Saturday, January 22, 2005

LIfe is good

22 Jan 2005

So much cool stuff has happaned that I really don´t know where to start. This may take more than one message.
One cool thing that keeps happening is lunch. It´s really the centerpiece of the day here. First you wake up late and wander around the house, in your underwear if you´re lucky, until someone gives you a cup of coffee. Once you are with it enough to be able to find your way back home, you head for a walk around the beach. After that, it´s time for lunch. Skip the restaurants and forget about eating on the beach except as a curiosity. Spot a worker and follow him to a Pe Sujo(any one of a million bars). Order the plate of the day and an ice cold beer. It´s like cheeseburger in paradise. Lunch for two with more than you can eat will run about $US 7. You have to find your own Pe Sujo because I won´t tell you where mine is. All you folks from Baja Canada might descend on the place and the next thing you know we´ll all be eating natural chicken, tofu and minced dove assholes with chipotle mangochutney. I just can´t let that happen.

Anyhow, the other cool thing that happens on a daily basis is just walking down the street. A lot of it involves Brazilian dogs. There are lots of them here and most are very well taken care of. I just saw a poodle getting his hair done in the window. He must have taken a fairly dim view of the situation as he was wearing a muzzle which made him look a little like Hannibal Lecter. These folks love their dogs.

Over the past few days the samba has been good. Thursday had Imperio Serrano and Vila Isabel in the Sapucai. They were good but they´re not going to win in my opinion.

Yesterday, after dropping by the local bar da esquina where we have been elected honorary members of the neighborhood, we headed out to my favorite scene which is the Bambas do Catete. This bloco is not famous which probably helps to keep it local. The bateria is all guys from other schools who live in the small favela behind Catete. This is a family scene. We´re watching the children grow up here. Everyone knows us. Last night was the disputa de samba final. There were 3 sambas and everyone was rooting for their favorite. There was all sorts of connfeti (I´m a really bad speller in 4 languages) and hopping around and singing. The composer who won lives in our neighborhood and is part of the turma at the local bar. He is taking me to the Morro of Dona Marta for the rehearsal of Furacao Azul on Sunday. I´ve been there before. It´s kind of a heavy place but the bateria is fantastic and alllocal.

This is the scene I like best here. Samba is at least partly about tribe and the schools made up mostly of folks from the hood are really fun. They´ve grown up together. I feel honored to be able to experience this.

Foods you should try if you´re coming here for the first time. Appologies to those of you who know this stuff.

Frango a passarihno, the perfect food; bife a milanesa, Brazilian chicken fried steak; acaraje, hush puppy on steroids; acai, (there should be a little dittzle on that c but I don´t know how to do it) a dark brown/maroon fruit from up toward the amazon served as sort of a smoothie; beer; agua de coco, ice cold coconut water served right out of the coconut with a straw. they then crack it open for you and you eat the meat; churrasquiho de gato, little chunks of meat grilled over an open flame on just about every street corner. the `´gato`` means `´cat`` so you might want to skip this one; same goes for the cachorro quente AKA hot dog vendors; any of the juices at the juice bars; costela a gaucho, ribs cooked slowly with watercress and potatoes, cheap and effective; apim which is mantioc root cooked many different ways, puree de apim, which gets Xuxa´s vote for the perfect food, is like mashed potatoes on steroids; Manchique restaurant in Copacabana. Churrasco and all you can eat buffetfor about $US 6; feijoada, pick your place as not all are good; did I mention beer?

Today there is chorro na feira, the local bloco ``Laranjada``, Amigos do Catete, Canarios das Larageiras and that´s just my schedule. Xuxa will likely be up in Sta Teresa at Carmelitas. Carnaval is heating up and several blocos are parading today. You just can´t do it all.
It´s time for lunch and then my nap.

Coming soon: Sex, soccer and samba; the bigthree. j