The Journey Continues…in Poxoreu
After a couple weeks in Cuiaba, we packed up a very full pickup and headed to Poxoreu. Although the idea of spending a couple weeks in a small, country town in the middle of nowhere* might not sound like the best way to spend a summer in Brazil, I would have to disagree. We have had a great time here so far. There has been no shortage of food, family, or fun here. The kids are loving the fact that they can play soccer and “paga-paga” in the street with relatively little risk of getting run over.
*As we were driving, I was trying to explain to N. the difference between cities and countries because he kept asking me if we were in Brazil yet. I was explaining that we had been in Cuiaba, which was a city, and now we were driving to Poxoreu, which is another city, and all the cities are in Brazil, which is a country. Then N. looked out the window and asked, “So, which city is this? I explained that this part of the road was between two cities, and in an attempt to simplify things, may have said that it wasn’t really anywhere. Then, in a moment of clarity that only comes with the innocence of childhood, N. exclaimed proudly, “Oh, I get it! We are in the middle of nowhere!” LOL! Exactly.
Festival São João Batista
The majority of the last week and a half has been focused on a holiday that they celebrate here in honor of São João Batista (Saint John the Baptist). My aunts seem to be key organizers so we spent a lot of time making decorations! There was a festival at night called Festa Junina that consisted of a lot of fried food, some carnival games, a very loud auction, a slightly dangerous trampoline (no bounce houses here), and lots of randomly exploding fireworks.
We ate a lot of fried food filled with meat and cheese, called “pastels”, and I tried something called Quentao, which was like Chai tea with a kick. (I was not a fan.) I also had some Chocolate Quente (Hot Chocolate) which loosely resembled the version I’m familiar with, except that it had nuts in it. It was also burning hot and served in a flimsy clear, plastic cup which made for a lively trip back to my table!
The kids had a lot of fun playing the a fishing game where carnival prizes could be won by snaring wooden fish with a long pole wearing a hooked prong at the end. We will be returning to the United States with a lot of little plastic men, several pairs of socks, some plastic cooking toys and a couple more dolls than we brought with us.
The kids made some new friends. Once the neighborhood kids figured out that there were a couple American kids on the block, they just kept coming! The kids are like mini-celebrities. They were a little overwhelmed by the sudden rush of attention, but once they warned up to it, I think they had fun playing pick up games of soccer, and it kept them busy for a couple days until the charm wore off. The other kids were excited to learn some new words in English, too.
This trip has been full of firsts. I added another one to my list: first cattle auction. You would think, being from a small town in the middle of Nebraska, that I would have been to at least ONE cattle auction, but none spring to mind. This cattle auction kicked off with a simple, but tasty meal of rice, mandioca, and meat (which I assume was from one of the cows that wouldn’t be getting auctioned off…). On a side note, I don’t ask a lot of questions about the meat before I eat it. I’m sure I’ve eaten some parts of animals that I’d rather not be aware of, but it has all been delicious so far. Also, everywhere we go seems to have someone selling cheap, carnival toys that blink and flash in a way that screams “Buy Me!” in a language that only children understand. We will also be taking several of these toys back to the United States with us.
The cattle auction was an education in the life cycle of a hamburger, and erupted a fury of questions from the kids. “What do they do with the cows after they sell them?” “But why do they want to kill them?” “How do they kill them?” “Can we buy a cow, but not kill it?” So far we are buying a horse, a cow, a sheep, a goat, several chicken, and possibly an ostrich. They are all going to live in our backyard. The kids promised to clean up after them, although N. volunteered his sister for this job. I think we should start with a fish.
There are a considerable amount of farms around Poxoreu. The kids love the farm because they get to see animals, run in the open grass, and swim. It was a little chilly for swimming, but they did get to ride horses, talk to cows, chase chickens, and play in the dirt. Basically, they got to be kids and do things that you don’t get to do when you grow up in a city. We also watched Brazil grasp a thrilling win over Chile in a last minute penalty kick shoot-out while my uncle fixed some amazing Brazilian BBQ. I think the pictures speak for themselves.