It's Monday now, almost noon. I'm trying to get caught up on this thing because if I let it go anymore, I will never finish, I learned that in Italy a few years ago. I wrote for a couple of days and stopped for a day, then there was no way to get current, so the whole thing came to a grinding halt.
Let's see, the feijoada on Saturday. In Rio, Saturday is the day for feijoada, an enormous spread built upon a base of pork infused black beans...it's usually a Saturday lunch because you need a nap after consuming all the beans, meats, rice, oranges, manioc meal, collard greens and caipirinhas (the lime and rocket fuel (cachaça) drink so popular in Brazil, especially on Saturday afternoons).
We had a fantastic time eating, talking, eating, drinking, talking, eating and people watching. At some point, a woman sat down at the next table and I did a triple take: she looked almost exactly like my dear ex-spouse Glenda, the Bad Witch of the North (formerly the Good Witch...oh, Deborah's the real name as you may recall). I couldn't take my eyes off her (my soft spot is as soft as ever) and Catherine insisted I shoot a photo which I refused to do, not even using the nearby mirror to snap a sneak shot of her face. However, when I got up to go to the restroom, I shoved the camera into C's hands and said, "here, you take the picture." And she did!!!!! And she was kind enough to take a photo of the doppelgänger's husband! How sweet! (I deleted it!) She really did look like Glenda and it was very disturbing. Since the woman was speaking Portuguese, I was pretty sure it wasn't Glenda.
At the market, Celso and I ate a snack with origins in the African roots of Brazil's Northeast, specifically, Bahia. It's called acarajé, and it's a fritter made from black eyed pea meal, fried in red palm oil (good for the coat), and filled with dried shrimp and a variety of Afro-Brazilian "stews", in this case an okra-based one. And lots of hot, malagueta peppers. Marluce opted for boiled corn on the cob! We then headed to a local bar to have more snacks, called petiscos, and to yap on and on about music, diabetes, Obama, and other important topics. Nice afternoon. Rainy, but nice.
The back of a t-shirt I saw the other night said: "United Federation, founded 18th Century". I have no idea what the front said, if anything. Reminded me of the name of a Brazilian line of jeans and clothing: Taco Conquest Systems. Ten years back I loaded up on Taco Conquest System t-shirt and so on for my kid. I knew he'd appreciate the language. Maybe I should have bought the United Federation shirt off the guy!
Brazilians don't trust each other. This is expressed in a number of ways, and dates back to that imperial bureaucracy discussed in yesterday's post. Since everyone assumes everyone else is a cheat, they build in systems to help prevent stealing, jumping a bar tab, and so on. Of course, the real cheating goes on at much higher levels, involving millions of reais (the real is the currency, it's about 55 cents) day in and day out. Politicians, judges, all are far more corrupt than in the USA (but by how much????) and no one here trusts any pol in any way, shape or form. Ladrão is a common term applied to these folks. Theif. Plain and simple.
Anyway, two examples. Saturday I wanted to buy a couple bars of my favorite Brazilian soap, Phebo, which is made in the Amazon, and glycerin-based. I usually get it at a drugstore nearby. But you don't just go in, pick up the soap, and go to the register. You have to hand the soap to a clerk, they ring it up through some computer, hand you a slip of paper which you take to the register (which is a disorganized as anything you can imagine), then hand it all to the register clerk who rings it up. I have no idea what this middleman process accomplishes since the paper I was given had no indication as to the product I was buying. Nothing. But it's the process in use. That said, it's far easier than it used to be. In the old days you handed the soap to the clerk SHE (never a HE in a farmacia) wrote up the product by hand. She then carried the soap to another clerk and you carried the receipt to a cashier. After paying, you went to a counter with a PAID receipt and traded it for the soap, now neatly wrapped in paper. Not a bag, but wrapped...large packages were tied with string. As recently as 8 years ago, this was the procedure. Thank god for progress.
At music bars, it's just as complicated. It's all about control and control of cheats. When you enter the club, the attendant asks your name, then scribbles it on a form covered with small print and check boxes. You have to carry this form with you the entire night. If you loose it, you are thrown into the sea, or locked up in a closet in the club until you rot. There is no escape without the form. Why? Read on...