge Amado book was a real find! I read it for awhile. Then returned to the Albergue to meet Luciana.
At one point during the day, I had gotten somewhat sentimental about Luciana (I guess it shows that I like her, eh?)...and I wrote the following in my diary, which I shared with Luciana:
"Today as I look at Luciana's picture, I begin to think about her being old and less attractive. I have known her for exactly one month now...today is the one month anniversary of when we met. It is an obvious note I make when
I observe that time has passed. Even the picture I look at right now was taken months before I met her...In the picture, she has a faraway, distant look that is as much a reflection of the image as it is a trick of the camera angle."
"I find her to be lovely, a true pleasure to behold...for me, she is the most beautiful thing in my world. However...she will NEVER get better looking. I do not say this maliciously...it is just fact...none of us are likely to get better looking...however, I find her more and more attractive everyday. When she plays the guitar, sings, talks about being a doctor, quotes poetry, or a myriad of other things. I can imagine her older, more wrinkled, greying hair and I smile. (Let's not contemplate the brutal effects of time on me, ok? I have every reason to believe that it will be far kinder to her than to me...smile). I can't help to contemplate how much lovlier she will be in future years...smile...while none of us can hope to get better looking, I am quite convinced that Luciana will become more and more attractive as the years pass."
"Douglas D. McLean...lost in a dream in Recife. One month gone, and falling fast..."
To celebrate out 1 month of know eachother, we decided to go out to dinner. We took a leisurely walk along the beachfront to a restaurant, Botecco...we had a wonderful conversation and evening. Recife actually turns out to be a small town when you are with a local, and we ended up meeting one of Luciana's friends, Ilan (her friend Karla's husband), who happened to be their with a couple of friends also. Said hello to them...and then headed back to the Albergue.
April 18, 2000 (Tue):
I went to shopping Recife...used the internet a little...read a lot.
Went to the beach...walked along and saw the exposed coral reefs while the tide was out...it was cool. Sat in a beach chair, under an umbrella, drank coconuts, and Read Jorge Amado to pass the time until I would see Luciana again...
Luciana arrived at the Albergue really tired...but fortunately, she had enough energy to get me some McNuggets on her way over...good girlfriend, eh????! ...she had a long, long day at work. I did my best to comfort her...she had swelled ankles from standing for much of the day...so I rubbed her ankles (well...I also tickled her a little bit...but mainly I rubbed them)...we talked for a little bit...but soon, she was napping through my conversation hmmmm...some would say this is the best way to have a conversation with me, eh?)...anyway...it ended up being a short night before she had to go to sleep...one of the drawbacks of dating a doctor is that they do work lots of hours (7am-7pm is not exactly a light schedule).
April 19, 2000 (Wed):
Woke...continued reading my Jorge Amado book for awhile...then headed to the beach. After the obligatory first-coconut of the day, I met some guys playing volleyball. They were a group of city bus drivers...who all met
every Wednesday and Friday to play volleyball. I ended up playing with them for a couple of hours...it was great! I got sweaty, sandy, and felt way out of practice...but I LOVED IT!!!! Made me miss my friends in the South Bay!
Returned to the Albergue...showered...and waited for Luciana. Luciana picked me up, and we were both very happy! She had changed her schedule around at the hospital for this week (being Easter weekend)...and today (Wednesday) she had worked until noon and was now free from work until Monday!!!! That is 4 1/2 days off to spend with me!!! Wheeeee...needless to say, I was very happy to have her to myself...although to achieve this, I think she mortgaged her working life away for the next year...oh well, we have this weekend, eh???!!! So, we headed out to have lunch with her friends from the hospital. Ofcourse, during lunch I gave them grief about how I don't ever work, and how Luciana doesn't have to work until Monday...needless to say, by the end of lunch we didn't have a friend left
in the group...smile.
After we lunch, we went to the ceramics gallery/site of the artist, Brennand...which was a complete shock to me!
I have visited many places in my travels...but this is one of the most amazing sites and sights that I have been to. We arrived...and from the beginning, I was amazed...truly stunning is this building and grounds...full of his works...and on a bright sunny day (that we were blessed with) it is spectacular. Brennand makes ceramic sculputures that are provacative, interesting, and different. It would be hard for me to describe...so when I get my pictures developed, I promise to put of them on the internet so you can see what I am talking about...really cool! We walked around the grounds and around the small pond next to it. Stayed there for 3 or 4 hours...I thoroughly enjoyed it.
After leaving the gallery, Luciana used the cell phone to call her friend Karina...I was told that we were now invited to dinner...cool, free meal, eh!!??? Then as I am speaking more with Luciana, I learn it is a special yearly dinner that Karina's family has that Luciana has attended before. Then I learn that Karina's family is Jewish...and that we are not just going to dinner...but more specifically, since it is Holy Week, we are attending a Passover Satyr (sp?). OK...so I attended one while at the University of Texas (at my friend Michael's house...it was great, and I was honored I had
been invited)...but this was a Jewish ceremony in Brazil...a largely Catholic country...about the last thing I had expected to attend tonight, or infact on my trip, neato twist of fate, eh?!
Anyway...we ended up at Karina's house...met Karla (Karina's sister) and her husband Ilan (who I had met a couple of nights before at Botecco). Saw a beautiful sight from their balcony, the almost full moon over the ocean...a
lovely night! Karina arrived (note: Karina is one of Luciana's best and oldest friends), she is a doctor as well (like that is a surprise these days!). A few other friends of theirs arrived to attend the Satyr (sp?)...we all sat down and enjoyed the ceremony (although they were new to it...Karina's parents usually preside over it, but they are travelling, and this is the first year that they were left to continue the ceremony by themselves...)...it was nice...I got to read a couple of the parts (with varying levels of success...but, thankfully they were in Portuguese...which I do a little better with than reading Hebrew or Yiddish). And, at this Satyr (sp?) they actually had some pretty decent Gfilta Fish (sp?)...I was surprised. It was a great time, and I was honored to be their guest.
Went back to the Albergue sometime after 1am.
April 20, 2000 (Thur):
Luciana arrived and we decided to go to the beach for awhile...but she had not brought proper beach clothes...so I happily gave her a pair of my shorts and my Carnaval shirt (which is the most hideous bright yellow shirt you can
imagine...obvious tourist apparrel)...hee hee...it was like playing dress up with Barbie...but lifesize! And I just couldn't help but giving her the worst of everything to wear. She took it like a trooper, even my comments
about her looking like a gringa and me looking more Brazilian than her right now...fighting words to most Brazilians...but she just smiled. At the beach, we drank coconuts and watched people play volleyball...ahhhh...I
guess life isn't too bad...
As I think I have mentioned, there is a very famous Passion Play that is performed every Holy Week in a nearby locale, called (amazingly enough) Nova Jerusalem (New Jerusalem)...it has been running for over 50 years now and is very famous in Brazil. We went to shopping center to buy tickets to the show, Paxiao de Cristo 2000...while there, Luciana got a call from friend/coworker Evoide...he was going today as well with his girlfriend, Rosa. His grandparents live in the city of Caruaru near Nova Jerusalem, so we arranged to meet them there later. We headed out of town, stopped for gas, and accidentally met up with Evoide and Rosa...so we followed them to
Caruaru...met his entire family...lots of quick hugs and kisses...and then headed quickly to the Passion Play...we were late.
Arrived just after 6pm (starting time)...got in...just in time to see end of first act! NOTE: If you attend this type of show in Brazil, unlike the movies which are in English with Portuguese subtitles, do not expect the actors here to speak in English with subtitles...Jesus amazingly enough speaks Portuguese in Brazil...go figure.
Anyway, the layout for the events are very cool...each part of the passion play is on a different stage in a big open area. Each stage is like it's own ampitheater complete with sloping hills around it allowing spectators at the back a view as well. After each act, everyone is guided (herded) to the next stage location and you have a mass movement of 50,000 people from spot to spot...I think there are 10 stages/locations in all. It actually worked very well.
Watched the moonrise over Jesus in one of the parts of the play...it was truly spectacular...sometimes, man's performance can not overshadow nature (or another way to look at it is that the creations of God are certainly more spectacular than anything that man can devise...eh?). I ended up taking lots of pictures of the event...hope they turn out...but near the end of the show, the camera's lens didn't retract properly...it basically stopped working...sniff sniff...(NOTE for future reference: This is why I will have few pictures of the next few days events).
Luciana told me that Evoide had said we could stay at his grandparent's house...so we all headed back there. Arrived...we were served a big meal...mmmmm...really good...especially his grandmother's chicken cassarole...mmmm... His grandparents are absolutely adorable...wonderful people who are so welcoming to all. Really made me feel good...and miss my grandparents a lot (love ya'll Grandmarky, Grandmommie, and Grandpoppie!).
Talked for quite awhile...Luciana told me some about Evoide's grandfather and how he started with nothing...literally cutting sugarcane in the fields in his youth and foregoing an education because he had to work to make money...he worked hard to provide means and education for his children as they grew up (becoming doctors and lawyers)...but also, eventually became educated himself and is now a writer...success like this are always great to hear...and better to see...and went to sleep.
April 21, 2000 (Fri):
Woke at Evoide's Grandparent's house in Caruaru. Breakfast. Heard the grandfather tell us about Lampao (a famous bandit in the Northeast...something of a Brazilian Robin Hood...hated by the army and police, loved by the people...no kidding).
Visited the market (very large and famous)...then went to artesan city with many images of Lampao. Visited his Aunt's house had snacks and casquinhas...then went to grandparent's house...had lunch...siesta...woke...visited uncle's house (ate again)...visited Aunt's house (ate)...I think you get the picture...we ate alot and were very full we headed back to Recife. BUT, we had to stopp at Rei da Casquinhas (King of Casquinhas)!!! I had 2 more casquinhas...and was about to explode (very full). NOTE: A casquinha is basically a ball of stuff (sometimes chicken, crab, cheese, you name it.) that is rolled in batter and fried...almost like big hush-puppies...except there is stuff in them...they are pretty good.
On the way back to Recife, Luciana gave me more of a picture of Evoide's family, and her own. Her father had studied in Medical school with the Uncle we had visited earlier. She had only gotten to know Evoide in the
University, but it is neat to see the history that is repeating itself in these two families...the next generation of doctors studying together again. NOTE: Evoide's girlfriend, Rosa, is absolutely wonderful, and at the time
of this writing, has now become his fiancee...congratulations to them both.
Back in Recife, stopped at Luciana's house for awhile...I checked my e-mail...and then crashed back at the Albergue.