Monday, June 9, 2008

A Little Taste of Country

Eric and I have some differences: I was raised a good Southern Belle down in Georgia while my dear husband, bless his heart, is a Yankee from up North in Iowa - which I can say because my mama, bless her heart, is a Yankee too. But despite the fact that we were born in distinctly different regions of the US and we basically speak two different languages (would you believe he never says "y'all", he calls that stream of water that runs behind his parents' house a "crick", and refers to that stuff you put on pancakes as "searup"), Eric and I both grew up in the country. The nearest Wal-Mart was a good 30-minute drive from either of our respective homes, and manure was a more common smell than exhaust fumes. Although we lived "in-town" in Burlington, Iowa most recently before moving to Brasil, that is a city of just around 30,000 and certainly doesn't have much big city-ness about it. So, much of our adjustment to moving here hasn't just been foreign country issues; part of the shock-factor has also been getting used to living in a city of 5 million people! Traffic jams that were once only a problem when we visited Chicago or Atlanta are now a daily fact of life. I can't remember the last time I was outside at night and totally surrounded by darkness. And while I consider Belo Horizonte to be a basically safe city, I certainly have to be more aware of my surroundings than ever before. So this weekend when we attended two "country" events, we had a really good time and felt quite at home!

Since it is the end of fall here now, it is very common to have celebrations similar to American fall festivals and county fairs. Saturday night we went to a party called Festa Juninas that was hosted by Eric's company. They served lots of traditional country foods and drinks like canjica (a sweet soup made from white corn and peanuts that was, surprisingly, really good), quentão (a hot spiked cider), and caldos (soups) along with the standard Brasilian fare like espetinhos (meat on a stick), cachorro quente (hot dog), and cerveja. Most everyone dressed up country-ish with plaid shirts, boots, and hats. They had lots of games set up in one area for all the kids that looked exactly like a fall festival. We were entertained by group of quadrilha dancers that, as the name suggests, is quite similar to square dancing in the US. And then later, a sertaneja band (Brasilian country music) played and we all danced until about 11:30.

Unfortunately, I don't have my cowboy boots (or even my super sweet hot pink stiletto-heel cowgirl boots) down here, so I made do with what I had (which happened to be my all-time favorite pair of Italian leather boots that I spent way too much money on and totally spoiled myself with my last year of college and subsequently made Eric question whether or not he could continue in a relationship with someone who would spend that much on a pair of shoes. . . I still maintain they were a good purchase though.)

Late Sunday morning, we went out to the big convention center in Belo Horizonte for SuperAgro 2008 and Expocachaça 2008. Outside, they had barns full of cattle, horses, miniature horses, goats, miniature cattle (I had no idea those even existed!), mules, and donkeys. There was a big showring where they were showing cattle and horses while we were there. I grew up showing sheep and cattle, so this was totally right up my alley! And Eric was really excited to walk through the barns and experience the familiar smells of hay and manure. Of course, there were a few differences too: like how every bovine there had some Brahman heritage (as floppy ears and humps were everywhere!) Inside, there were tons of displays and tasting rooms set up by practically every cachaça (sugarcane liquor) manufacturer in Minas Gerais. We were going straight from there to softball practice, so we did very little tasting, but it was fun to learn more about all the different types and how it is made. Cachaça is a huge part of the culture and tons of it is made right here in our state.

Between the livestock, the dancing, the cachaça, and the canjica, it was a really fun weekend for us. It was a little taste of country with a twist of Brasil!


Mamasphere said...

First, your hair looks FABULOUS!

Second, oh my word, those boots! If I had a pair of those I'd think I'd died and gone to heaven.

Lori - Blondie in Brazil said...

We went to an Expo here a couple weeks ago and I thought the same thing! I had no idea they existed this side of the equator.:)

Maringa is much smaller than where you are, about 300K, but we had a similar 'getting used to city life' experience. I do miss my quiet night's sleep without car alarms going off and people honking in the streets when a goal is scored.

Moving from our house in a reasonably quiet neighborhood to a high rise apartment in the middle of the city has been as much of an adjustment as all the cultural things.

Anonymous said...

: )