Summer Vacation in Brazil: Part 2

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.

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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.

Decorating for Sao Joao

Decorations

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!

Pastel and Hot Chocolate

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.

New Friends

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.

New Friends

 Cattle Auction

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.

 

Cattle Auction

Chacaras

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.

Riding HorsesThe Farm

BBQ and Soccer

Things I miss while I am traveling

Yesterday I posted about the things that I love about Brazil. Things I can only experience while I am traveling. Of course there are also some things that I miss about home…

 

  •  Clean, public restrooms. I know it sounds silly, but when traveling with two young kids it is nice to be able to find a bathroom at a moments notice. As much as I plan ahead…”try anyway, even if you don’t have to go”… they inevitably wait until the last minute before frantically announcing that they need to go RIGHT NOW!! Yesterday I got to see a little too much while trying to supervise my youngest in the men’s room. Embarrassed, I used my broken Portuguese to ask one of the other young men to keep an eye on him for me as I averted my eyes (and probably turned six shades of pink!)

  • Dryers. This is something I think I would miss if I lived here because who has time to hang dry and iron all of their clothes?? However, I am finding that the process of doing laundry while I am here on vacation with nothing better to do is kind of therapeutic.

drying clothes outside2

  • 3G Internet connection. Thank you Verizon for not including Brazil in the countries that you support internationally. Did you know that Verizon iPhone’s don’t support SIM cards? Maybe it’s a good thing not to be connected 24-7…

  • Driving. I’m used to being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want. I probably could drive here if I really wanted to, but without knowing the unstated rules of the road I think I am better off waiting for someone to drive me around.

driving in brazilDon’t get me wrong. These are minor inconveniences, and I actually had a hard time thinking of very many things that I really missed because there are so many other things here to replace them. There is never a shortage of delicious food, smiling faces and a sense of togetherness that I will definitely miss when I head back to the United States.

I’d love to know what everyone else misses when they are traveling, whether it’s for a weekend, a month, or an extended stay!

Ten things Brazil has that the United States doesn’t have

There are some things that Brazil has that just don’t exist in the United States. I love traveling and getting to experience new things. Here are a few of the most notable ones.

1. Havaianas. We have flips-flops, but we don’t have these. At least not in as many cool designs. One of the things that is actually cheaper here than in the United States and worth buying!!

Havaianas

2. Chocolate Quente (aka Hot Chocolate).  This is nothing like the hot chocolate in the States. It was like chocolate syrup filled with nuts (which makes for an interesting drinking experience).

Brazilian Hot Chocolate

3. Pastel. Sort of like a giant wonton filled with ground beef, chicken or cheese. A delicious, giant wonton. (How do Brazilians stay so thin??)

Pastel de Frango e Beef

4. French Bread. If you ask for French Bread here in Brazil, you won’t get what you are expecting. Usually delivered fresh from “padaria” each morning, these small loaves are perfectly crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Ask any Brazilian what they miss about Brazil, and I bet this bread will come up in the conversation.

French Bread

5. Requeijao. A cross between sour cream and cream cheese, it is the perfect pairing for the afore mentioned bread. I’ve found something similar in the International food section at HEB, but it’s not quite the same.

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6. Peta. I don’t really know how to describe this one. It’s sort of like a pork rind with a little more substance and a little less bacon flavor. It was the first thing the kids asked for when they arrived. Careful. They are addicting!

Peta7. Pao de Queijo. The literal translation is “cheese bread”, but you can call it a little ball of heaven.  Brazilians seem to have mastered the art of baking anything with a perfectly crunchy outside and a deliciously gooey inside. (Side note: Those with gluten intolerance may have a difficult time surviving in Brazil.)

Pao de Queijo

 8. Pizza. You wouldn’t think eggs, peas, or corn belong on a pizza, but Brazilians will top their pie with just about anything, and make it work. I forgot how good the pizza is here. Many of the pizza places are “rodavarias”, where servers come around with pizza by the slice so you can try lots of different varieties. I don’t understand why this isn’t more of a “thing” in the US.

Pizza

9. Quibe. I think this may have originated somewhere else, but it’s delicious and try as I might to make it at home, I haven’t gotten it right yet. Think crunchy, seasoned meatballs.

Quibe

10. The. Best. Coffee. Ever.  Better than Starbucks could ever hope to be, and that is saying a lot coming from me. It’s also available everywhere, all the time, for free. Often there is a small coffee station on the way out the door after you eat. Or at the grocery store. Or the hardware shop. You know… wherever.

coffee