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

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Summer Vacation in Brazil: Part 1

Brazil 2014It’s taken me WAY too long to get out this first post about our trip to Brazil this summer, but there is always something going on here. There is never a shortage of people or activities, and it’s actually hard to find a few quiet moments to blog. But finally…

After a nearly 24-hour trip half-way around the world with two children, we arrived in Cuiaba. Thankfully all flights arrived on time, and there were no breathless sprints towards urgent last calls. The trip was fairly uneventful aside from one bumpy landing that resulted in the deployment of the proverbial “barf bag” nestled in the seat pocket in front of us. Unfortunately, it was a little too nestled, so most of it ended up on Noah’s pants, but being the prepared mom that I am (sometimes) I had pack extra clothes in each of the kid’s backpacks for just such an occasion. We cleaned up in the first WC we found upon landing, and went on our way to customs. It was just as well for avoiding the long line!

We are all having a blast aside from the crazy heat. I was under the false impression that Brazil had something of a winter. This may be true in other parts of Brazil, but it appears that we have landed in the Devil’s armpit because it never drops much below 80 degrees here, and the average high is 89 degrees. In winter. I told them that I am never visiting during the summer. That doesn’t stop the workers from beating the heat to try to make the final preparations for the World Cup. The city is not ready, and it is pretty clear that they will not be ready in time for the first game.

Getting ready for the cup

The kids are soaking up all of the attention and entertainment. Actually, I think their American sensibilities are a little overwhelmed with all of the hugging and kissing!  They extend a tentative hand for a greeting, and are pulled into a full bear hug before they know what hit them. The enthusiastic Brazilian greetings take a little getting used to, but I am starting to feel right at home here. Abraços, or hugs, are a standard greetings, as well as um beijo, or kiss, on the cheek.

grandma and grandpa

I don’t think the kids realize how lucky they are to be able to spend the summer, or winter depending on your perspective, in Brazil. They are surrounded by family and friends (who might as well be family for all I know…it seems as though everyone is a cousin!). There are plenty of other children around for the kids to play with here, and they are noticeably different then the children the kids are used to being around. Careful. Considerate. Kind. Although my mom instincts keep kicking in because Brazil is definitely not “kid-proof” , I am comforted by the abundance of mom’s and grandma’s here! I know that whoever they are with will treat them as if they were their own, and I am at ease. I feel blessed to be able to have such an experience.

Brazilian spirit

Of course, with some of the World Cup games being played in Cuiaba, the city is full of tourists, but the Brazilian influence is still strong. I don’t think the abundance of Brazilian flags and banners has a lot to do with the Cup. Brazilians always show love for their country. We drove past the Arena Pantanal and took a few pictures. It was hard to get a clear shot because there are houses all around the stadium.

Arena Patanal em Cuiaba

Arena Pantanal do Cuiaba

We enjoyed Brazil first game with a fun group of Brazilians. I thought that Husker fans and Spurs fans were animated, but they have nothing on Brazil! The first own goal was a little heart-breaking, but the three goals after that erupted in dancing, more hugging, cheering, singing, and of course, the musical stylings of the vuvuzela.

watching the gameafter the game

Until later! Ate mais!